What does a floor runner do?
Floor runners are the most junior members of the floor management team.
The term ‘floor’ often means a studio floor, but the term can also be used to describe a football stadium, a field or a cathedral – any location from which there is an outside broadcast.
The day for the floor runner often begins before rehearsals start and ends well after everyone else has gone home. Floor runners meet and greet the presenters, helping them with their bags and showing them to make-up or costume.
On a large production, like a big Saturday night entertainment show, there’s a small army of floor runners making sure everyone is in place. Each is assigned to one or two contributors to make sure they have everything they need, like a copy of the script or coffees and sandwiches.
The runners also help the production team and crew and often visit the production gallery to see if anyone needs help, a coffee or some water. This might sound like the simplest job, but picking the right moment is essential. You need to be sensitive to the atmosphere: to ask in a loud voice if the team would like a coffee isn’t a great approach ten seconds from going live. But if you judge it right, a nice cuppa will be hugely appreciated by the production team or presenter who have been working for several hours without a break.
Most floor runners are freelance. It’s one of the best places in which to learn: You find out who does what, where the decisions are made, how producers work with presenters, how long it takes to rehearse a sequence, how many cameras you need to cover a pop band, and so much more. It can be genuinely exciting being back-stage at a rock festival or international football match – although being a floor runner should not be seen as a chance to meet famous people, and ‘selfies’ are discouraged. It’s a place to behave professionally with everyone you meet whoever they may be; then you are remembered and hopefully invited on to the next job.
What’s a floor runner good at?
• Taking initiative: have common sense, see what needs to be done, offer help without being asked, don’t be afraid to ask questions at the appropriate time
• Reliability: be punctual, do what’s asked promptly and efficiently, have a positive can-do attitude, file and store things securely
• Learning quickly: listen and watch carefully, stay calm under pressure, communicate clearly, understand the different production roles and their different requirements
• Tact: judge situations and the right time to offer help, know when and where it’s appropriate to carry out the job in the moment, be able to put people at ease
• Watching telly: have a passion for unscripted TV and a love of the industry