The Weekend Shift… Running the House

My First Weekend Shift

The weekend after I had officially been offered a job I was to work my first Saturday shift. On weekends the amount of staff is almost nil. There are 2 runners in the building…compared to the usual 5 or 6 in the kitchen. There are no receptionists and there are no library people. The 2 runners who are on have to do all of these things; reception, room service and library & dispatch work.

I had already done some training at reception before the weekend so I knew how to answer the phones and use the email and schedule system (ScheduALL). I wasn’t too happy at the prospect of answering phones I have to say..

Front of House

This is pretty much where the reception is. The people here were usually runners at one point and chose to go this route as way of promotion. If you go the runner-receptionist path you are generally interested in getting into production and looking to become one of the post-production producers. The next step after front of house is bookings which is linked closely with the production workflow.

Samara was training me on this day. She was talking me through the computer which is linked to the Envy server along with the phones (you can connect with all the producers’ phones and the suites by clicking on the screen). She told me the correct phone etiquette “Good afternoon, Envy Post” and all of those rather, professional matters. One of the most important things she taught me was to always look like I know what I’m doing, what production companies are in, who each client is even if in fact I had no idea who they were. Egos are important in the TV industry.

General responsibilities I learnt:

  • Answering queries on the phone
  • Greeting clients and telling them what room they are in. You must ring up to the editor in the suite and see if it is okay first to let anybody up to them. Always. They don’t want clients barging into a possible…”panicky” moment in the editing suite.
  • Connecting people to the other Envy buildings, which all have specific extension numbers.
  • Dealing with anyone, anything or any problem that walks in the front door of Envy Post.
  • Do not give anybody’s number out particularly producers. You must ring through to them to see if they answer and the connect the call. (all of this phone business was the most scary part to remember how to do)

Samara emphasised the importance of taking your time. She said that every client and every production company thinks their project is the golden child and will pressure you. She recounted times where clients wouldn’t even acknowledge her and walk straight up to suites or be incredibly rude and awkward deliberately. Some would be offended if you didn’t know their name or exactly where they were to be. I could tell the frustration in her voice as she told me these things.

The front of house people had to keep the equilibrium in Envy, negotiating clients, producers and editors. I didn’t look forward to my turn on Saturday…

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