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Survival guide for a TV runner in post-production

TV runners have one of the hardest jobs in the industry. There, I’ve said it. They’re at the bottom of the food chain, working crazy long hours for relatively little or no pay. I know; I’ve been there. I remember on one occasion arriving on a film set for my first day as a runner and being asked to drive on a 100-mile round trip to collect a spare set of van keys because the original set had been locked in the vehicle the night before. Only to return a few hours later and discover someone else had turned up with a spare set shortly after I’d left – oh what a fun day!

But it’s all for the sake of experience (in driving as fast as you can without getting caught, in my case) and that’s why so many people put themselves through the hard slog of being a TV runner. Below, I’ve put together some tips on how to survive weeks, months or even years in this role.

Survival tip 1

Be prepared to move. Most TV runner production jobs tend to be in London, Cardiff, Manchester and Bristol, so living close to one of these will help your chances. Or, if you’re not nearby to one of these cities, letting potential employers know you are willing to move will also stand you in good chance of being chosen for the job.

Survival tip 2

Being a licensed driver. And better yet, having your own transportation. Most runner jobs require you to drive around a lot, from different set locations, and collecting and delivering items. Sometimes they might even need you to drive other vehicles, such as small vans and even large lorries, depending on the job requirements. So being comfortable in these situations is important.

Survival tip 3

Your age can hold you back. This kind of ties in with the previous tip, so you need to be aware that being under the age of 25 could hold you back as a TV runner. It’s always going to be cheaper to insure older people as drivers on production vehicles. This isn’t really helpful when you’re 18 and testing out a life in production, so be prepared to fight your case and make them pick you over someone older.

Survival tip 4

Be willing to do anything that is asked. You might not like the sound of working down in the archives or buying lunches, but it might lead to your dream role, or at least give you a broader understanding of a job that you might not have considered before (not specifically buying lunches for ever more, but on delivering those lunches, it gives you a chance to network with more people, and that’s always useful).

Survival tip 5

Be frugal with your money. Although there are lots of TV runner jobs out there, competition for them is high. You don’t always know when the next job will be coming along and you don’t want to be left broke, so it’s best to make sure you have some funds left in reserve for important things like paying rent and buying food. Don’t panic though, because if you keep the job up you will start to make a name for yourself and soon people will be asking you to work for them. This in turn will get you to the next step on the career ladder!

So there you have it, 5 handy survival tips on becoming a TV runner. If you think I’ve missed off something important or have an opinion on this article, then feel free to leave a comment below.

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