I've seen a lot of lists about how to be a runner, and they are all pretty much the same. I read a lot of them before I became a runner, and although they helped me a lot (I'm not devaluing any other lists), there are some things I wish someone had told me beforehand.
So whilst networking, being able to make a decent cuppa and all the other things a runner should do, these are some things I would take note of if you are wanting to burst into the world of film.
1. Buy some decent shoes.
I'm not even kidding, the first big shoot I was on, I didn't have good shoes, and it was such a mistake. It was winter, there was so much snow, and my feet were permanently frozen. And because my feet were frozen, I kept thinking about that instead of doing my job. After that, I bought some hiking boots, and they have been fantastic. Not just for when it's cold, but when you are standing on your feet for 12 hours straight, you don't want to be keeling over from how much your feet hurt. Make sure your feet are comfy, and I guarantee your shoot will be 100% better.
2. Buy some knee pads.
This might sound like an odd thing, but my knees have been wrecked on a few shoots. I never realised how much time you spend on your knees (stop it), especially having to make teas on location with no catering. It just makes life so much easier. And talking of teas...
3. Bring a notebook with you.
Pretty sure this has been said in most top ten lists for runners, but if you are on tea duty, it makes life so much easier to write all the orders down. And to remember people's names.
4. Get a torch.
I've been on night shoots were I haven't been able to see a thing, and just something simple like having a torch helps so much. I can sometimes get away with using the light on my phone, but that uses a lot of my precious battery, so I'd recommend a little torch.
5. Don't be afraid to talk shop.
Being a runner is a gateway job. Everyone who is a runner wants to go on to be something else. Pretty much all the crew you are working with have been in the same boat as you, so they know what it's like. When you have some downtime, ask them questions. Talking to someone about something they are passionate about it great, but talking to someone who is passionate AND knowledgable AND is willing to talk you through something? That is the greatest thing about being on set. The crew are an amazing resource, and even if you think your question is silly, everyone has to start somewhere. So use them.
This is my last point, and it is on every list
6. Do your best.
Yes, you are a runner. Yes, you might not get the best jobs in the world. And yes, you might have to make tea the whole shoot, but make the best tea you can. Do the best that you can, and people will remember you. They will know you are willing to help out however you can. If you are anything like me, you will just be glad to be on a set, since this is pretty much what you've ben wanting to do all your life. And be happy you're doing something that you love, even at the lowest level. Not everyone can say they are doing their dream job. And you are on your way to getting yours. So appreciate the climb, it'll be worth it once you get there.