Top Tips for a TV Runner: My Day at the Royal Wedding!
Saturday 19th May was a very special date for people all over the world, as it was the day of the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle! For me, it was particularly memorable because unexpectedly, I landed the job of a lifetime.
HelloGrads delivered a talk at uni, about preparing for working life, and later put me in touch with a journalist who was covering the wedding for the Chinese Global Television network CGTN. She was looking for an intern to help out, I applied, and a few days later was privileged to be in amongst the celebrations. It was so much fun and a great experience!
I didn’t see much of the wedding itself, but it was fab to be in the crowds with people from all walks of life. My main roles involved researching before live broadcasts, to make sure we were clued up on all developments, and that we were accurately reporting what Meghan was wearing and which celebrities were in attendance; I was also charged with keeping the area clear during live broadcasts and looking after equipment. It was exhausting but exhilarating, and happily they were impressed with my work and keen to offer me more, which is what interning is all about.
From my experience, I have shared my top tips for a TV runner – easy ways to make the most of starting out in television and doing day running work…
Applying – Have your CV ready
This is a tip for before you even start working as a day runner. In my experience, day running has a pretty quick turnaround. For this job at the Royal Wedding, I applied on the Tuesday, was told I was successful on the Wednesday, and worked on the Saturday. This is why it is crucial to make sure you have an updated CV that you can tailor to the specific job you’re applying for. Make sure you don’t miss out on valuable opportunities just because you don’t have your CV ready!
To give yourself the best chance, it’s essential to adapt your CV for every position you apply for, by highlighting experiences that will be beneficial to that specific job. When applying for this role, I drew attention to previous factual television experience and research by listing them at the top of my CV. Not only does this make it much easier for employers to find your relevant knowledge and skills, it also shows you have put some time into applying for the role and you appreciate what the company is looking for.
Do your research
Researching the production company and programme is a great way to prove you are well-prepared and demonstrate genuine interest in the specific area of television you’re working in. Before working at the royal wedding, I researched the television company, the journalist I’d be working with and the latest news coverage of the wedding.
I also found that doing plenty of research massively increased my confidence on the day, as I felt easily able to engage in relevant conversations with colleagues and ask pertinent questions.
Bonus tip: Use LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook as a research tool to find out about the production company and people you’re working with. It’s always good to do some ‘professional stalking’ beforehand to find out more about them and make sure they’re legitimate!
Make sure you’re flexible with times to speak on the phone in preparation for the shoot, especially if the people you’re working with are trying to plan the day quickly and organise the budget. They don’t want you to be an extra concern, so make it as easy as you can for them! They’ll appreciate it and be glad they hired you. Also, be aware that TV isn’t a 9-5 job, so they might call you in the evening. If you know you’ll be busy, be proactive and arrange a definite time you can do!
Be flexible with travel. Know where the job is and know if you can get there and back without it costing too much. Luckily, I have family who live close to Windsor so I asked if I could stay with them the night before the event. Part of the reason I got the job was because I was able to offer this – I was told there were other applicants who were equally qualified, but it was just much easier for me to get there.
Bonus tip: If you’re struggling to find runner opportunities near you, think about whether you have any friends or family in different locations who wouldn’t mind you staying for a night or two, and keep an eye out for runner jobs in these locations too!
Luckily, we had time for a lovely M&S lunch (which I found had been renamed ‘Markle and Sparkle’ much to my delight!) but a substantial dinner on shoot would not be guaranteed. The company will make sure you have time to stop and eat something (I imagine this is a legal requirement) but the food might not be adequate for the amount you’re working, especially when you’re on an outdoor shoot often moving locations and doing plenty of walking.
Bonus tip: Bring something you can easily share with other people in the crew, like a bag of sweets (individually wrapped is probably the best option!). It’s amazing how much a little bit of sugar boosts a crew’s energy on a shoot. It’ll also show you’ve prepared and thought about others on the shoot, which is certain to make a great impression!
As a runner on a day shoot, you may not feel like you’re doing much or being particularly helpful, especially if you’re stood looking after some equipment while other crew go elsewhere to film. However, if you make a good impression by being well-prepared, inquisitive, and proactive, each role is likely to lead to more work, either with the same people or another production company, plus it’s a new experience to widen your knowledge and learning in television.
A good thing about day running is that you’re not committing to weeks or months working for one company, so it is a quick and easy way to discover new interests and learn what you’re not so keen on. This makes it much easier to refine future job searches and start navigating your career in something you’re genuinely passionate about, so try it out!
And to be able to have some input on the day of the royal wedding was a once in a life time opportunity!
Recently finished studying Television Production at the University of Westminster – graduating in July!
Currently working in hospitality and customer service, as well as doing short-term work experience placements in the television industry.
My goal is to work in factual television, particularly natural history programming.