This post was written back in 2019, after my first paid TV job. I didn't want to change anything I had written because I didn't want to lose any of the overwhelming feeling of excitement and sense of immediacy that made it so special.
I worked as a Runner on Rip Off Britain Live last summer and I have been on the sets of a number of TV shows whilst working as an extra. However, I completed my first paid job on a short film over the last couple of days.
I was very daunted when first stepping onto set because I wasn't entirely sure of the etiquette. So, I thought I would share my experiences as a first-time Floor Runner so that others in the same position I was, have a platform from which to leap and highly perform!
1. Be available on set at all times.
You are who the crew will call on for teas and coffees, but also as an extra hand to run errands, act as a stand-in (on occasion), and ushering actors to and from set.
If you are not at their immediate beckon call, then they might as well do these jobs themselves. Therefore, show your face. Even if you find yourself briefly at a loose end, look around for a way to help out or look interested in what is taking place.
Be proactive. Ask the crew and the actors if they would like teas, coffees, water, or snacks. Do this periodically so that everyone stays hydrated and happy. Everyone will appreciate this and it may spark some nice conversations too.
2. Bring a small bum bag, a pen, and paper.
You might be asked to look after spare radios or call sheets. Have a bag that you can put these in and have ready to whip out at any time.
You will need to wear a radio, so having a bum bag will mean if you are wearing clothes without belt loops or strength to hold a walkie talkie then the strap on your bum bag will suffice to hold it instead. Furthermore, the bag part itself can be used to store anything your AD might hand you throughout the day.
You might be asked to note down the first turn over and the timings that the actors leave set, so that this information can be passed onto the actors' agents. Therefore, make sure to have a pen and paper so this information can be carefully noted when necessary.
You might also be given code words used on the radio specific to the shoot and/or common in the industry. Either way, note them down and try to remember them when you are spoken to on the radio.
When it comes to the radio, make sure to keep an ear out at all times on the radio so that you are easily available to be called by any member of the crew. Furthermore, if you are asked to carry out a task, remember to reply 'COPY THAT' on the radio so that the other person knows you have recieved their request and are carrying out the necesssary job.
3. Pictures and posts on social media
Do NOT take any pictures or post any sort of detail about the shoot online without the permission of the Producer or Director.
Revealing content about the film you have been working on prior to its release and without the permission of the head of the crew can result in a breach of your NDA. This is a big no no and will result in a definite end to your contract.
Just don't bother. It's not worth putting your job on the line for a photo.
I have actually found it quite exhilarating to be involved in a job that no one knows the details about - there becomes more to you than people think they know on the surface.
4. Don't be a dick
Of course, you want to enjoy yourself in the workplace, but you are being paid to perform a job to a high standard. So, don't dick about.
They will always need a spare pair of hands to carry things, be the first to volunteer.
If you are asked to do something, do it without hesitation.
If you are asked to do something you don't know how to do be honest and tell them this. But make sure to let them know that you want to help and if they explain how to do it you will then carry out the task at hand.
Health and safety first - so always lift with your legs, not your back.
When the director calls for turn over BE QUIET.
Don't touch anything that is not yours. If you need to move some equipment ASK the person who's equipment it is first. This is because it might be heavy, fragile, or dangerous and thus they might have to carry it for legal reasons. OR, they might have put it in that place for a REASON, so moving it will only slow down the shoot, and TIME IS MONEY.
You want to make a good first impression because you might get further employment from crew within the team. You might also want to network so that you can stay in touch with the crew for future jobs.
However, timing is key. Lunch and smoking breaks are a good time to chat with the crew. Don't hurl yourself into asking for their contact details and for further job offers. Get to know them first and have a bit of a laugh.
In saying that, once you have built up a good rapport with certain people don't be afraid to speak about working together again. After the shoot, you could even add them on Facebook - because this is the place where you will find most of your jobs. Top tip: keep the call sheet with the full names of the crew so that you remember who performed what job and who to add on Facebook after.
6. Enjoy yourself!
Your first job on a film will definitely be one to remember. So, have a good time!
Yes, this is a job. But going into this industry should most definitely be fuelled by passion and love for the industry. So, if you are not enjoying yourself at work you should probably question whether you are following the right career path.
SMILE! A smile goes a long way and if you look like you're enjoying yourself then you are likely to also lift the moods of the crew too. If you want to be remembered for something, why not be remembered for being polite, courteous, and great positive energy?!