Updated: Feb 24, 2021
Here is an example of me on a typical run.
The term ‘Runner’ comes from the requirement of entry level employees to go on ‘runs’. But what is a run? A run is popping out from your base, which could be the production office, studio floor, or location in the middle of a field, to get materials for the shoot.
You’ll almost certainly be asked to go on a run every day of the job to get supplies.
These could be things that have been ordered to a certain shop or office and need to be collected. For example, the dry cleaning for a member of talent or piece of kit that has been left at the production office. Remember: what you’re collecting is probably going to be quite important, so be vigilant and look after it.
You might also be asked to go shopping. This could be for Production or the Art Department.
Here are some tips to keep in your back pocket when going on these runs.
Always get a receipt
Everything that is bought on a shoot needs to be recorded by Production. Therefore, you need to get a receipt for every single thing you buy, even if it cost you 20p! When you are reconciling the company card at the end of the day you want to make sure all of the money spent adds up to the amounts on the receipts. This will all be going back to the Accountant and is incredibly important.
Make sure to get a VAT receipt
Some shops will not print off receipts that include VAT unless you ask them to. Accountants want to see how much of the money spent includes VAT. So, make sure to ask for a VAT receipt every time you purchase something.
Keep your receipts safe
Apart from making sure you remember to get the receipt; you also want to make sure the receipt doesn’t fall out of your pocket on the way back to the car or gets soaked in coffee after you have shoved it in the coffee holder of the rental.
Make sure to take a clear plastic wallet with you on every shoot, like this one:
(Hand is for scale, apologies for gross nail upkeep).
You also want to try not to crease the receipts as this makes them harder to read when they are scanned (which they will be). Lie them flat in your plastic wallet and you should be good to go.
Take a picture of the receipt
Of course, in an ideal world receipts would last forever. But, the reality is that they fade and discolour if exposed to heat. They are often also difficult to read if bent or ripped. So, take a picture of them! Before slotting them into your plastic wallet, quickly take a snap. This will only take a second and could save you a lot of grief down the line. If you want to be super organised, you could even create a 'Receipts' folder on your camera roll, so that they are always quick to access. If you need one from a specific date and place this information will also be stored within the photograph too. PERFECT!
When it rains it pours and this saying is definitely true for working in telly. You might not have to go on a run for the whole day and then suddenly at 7pm you are asked to get: 20 bottles of prosecco for a little office birthday party; five roles of bubble wrap for production; four packs of M10 nuts and bolts for the onsite Chippy; a long list of fruit and veg for the presenter to make smoothies at their apartment; some ‘Hawaiian-themed decorations’ that will be needed on camera at 11pm the same evening; and a massive teddy bear from Costco that also needs to be on camera that evening but at 9pm.
Find out what is needed for when. If the Chippy is not going to be back on site until 8am the next morning, then you might want to leave this until last. Things that are needed on camera very soon should be the highest priority. So, get the teddy bear first and then the decorations. The office birthday party is not essential, although you will get brownie points if you manage to pull this out the bag. The talent is also high priority, especially if they have requested something, so make sure to get those groceries ASAP. If the bubble wrap is to return an item that is being sent back the next day, this can also be left to last.
At the end of the day, you need to apply some good common sense. Think through each item and what it is needed for. Think about timings and what benefits the production most. Things that are going to directly affect filming immediately will always be a high priority. After this, you want to make sure that your cast and crew are well locked after. However, if you’ve helped to keep the show going by getting that teddy on camera for when it is needed, then your crew might not even need the prosecco to chill out later on – you will have saved the day already!
If you are ever confused about what things are needed for and what are high priority, just ask. Make sure you ask the person that has sent you on the run. There is no use asking another Runner because the likelihood is, they don’t know either and they might give you the wrong advice, even if their intentions are coming from a good place.
If you are ever confused about what you are buying, have a Google. If you still don’t understand, check with the person that requested the item. For example, you might not know what M10 nuts and bolts are if you have never done DIY, again, ask the person that has requested that item. They know what they want. If you bring back what they have requested after confirming it with them and it turns out to be the wrong thing then you will not be to blame because you doubled checked with them and did the best you could.
Top tip: get a link up on your phone of the item they have requested and let them confirm to you that it is correct. Some sites, like B&Q, even tell you how many of that item is in stock in the store you will be buying it from. They might even show what aisle the item is stocked on. The more information you have, the better.
Is the company card topped up?
Your heart will sink if you get to the till with two trollies full of groceries and there isn’t enough money on the company card to pay for them. Ask how much money is on the card before heading out on your run. There might be more than enough, or you might only have £50. You will have a general idea of how much the shop is going to cost, so make sure you have enough to pay for it all. The last thing you want to do is have to pay on your own card to then be reimbursed later. I will soon be doing a blog on the issues surrounding reimbursing Runners, so keep an eye out for that!
Is the item in stock?
There is nothing worse than driving out of town for 20 minutes to buy a bag of 30mm panel pins and finding out when you get there that they don’t have them in stock.
Even if it feels arduous, you will save yourself a lot of time by simply checking on the company’s website or calling the local store to see if they have the item in stock before going out to buy it.
If you find out the shop doesn’t have the thing you want in stock, you will need to come up with a contingency. You will hear the word ‘contingency’ a lot on set. Contingencies are what you come with in case your first idea didn’t go to plan.
When you’re writing down your list of things to buy, ask the person, ‘If they don’t have this in stock what can I get you instead?’ That will be your contingency.
Ask them how important it is that you get exactly what they after. If you have more leeway on colours, sizes, or brands, for example, then it is likely your search for the item will be quicker and easier.
If their request is very specific, it might be worth asking them to stay on their phone for the next hour so that you can video call them whilst you are in the shop and they can choose exactly what they want. If they are busy on set when you are on your run, ask them if they can appoint someone for you to call and make these decisions for them. More often than not, they will be happy for you to make your own informed decision on what to buy. However, some Art Directors, for example, might have a specific vision that you don’t know about and will therefore need a particular item to fit the aesthetic. Most importantly, always ask.
Things can always be returned
Remember that, if you have the receipt, things can always be returned. So, if you’ve been asked to buy a cowboy hat and they have them in 5 different colours and the person that asked you to buy them is on set and can’t answer their phone and they need the hat in 20 minutes, buy all five. That way, they can choose what is best. Be quick and use your common sense.
Map out the quickest route
There will be a ‘quickest route’ to get to all the places you need to go. You might want to go in a circle or go to the place that is furthest away first and then work your way back. Whatever you do, remember to factor in what is a priority. If something needs to be back on location very soon, make sure to go there first and bring back that item before going back out again to get everything else.
Check list of things to take with you:
The most important item to take with you!
Your personal debit/credit card
You shouldn’t be using this but take it just in case.
In case you are buying items that require proof of age, like solvents, sharp or dangerous objects, or alcohol.
Put it on loudspeaker if you’ve had it on silent whilst on set! Make sure to keep checking the WhatsApp chats, people will want to stay in touch with you.
Portable phone charger
You don’t want your phone running out of charge when you are out.
Something like this is perfect: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Arnech-Document-Homework-Organization-Cosmetics/dp/B08DNCQ7DW/ref=sr_1_16?dchild=1&keywords=A5+plastic+wallet&qid=1614017284&quartzVehicle=5-107&replacementKeywords=plastic+wallet&sr=8-16
Same as the money wallet, I find it helpful to have two separate ones of different colours.
Shopping bags or granny trolly
These could be bags for life or even a granny trolly – you might think you’ll look silly but a granny trolly will seriously reduce any potential back pain from carrying lots of bags!) This is the one I have used in the past: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ariana-Lightweight-Shopping-Trolley-Grocery/dp/B086PG6DQG/ref=sr_1_22?dchild=1&keywords=granny+trolley&qid=1614017370&sr=8-22
For all of the above.
Due to Covid you will need to wear these in all shops and public places.
This looks like a plastic or metal £1 coin and will enable you to get a trolly out at the supermarket – I keep mine attached to my lanyard.
Production lanyard, card, or fob
If you are given any of these for your shoot you will need it to re-enter the building or location.
I always take my Nectar card out with me, for example, because you can tap this when you do that massive £400 Sainsbury’s shop that you would never do for yourself. THINK OF ALL THE NECTAR POINTS!
Everyone is nervous on their first run, but after a while it becomes second nature. If you are at all worried speak to your Production Manager and they can go through things with you when they have a spare moment. To remember all of the tips I have listed, print off this blog or just login to www.bethbacon.co.uk and check back on my advice.
Good luck and keep Running! x