Television floor managers ensure that sets, props and technical equipment are safe, ready to use and in the right position prior to filming. They are also responsible for all communications with the audience and any guests, for example ensuring they are seated in good time.
In studio settings, the floor manager is the link between the director (up in the gallery), and the floor below. The floor manager is responsible for passing on cues to presenters and guests to ensure timings are met and the broadcast goes smoothly.
The work is mainly studio-based, but may also include outside broadcasts, depending on the production.
Typical activities include:
Although this area of work is open to all graduates and Diplomates, the following degree and HND subjects may increase your chances:
Entry without a degree or HND is common as most floor managers have worked their way up to this position from a more junior or related role.
Pre-entry experience is essential. Floor managers may have previous theatre experience but are more likely to have worked in television and gained experience either as a runner or assistant floor manager, or in a technical sound or lighting role. In order to realistically compete for jobs, several years of broadcasting experience is necessary.
Candidates will need to show evidence of the following:
A driving licence is useful. Foreign language skills are also helpful if you intend to work abroad.
Direct entry is not possible and you should be prepared to take different posts within television to gain knowledge of the industry as a whole. The following activities can help you gain a foot in the door and secure your first paid job:
Training opportunities within television companies are linked to operational needs and whilst companies, including the BBC, may aim for annual recruitment, this is not guaranteed. The BBC runs a number of training schemes, including the Production Trainee Scheme (see BBC Careers (http://www.bbc.co.uk/careers/home) ). Posts are also advertised in the BBC staff magazine Ariel (http://www.bbc.co.uk/ariel/18492441) , available via subscription, although many are filled by qualified staff internally.
Some independent television companies have graduate opportunities, which operate on an individual company basis. These are likely to be advertised on their websites, in the local press or in The Guardian and Broadcast magazine.
The development of satellite and cable television has created more opportunities throughout the industry as a whole, but current trends in programming mean there is less demand for floor managers. When opportunities arise, appointments are made for each production on a freelance basis. Freelance floor managers may spend periods of time out of work.
It is illegal for employers to discriminate against candidates on the grounds of age, gender, race, disability, sexual orientation or religious faith. For more information on equality and diversity in the job market handling discrimination.
For more information, see work experience (www.prospects.ac.uk/workexperience) and find courses and research (www.prospects.ac.uk/pg).
There is no professional qualification for floor managers. Training is on the job, under the supervision of more experienced colleagues, and is usually gained by working through the ranks from a more junior or related role.
There are, however, a range of courses available to new entrants to help develop practical skills. The British Film Institute (BFI) (http://www.bfi.org.uk) , for example, has an online database to help freelancers and would-be entrants identify appropriate courses.
Creative Skillset: The Sector Skills Council for the Creative Industries (http://www.creativeskillset.org) supports a number of New Entrants Schemes, aimed at freelance new entrants to the industry. These schemes combine industry work placements with short course training, mentoring and assessment. A list of schemes receiving Skillset support is available on their website. Training providers include:
The Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU) (http://www.bectu.org.uk) also runs training programmes for those involved in media and broadcasting.
Funding is available for some courses from organisations such as Skillset.
Substantial experience is required before entry to the role of floor manager, either in a technical role, such as sound or lighting, or as a runner and/or assistant floor manager. Having experience in a technical role can help secure more work as a floor manager as the two roles can sometimes be performed simultaneously, helping to reduce production crew costs. This practice is becoming more common.
Assistant floor managers work with the floor manager, who will delegate tasks to them. They may be in charge of props for the show, or look after the audience whilst the floor manager looks after the presenters and guests. Experience in an assistant role allows you to make an impression in order to progress to floor manager.
As with initial contracts, opportunities for promotion and progression can be boosted by networking (many jobs are found through word of mouth). Whatever your role, whether at the lower or higher end of the career ladder, it is vital to make a good impression. Excellent interpersonal and networking skills will help you gain recommendations for more work.
It is possible to specialise: some floor managers prefer to work in sport; some enjoy children's entertainment; others are especially skilled at outside broadcasts. A reputation for excellence within your specialism can lead to higher fees and more work. Advancement to producer or director is possible via an assistant role.
The BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk) and independent television companies employ small numbers of floor managers. The BBC employs a handful of floor managers directly and they are used as first choice for any programme it is producing. When necessary, they will use freelance floor managers to cover any programmes their own staff cannot manage. The BBC usually recruits two trainee floor managers per year (typically in London): one for studio and the other for outside broadcasts.
Other employers include:
Digitalisation has had a great impact on employment within the television sector, with a large increase in the number of stations broadcasting. This has led to more programmes being made and so more opportunities for work in this sector. There is an increasing trend, however, towards floor managers using past technical experience or gaining further training to increase employment prospects. By combining essential technical or production roles with floor management responsibilities, production costs can be reduced.
Most floor managers are freelance, moving between employers on contracts that can last a few days or months at a time. Once you establish a good relationship with a director, it is quite common for your services to be requested for their next programme.
Search graduate jobs (www.prospects.ac.uk/links/jobvacs).
Recruitment agencies rarely handle vacancies. Like most jobs in the media, many vacancies are never advertised and are secured through persistent speculative applications and effective networking. There are, however, some freelance agencies, such as TOVS (http://www.tovs.co.uk) , which may assist professional floor managers.
See also job hunting tips (www.prospects.ac.uk/links/jobhunt) and applications, CVs and interviews (www.prospects.ac.uk/links/appsinterviews).
The following Case studies are also available on prospects.ac.uk:
© Content copyright of or licensed to AGCAS (www.agcas.org.uk)
Written by Lucie Johnston, Stirling university, February 2009.
The work of writers, editors and other contributors is gratefully acknowledged - full details on www.prospects.ac.uk/links/occupations. To view the terms and conditions for the material provided in this publication, please see www.prospects.ac.uk/links/disclaimer