What does a floor assistant do?
Floor assistants work with the floor manager on a studio production, to help them run the studio floor and make sure the rehearsals and programme recording go smoothly.
They do a similar role on an outside broadcast, helping the floor manager at the location, whether that be a football stadium, field or cathedral. The difference is that on an outside broadcast they are working in a less controlled environment, dealing with weather and the public and any number of unforeseen situations.
Often the floor assistant is delegated specific jobs such as checking the presenters have arrived safely and, if necessary, have been to make-up ready for rehearsals. Or, depending on the programme, they may be responsible for checking all the props are in position for each set-up.
If it’s a very big show, such as a long comedy fundraising programme like Children in Need, there may be a number of floor assistants, as there could a huge number of presenters, guests, pops bands and dance teams to look after, and they all need to be in the right place at the right time. Floor managers can’t leave the floor, so they depend on the assistants to chase up late-comers.
In very big studio productions, or perhaps on a large outside broadcast, such as in a football stadium or stately home, floor assistants might need to cue some of the presenters.
Assistant floor managers need to be polite yet firm and able to think quickly and assess complex situations. A presenter might be trying to hide their nerves, or a pop band might be proving difficult. If so, the floor assistant needs to alert the floor manager discreetly - well away from the many live microphones on set.
What’s a floor assistant good at?
- Multi-tasking: work with several lines of responsibility simultaneously, listen and follow the instructions whilst also using your diplomacy to keep people happy
- Staying calm under pressure: think quickly in an often live, fast-paced and changing TV environment
- Being friendly: greet everyone - experienced presenters, politicians, talent - in a way that gives them confidence
- Reading a situation: know when people are nervous or unhappy, be tactful, pacify heightened moods, choose the right words at the right time
- Learning quickly: listen and watch carefully, communicate clearly, understand the different production roles and their different requirements