Unscripted TV

Kit room assistant

Also known as: Kit runner, Kit prep technician, Junior technician

Entry level

Kit room assistant

What does a kit room assistant do?

Kit room assistants work for the rental companies that provide the technical equipment for a crew to make a TV programme, such as cameras, lenses, microphones, mounts of cameras and lighting equipment.

They prepare the kit, ordered by a production company, for delivery to the production office or filming location. Sometimes they work during filming by helping to set up and operate the cameras. This can give them the experience they need to become a camera assistant at a later point – though this depends on the production company concerned.

Once filming is over, kit room assistants return the equipment. It’s their job to assess if it’s been damaged, either repairing it themselves or sending it off for repairs. They also do general servicing and cleaning, including updating software. Kit room assistants do general office admin too.

Typically, kit room assistants are given training as part of their job, so they learn how all the equipment works and often then advise clients on what kit they may need. Some companies may have specialist departments such as camera, lighting or sound, so that kit assistants can gain in-depth and specific knowledge on a smaller amount of equipment. Large broadcasters have their own kit hire departments, which sometimes need assistants, as well as independent hire companies.​

Watch

What’s a kit room assistant good at?

  • Interest in kit: be keen to know how TV equipment works, what it can and can’t do, how to maintain and store it
  • Taking instruction: listen, do what’s asked accurately, stay calm under pressure
  • Learning: observe and listen to what’s happening and learn from it, take initiative, ask questions at the appropriate time
  • Customer service: listen to what the customer is asking for, be as friendly and helpful as possible
  • Driving: have a full clean driving licence, be confident driving vans and getting to new places (optional depending on place of employment)

Who does a kit room assistant work with?

Kit room assistants work with the other staff at the equipment rental company, including kit room supervisors and kit room technicians. They also work with the crew on the TV production – production assistants, directors of photography and camera operators – to ensure they have everything they need.  They might work with sound, grip and lighting departments too.  They liaise with the production management department on kit hire, delivery and invoicing.

How do I become a kit room assistant?

Look up and contact equipment rental companies and ask if you can work for them. Apply for job listings on their sites. Companies will expect you to have GCSEs and A-levels, Highers or an equivalent level of qualifications for this role. In most cases, you will not need to have a degree.

This role is a point of entry to camera, sound or lighting roles in the TV industry. As such, you may want to bear in mind the role you’re ultimately aiming for when considering what education and training to do. Some companies may also be looking for a kit room technician as a long-term role, with a career path working up to senior positions in the technical team, as well as supervisor and management roles.

At school or college:
If you want to get into a camera role, you can take A-levels or Highers in a combination of subjects that includes art, art and design, graphic communication and photography, along with maths and physics.

Alternatively, the following Level 3 vocational qualifications will help prepare you to go straight into a job or apprenticeship:

  • BTEC National Diploma/Extended Diploma in Art and Design
  • BTEC National Extended Diploma in Creative Digital Media Production
  • NCFE Applied General Certificate in Art and Design
  • UAL Applied General Diploma/Extended Diploma in Art and Design
  • BTEC National Diploma in Film and Television Production
  • BTEC National Diploma in Photography OCR Technical Diploma in Digital Media (Moving Image and Audio Production)
  • UAL Diploma/Extended Diploma in Art and Design
  • UAL Diploma/Extended Diploma in Creative Media Production and Technology

If you want to get into a sound role, you can take A-levels or Highers in music, physics, maths, media studies or film studies.

Alternatively, the following Level 3 vocational qualifications will help prepare you to go straight into a job or apprenticeship:

  • BTEC Diploma/Extended Diploma in Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • BTEC National Diploma/Extended Diploma in Music Technology
  • BTEC National Diploma in Film and Television Production
  • BTEC National Diploma in Music
  • BTEC National Diploma in Sound Production
  • BTEC National Extended Certificate in Sound Engineering
  • BTEC National Extended Diploma in Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • RSL Subsidiary Diploma for Music Practitioners (Technology)
  • OCR Technical Diploma in Digital Media (Moving Image & Audio Production)
  • UAL Diploma/Extended Diploma in Music Performance

If you want to get into a lighting role, you can take A-levels or Highers in maths and sciences.

Alternatively, the following Level 3 vocational qualifications will help prepare you to go straight into a job or apprenticeship:

  • BTEC Diploma/Extended Diploma in Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • City & Guilds Advanced Technical Diploma in Electrical Installation
  • EAL Diploma/Advanced Diploma in Electrical Installation

Get an apprenticeship:
Apprenticeships are jobs with training. They’re a great opportunity to earn while you learn. Some of the major broadcasters offer apprenticeships. Check out the schemes with the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky.

If you can’t get an apprenticeship with a broadcaster, it might be worth trying to find one outside the TV industry, where you can develop your skills and your craft. You can then move into TV at a later point.

These are the relevant apprenticeships for camera, sound and lighting that might be available throughout the UK:

In Scotland, you might be able to find degree-level apprenticeships through the following frameworks:

  • Electrical Installation (SCQF L6/7, Scotland)

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

Get a degree:
You don't need a degree to become a kit room assistant. However, if you want to progress to a different role in unscripted TV in the long term, then it may be worth getting a relevant degree. Go to the job profile of your favoured role to learn which degrees, if any, to pursue.

Get work experience:
Try to get work experience by writing to local production companies and asking if they offer any. Keep an eye out for work experience opportunities at the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky and the PACT Indie Diversity Training Scheme.

Network:
Get to know people in the unscripted TV industry by attending events. Meet professionals and ask them questions about their work, while demonstrating interest in and knowledge of the industry. Offer to provide them with your professional contact details and try to stay in touch with them. Go to how to network well to learn how to do this.

Network online:
Create a LinkedIn profile. See if there are Facebook pages or other social media groups for people making unscripted TV in your area. There might even be groups for runners and trainees. Join them. Create a ScreenSkills profile. There are a lot of crewing agencies that will charge you to be on their books. Sign up to the free ones initially. Wales ScreenNorthern Ireland Screen and other areas offer free crew databases. Find a film office near you and get connected. If you do sign up to paid sites, make sure they specialise in the areas in which you’re interested.

Search for jobs:
Register your CV on websites like The Talent Manager, which is used by most broadcasters and independent production companies when looking for staff. StartinTV offers tips on creating your CV and attending interviews, as well as some advice for your first day working in TV.

You might also be interested in…

Being a camera assistant, camera operator, jib operator or grip in the camera department of the unscripted TV industry. Or being a sound assistant or grams operator in the sound department. Or being an electrician (spark) or a lighting console operator in the lighting department.

You might also be interested in being a camera operator, sound mixer, gaffer or lighting trainee in the film and TV drama industries. Alternatively, you could consider being a sound designer in the games industry or a sound designer in the animation industry.

Further resources