PRODUCTION ASSISTANT (RUNNER)
Production Assistants (also known as Runners) are the foot soldiers of the production team, performing small but important tasks in the office, around the set and on location. Their duties may involve anything from office administration to crowd control, and from public relations to cleaning up locations.
Production Assistants are usually employed on a freelance basis, are not very well paid, and their hours are long and irregular. However, the work is usually extremely varied and provides a good entry-level role into the shoot industry.
Production Assistants are deployed by the Producer to assist wherever they are needed on productions. Their responsibilities vary considerably depending on where Production Runners are assigned.
Production Assistants must have a keen interest in the business of production, and an eagerness to gain further experience. They should have strong planning and organisational abilities, combined with good communication and interpersonal skills, and be efficient in time management. They need to be confident and enthusiastic when communicating in person or on the telephone, have excellent clerical skills, a good work ethic, and a strong sense of loyalty and responsibility. They must be highly computer literate, with excellent secretarial, typing, word processing and e-mail abilities. Script reading skills, experience with script writing software, and knowledge of the shoot industry is an advantage. They should also be aware of health and safety issues, and ensure that their actions do not constitute a risk to themselves or to others. Production Assistants must also be able to manage and market themselves as freelancers.
In the Production Office duties typically include: assisting with answering telephones, filing paperwork and data entry, arranging lunches, dinners, and transportation reservations, photocopying, general office administration, and distributing production paperwork.
On-set duties typically include: acting as a courier, helping to keep the set clean and tidy and distributing call sheets, Health and Safety notices, and other paperwork.
On location shoots, Production Assistants may also be required to help to co-ordinate the extras, and to perform crowd control duties, except where this work is dangerous, or performed by police officers or other official personnel.
Production Assistants must be flexible and well organised, and be able to think on their feet. They should be able to relay messages quickly and accurately, whilst paying due regard to the need for silence when on set. They should have strong verbal and written communication skills, be able to take orders, and to show tact and deference towards those in positions of authority and greater responsibility. They must be punctual and enthusiastic, and understand the importance of taking detailed notes and recording expenditure accurately. They should be level-headed, and able to work calmly and effectively under pressure. Production Runners must be able to contribute to good working relationships, and to creating a positive atmosphere on the production. They should have good secretarial skills, and be computer literate in standard word processor, spreadsheet and e-mail programs. They should also be aware of Health and Safety issues, and ensure that their actions do not constitute a risk to themselves or to others.
Enthusiasm is considered more important than experience. While there are no specific educational requirements, this is a very popular area of work, and Production Assistant jobs can be very strongly contested despite the low pay. In these circumstances, a good education is a definite advantage. A large number of colleges and other training providers offer Media courses that may provide a suitable background. Some experience in drama or broadcasting, whether it is in amateur dramatics, student radio or shoot making, is also an advantage. A full, clean driver’s licence is almost always required.
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