Looking to get your foot into the door of the film & TV industry? Meet The Calltime Company run by Tamana Bleasdale and Vicki Allen!
The Calltime Company is pleased to announce their 5th Annual Runners Training Day on Saturday 18th March.
Vicki and I are former Assistant Directors. We both studied Media/Film/TV at University and then worked our way up the AD ladder. We only stopped ADing due to both of us starting our own families. Once we had children we still wanted to be part of the Industry, that we are passionate about, but couldn’t see how we could work as an AD and be there for our children in the manner we wanted to be.
Whilst working as 2nd AD’s we experienced how hard it can be at times to get good, reliable Runners without lots of time consuming phone calls checking to see who was free and good. We then had the idea of an Agency, a database of experienced Runners that are personally interviewed and then mentored by Vicki and I. By doing this we can be confident that any Runners we send out on a job will be more than capable of handling the job required. We also believed that it could be a very useful and time saving resource for Productions and individual departments to book their Runners/Pa’s/Marshals through.
Whilst setting up and planning for an experienced Runners Agency we also recognised that it was very hard to get that first job in Film/TV unless you were lucky enough to know someone working in Film/TV or had a lucky break. So we came up with a plan for CallTime Company Trainee Scheme, through this we could help people leaving education, wanting a career change or changing focus within the Film/TV/Commercials and Corporates to get that first crucial job and help build up contacts, so CallTime Trainee Scheme was launched as a kind of ‘Grow Our Own Runners’ idea.
What is the role of the AD department?
The AD department is the logistical side of film making. I would describe it as the Back Bone of the film, along side the Production Office, dealing with each and every department along the way.
Could you explain the differences between the roles of a floor runner; 3rd AD; 2nd AD and 1st AD?
First Assistant Director along with the line producer and production manager begin the job by producing a schedule (a running order of the shoot) which is put together from breaking down the script. As the departments come on board a Full Breakdown Schedule is produced showing what is required from each individual department to make the shooting of that scene work. The 1st AD liaises between departments during pre production to make sure that everything that the Director wants for the shoot is being discussed and put into place.
When on set the First Assistant Director is the right hand person and mouth piece of the director. They run the set and make sure that the crew know what is happening when and that everything required for the next shot is in place.
A key role of the 1st A.D on set is to keep a pace of work and to make sure that the film is on schedule. They also make sure, along with the Script Supervisor and Director of Photography that the Director has got enough coverage on a scene for the Editors to cut together.
The 1st AD is also responsible for Health and Safety on set.
Second Assistant Director deals with the Cast from pre-production. They arrange fittings, rehearsals and readthrough attendance. Once shooting begins they liaise with the Cast on the day to day filming and up coming schedule.
The 2nd AD is the main point of contact fo the Cast regarding pick up times in the morning, when they are required in costume and make up, to what time they are needed on the set and when they can go home.
They also communicate with all Departments regarding what is required for the day to day filming and are responsible for putting together the call sheet. This document tells the Cast and Crew what is required for the following days filming, at what time and who is required when. During Pre-production the Second AD will work closely with Costume & Make up departments regarding Cast and Background Artistes fittings. They will also help plan the rehearsal schedule with the First AD & Director.
The 2nd AD and/or Crowd 2nd AD is also responsible for casting, fitting and booking Background Artistes – with the approval of the Director, Costume and Make up/Hair departments. .
Third Assistant Director is the right hand person to the 1st AD. During pre- production they will generate a radio breakdown for each department including charges, ear pieces (and type), spare batteries and wallets or clips. They will also help the 2nd AD with any rehearsals or fittings taking place.
On the floor the 3rd AD is responsible for looking after the cast once they arrive.
They keep the 2nd AD and Production team informed about filming progress on set, especially how many shots for each scene and when they have completed a shot.
The 3rd AD distributes the radios to all departments and sides to Director, Cast and Crew. The crew will usually go to the 3rdAD with questions and information before the 1st AD. The 3rd AD also communicates with all departments on the floor and Cast members to let them know what the next shot is, who and what equipment will be required.
The Floor Runner works on set, either in a Studio or on Location. They work with the Assistant Director team also known as the ADs.
The AD team consists of the 1st AD, 2nd AD & 3rd AD. There can also be a Crowd 2nd AD and/or Crowd 3rd AD and often on bigger mainly American Productions the role of 2nd AD is split in to two, a Key 2nd AD and a Floor 2nd AD.
The 1st AD is the first to start on a production and closely followed by the 2nd AD usually of their choice then their 3rd AD joins them a few weeks before filming starts, depending on the sale of the Production.
The Floor Runner is usually interviewed by the 1st & 2nd AD and is often one of the last to start the film before shooting begins.
The Floor Runner works directly with the AD team on set and at the unit base. Taking instruction from the 1st and 3rd AD on set and the 2nd AD at the Unit Base.They are a crucial member of the team. They will know and interact with all Crew and Cast Members on a daily basis throughout the shoot.
Some times on Commercials there is no 2nd AD and it is often the 1st AD and 3rd AD. The Runner may then also work to the Production Manager’s instructions.
What skills do you need to be a successful AD?
Diplomatic, calm, focused, a people person, punctual, diligent, thick skinned, a good sense of humour and to be able to prioritise your time and tasks successfully!
For young people with little to no experience wanting to get into AD work, what advice could you give them?
With Social Media it is a lot easier to find work/helpful sources with groups such as People working in Television: Runners, The Unit List, The Callsheet – are all free to Runners. Sign up to Creative England if you live regionally or Wales Screen plus Film London and Creative Skillset. If you have no film experience at all highlight on your CV the work you have carried out working with people and the general public, such as bar tender, shop assistant, waiter or waitress, as these Roles all provide transferrable skills.
Where did the inspiration/idea to create Calltime come from?
I had wanted to do something for a long time as I was lucky enough to get my first job through my Dad, who is a playwright, and I understood that it wasn’t as easy for many others. Vicki got her first job through being a student in Manchester when a film was looking for Background Artistes for a Crowd Scene and she was employed to help, which started Vicki off on her career and many trips to London later she became established with a great AD team. When we were figuring out what to do with our working lives, post having children, that could combine our previous careers, a good friend of both of ours suggested we work together and CallTime was launched! It’s been a fantastic journey so far and we are really excited about the future of the Company.
What are the main aims of Calltime?
There are several main aims:
For Productions to have large resource of good reliable Runners, varying roles and grades available to them whenever they are needed. To also support individual departments, as we know it can be time consuming booking crew when under pressure.
For our Members it would be to expand their contacts, help them gain more skills and experience on different levels until they can confidently move up to the next grade of Role that they are aspiring to within the industry.
For our Trainees it would be to help them gain their first and subsequent work in Film/TV, boost their confidence and contacts, to help train them for the next level in their career path.
For CallTime Company to grow as our Members do providing them with key career advice and mentoring through out their career.
Can you describe the application process of applying to Calltime?
We ask everyone to fill in an application form and send this in alongside a CV. If you pass this section you are invited to an interview with Vicki and I.
What job roles does Calltime offer?
We offer Location Marshal, Lock Off PAs, Additional Floor Runner, Key Floor Runner, Runner Stand In, Location Assistant, Production Runner, Costume Runners/Trainees, Art Dept Trainee, Trainee Grip and we have also been asked to supply: 3rd AD, 2nd AD, 1st AD, Production Secretaries, Assistant Co-ordinators and even Caterers!
How far does Calltime support career progression, specifically in the AD department?
We try and support people along the way, we know how hard it is to step up the ladder and as CallTime grows as a Company and our Members move up the ladder we help by offering them Training to take them up to the next level. We also know that working as a Freelancer can be lonely at times, often you have choices to make and it can be hard to know what direction to go in, we always listen to our Members, we won’t tell them what to do but we will listen to the Pros and Cons and discuss each situation with them.
Can you tell me about the training and events hosted by Calltime, such as The Crowd AD Trainee Day?
We host a Runners Training Day yearly which we run to coincide with annual Trainee Scheme, this usually take place in early Spring.
We have also hosted a 3rd AD Training Day and a Crowd AD Training Day – these days came about mainly due to our Members wanting to step up and we thought it would benefit a lot of them to know what exactly is required of them as a 3rd AD and also with the Crowd AD day, alot of people don’t fully understand the basics of the FAA agreement or have the opportunity to set back ground so we felt this day was really needed, we also know that there is a real lack of Crowd ADs at the moment and it is a great Role to do especially as it’s more creative than the standard AD route!