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How to Get into the Film & TV Industry - Starting Out as a Runner

How do you get your first job on a film or TV set?

By Katie BurnsidePublished 3 years ago 3 min read
Credit: Katie Burnside

Wondering how to get your foot in the door? Do you have to get a degree first?

A degree won't help you get a job in the industry so if you don't want to go to University, don't! However, it can teach you the basics of how cameras work, how to write a script, etc. What it can't teach you though is how an actual film or TV set operates. What the day to day is like on a real set. That can't be taught, only experienced. Therefore, University is not a necessity.

If you can get a job as a runner straight out of school, you"ll be way ahead of people who waited to get jobs until after uni. You'll have more experience under your belt and an impressive CV. Experience is what matters in this industry, not grades or degrees. It's who you know and what you know.

Being thrown into a set and learning on your feet is the best way to understand how the industry works. The problem with Universities is if your lecturers haven't been on a set and worked on productions then they don't know how to teach you how they operate. They can't teach what they don't know.

No amount of research online actually prepared me when I first started out. Once you get your foot in the door, that's when you can start to understand it. The best way to learn is just getting out there and getting that first job. Don't be afraid to get stuck in. You will make mistakes but that's how you learn.

It can be quite daunting knowing it's an industry you'd love to get into but not knowing where to start. It's easy if you know someone in the industry but if you don't, then you've got to do a lot of networking.

Facebook has a lot of useful groups for people starting out. I would recommend joining them because you will see loads of jobs advertised on a daily basis. I will list a few of these groups at the end of this article.

Starting out as a runner is the best way to learn because you have to interact with every department. As a member of the Assistant Directors team, you're at the centre of the film crew. It is also a great place to start because in that position you can work out which department best suits you and because you interact with everyone you can make contacts and begin to network.

Screen Skills is also another useful source to join. They have loads of opportunities for beginners. They offer a lot of traineeships for different departments and they will get you on the good jobs too. TCN Talent Pool and The Unit List are also some very helpful sites to use. They advertise a lot of jobs.

Below are a list of Facebook groups that you should join if you're wanting to get your first job:

  • Film & TV Production Crew
  • My First Job In TV
  • People In TV: Runners
  • TV And Film Jobs
  • People In TV: Available
  • UK Film Jobs

There are also groups relating to your area. For example, I'm from West Yorkshire so I'm in the following Facebook groups:

  • Northern Freelance TV Production Staff
  • TV Talent North
  • Yorkshire Film & TV Network
  • People In TV: Northern England

Hopefully, this will help you take that first step into the industry. Keep your eyes peeled for jobs and take every opportunity thrown your way. Remember, everyone has to start somewhere. Even if you're offered a job that's not in your preferred department, take it! Because that is how you get your foot in the door.

Once you get that first job and you start to learn the craft, jobs will come so easily. The industry is so busy right now and we're desperate for runners. Never give up!

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    Katie BurnsideWritten by Katie Burnside

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