Case study

Production runner — Enya Quin-Jarvis

Enya offers her advice to graduates who want to get into the television industry...

How did you get your current job?

After I graduated from Birmingham City University I sent out applications by searching through job websites such as Production Base and The Unit List. They are great for finding work within the TV industry, however, the downside is that along with the list of jobs comes increasing competition. I found that I was competing with people who had a lot more experience than me.

I applied for the Shine TV Graduate Researcher Scheme and was lucky enough to make it to the final four. Unfortunately I didn't get the position but I was offered the job of office runner within Princess Productions.

Being an office runner wasn't the position I was originally after but you have to be willing to start from the bottom and work your way up, and if that meant doing the recycling and stocking up printer paper then so be it.

Working in TV allows you to experience things you probably wouldn't ever do otherwise

How relevant was your degree?

My degree in media and communication (journalism) was very relevant as I took television modules in my final year and made a 30-minute chat show as part of my final project. This gave me the practical experience I needed as I gained an understanding of industry-standard equipment and learned how the industry operated.

It was the TV magazine and chat show module which made me realise my aspiration to become a programme researcher.

Describe a typical working day

Every day is different and that's why I love it. It depends on the type of programme I'm working on. At the moment I'm working on an observational documentary for Sky 1 and a lot of time is spent on location, which requires me to drive the crew to and from shoots.

On the shoots I am responsible for gathering release forms, assisting producers, setting up equipment, managing events, data wrangling and logging.

There aren't specific tasks for a production runner; you just need to make sure that you are doing everything you can to help the production run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

Since starting at the company I have gone from office runner to production runner and had the chance to work on programmes such as 'Sunday Brunch' and 'Got To Dance'.

In this next year I hope to achieve my first junior researcher credit.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love the fact that every project I work on is different. I am a people person and I think you have to be in this industry.

Meeting and working with new people is something I relish. Working in TV allows you to experience things you probably wouldn't ever do otherwise, for example last week a few crew members flew to Canada to film.

What do you find challenging?

Being freelance is hard. It's scary not knowing where your next job is coming from but the longer you work in the industry the more contacts you will have. The industry is actually very small and you often find that everyone knows everyone. It gets easier with more experience but be prepared for those times when you don't have work. It can be worrying and it can make you question your career choice.

What advice would you give people who would like to get into TV?

Be prepared to work hard. It's an amazing career and you learn so much but this isn't a job for the faint-hearted, so be prepared for 12-hour shifts and sometimes working weekends.

The pay isn't great but most people in the industry started out as a runner and I always find that comforting to know. I would say be persistent. There are jobs out there but they won't come to you, you have to go to them.

In terms of getting experience, decide on the types of programmes you would like to work on and contact the production company who makes them. It sounds simple but many people don't think to do this.