Video Production Roles – Runner
Here we will cover the work of that underappreciated skivvy of the video production industry, the runner.
The irony is that, as so many people want to get into the industry, becoming a runner is actually pretty tough if you don’t happen to have lots of wonderful nepotistic connections. People without ANY friends or family in the industry will find it very tough indeed, this is due in the main to the fact that professionals in the industry will keep trusted work mates around them on production after production. It’s a risk to bring in new blood, as untested people could make mistakes which would reflect badly on the professional, effecting career prospects.
Even for people with the connections to get into the industry, being a runner isn’t a cake walk. The pay tends to be poor (again, due to the fact that the industry is so competitive and there are 10 people behind you who would be prepared to take your place for the same money.) the work can be pretty tedious and many people don’t treat you with the respect you would feel you deserve – you are the lowest rung of the ladder remember.
Fundamentally, a runner’s duties are to do all the things that no one else wants to do. Making tea is the most common duty, but running paper work around in the cold happens a lot. There are two main types of runner, which will be covered below.
The in house runner is pretty much the base level as far as the industry is concerned. This person is based in a production company’s HQ and will be dutied mainly with assisting in the running of the office, making the tea, running errands and administrating the setting up of new productions. They can also (if they’re lucky) get involved with script reading or occasionally go out on a shoot or two.
A slightly higher grade of runner is the production runner. This role is based primarily on shoots, reporting into one of the assistant directors or producers (dependant on the size of the shoot) to make sure the production runs smoothly and tea is made.
Progression from being a lowly runner is extremely tough. In the manner that there are multiple people gunning after your job, there are probably more people reaching out to climb up the video production ladder. The progression route is normally as a production assistant, who will work with the producer more specifically in setting up prosecutions, or the assistant director, who as the name implies, will assist the director, managing the shoot and actors.
To conclude, the role of a runner is a tough one, with plenty of less than pleasant people relishing the opportunity to treat you in a manner not befitting a professional (mainly due to them having been treated in the same way, as they climbed the ladder). However, if you stick with it and decide a specialism as soon as possible, running is a good route into a fantastically rewarding, creative industry where you will work hard and reap wonderful benefits.