Stuart started working for Scottish TV as a trainee sound technician. After being employed in this area for several years he moved on to work as a freelance floor manager.
I started working for Scottish TV as a trainee sound technician. After being employed in this area for several years I was offered the opportunity to work as a floor manager alongside my work in sound. After a few years working with Scottish TV, I made the decision to work freelance and I now work regularly in the UK and abroad on programmes as varied as Postcode Challenge and Hogmanay Live.
I found that the experience of the studio floor was invaluable: you learn to be aware of everything that is happening and to keep control of it all. One of the key skills in this role is definitely multi-tasking!
A floor manager needs to have excellent people skills. Television can be a strange environment if you’re not used to it and when you have guests or audiences the show will run a lot smoother if everyone is relaxed and happy. A huge part of my job is about communicating effectively with people and earning their trust and respect very quickly. Diplomacy and the ability to make friends are vital skills.
One a day-to-day basis I am responsible for overseeing lighting, cameras, sound and stage crews, as well as dealing with the audience and any invited guests we may have on the show. The floor manager is the key link between the studio floor and the producer and director of the show. I have to make sure that all instructions are relayed accurately and quickly. Health and safety is also a crucial part of my role - I have to make sure everyone is briefed on fire exits, etc.
One of the things I really enjoy about my work is there is no such thing as a typical day. What you are responsible for varies enormously from programme to programme. The great thing about working freelance is that you never stay in one job for too long. You may be working on one show for just a few days and another for a month.
The position of floor manager can also be demanding, stressful, draining and tiring. (You don’t always get the same breaks the rest of the crew may get.) During the course of your duties you might have to deal with several people at one time as well as awkward individuals and situations. Ultimately I find it very rewarding, but there are some days that feel never ending!
The best way to get this area of work is to get some work experience first. You can’t simply walk into a position at this level; you need to work your way up. The best way to start in TV is to work as a runner and meet as many people as you can. It can be true that it’s not what you know, but who you know. It’s very important to use networking skills to help you get you your first work experience. I think the best way to get work experience is to call first and then follow up with your CV. If you are offered a period of work experience, make sure that you are insured to work there.
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