While it is easy enough to say “I’m gonna be a director”, the practice of it is very different, while some naturally (and financially) gifted people go straight into directing their own films, and never look back. Others have to spend years in the industry until they are given their first big opportunity.
The first role most aspiring directors go into is Runner.
Typing into google ‘How to be a good runner’ will result in many websites featuring advice about exercise and food consumption, however, type into google ‘how to be a good runner on set’ features very different results. As a runner is an entry level position, little to no qualifications are needed, although a degree or experience may give you a slight edge, the main purpose of this role is to soak up as much knowledge as possible.
A runner will often be given that asks that nobody else wants to do, these tasks could be hard labor, time consuming, or just our right boring. The tasks range from making tea for everyone on set, cleaning up sets and, meeting with stars or guests to the set, or just general admin work. The trick to be a good runner, is pretending that you enjoy doing all of these jobs, and doing all of them to a high standard, and with a smile on your face.
The greatest asset a runner can have is common sense, while it may seem obvious to not talk to the director while he is working. Some things like, having water ready if an actor is performing a physical stunt, or asking the 3rd AD if their is anything they need help with. May not be as obvious, but something a runner must never do, is have nothing to do. there is always a job that needs doing, even if its just getting the director a cup of tea.