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Film Unit Drivers

Unit Drivers are employed during film production to drive artists, directors, producers and/or crew members, to and from the film location. There are professional companies offering Unit Driver Services although they are often self-employed, and owners of their own vehicles  They are usually hired by the Transport Captain, and work as part of a team of other Drivers throughout the production. The role requires excellent driving skills, the ability to be punctual, and to get on with, and be sensitive to the needs of, their passengers.

Responsibilities

Unit Drivers' days can start very early, at perhaps 4am or 5am, when they must pick up artists, the director, producer, crew members, extras or visiting press, and deliver them to the filming location. Throughout the day, they may be asked to pick up another artist, paper work, costumes, camera equipment, or rushes. In fact, Unit Drivers transport anything needed by the unit that involves the use of a car, with the exception of any food or equipment that will not fit into the boot. At the end of the day's shoot, they may be required to return their passenger(s) to where they were picked up, so their working day may often last for up to 18 hours. Some Drivers may be hired directly by an artist or a director, or be employed for their exclusive use, in which case they are responsible only for that particular artist's or director's driving requirements. Most Drivers own their own vehicles, which are often luxury cars such as Mercedes, Jaguars or Volvos. They are responsible for keeping their vehicles clean and roadworthy, for reading maps accurately and researching routes, and for delivering their passengers safely and on schedule. Drivers must also arrive at work in a presentable condition, and be sensitive to the needs of their passengers. For example, actors picked up in the early morning may want to learn their lines on the way to the shoot, rather than speak to the Driver.

Skills

Drivers need excellent driving and road-safety skills. Their driving ability must inspire trust in their passengers, and they must drive within legal limits at all times. They must be able to read and understand maps, and to find remote locations. Drivers must also possess strong planning and preparation skills, to enable them to arrive in good time, at the right place. As shooting schedules often change at the last minute, they must be adaptable and flexible in their attitude, able to work as part of a driving team, but also to act independently. They must be resilient, as working days can involve very long hours. Drivers need good 'people skills', and they must be effective communicators who are able to get on well with their passengers. They also need basic mechanical skills in order to repair, or identify, any possible problems with their vehicle.

Qualifications/Experience

Unit Drivers must be registered with the Public Carriage Office, which requires that they have a full driving licence, held for at least three years. To be registered, they must also have undergone a police check, have completed a medical examination, and possess the appropriate form signed and stamped by their doctor. It is likely that Unit Drivers will have passed the Advanced Driving Test. For insurance purposes, Unit Drivers must be over 25 years of age.

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