Hi everyone! I’m Sarah Haslam, 23 and I work as a production runner. I graduated from Sheffield Hallam University with first-class honours in film and media production and from taking on any type of experience, I was given the opportunity to start this fantastic role!
My interests in the field of filmmaking began at the age of 8. I remember I got a little camcorder for Christmas one day and I never put it down. I would always be making films in the garden with my sister and our friends after school. I then started uploading them to YouTube and my skills progressed from there.
This month, a new Netflix original series was released called ‘Zero Chill’. It was on the set for this series that I was able to take on the role of ‘production runner.’ The set was based in Sheffield so it was not only a valuable experience for me but also practical in regards to location.
When working on set, the days were long – around 11 hours – but I would do it again a million times for the invaluable experience that I gained. Each morning I would ensure that the production schedule was updated and the “at a glance” worksheet was prepared for the production coordinator and line producer.
Other tasks that I had to complete throughout the day consisted of; Producing and distributing wrap reports, distributing call sheets and slides for the following day, maintaining the stock of stationary in the production office, sending costumes across to Germany and making a LOT of tea and coffee.
If I had to choose a favourite task throughout my working day, it would have to be delivering things to set. My reason for this would be because this resulted in me seeing how filmmaking took place on a large production. I was truly in awe. It allowed me to understand more about the art behind it and confirmed my love for the industry.
My route into working on the set of Zero Chill was hard work and saying yes to anything that was offered to me. I did some volunteering for my production lecturer, Colin, and unbeknown to me at the time – this was the start. I spent a few months transcribing a documentary for his film company ‘Studio of the North.’ He happened to know someone within the industry who was looking for a runner and Colin very kindly passed my name on.
The most difficult part of the process was… remembering crew names. I’m terrible with names, always have been – I can’t help but mix them up. It’s hard on a normal day but add hundreds to the daily total and you have yourself a struggle. It was so difficult as there were SO many to remember.
This opportunity was perfect for further-developing the skills that I already had as well as giving me knowledge that I might otherwise have never known. I learnt a lot on set. There was terminology that I had never even heard of before and the difference between my production work at university to this huge set was immense. University did give me the grounds before I began which is something that I am grateful for as I didn’t feel completely blindfolded.
Every single person that I met whilst working on that set inspired me greatly. It made me realise just how important each job role is and how much hard work goes into the behind-the-scenes running of such productions. It has encouraged me to strive for more and gain more industry experience.
If anyone believes that this may be the career path for them; I would say that you should take any opportunity that you can. My best advice would be to enjoy yourself and always go the extra mile – you will thank yourself in the future.