02/08

Inside a Production company: A runner’s POV (Part II)

Ever wondered what a Production Runner’s life was really like? Alex recalls some of the craziest situations he’s been in…

>> If you haven’t read the first part of this series yet, click here <<

Sharpygate:

I was In Ryman’s and there were no Sharpies in sight. I asked the shop assistant where they were. He told me they were out of stock and had been for a while. “Probably time to get some in, then”, I thought to myself smugly. Time to head to WH Smith. None there either. Something is going on here. Perhaps another conspiracy. Again, I ask the shop assistant. He told the there was a … wait for it … Sharpie drought in the UK. A Sharpie drought! Something to do with the chemicals that go in them or something. I’m not sure if there is truth behind it or whether he just doesn’t want to give me anything I might be able to stab him with as my eyes are clearly implying. I took a deep breath, picked up my heavy load and continued my search. In the end I just got some budget alternatives from home and everything was fine. Great story right?
Look, I know you want to hear about the time I tried to buy a beach ball in March or when a shop assistant in H&M told me that they don’t sell dresses. However, I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone.

Caffeine

Another disproportionately large part of my job is keeping everybody caffeinated on set. The film industry runs off caffeine and I’m legitimately worried about the dwindling supply of coffee in the world!
If you ask me in the office I can sort you out with a ‘Triple-shot skinny-fat soy latte’ or a ‘Cortado’ from any of the trendy coffee shops on Bermondsey Street. However, if you ask when we are in a demolition site 10 miles from even the nearest Costa, I’m going to struggle. Time to check out the foreman’s porta-cabin facilities and see what I can do. Improvisational barista is now on my skills based CV along with antique furniture restoration specialist and rain dancer.

Paying a busker to stop playing

For this shoot I had painfully managed to source a location on a rooftop bar with a view of Trafalgar Square and the rest of London. See below:

Production Runner

We rented the VIP area for the afternoon and somehow managed to get them to turn their music off during peak times so we could record audio. Everything was perfect. The CEO of the very large bank arrived and we had to get the interview in 15 minutes (all the time she had). Exactly as we started rolling, a two-piece garage band complete with drum kit, microphone and guitar amp started up in the square next to bad Yoda. If you’ve already been to Trafalgar Square, you’ve probably seen him:

I was instructed to immediately do anything within my power to stop them playing. With £50 of petty cash in my pocket I took the stairs down and sprinted across the square to try and bribe them to stop for 15 minutes. As I arrived I heard the singer swearing his audience out, “Well you guys are f*cking sh*t aren’t ya!” Admittedly the guy was pretty rock and roll. “Why did I even bother coming out today?” This was my chance to stop him before he started another song. “I hear what your saying” I interjected without hesitation to the surprise of the audience and band. Suddenly all of the attention was on me, and nobody, including me really knew what was going to come next. I went with the honesty approach. I told him we were filming, they were ruining the audio and I was prepared to offer them £50 to stop playing for 15 minutes.
*Over the mic* “This guy thinks it’s all about money doesn’t he?”
He then proceeded to swear me out which at least stalled the drums and guitar for about three minutes.
“Look, fifty quid, take it or leave it”
“F*CK OFF!”
“OKAY!”
As I was leaving I heard him start his next song which was called “My manager is a prick”.
I did try. As it turned out the audio was fine because I’d purposefully called an exceptional sound guy in anticipation of shooting outside in central London 😉

These are just a few of the many hilarious situations being a runner has thrown me into. Tough or fun, my job is never boring and plus, it makes for great stories. Come back next time for more.