Tag Archives: camera operators

TV Runner – A Long How-To List

I’ve done 2 professional Running jobs at the BBC – so obviously this qualifies me to write a big pretentious post on how to do a good job.

IT DOESN’T. I just wish I could have read something like this when I got that first job back in July… I didn’t have a clue what a TV Runner really does. I learnt all of this through my own experiences, so here we go folks!

One: What do I wear?

  1. The comfiest shoes you own – a good runner does not sit down EVER (except at Lunch if you’re lucky). Being a runner = painful feet.
  2. Comfy socks. To help your shoes be comfy.
  3. Comfy jeans/leggings. Are you sensing a theme here? Shorts are fine on a hot location shoot. Ladies avoid the skirts.
  4. BELT!! So essential. You’ll need to hang your talk-back unit on it and you don’t want this to happen >>>>>
  5. T-shirt – this is where you can show off your personal style, you don’t want to look boring after all.
  6. Bring a jumper or even two. Even when you’re indoors, coz studios are chilly.
  7. Coats – if it’s a location shoot you want a rain coat (drizzle to torrential downpour), a ski coat (freezing and raining) and a jacket (wee bit chilly). Trust me. You can never have too many coats stashed in your car boot.
  8. Wellies. This is England – on location, you will need wellies at some point.
Basically, imagine every possible weather condition for that day and prepare for it. If you’re on location, nothing is worse than being uncomfortable.

Two: What do I bring?

Location Shoot

  • Rucksack. This is where you will store the following: note pad, painkillers, plasters, pens, tape, tissues, phone charger and spare call sheets, spare socks, sunglasses, sun cream, scarf, gloves, hat, water bottle.

Location AND Studio Shoot

  • Satchel/long strap bag/fanny pack – it doesn’t matter, as long as it means you can have all of this on your person at all times: pens, plasters, tape, paper, call sheet, sides/script, phone, dressing room keys.

Three: Any prep?

  1. Figure out your start time – Call Sheets rarely say when the Runners are needed, but you can figure it out. Usually, there will be a ‘Unit Base Up & Running Time,’ approx 2 hours before UNIT CALL (the time everyone is meant to be on set). This ‘Up & Running’ time is when you should aim to be there by, already working.
  2. Memorize the Call Sheet as much as you can. You want to know how many actors will be needed, when they’ll be arriving. Also take note of any special crew for the day – stunt men etc. Handy is to know as much as possible about the scenes being filmed, so if you can get a copy of the script or the ‘Sides’, read it thoroughly.
  3. As soon as you get the Call sheet, enter all the names and numbers you’ll need into your phone. Particularly helpful ones include  security, the drivers, the caterers, the head of each department, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd ADs, the Production Manager and the talents’ PAs. This will save you so much time when some one yells “Get me a minibus NOW!!!!” at your face.
  4. REMEMBER all Call Sheets/Scripts/Schedules are strictly confidential. Be careful of where you leave them lying around.
  5. Plan your journey. If you have to drive through London to get to location, calculate the time it will take on Google Maps, double it, and then add 30mins just to be safe. So if you need to be in Ealing for 6.30am from Clapham, you want to be out your door by 5.15am. If you’re early to base you can nap in your car and impress the ADs by starting your job before they even get there.
  6. Sleep. It may be the last time you do.

Four: What are my duties?

This varies on every production, but these are your main ones.

Morning/On Arrival

  1. Making sure the talk-back sets have charged over night and putting yours on, ready to be its slave. Take a spare battery too.
  2. Fetching coffee for the tired crew and being smiley & enthusiastic even though it’s 5am.
  3. Ensuring the arrival of the Talent and informing the AD team as it happens via talk-back. Show them to their dressing room/trailer and get them whatever it is they want. If they want a baby unicorn, better get searching. Usually though, they’ll just want a sausage sandwich.
  4. Prepare and restock the tea/coffee table and pack ready for transporting to location. Bribe the caterers for biscuits. No biscuits and the runner (i.e. you) will die a painful death.
  5. Help the 3rd AD locate and sign in any Background Artists (extras) for the day.
  6. Help the 2nd AD by escorting the Talent into Makeup/Wardrobe, and then to their cars to be taken to set. Inform the 2nd AD of every step in this process.
  7. Try and grab some breakfast for yourself. It’s free and you will need those precious calories.
  8. Ensure directors/producers/head honchos have cars waiting to take them to set.
  9. Herd the rest of the crew from catering to the minibuses/transport and get them up to set. Camera, lighting and sound have priority over makeup, set designers and you.

*QUICK TIP* Talk Back Lingo

  • “Travelling” = an actor’s journey from unit/dressing room to set. E.g: “Travelling Mr Depp.”
  • “Going 101″/” Ten One” = Going to the toilet (you have no idea how I panicked when my first 3rd AD said this to me – I had no idea what she was on about!).
  • Initials are often used for high profile actors. E.g. Sir David Jason became SDJ on all Call Sheets and via Talk Back.
  • If you are called via radio, wait until they have finished, press your button and reply “Go ahead”. Always wait until someone has definitely finished speaking before pressing your button or they are cut off to everyone listening.
  • To address someone specifically, say “(your name) to (their name)”, release your button and await their response.
  • If you need to ask someone a question, but don’t want to clog the channel for the others/they don’t need to hear it, say “(your name) to (3rd AD’s name) on Channel 2 please.” You then switch your talk back to channel 2 and your conversation will not be heard over the main channel.
  • If you’re going near set, make sure you have an ear pierce in so you can still listen without disrupting a take.
  • Equally, NEVER talk over radio during a take, as someone on set will almost certainly have their volume up and the noise could ruin the audio recording.

On Set:

  1. Set up tea/coffee table and offer drinks to the crew. Obviously, directors/head honchos and talent first. Then the 1st AD, camera and sound. Then everyone else. Have some water bottles/cups on set.
  2. The Talent will arrive on location after the crew. You must be there to meet them and escort them to set with a cup of tea/coffee. Inform the ADs via talk back when the Talent have arrived.
  3. One of your main jobs is to keep people quiet during takes. Not as easy as it sounds. Position yourself wherever there is noise and be ready to yell/ssshh/beg/bribe/swear.
  4. A take goes like this… The 1st AD yells “Going for a take”  and you repeat this in your loudest voice, followed by “QUIET ON SET PLEASE.” With luck, people will instantly fall silent. Most of the time, you will need to enforce your authority with evil looks, hand gestures and even the threat of decaf coffee. Once “Action” is called, no one but the director and the actors are allowed to make a sound. If the take is interrupted by any member of the crew, a nearby vehicle or even a member of public, it’s YOUR fault.
  5. Between takes, go on set and keep an eye on the actors. They love to sneak away for a smoke/phone call. If they need to take a leak, you need to know. Follow discreetly and just assure that they come straight back to set.
  6. You’ll be waiting around a lot. In this time clear up any rubbish you can find, keep offering drinks, restock the tea table, and keeping asking people if they’d like any help. Avoid the temptations of a seat and checking Twitter/FB.
  7. Vehicles will take up a lot of your time. Usually the drivers will return to base once they’ve dropped off. Ask one to stay at location (with engine off) on stand by in case people need to get back to base quickly. Make sure all vehicles face the way out – turning around could waste valuable time.

Lunch

  1. Half an hour before lunch is scheduled, call each vehicle to set. Between takes, you must get them to turn to face the right way and await the crew. Talent go first, followed by head honchos, then crew in order of importance. NB: never mention the hierarchy on a film set – nobody likes to admit there is one!
  2. Check the tea table and make a note of everything that is low, so you can bring back what you need to restock it from unit base.
  3. Background Artists (extras) must wait until EVERY member of the crew (including you!) has joined the lunch queue before they can. Before you tuck in, check that the Talent and Head Honchos are in the queue or being seen to.
  4. Once you’ve eaten and taken five mins to breathe, go round and ask the make up and costume crew when they would like to see the Talent again for checks. Then make sure that happens, informing the AD team along the way.
  5. Grab everything you need for the tea/coffee table and load it into the van/minibus.

The afternoon is pretty much a repeat of the morning, until it nears Wrap Time.

  1. About 30 mins before wrap time, do one last tea/coffee run, then begin packing down drinks table.
  2. Collect the call sheets from the Production Office. DO NOT give these out until “That’s a wrap on today!” has been called by the 1st AD/Director. Doing it before disrupts the crew.
  3. On larger crews, you may be asked to place call sheets in every production vehicle – i.e. 4 in the Lighting truck for the Sparks, 2 in the Art Department lorry. Put it somewhere it will be seen.
  4. Have all vehicles at location and ready to depart at least15 mins before the estimated wrap time.
  5. When Wrap is called, yell “CALL SHEETS” and make sure everyone leaves with one either in their hand or in their crew vehicle.
  6. Get all Talent and crew to their vehicles.
  7. Pack tea table. Rubbish clearing and tidying of the location is usually down to the Location Manager and his team, but check in case you are expected to do this/give them a hand.
  8. Go round the set/location and yell “Last vehicle!” in case there are any stragglers left.
  9. Get in that vehicle and back to base.

End of the Day

When you get back to base, put away the tea/coffee table and make sure all food and drinks supplies are secure for moving to the next location. Then, help the 3rd AD collect in talk-back units and put them on charge, including yours.

Offer to help the 2nd AD with CHITS – these are the sign-in/out forms the next day’s extras – and any other jobs. Make sure NO ONE needs you, offer to stay late and when they say you can go, GO.

Getting that next JOB

Be enthusiastic never mind the weather, hour or mood you’re really in (gets tricky after a while). Make friends with the crew; banter is the main form of entertainment on a film set so get used to being the butt of peoples’ jokes – and don’t be scared to give it back (appropriately!!). Go to any after-work drinks at the pub so people can get to know you (but don’t get drunk – you’re a professional). Chat with every department and learn as much as you can about the different trades. You might not want to work in costume but any knowledge will be helpful, and you may even discover a new career path.

If you go to the Wrap Party, don’t spend it asking for jobs. By this point, your hard work should have done the asking for you. If they like you, they’ll remember you. Stay in touch, let them know of any other experience you get, and hopefully they’ll think of you as the next crew is assembled.

So there you go! Apologies for the length, hope it wasn’t too patronising. Let us know if this helps you, or if there’s anything you think I’ve missed!

Much love,

A x

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“Don’t say the ‘W’ word. Don’t even THINK it. No. No you’re thinking it!!! STOP!”

So my month working on a new BBC comedy drama is almost over. In fact, Monday is my last day. But as I was told four weeks ago, don’t say “Wrap” until it’s a wrap.

Anyway, in case you’re wondering why I haven’t been able to update you on this sooner, it’s because I have been working 13 to 14 hour days, 6 days a week. The rest of my time I spend desperately catching up on sleep and driving to more locations. But do you know what? It has gone by so quickly I honestly can’t believe it happened. I mean, did I dream the whole thing?

I think, maybe, I might seriously miss the crazy when it’s over…. is that wrong?

The stress, the excitement, the pain, the people, the tea making, the wellies, the sunburn, the blisters, the free food, the banter, the practical jokes, the back massages, the portaloos (not as much), the satisfaction of seeing hard work come together… I am going to miss all of this.

Really, REALLY, wish I didn’t have to go back to uni.

At the same time, there are a few things I WON’T miss.

  1. Stroppy Make Up Ladies (“Where are the biscuits? No biscuits? Why? WHY are you doing this??? I can’t work without biscuits. We should have biscuits! GET ME BISCUITS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”)
  2. Good Old British Weather (oh no, it wouldn’t matter if Hurricane Irene came to town, we’d still need to get that “quick” close up of so and so giving a melancholy expression in the forest, with sfx mist for extra atmospheric effect).
  3. The Supporting Artistes/Extras (Me: “Erm excuse me, I just saw you stuff a load of coffee sachets into your handbag?” … “Yes we know he is famous. No you cannot get an autograph.”… “Please stay here, you’ll be seen in the next take.” 5mins later… 1st AD: “Where’s that extra gone? Where the fuck is he ‘A’? I need that extra ‘A’! Find me that extra!”).

Don’t get me started on the tantrums…

Over every little thing – in particular FOOD.

If it’s not on time, if there’s no egg and cress sandwiches, if we’re out of the special chocolate biscuits, if the tea isn’t Tetley, if the Starbucks coffee you ran back with for 15 minutes isn’t hot enough, if they don’t eat full fat mayo… Do not be fooled. This may seem like unimportant nonsensical rubbish, but each one of the above can cause World War 3 on a film set.

Gotta love the rest of it though. And I miss the crew already. You won’t find a closer, more dedicated team of people than on a film set – you can laugh with them, shout at them, moan with them, eat with them, help each other, hate each other, love each other all in one day. You’re like a massive family but completely functional and completely insane.

I’m getting nostalgic already and it’s not even over. Not just yet. Won’t be calling it a Wrap officially until Monday evening.

Then there’s the Wrap Party 😉

Love ‘A’ xxx

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It’s going to be so full on I’m going to die …I can’t wait.

This is the story of how a 1st year uni student got a job on a major new British sitcom, for one of the country’s leading production companies.

It all began many months ago when I went to a ‘Networking Gathering’ (see this post here for more on that) where I bumped into a 3rd year student ‘E’ who I’d previously met and admired at uni. We exchanged our first business cards with an excited squeak, and a couple of months later she asked me to be an unpaid runner on her graduation film. Obviously, I accepted.

A couple of months after that, the Production Manager of ‘E’s’ film gave me a call. Let’s call him ‘H’. He offered me more running work on another graduate film, also unpaid. None of my friends bothered with these running jobs, as they were unpaid and a hassle and I suppose they just hadn’t bothered to get to know the 3rd years as I had. I was hoping that getting to know them would pay off in the long run, and if I did them a favour running on their films, they’d be more likely when return this favour when I needed work experience and they all had industry jobs etc.

A couple of months later, and guess what happens?

‘H’ messages me on Facebook, asking if I’m free for running work. I wasn’t, but I wanted to know what the job was before I turned it down. Thank God I did – ‘H’ was a Production Assistant on a new British sitcom, to be aired on BBC One this coming December. 

I dropped all my plans for the evening and was on it like a tramp on chips. There was NO WAY I was missing out on this opportunity. The producer of the show rang me on receiving my super-pimped CV and asked if I could get to London before 5pm the next day for an interview. I couldn’t, but I said I could. And then proceeded to book a very expensive train ticket and pray that the gamble would pay off.

The interview was an interesting experience. First, I was introduced to the Line Producer and was quizzed on my experience and enthusiasm, and was then quickly introduced to the 1st AD. His parting comment was that I “said all the right things” and then he walked off with a wink. I kind of thought I was in.

THEN DISASTER struck. I was introduced to another member of the team, and she frankly told me I was too timid and nice for the job. Apparently, I wouldn’t be able to cope with the high-pressure and hostility of such a creative environment. I’m not gonna lie, readers, I was pooping myself at the thought of screwing up/making someone angry/breaking down in tears/being a wimp. But I couldn’t let her think that.

Love the caption on this SO much...

So that evening, after a worried phone call to ‘P’, I sent a text to the doubtful AD in question, expressing how much I was prepared to fight for the job, and left it to fate. There was nothing more I could do.

Monday came around. I knew I would find out today. After a stressful day without any phone signal, an email came through. I didn’t dare open my eyes to read it at first – but when I did I saw those beautiful, sweet, incredible words:

“we would like to offer you the position of…”

Never have I run so fast, right across Bournemouth town centre, through the car park and into my car where I proceeded to SCREEEEAAAM as loudly as I could.

Not even the rush hour traffic could take that cheesy grin off my face. I start on Sunday; wish me luck 😉

Love ‘A’

xxxxx

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“I’m going to use what God gave me. My boobs and a posh British accent.”

I said this jokingly to ‘P’ yesterday, on the subject of job hunting in LA after I graduate. Thing is, I couldn’t help feeling that would be… cheating? I dunno.

Girls who use their bodies to get jobs (from wearing low cut tops to actually doing the deed) get a bad rep. But what if you are super talented and you just need a way to get your foot in the door? I’m not condoning sleeping with your boss to get a raise, but is a little flirting really that bad?

For example, I usually manage to get a discount with mechanics – I just smile, chat, make them feel like they want to help me out. I’m not gonna lie, my F-cup boobs probably do most of work for me. And voila I save quite a bit of money (my car breaks down every 2-3 months…).

I can’t help having big boobs – in fact, I try ridiculously hard to hide them, and sometimes I hate that they attract attention. I just can’t deny I didn’t get my first industry job based (unknowingly) on my bust : I answered all the questions wrong, but the guy hiring me was a total perv and once I’d got my boobs through that door the job was mine.

I know this is wrong. On the other hand, would I have got the job if I hadn’t had the boobs? Would I be where I am now? Guess I’ll never know.

What I do know, is that when I go to LA, I will be keeping my boobs to myself, but if the interviewer is a guy, I wont need to to flaunt them – they do that in a stiff chin-high polo jumper. And if he likes my accent, I’m not gonna change it.

In short, I don’t mind why they give me the job. I do mind how well I do the job, and how much I can impress them as a producer/camera operator/director once I’m hired.

Surely that’s what matters?

Love ‘A’ x

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There’ll be a lot of pressure. But you’re a girl, so you just run along and make us some tea!

…. So how’s an audience of 6000 people for pressure? And how’s being a girl surrounded by 20 other male crew members?

And how do you suppose I coped? JUST AS WELL AS ANYONE ELSE.

Sorry for the rant and straight to the better news: I got to film these guys at the weekend:

The Wanted - wanted by every girl who's reached puberty

I have landed myself a new job for the summer, working for a production company based in Dorset, who specialise in live events. Cool right? 🙂

HELL YEH. Only problem is, I’m not getting paid. And I recently quit my 2 waitressing jobs… So I’m a little worried about my bills this month.

BUT, I spent a whole weekend in Gloucester, building an 18-foot high LED screen upon which 6000 people watched the footage from MY camera LIVE during The Wanted’s gig.

(PLUS I had all the free food I could ask for!)

As ever with these kind of jobs, I noticed a distinctly different attitude towards me, as one of the only TWO women in the 20+ crew.  I’m sorry to ramble on about this sexist stuff (I more than anyone am tired of it!) but PLEASE, there wasn’t even a crew toilet for ladies, only for men. I wasn’t allowed to carry things or use the electric drill, and before The Wanted arrived on set I was given a talk about (and I quote):

“Not getting excited and girly when the band arrive.”

OMG the rage! This from a guy who was given his director/vision mixer job by his rich daddy, only a few years older than me, and possibly the least professional ape I’ve worked with in my brief career so far. Harsh words? Honey this is me being kind!

Just because I’m a girl it does not mean

  1. That I will crumble into an unprofessional, rowdy teenager at the sight of a few singers with bulging biceps.
  2. That you need to tell me to make sure I go to the bathroom before filming starts (I’m not a 2-year old).
  3. That I cannot do manual labour/carry things/use a goddamn screwdriver and YES my talents go beyond making f**king tea!
  4. That you should treat me any differently from any other crew member.

The thing is, in this situation all a girl can do is smile sweetly and do as she’s told. Then as soon as you can you prove them wrong by lifting those heavy crates, you bring out your amazing skills with the power drill, you get down and dirty and work your ass off. You let your make up smudge and your nails break and you forget about your hair.

At the same time you talk to everyone and keep the morale up. You offer to make tea when you, and everyone else, is in need of it. And every time a job needs doing you say “I can do it!” and you show them that you can.

Basically, you need to be …

The Super Camera Woman

All in all though, it was an awesome weekend and I’m looking forward to my next live event!

Mainly for the free food.

 

 

 

Love ‘A’ x

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Producer: to be or not to be?

So the past two weeks in my crazy world of TV Production at Bournemouth University have, without a doubt, been the most eventful and strangest two weeks of my education so far.

Allow me to elaborate… (this will surely be dazzling and thrilling in every way possible, as I am currently sitting comatose in front of a computer, in a stuffy edit suite, at half 9 in the evening – after 7 days solid work and very little sleep).

So I arrived back from my weekend with ‘P’ (twas a blast, if you must know) and strolled into uni without a care in the world – it was then that I was told I would be producing a 30min news and chat show in the Sony HD Studio, and not only this, but it would be broadcast LIVE!!! And – here is the fun part – I had 3 DAYS IN WHICH TO ORGANISE EVERYTHING!! My face at this moment:

I first experienced a state of denial – no, no. NOOOOOO! Then anger – How could you do this to me????!!!!! :@ Then anxiety – ah ah ah ah what the hell am I going to do??? Swiftly followed by a surge of extra insanity. Before finally, I took a deep breath, told myself to stop acting like a pathetic, PMS-ing (Pathetic Man Syndrome) man and sort it out.

Needless to say, the show went swimmingly and, though I say so myself (not one to brag, too much) everyone was impressed with my thorough organisational skills and “attention to detail” (ah lol at the in-joke ;p )*

Will skim over my boring weekend of waitressing and coffee-making  with the wonderful summing -up power of the word BLEURGH.

Bringing us to Monday (yesterday) when I realised to my horror that in my haste to produce a live TV show, I had completely forgotten I was also co-producing a documentary, to be shot that Thursday and Friday. My face at this moment:

I think you get the picture.

What happened then was what can only be described as a threatening onslaught on the citizens of Bournemouth, in order to find some idiot crazy enough to be the main subject for our doc. After 4 hours of being hung up on, maxing out my phone bill, and collapsing in a state of ‘Ah I just don’t give a fuck anymore!’ I received a phone call from a lovely lady. She had received my 5 voicemails** and was free this Thurs and Fri for an interview and tour of her haunted pub. My face at this moment:

It was then that I had the realisation- maybe I am actually good at this producing malarcky? Or not.

Stay tuned to see how this all pans out 🙂

Love ‘A’ x

*in-jokes permitted, this being a blog that nobody reads

** exaggerations also permitted, because sympathy is needed from the many, avid readers of this blog

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