Film & TV Departments and Entry Level Jobs
There are many departments within the Film & TV industry and they all have entry-level positions suitable for people who are just starting out. Unless you’re already getting lots of work as a Runner and are able to observe other departments on set, its difficult to know what each job role actually involves. To try and help newcomers get an idea of the potential job roles available to them, I’ve listed below the main departments, the entry-level position in each one and the typical daily tasks involved.
For this blog, I’ve had help from some awesome crew members who know the ins and outs of their respective departments. A big thank you goes to…
Sarah Nichols for Accounts.
Jen Rhodes for AD's.
Liam Gibbs and Jo Pearce for Art.
Nick Baker for Camera.
Roz Marshall for Costume.
Joe Willis for Grip.
Jake Sainsbury and Leon Welchman for Locations.
Mel Crawford for Post-Production.
Mel Crawford and Amelia Berry for Production.
Glen Marullo for Sound.
One thing to note: all productions are different and some of these tasks may vary if, for example, you are working on a period drama compared to a contemporary drama or on a commercial compared to a natural history program. This information will give you a basic outline of the entry-level positions available, but there is much more to every role than the key things I’ve listed below.
Another note: There’s one task that every crew member listed as VITAL for their Runner or Trainee. You won’t be surprised by what it is…
Entry Level Position: Cashier.
Reports to: Accountant, Assistant Accountant, Line Producer.
Typical tasks: Organising petty cash and distributing to cast and crew, going to set and bringing back any paperwork and/or invoices, collecting cash from the bank, photocopying and organising paperwork, liaising with suppliers and crew as required, basic assistance with accounts software and… making drinks and getting lunches for your department.
Department: AD’s (Assistant Directors).
Entry Level Position: Floor Runner.
Reports to: 1st AD, 2nd AD, 3rd AD.
Typical tasks: Looking after talent, “locking off”*, communicating with all other departments, organising on set transport such as minibuses and unit cars, setting up and maintaining the tea table, distributing paperwork, keeping the set tidy and clearing up rubbish and… making drinks and getting lunches for your department and for talent.
Entry Level Position: Art Trainee.
Reports to: Production Designer, Art Director, Set Decorator, Buyer, Art Assistant.
Typical tasks: Research and/or finding references, shopping, delivering items to set, small prop makes, assisting with graphics, editing images in Photoshop, ordering stationery and art materials, making models of the sets, preparing colour swatches and… making drinks and getting lunches for your department.
Entry Level Position: Camera Trainee.
Reports to: DOP (Director of Photography), Camera Op, 1st AC (or Focus Puller), 2nd AC (or Loader).
Typical tasks: Charging batteries, organising the camera truck, making sure the correct kit is ready and on hand at all times, making “marks”* with camera tape, kit maintenance and cleaning, ordering and maintaining consumables,
setting up “video village”*, packing up kit at the end of the day and… making drinks and getting lunches for your department.
Entry Level Position: Costume Trainee.
Reports to: Costume Designer, Costume Supervisor, Costume Standby.
Typical tasks: Washing, ironing, basic alterations, organising the costume truck, running items back and forth to set, setting up and clearing costumes in actors’ trailers, occasional shopping runs for basics, assisting the Standby on set, assisting dress SA’s* and… making drinks and getting lunches for your department.
Entry Level Position: Grip Trainee.
Reports to: Key Grip, Grip, Camera Op.
Typical tasks: Basic assistance with laying rail and track, checking measurements and levelling, organising the grip truck, having the appropriate kit on standby as per the shot requirements, cleaning and maintaining grip equipment, liaising with the production office with regards to additional kit and personal requirements, packing up kit at the end of the day and… making drinks and getting lunches for your department.
Entry Level Position: Locations Assistant.
Reports to: Location Manager, Unit Manager.
Typical tasks: Being on standby to help see in unit moves*, laying floor protection, keeping an eye on set in between unit moves, directing crew and technical vehicles with parking, making sure the location is kept clean and tidy, liaising with location owner, liaising with security guards and… making drinks and getting lunches for your department.
Entry Level Position: Makeup Trainee.
Reports to: Makeup Designer, Makeup Supervisor, Makeup Artist.
Typical tasks: Cleaning brushes and makeup equipment, ordering consumables, washing and styling wigs, makeup styling for SA’s and small cast roles, runs from makeup truck to set when necessary, organising and tidying the makeup truck and… making drinks and getting lunches for your department.
Entry Level Position: Post-Production Runner.
Reports to: Editor, Assistant Editor, Production Coordinator.
Typical tasks: Delivering / collecting tapes and hard drives, post office runs, booking edit suites and meeting rooms, liaising with post-production and production teams, labelling tapes and drives, media storage, liaising with clients and talent, collecting rushes from set and… making drinks and getting lunches for your department.
Entry Level Position: Production Runner.
Reports to: Producer, Line Producer, Production Coordinator, Production Secretary.
Typical tasks: Photocopying, organising and tidying production office and kitchen, organising and distributing paperwork, writing and filing purchase orders, updating production documents, answering the production office phone, runs to set, shopping, post office runs, booking meetings rooms, booking taxis and minibuses, liaising with suppliers collecting rushes from set … making drinks and getting lunches for your department.
Entry Level Position: Sound Trainee.
Reports to: Sound Mixer (or Recordist), Boom Op, Sound Assistant.
Typical tasks: Ordering and maintaining consumables, charging batteries, keeping an eye on the Boom Op for potential trip hazards, listening out for sound interruptions and if necessary identifying and stopping them, pulling cable, organising and maintaining sound equipment and… making drinks and getting lunches for your department.
These are just a few examples of the daily tasks required of these roles and each position has many more responsibilities than just the few I’ve listed above. In any case and regardless of the department, as a Runner or Trainee you will be expected to get on with any task given to you and to do it efficiently and effectively.
I’m always happy to receive feedback or try to answer any questions you might have, so please feel free to get in touch.