Film and TV drama

Post-production runner

Also known as: Edit trainee

Entry level

Post-production runner

What does a post-production runner do?

Post-production runners oil the cogs of a post-production facility (the places where film and TV dramas are edited). Post-production facilities are either independent companies or part of a large studio, like Pinewood.

Runners keep the edit suites tidy, make tea and arrange meals. They sometimes work on reception, answering the phone and making clients and guests feel welcome.

They do a lot of admin. They label picture and sound files. They file the continuity notes. They print them, photocopy them and distribute them. They also run errands, ingest (transfer) footage and look after the petty cash.

Within post-production there are roughly three different areas of work: management, editing and sound design. Being a runner is a route into all three.

What’s a post-production runner good at?

  • Story-telling: have an interest in the way stories are created through assembling shots and scenes, good eye for composition, or ear for sound and their emotional impact
  • Watching film and TV drama: have a passion for the genre and a love of the industry
  • Attention to detail: organise and work with fine timings and pixels
  • Learning to use software: have an interest in the technical aspects of the edit, able to learn how to use the tools
  • Learning by watching and asking: observe the editor and assistants, know when to listen and when to ask
  • Taking instruction: do what’s asked, prioritise, stay calm under pressure
  • Communication: work well with team members, be welcoming to guests and clients

Watch

Tools of the trade

You won’t be expected to know how to use professional software from the start, but these are some of the tools you might be able to use once you are working as a runner in a studio.

  • Editing feature films - Avid Media Composer
  • Editing lower budget films - Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro
  • Colour grading - DaVinci Studio
  • Sound editing - ProTools

Go to our portfolio page for a list of free software to get you started.

Who does a post-production runner work with?

Edit trainees work with the editor and the first and second assistant editors.

How do I become post-production runner?

Some post-production facilities offer work experience and trainee schemes. Try to find a post-production company to take you on. Or apply for ScreenSkills’ Trainee Finder scheme. Or try both.

At school or college:
If you want to go to university, A-levels or Highers in art, drama and theatre, English, film studies, graphic design, graphic communication, media studies, physics, psychology or computing science are useful. Or you might want to take the following Level 3 vocational qualifications:

  • NCFE Applied General Certificate in Art and Design
  • BTEC National Diploma/Extended Diploma in Art and Design
  • BTEC National Extended Diploma in Creative Digital Media Production
  • UAL Applied General Diploma/Extended Diploma in Art and Design

If you want to go straight into a job or apprenticeship, the following Level 3 vocational qualifications will equip you:

  • Aim Awards Diploma in Creative and Digital Media
  • OCR Cambridge Technical Diploma in Art and Design (3D Design)
  • OCR Cambridge Technical Diploma in Art and Design (Graphic Design)
  • OCR Cambridge Technical Diploma in Art and Design (Photography)
  • OCR Technical Diploma in Digital Media (Moving Image and Audio Production)
  • BTEC National Diploma in Film and Television Production
  • BTEC National Diploma in Film and Television Visual Effects
  • BTEC National Extended Certificate in Sound Engineering
  • RSL Subsidiary Diploma for Music Practitioners (Technology)
  • UAL Diploma/Extended Diploma in Art and Design
  • UAL Diploma / Extended Diploma in Creative Media Production & Technology

Get an apprenticeship:
Apprenticeships are work with training so they’re a great opportunity to earn as you learn. You might get a job as an apprentice with a post-production company. Or you might be able to find one in a related industry, build up your skills and move into post-production at a later point. These are the apprenticeships that are available throughout the UK:

Before taking any apprenticeship, check what you’ll be learning with your prospective employer and college, so you can be sure it will be giving you the skills you want. Go to how to become an apprentice to learn how to find apprenticeships in your region or approach companies directly.

Make films:
Build a portfolio. This is essential for impressing admissions tutors and people in the film industry. Just as important, it’s the best way to learn about editing, seeing what works and what doesn’t. Keep doing it. Make sure it shows off the area in which you are most interested, whether that be editing, sound editing or colour grading.

Get a degree:
It isn’t essential, but if you want one, have a look at ScreenSkills’ list of recommended courses in film and TV. We recognise courses with our ScreenSkills Select award where they offer training in the relevant software, dedicated time to building a portfolio and have strong links with the film and TV industries.

Take a short course:
Look at the National Film and Television School’s course in subjects like craft editing and drama editing. Go to the list of training courses recommended by ScreenSkills and see if there is one in editing.

Take a master’s degree:
The National Film and Television School does a Masters in Editing.

Network:
Go to ScreenSkills events, especially Open Doors where you can meet people who work in the industry. Give people in post-production your details and ask if you can do work experience.

Network online:
Create a LinkedIn profile. See if there’s a Facebook page or other social media group for people making films or videos in your area. Join it. Create a ScreenSkills profile.

Look for post-production companies:
Most are in London, but not all. Sign up to Production Base to learn who is making what. Contact them and ask if you can do work experience.

Become a trainee:

Apply to be a post-production trainee with ScreenSkills’ Trainee Finder scheme.

You might also be interested in…

Working in visual effects (VFX) 

Further resources