Shots.net profiles Just Runners
Just Runners takes steps towards greater diversity
Just Runners provides runners on shoots with a view to increasing diversity in film and advertising. We meet the man behind the scenes, to find out how it all came together
The advertising industry can be a fairly nepotistic arena. Getting a foot through the door is always easier if someone's already holding that door open for you. A new, diversity-led initiative called Just Runners is now helping those who have no connections or background in the industry, but are talented, enthusiastic and hard-working, break into the business.
Created by Paul McLoone, who also heads production company, P for Production, the initiative is supported by The Sweetshop who say the aim is to help equip the runners with the tools, skills and kit they need to be ready for work. "Its our purpose to achieve greater inclusivity within the production industry," said Spencer Dodd, Sweetshop's MD for UK and Europe. "Our aim is to help talented individuals with positive attitudes fulfil their potential, without being held back by circumstance. It’s rewarding to see how much confidence the runners have built through their placements, and we look forward to seeing how they progress from here.”
We chat to Paul about what drove him to launch Just Runners and what his hopes are for the future.
Can you explain what Just Runners is?
Paul McLoone: The official line is Just Runners is an inclusive recruitment initiative for the film industry, but I prefer to think that for those who do not know anyone who works in film industry, we are like a substitute uncle, with some friends down the golf club who work in film. And we'll have a little word on Thursday and see if they can sort you out a little bit of running work.
Why did you set it up?
PM: I run a production company called P for Production, and I wanted to try and use the platform I have a little more constructively, try to do things more interestingly. So, for example, when I was making music videos, I was bringing in kids from the New Horizons project in Camden, and I found that the kids were really great.
However I realised that, although I was giving someone a bit of work experience, I wasn’t really creating an opportunity because I could only offer up one or two days’ work a month. So, I thought maybe I could change the approach. If I could get a load of productions companies hiring kids, then it could actually become a life changing opportunity. And then I looked at the kids and realised that loads of very talented people were in courses and programmes geared to making the film industry more inclusive. And these people were not getting work at the end of them. So, I thought maybe we could marry the folk who really, really wanted to work in film with the companies who really, really want to employ inclusively.
"We have simple but strict rules and if they're broken then people are no longer represented on our books"
What's happened since the inception of Just Runners?
PM: I've had really great support from virtually everyone in the industry. People have really got what it is about, and bookings have been increasing each month. I am proud to say that the kids themselves have made the biggest impact because they have managed to establish a good reputation for the company.
We aren’t some do-gooder scheme, we are aimed at professional companies. Just Runners are a bunch of great workers, desperate to work in film who just need a foot in the door to gain experience.
What do your recruits learn in your boot camp?
PM: Etiquette and how to establish oneself in the crew. We have simple but strict rules and if they're broken then people are no longer represented on our books:
Always honour your booking
Never be late
Learn every name on the call sheet and check out people’s previous work
Introduce yourself to everyone on set and let them know you are their runner for the day
Never be on your phone
Never sit down
Always be polite and enjoy your work
Where do the recruits come from?
PM: I have built up relationships with people who run diversity-led courses. Things that are financed by the lottery fund or government to bring people towards the film industry. Places like the BFI, University of East London, Creative Skillset, 4 Corners, Princes Trust, among others. These people will nominate two or three kids they feel have what it takes to make it professionally. Then those nominees go to a training/selection day where we choose people based on their team work, communication and attitude.
What has the reaction been from companies that have used your runner?
PM: We have never yet had a bad word said from a production company. Which is good, but not something we are going to get lax about. You're only as good as your last job and all that.
How will you continue to grow and improve the programme?
PM: We need more inclusive employers. That is the big hurdle. We need more producers, 1st ADs, art directors to commit to using their power of employment well. I want more people to ask that their shoots are inclusive. It’s quite easy to do once you decide to do it. And I see Just Runners as a very good way to be inclusive. My hope for the future is that if we keep bringing runners into the industry in an inclusive fashion then soon we will be crewing up solely on the coming across the best CV or showreel.
Next week… Shots speaks to a handful of recent Just Runners employees about their experiences of finding work through the company and how it benefited their hunt for opportunities.