A Runner’s Tale: Making It In Media
It’s a sad truth that getting a job in media is one of the more difficult tasks to accomplish. But, it is possible. I know, I’ve done it. Like any career, there are lots of pathways to success, but my own personal journey began in one of the more commonplace ways: I started at the bottom. Reader, I was a runner. I get so many people asking me how I got my first job, I thought I’d take a moment to enlighten the internet. You’re welcome.
SO FENTON, HOW DID YOU GET YOUR RUNNER JOB IN THE FIRST PLACE?
Social Media Maven
Well, thanks for asking. I am a modern individual, fully networked and ready to pounce on every opportunity. This is my way of saying that I stalked Twitter like a jungle cat while binge-eating crisps and wearing my pyjamas. However, there are strategic ways to do this, never mind the dress code. Make sure that you google every production company in your region. Check to see if they have any kind of online presence and then, follow them relentlessly on Twitter. They probably won’t tweet about job opportunities, but take this time to get to know their social media person personally. Be relentlessly delightful – imagine a person who’s fun to work with: cheerful, funny, savvy and informed and then be that person in 140 characters. Most production companies are small so odds are the person in charge of their tweeting actually has some power. Make friends and your chances of being tipped off about any paid opportunities increase markedly, especially if you make an especial effort to stay informed about the company’s various projects and shooting locations. Equally, don’t be afraid to just ask if there’s any work going – a little chutzpah never hurt anyone in this particular industry!
Utilising College/University Student Connections
You might not know it, but if you’re a student, you’re exceptionally well placed to start your media career off early. Extra Casting agencies often use university job boards to advertise for bodies to fill the background of locally-shot film/TV shoots. These jobs might be sporadic but they’ll give you a real insight into the rhythms and demands of a working set. The pay’s not bad either – typically about £50 a day. In addition, campuses often have their own radio/TV/theatre studios. I can’t stress this enough – if you have an opportunity to volunteer for something that will fill your CV and get you used to the long hours, esoteric demands and exhilarating difference each day brings, then do it. Get in the habit of saying yes when you’ve still got your student loan behind you. The time to work for beans is now. Once you’ve left education, you want your experience to reflect the living wage you’re going to need to demand from the media recruitment agencies. If you haven’t been through higher education, it’s equally possible to get a job in media but it’s going to be harder to get the experience you need without going without little things like rent and food. You’re going to have to be smarter with your choices, more assiduous with your planning and generally work that little bt harder. Still, once you do make it, you’ll be damn good.
Check Out Networking Events
When I was younger, I used to swear that I would never work in London. I was not a city girl. Still, if there’s one thing an urban metropolis is good for, it’s facilitating the gathering of like-minded industry people. Sometimes the best way to break into the media industry is to be physically in the right place at the right time. Keep track of websites like meetup.com which publish details of some pretty exciting events. If you cross-reference this kind of site with your Twitter list, you can work out where the people you want to meet are going to be hanging out. The next step is putting on your fancy shoes and going.
Learn How To Make Good Tea/Coffee
I really can’t stress this enough. This is an important life skill anyway, especially if you live in Britain. But yeah, you Will Make Tea so be sure that you can do a subtle and compelling job, that you know how to memorise sugar preferences. This will endear you to everyone. If you take nothing else away from this article, remember this. Your career could depend upon it.
Fenton Dean now has his own production company and blogs occasionally for Media World Jobs