Here Are 5 Ways To Be The Best Runner You Can Be
It’s considered the entry point into the film industry for a lot of people. A great place to start to gain experience on set, observe the process in action and make contacts along the way. If you do a good job it can also be a good way to gain respect from others as most people will have done their time with the role at the start of their careers. I am of course talking about being a Runner.
There is some debate about whether a Production Assistant and Runner are two different roles but in my experience they have mostly be interchangeable terms for the same job. Given that the scope of a Runner’s role is so large it really depends on the project you are working on, whether you are the only one doing that job, and who you are working under. Regardless of the title the work of the Runner is important but often not visible. You are the extra pair of hands, the minder, the fetcher. And when the film is done it may not feel like you really had a hand in the final product but trust me when I say that the process was smoother because you were there.
I am still gaining experience in the industry but on this blog I have spoken about the fact that I think I’m finally ready to move away from Production Assisting and onto being the lead of my own projects. However, being a good runner instils in you a strong work ethic that I think is important to gain in order to be a better leader. So here are some of my tips for new Runners to be the best in this role that you can be.
Be A Yes Person, But Clarify
When someone asks you to do something on set the obvious response is Yes and having this can do attitude is essential for being a Runner. No one wants to work with someone who is eye-rolling and talking back. However it’s okay to clarify the task you’ve been asked to do. In fact it’s better to make sure you have all the details you need before running off and realising you didn’t ask how many of x or where Y is kept. There is merit in having a bit of problem solving skill, but it takes 2 seconds to ask a quick clarification question and it might take you an extra 5 minutes to figure it out on your own. Time is money people!
Don’t Skip Arm Day
Being a Runner is, as the name suggests, a physical job. Oftentimes you will be hauling, packing, lifting and literally running around the set and beyond for things required to make the film happen. I do not boast to be the fittest person out there but having a decent level of physical fitness will make all the lugging that much easier and it means you don’t have to freak out when they point to that large pile of gear and say “we need you to move this.” But also, as a very important aside, do not exert yourself. Giving yourself permanent back damage because you were trying to be Jessica Jones will restrict your ability to work on future projects and you don’t want that.
Take The Initiative
There is no shortage of jobs to be done on a film set and taking the initiative to just start doing those jobs or asking what you can do to help will go a long way. You need to make sure you are ready to be that helping hand whenever people need you because filming is exhausting for everyone involved and your job is to make it that little bit easier. Also problem solving is a great skill to have on set as there are typically things that come up that will need solutions. Where appropriate feel free to add your voice to the mix and make suggestions. Remember you’re a Runner, not a servant.
Get A Driver’s Licence
You can do the job of a Runner without a car or a licence but you are limiting yourself to the types of gigs you will be able to work on. Most job listings for Runners will mention they need you to have a Drivers licence as a minimum. Have your own car? Even better! The physicality of the job is still real but most of the time ‘going for a run’ means driving out somewhere to pick up a bunch of stuff and bring it back to set, whether that’s catering, gear, or even crew and actors. You become a much better asset to a production if you can drive. If you don’t drive don’t let that deter you from trying to work on productions as a Runner though, I did two work experience productions as a Runner right at the start of my career both without a car.
Network On Your Breaks
Depending on the film you may have some down time during the shoot and then of course there are meal breaks. Especially if this is a new crew you are working with for the first time take the opportunity of downtime to do a bit of networking. Getting to know the people you are working with not only makes the set a nicer place to be but could lead to your next job. Also to go with what I said earlier about visibility it helps establish you to people as someone they can call on for help. You don’t have to be moving in the shadows just delivering things out of nowhere. The crew is a team and you are part of that team so go introduce yourself and let people know they can count on you.
What did you think of my Tips? Got any you’ve picked up from being a Runner? Well leave them in the comments below.