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In focus: The role of the Production Co-ordinators and Production Runners

Gabby Le Rasle presents and introduction into the role of a Production Manager.
The role of a production coordinator, in my view, is to juggle a lot of elements of production and to solve puzzles, which occur every day, all day in production. And specifically, you have to be experienced at contracts that support cast and crew, travel accommodation, UK and foreign. Insurance, you need to be, to some extent, knowledgeable about. You need to be able to deal with all of the departments and liaise between departments. You need to keep the diary, not just for one person, but for the whole crew, and calendars. You need to– on this production, say, that I’m currently working on– you need to be liaison between foreign crew and UK crew. You need to deal with shipping.
You need to deal with all of the elements that come up when you’re moving a crew abroad and back again to the UK to shoot. What makes a good production coordinator very organised and very detailed and as accurate as possible, given the parameters of time and pressure, calm and the ability to cope and get along with, often, very difficult people.
And also, the ability to research and solve problems. The role of a production runner is really important in a production and is hugely underestimated. And the runners, on a day to day breakdown of what they do, they open up the offices. They close the offices at the end of the day. They keep supplies in the kitchen. And they do the usual photo copying and checking of scripts and sending out. But much, much more, for instance, if you’re on a small production, they do get to do a lot of research. And they get to handle certain areas that are literally, the production team have not got time to do.
What I look for in a good runner is good health, stamina, what I would call sticking ability. If you’re given something, do it, and do it well. And if you can’t do it, come back and say you couldn’t do it. Cheerfulness– really, you are it at the bottom rung and you need to be cheerful. And you need to be pleasant to every single person on the crew. So where do runners go from here? They very often go into locations, the location department, or they stay in production. They are the main areas where production runners stay. And they carry on to be production secretary, a system coordinator– coordinator.
I very often come across line producers and producers who’ve been runners– very common. And they go to be location assistance, location managers, who then, sometimes, become line producers. I think the most common mistake that runners make is not appreciating how important what they’re doing is. If they’re given instructions, it seems to them that they’re doing something which is very trivial. But in fact, it can be incredibly important. And they can’t seem to understand that. Say if you’re picking something up, it could be a lens. It could be a notebook. This might be something critical, and they trivialise it. So they don’t see they’re all actually as important. So they may not do it on time, which infuriates everyone.
So they have to understand that what they do is vital, and they need to do it quickly. And they need to do it well, whatever they’re asked to do. When I’m looking to interview a runner and initially looking at CDs, I want something crisp and clear and uncluttered. Bullet points are really good, that you drive, that you have or have not got a car. That where you live, very important– or where you could live. And, also, perhaps a reference and some experience, however small. When it comes to interview stages, enthusiasm. That you’re actually interested, that you may have looked up what a runner even does.
in this video Deryn Stafford will introduce us to the roles of Production Co-ordinator and Production Runner. Deryn (IMDb profile) is an experienced Production Coordinator with a background in low and medium-budget films and television, as well as larger US-backed studio films (Sony/Paramount/Disney/Universal). Recent credits as a coordinator include: The Gunman, The Woman in Black: Angel of Death and Fleming.
On a daily basis Production Co-ordinators juggle numerous tasks and solve the multitude of puzzles that can come up during a production. Equally, the role of the Production Runner should not be under estimated, they can be hugely important in the detail of a production, need to maintain a cheerful, can-do attitude.
You can find out more about the Production Department structure in the downloadable document below.
Production Co-ordinators are calm, organised, detailed, accurate and dynamic problem solvers. They have to have strong research skills and deal with difficult people. Does this role interest you? Do you think you have these skills?
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