A day in the life of a runner

As someone who came onto this MA having barely any experience in the film and television industry, when a friend offered the opportunity to be a runner for a music video with Gas and Electric it was impossible to turn down, but extremely nerve wracking at the same time. I couldn’t wait to experience a professional production.

LydiaBlogThe day before the shoot we were emailed a call sheet (a real, proper call sheet) where we could see the various locations we would be filming, the plan for the day and contacts for everyone involved. The overall day took 12 hours and was scheduled in so much detail. Myself and another FTV student, Talla, were awake and on location by 6.30am. We had the warmest welcome and were introduced to the team with as many bacon rolls and drinks of coffee as we liked. At 7am on the dot, the advanced schedule began, and we started by being in charge of the distribution and set up of the radio mics. These walkie talkies were essential during the shoot as they enabled the contact between many of the production team. Talla and I were numbers 4 and 5, also included were the 1st assistant director, the production assistant and the producer, who was sat at the unit base looking after the equipment throughout the day.

While everyone was setting up, me and Talla were introduced to the new talented artist – a young local performer from Birmingham. She chatted away to us while having her make up done by an artist, also a local student, so we all had a lot to talk about. Then Talla proceeded to the first location and I remained at the base. Talla was initially responsible for the playback of the music via a speaker she was holding so the artist could be filmed lip-syncing to it – I also took responsibility for this later on in the day. I was then asked to meet the team with a neon yellow jacket at the next location to help stop the disruption of filming as people and cars were often coming into the shot – I do have to say I enjoyed having this power! I then began to watch the effortless filming of the crew and saw how a music video could be filmed.

I was summoned after a while to have the responsible task of returning the SD card full of footage to the unit base, to transfer it onto a computer and bring it back empty to be used again – this is when the term ‘runner’ really came into account, as I could be seen running through the busy streets of Digbeth back and forth a few times. Talla carried on with the playback duty and some members of the public wanted to join the filming. The talent and director both agreed, and I was therefore sent to grab some release forms to obtain their consent for being filmed.

Lunch time came and by then we had already been on site for 7 hours, so the chilli and rice provided for us at the unit base pub was (as you can imagine) a great success. After filming in multiple locations, I watched the team be challenged by someone from the council asking for a permit. This was handled so calmly, and the production assistant sorted it out so it did not affect the team shooting all the action. After 12 long hours of filming, Talla and I put away all the radio equipment and loaded it into the van to be taken back to London. From our position as runners, we experienced up close what goes into the production of a small-team location music video. All of the scheduled organised chaos at the time did not stop the positive and kind nature of the production team, who continued to ask how we were and whether we were okay as first timers on the job. In conclusion, I would 100% be a runner again, even if that does mean running around Birmingham in -1 degrees!

Lydia James