Production Tips

Ways to Make Money Without a Part Time Job

Posted by on 9:07 am in Blog / Film, Featured, Production Tips, the film blog | 2 comments

Ways to Make Money Without a Part Time Job

You want the dream job, but you need to make money in the interim. One of the tricks to finally landing a gig in production and film (or most creative fields) is to have wide open availability. If you need 100% availability, you cannot have a part-time job. Even waiting tables requires a set schedule and can be limiting. A lot of people trying to get into a competitive industry means not everyone will make it– at least, not at first. It saddens me to receive messages that read, “I read your blog, followed your advice, and I’ve been trying to get jobs for months, and still nothing. I have to make money. Now what?” I can’t give any kind of helpful answer other than one of sympathy. I don’t know why you aren’t getting hired, but it may be that you just need more time to meet the right people in the right situation. Looking back at my own long journey into the industry, trying to get a PA gig (and failing) for months wasn’t due to lack of effort at my part — there simply weren’t any gigs available. If that’s the case with your situation, this post is for you! How to Make Money Without a Part-Time Job Thanks to the internet and smartphones, there are a few solid options today for generating income in unique ways, and best of all, they don’t tie you down to a schedule. I’m in a mid-market town and work will slow to a crawl, sometimes for 2-3 months. When this happens, I’ve been able to make money in other ways. Become a Lyft or Uber driver.  Perhaps the most flexible of all gigs! You set your own hours and turn on your app whenever you want to work. Do your research and make sure Lyft/Uber is offering a sizable signing bonus in your city. Become a Favor or Postmates driver. If you have an older car that doesn’t fit the parameters for Lyft/Uber, try shuttling goods instead! Download the Favor or Postmates app, set your own hours, and pick up and deliver items on demand in exchange for a percentage and tips. Work for Amazon Flex. Amazon is slowly taking over the world, and with Prime Now delivery offered in several cities, they’re hiring even more employees to be delivery drivers. I don’t know the details about how many hours per week you have to work, or if you have to sign up for shifts — but it’s worth looking into. Use Ebates. For whatever reason, I was an Ebates contrarian for years. “Cash back while shopping online? Pffft,” I always thought when I saw the commercials. Recently, a colleague explained how it works, and explained I was very wrong. It’s amazing. The majority of places I shop online offer some sort of cash-back incentive. Most recently, I picked up a $38 oil change and tire rotation from Groupon, and since I used Ebates which offers 9% cash-back for Groupon purchases, $3.42 was added instantly to my Ebates balance. You won’t be able to retire from your Ebates checks, but you’ll save a few extra dollars every time you shop online — and that adds up. Referral Bonus: Use this invite to get a bonus $10 for signing up! Rent your spare bedroom on airbnb.  If you live in an enviable neighborhood (or close...

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It’s your first day on set? I couldn’t tell.

Posted by on 4:01 pm in Blog / Film, Featured, Production Tips, the film blog | 0 comments

It’s your first day on set? I couldn’t tell.

Being new to film or television — or “being green”, as it’s known — is hard to disguise. Film sets are a bizarre, fast-paced world with their own lingo and rules, and simply knowing where to be and where not to be are only learned with time and experience. In an attempt to help the PAs and interns of tomorrow, I asked my coworkers to complete this sentence: You can tell it’s someone’s first day on set when… “When they don’t silence their phone.” -Kimberly, coordinator. Rule #1. There are so many legitimate ways that a take can be ruined, and having someone’s cell phone go off is just plain stupid and avoidable. Put that sucker on vibrate before you even get out of your car. And if you have to run an errand and go off set, turn the ringer back on! (And, of course, put it back on vibrate when you get on set.) “They ask what time they’re going to be done.” -Neumann, 2nd AD. Want to act like there are a million places you’d rather be than working on a film set? Ask your boss what time wrap will be. Go ahead. I dare you! When you’re on a film set, work is your life until you’re sent home. Plans, the outside world…they don’t exist. Save yourself frustration and heartache in the beginning and don’t make plans on days you’re working. We’ve all had to miss dinners, nights out, concerts, and birthday parties — it’s an unfortunate sacrifice that comes with a cool yet demanding and unpredictable job. “When they wear all white. INSIDE!!” -Darryl, key grip. Evidence of crew members happens on camera more often than you’d think — especially in tight spaces with shiny surfaces, windows, mirrors, etc. White stands out and clearly identifies a person, whereas black looks like a shadow or an unidentifiable void. When in doubt, wear black.  “They stand in a doorway.” -Brittany, producer. Mankind must be taught from birth that standing in a doorway is a safe place to be if you want to observe the action without getting in the way — because we all do this on the  first day on set. It may work in real-civilian-life, but on a film set, it’s an absolute Hail! no. Dozens of people need to get through that doorway to move gear, props, extras, etc — get out of the way! “They don’t wear comfortable shoes.” – Sandy, makeup artist. Entire blogs could be written about film set fashion and the constant struggle of looking presentable vs. comfort. Most of the wiser ones err in favor of “practicality”: Converse may be cute, but you’re going to need arch support after a couple of 16 hour days on your feet. Merrells are a popular for a reason. “When they can’t believe they get paid to drink on set after the 1st AD calls martini.” -Cookie, 2nd AD. This is AMAZING. I haven’t witnessed this confusion firsthand, but I can see how it would unfold: If you’re not used to working busy 14 hour days on set, you’re exhausted and a little delirious towards the end, and a martini simply sounds awesome. A lot of surprising and unprecedented things happen on a film set, is the idea of everybody stopping down to have a drink really far fetched? Unless you’ve just completed the final shot of...

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How to Get a Film or Production Internship

Posted by on 2:12 pm in Blog / Film, Featured, Production Tips | 2 comments

How to Get a Film or Production Internship

If you’re trying to get your foot in the door of the film and entertainment industry quickly, there’s a quick answer: Work for free, or get a production internship. A question several readers have asked is, “How do I get started?” I’ve answered that question here as well as here, but somehow haven’t posted tips focused on internships, even though that’s how I got started. So, if you’re in college (or even high school) and are open to the idea of spending time trading labor for knowledge, here are some ideas. If you’re looking for a summer internship, inquire and apply as soon as you can — most good summer internships are taken by May. There are three main ways to get an internship in production: Through your school (internship fairs or through a professor) Cold calling /e-mailing directly, introducing yourself and inquiring about “upcoming internship opportunities” Networking events in your city — This takes a lot of confidence as you’ll have to introduce yourself to strangers. It can be done, though! Where to Intern in Production Now that you have a rough idea how to get an internship, here are some ideas on the different kinds of companies that can provide valuable experience. Production companies. They’re the ones that produce the commercials, music videos, web series, etc. You’ll get a first-eye glimpse into the amount of work that goes into prepping a shoot, along with fetching the occasional lunch order or coffee. You’ll help the production coordinator, learn how a crew gets pieced together, pick up gear rentals and sometimes go on the hunt for additional props. Being a part of preproduction is a vital learning experience that basic on-set PA work won’t teach you. Look at the production company’s reel to see the types of projects they produce.  You can’t be too picky when you don’t have a lot of experience, but there are a lot of tiny production companies out there that produce nothing but lawyer and car dealership ads. Yes, those folks have figured out a way to make a living using a camera, but interning for them won’t really help much if your goal is to work on The Walking Dead or a future Star Wars movie. Pros to interning at a production company:  Work on a variety of projects. A great place to begin if you’re not sure where you fit. Cons: None, really — only that it’s overwhelming as you’re exposed to everything.   Gear rental houses.  If you’re an aspiring camera guy or gal, grip or electrician — a gear rental house is a fantastic place to intern. Of course, you won’t be trusted to clean Epics or C300s on your first day, but over time, you’ll get a ton of hands-on experience and become well acquainted with the gear. If you’re at a camera house, you’ll likely meet camera assistants when they come in and prep the gear for their shoots. Of course, you’ll probably need to prove you’re a bit of a gearhead and have the physical strength to handle the demands of the job. Pro to Interning at a Gear Rental House: You’ll be working with tons of gear every day, and you’ll learn the gear intimately. Con: You’ll rarely be on set.   Studio / Sound Stage. No, you won’t really be on sets unless the client...

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Should I Move to Find Work In the Film Industry?

Posted by on 2:02 pm in Ask a Producer, Blog / Film, Featured, Production Tips | 2 comments

Should I Move to Find Work In the Film Industry?

  Today’s question comes from a reader who isn’t sure how to get started– and I suspect her location has a lot to do with it! I live in upstate New York (really upstate) about 1 hour north of the capital Albany.  I’m looking to see if I can get into this field.  How would I go about getting initial jobs, and would the best way to start be a Production Assistant? I wrote a few tips not too long ago about how to get a job as a production assistant. But what do you do when there simply is NO semblance of a film community anywhere near you? (If the biggest production in your town is a local car dealership ad, you fall into this category.) As in this reader’s case, finding a film set an hour north of Albany may be impossible. Ask yourself: If I’m serious about this career, should I move to where the film work is? If you haven’t spent a lot of time in the bizarre world of set life, it can be a huge decision to move to a new city when you’re not even sure if you’ll like the work. First tip: Call the local state film commission, ask if there are any upcoming projects coming to upstate NY. Find out the name of the production company, offer to work for free. This can get your feet wet without taking the plunge, or maybe you can relocate for a few months. Unless the next hit AMC drama begins filming an hour north of Albany, you will need to move — at first at least, to get the experience, build a reputation, and establish a career. Since you’re from New York, NYC seems like the closest and logical choice, but it is one of the most expensive places to live in the country. Where Should I Move For Film Work? Let’s Begin with the Obvious: Los Angeles. While not as many movies are filmed there as in years past, it’s still slammed for scripted and reality television work, on both the production and post production ends. You’ll ascend the ladder faster than in a mid-market town. A major downside: Kiss your family and social life goodbye; work is the only thing that matters in Los Angeles. Also, the taxes are criminal. Atlanta. Nicknamed the “Hollywood of the South”, Atlanta should be a top choice for anyone considering getting into the business. Georgia has provided enormous tax incentives for out of town production companies, and the film community has blown up. Several movies have been filmed in the greater Atlanta area, plus several television shows (Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta; The Walking Dead, etc). Miami. Several productions roll through Miami throughout the year, and a large number of Spanish-speaking programs and music videos are filmed here. Local PAs drift between Miami and Orlando, depending on where the work is. New Orleans. Again, tax incentives have really stimulated the television and film industry here. It’s not quite as large of a market as Atlanta, but dozens of movies and television shows have been shot here over the last decade. Plus, it’s New Orleans — it has some of the best food and culture in the country. Which city will be best in the long...

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Do I Need a Film Degree to Get a Job in the Film Industry?

Posted by on 2:02 pm in Ask a Producer, Blog / Film, Featured, Production Tips | 9 comments

Do I Need a Film Degree to Get a Job in the Film Industry?

I occasionally get emails seeking advice about the film industry.  I’m by no means an expert — there is SO MUCH to learn in this industry and I’m still (somewhat) of a young’un myself! I will do my best to answer these questions, and if I’m not sure, I will seek for input from my more experienced cohorts and mentors and learn something too. So, for the maiden voyage — here’s the first question: I am a recent college graduate with a bachelors degree in speech therapy. I’ve always wanted to work in this field of work, but when i began the program I chickened out because I thought I would be unable to find a job, thus the reason i changed my major! But now I regret it so much and now I know this is what I want to do! Is it possible to obtain a job as a PA and be able to move up the ladder without a tv/film degree?? Congratulations on your graduation! As a gal with a business degree, I can answer this in a heartbeat: You absolutely do NOT need a film degree to make it in this business. People in tv/film come from all walks of life. Sure, you’ve got the die-hard movie buffs that lived, ate, and breathed film since they were kids — but there are equally as many people that got into the business without the “proper” degree. If you’ve read this blog for awhile, you know I enjoy teasing egotistical film school graduates, but there are advantages to film school. You learn a lot about theory, proper filming techniques; you have access to gear, access to cameras, and you get to stretch your creative muscles. You also get a jumpstart on networking, as there will probably be a few people you meet in film school that will cross your path for the rest of your career. But, I’m a firm believer that being on a real, non-film school set is the best way to learn — and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper. There’s practical aspects of a film set that are missed in film school. A degree in speech therapy is NOT a waste! The timing of this question couldn’t be better. I’m currently working on a project with a therapist-turned-producer and she’s had an extremely successful television career. In the stressful moments when the crew or cast gets a little disgruntled, having an empathetic producer holding the reigns is a godsend. She’s a great motivator AND she gets the job gets done. Speech therapy is a little different, but I’m sure you could put your skills and compassion to use in a similar manner. Another perk to having a degree from an entirely different field affords you a quick escape route should you decide to change careers, which is always a possibility when you work 70+ hours a week in an industry that loves to overrun your personal life! Getting a Job Without a Film Degree I recently wrote a post explaining how to get a job as a production assistant. The biggest tip: Be willing to work for free. Don’t be fooled, there are a LOT of people vying for jobs in this industry, and budgets are constantly getting smaller. Line producers will constantly hire the experienced...

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Guide for Finding and Filming Locations (and How to Keep Them Happy)

Posted by on 12:30 pm in Featured, Production Tips, the film blog | 0 comments

Guide for Finding and Filming Locations (and How to Keep Them Happy)

The majority of film and television shoots are accomplished outside the comforts of a studio lot. These shoots happen on location — whether it be at a warehouse, apartment, restaurant, bar, or store. Someone has to make the initial contact with that location, nurture the relationship, and ultimately secure enough trust to accomplish a film shoot that keeps both parties happy until long after the film crew leaves. First of all, your priority should be ensuring the location has a positive experience — you don’t want to burn a bridge for the next film crew that wants to film there. There are four steps to establishing a relationship with a location, but if you can only remember two things, remember this: Be Honest and Be Genuine. NOTE: This post is written for smaller shoots, where the coordinators/producers usually do the location management and try to get locations for free. For larger scripted projects, there’s an entire department to handle the locations!   1) Learn How to Cold Call. Cold calling is scary and in the age of e-mail, it’s a skill that’s overlooked and not taught in school. When I first started as an associate producer, I was  terrified of picking a phone number off of Google, cold calling, and trying to convince an unsuspecting stranger to let a 30-person film crew interfere with their business. I didn’t have a confident on-phone personality. To make things even more daunting, my very first assignment was to cold calls gigantic oil corporations in an attempt to find an offshore oil rig for us to film on. (Mind you, this was less than a year after the Deepwater Horizon incident.) Throughout my first season on that show, as I called numerous other locations (restaurants, bars, etc), I got a lot of confused reactions met with a lot of Hell No!s.  But with guidance from a great mentor plus the practice of cold calling hundreds of businesses, I was able to craft a sales pitch with a high success rate. Once you’ve cleared 100 different locations in 20 different states, you’re bound to start remembering what works! The turning point was incredibly simple: I believed what I told them. This is a project you’re happy to be working on, and they should be excited you chose them, too! Your enthusiasm and belief in the project will sell the show better than any well-written sales pitch. When You’re Cold Calling, Make Sure You’re Speaking With the Right Person. This is simple, but key. Don’t unload your pitch on the first person that answers the phone – make sure you’re speaking to the owner/manager (or public relations if it’s a big company). My first line is generally something like “Hi, I’m Laryssa calling with a new series on NETWORK, may I speak to the owner or manager about potentially filming at your restaurant?”) When You’re Giving Your Sales Pitch, BE HONEST in Your Expectations. Honesty with a location from the very first phone call is KEY.  This establishes trust from the beginning. Also, when something doesn’t go according to planned — the film shoot takes an hour longer than you thought, for example — your location knows you didn’t deliberately lie to them. Recently, I was Skyping for a job interview, and I listened to a guy in the background attempt to clear filming at Lowe’s....

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How to Get a Job as a Production Assistant

Posted by on 11:30 am in Blog / Film, Featured, Production Tips, the film blog | 31 comments

How to Get a Job as a Production Assistant

I’ve gotten a few inquiries asking about getting that first film set or television job as a production assistant, so here’s an attempt to help! There are several paths into the film business, but speaking from my own experience, this is what I would recommend to someone just starting out in the film or television business with their sights set on that first production assistant job.   Don’t Ask for a Production Assistant Job. Work for Free. It’s tough to convince people they should hire you as a production assistant and pay you when you don’t have any credits to your name just yet. If you’ve never worked on a real set (film school doesn’t count), offer to work for free. Money talks in this business, and they’ve got nothing to lose by giving you a chance. That will be the fastest way to get you on a set. From there, you can work your butt off and prove yourself while making contacts that will eventually hire you. I know it’s painful to think of “working for free”, so instead…consider it your audition to the film world. You may feel like you’re insignificant and your good deeds are going unnoticed, but I promise, producers and ADs are always on the hunt for the next great worker.  Common sense, following orders, and having a good attitude will get you a LONG way in this business. Cold Call Production Companies. When I started out, I only ever gotten one production assistant job blindly by emailing a production company, and they ended up screwing me because they “released” me via email the day before the shoot. Talk to people first, then email them as a follow-up. When you cold call, ask if you can come by and introduce yourself. Be approachable and confident, but don’t brag about your film school accomplishments as if they’re comparable to the real film industry. Call the Local Film Commission. Are there any big film projects in town? Call your local film commission (or office of Economic Development) for leads. Explain you’re a student/recent graduate seeking experience. Ask for the name of the production company, and if they know of any contacts. When you cold call the production, use the name of the person you spoke with at the film commission. Your phone call to the production should be something along these lines: “Hello Brad, I got your name from Susan Carlton over at the film commission. I’m a recent graduate looking to get into film production. I was wondering if you needed any extra hands on your project?” Ask about any low-budget independent movies, as they can be a great way to get your foot in the door. Usually, there will be at least a couple of people on those projects with ties to the bigger gigs in town. Production Resumes are a Different Beast. The standard resume taught by every “Welcome to Adulthood!” college class won’t get you very far in production. A film/tv resume is “just the facts”: Name, Phone Number, and  list of the projects you’ve worked on, your position, and the name of the production company and network (if applicable). Film school credits aren’t ideal, but they’re better than nothing. If you must, list them as “Short Films”, not “Student Films”.   Remember, Tenacity Wins. This business rewards...

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So, You Want to be a Television Executive? Get to Los Angeles. Now.

Posted by on 10:51 pm in Featured, Production Tips, the film blog | 7 comments

So, You Want to be a Television Executive? Get to Los Angeles. Now.

I’ve been stationed in Los Angeles for three months now, the longest I’ve been away from Nashville since first moving there in the fall of 2005. Coming here has been a great opportunity professionally, and it has also managed to quench that eternal desire of wanderlust…somewhat. (I’m still pricing tickets to Kiev and Southeast Asia on my off-hours. But I digress.) I’m a big fan of mid-level television/film markets. It’s been my bread and butter for five years, while also providing a rich quality of life in addition to an affordable lifestyle — plus giving me ample stories to last a lifetime. However, now that I’m temporarily located in the mecca of the film and television industry, it’s been impossible not to wonder how much further up the ladder I would be if only I’d moved out here five years ago. But as I’ve said before, I knew basing myself out of LA wasn’t at all what I wanted. The same may not be true for you. If you’re new to this career in television and film, what is it you hope to achieve? Do you want to… Be an executive producer for a highly successful television series? Write an Oscar-nominated screenplay? DP the next hit AMC series? Get in to the DGA and become a 1st AD? If you said yes to any of the above, while you may be able to eventually achieve these goals from anywhere USA, you’ll get your foot in the door a LOT! faster if you move to Los Angeles immediately. I was a PA for three years before I moved up to a position I could’ve gotten within a year had I been based in LA. There’s a lot of work out here; enough opportunity for both the talented and the terrible. If you’re an ambitious, smart, and competent production assistant with clear direction of what department you’d like to pursue, you’re going to get promoted very quickly. If you’re a terrible production assistant, well, luckily for you (and unfortunately for the rest of us), there’s enough work out here that will keep you from ever getting completely blacklisted. (Not that anyone would ever deliberately be a bad production assistant, right?!) All that said, I also don’t want to mislead you into thinking just the act of moving to LA will immediately lead to getting jobs in the business. As always, tenacity and networking are the trick to landing that first gig. Once you get in the loop and prove yourself, you’ll be set. But remember…you don’t have to move to LA. I have several work comrades in the Nashville area that are living proofyou can make a living at this career without scrambling to find an affordable studio apartment north of Sunset. Friends that were once fellow PAs of mine have ended up becoming successful producers of independent movies! They’re heroes of mine and it proves that with enough determination, you could carve a similar career path, if that’s truly your desire. Ultimately, it comes down to your values. Do you want to be an executive producer on the highest rated shows in the country? Get to Los Angeles, now. Do you want to have a life outside of work, and perhaps a family one day? Stay where you are. You can have a career and a life in...

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The Truth about Being a Production Assistant: How Much Money Will I Make?

Posted by on 10:31 am in Featured, Production Tips, the film blog | 42 comments

The Truth about Being a Production Assistant: How Much Money Will I Make?

We all work to earn a living. For most of us that go into the film industry, we have career goals beyond that of simply paying our bills. Either we have those dreams, or we’re just stupid — otherwise, we would’ve found an easier avenue! For the entry-level world of production assistants, the pay is meager compared to the union wages of your fellow crew members. But, as you will find, a lot of it will depend on what time of project you work on. Day Rate vs Weekly Rate For short-term gigs, PAs receive a day rate, with no overtime. For long-term jobs, you will still typically get a day rate, with overtime only kicking in after 14 hours. Occasionally, PAs get weekly rates, and you will get one set amount of money per week, regardless of whether you work a humane 60 hours or an inhumane 91.   Music Video Rates for Production Assistants There’s no set rule to music video rates; it will depend on how cheap the production company is that you’re working for. In the beginning, I made $200/day (with no overtime) on music videos, but the majority of music video shoots only lasted a day. Maybe there was a prep day, but usually not. As I worked for more and more companies, the going rate was typically $150-$200 per day, with a few laughable productions offering a meager $125. Towards the end of my PA tenure when I was acting more as a 2nd AD, a few kind-hearted companies offered me $225 per day. Reality TV Rates for Production Assistants I haven’t PA’ed on too many of these, but on the few that I did, the rate stood between $125-$150 per day, $150 per day only coming after serious negotiation.   Movies/Scripted Television Rates for Production Assistants One would think that movies with 20 million dollar budgets would find it within their hearts and wallets to offer their production assistants more than just bread crumbs, but that is NEVER the case. Unless you’re working on an indie movie for your friends, I found that the bigger the budget, the smaller my paycheck. On Country Strong, the rate was $130/14 hours. I was raking in about $500/week after taxes, after putting in 70 hour weeks. That breaks down to less than $10/hour. On one television pilot, I was again on the horrible $130/14 hour pay scale, and we worked 91 hours in one week. After taxes were taken out, my paycheck didn’t even total $1,000. I cried.   Commercial Rates for Production Assistants COMMERCIALS ARE KING. They are the cash cow of this business, especially for production assistants. Most pay $200 per day and have more manageable hours than movies or television. Likewise, commercials for big companies or products usually have a week-long shooting schedule, plus a week or two of prep (and sometimes one for wrap). That’s $1,000/week before taxes. Not too shabby for an entry level position!   Can I Survive on a PA Salary? Yes. The only time it got a little hairy for me was when the economy tanked in 2008, and every business in the country was closing their doors, including production companies. However, it was easier for me because I chose to work in a mid-level film industry in a low cost city.  If you have...

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On Production Assistants That Are “Usually Producers/Directors”

Posted by on 7:28 pm in Featured, Production Tips, Tales from the Set, the film blog | 3 comments

On Production Assistants That Are “Usually Producers/Directors”

The Setting It was a fast-paced, high-profile commercial shoot; one of those .com companies that fly in entire teams of people from Los Angeles and New York. As a result, you’re usually working alongside the most talented producers, ADs, and crew members in town. While your days are filled with long hours and taking an obscene amount of Starbucks orders, it is a great opportunity to showcase your work ethic, get noticed, and get hired for future gigs. The Main Character: The Deluded Production Assistant For these large projects, you need an army of production assistants, and maybe you try out a few new people. I was working alongside a girl who’d obviously never PA’ed a day in her life. She was bewildered easily, and wasn’t grasping that 90% of a PA’s job is anticipation. About halfway through the second day of filming, this PA did have enough sense to tell that the production team was getting frustrated with her. During some down time on the shoot, the girl clarified to the commercial’s producer, Brittany, why she was having a hard time living up to the PA standard. “I don’t usually PA,” the girl explained. Brittany nodded knowingly, but in sympathy. Like any good producer, she wanted this girl to be in the department where she felt most comfortable. “That’s fine. What do you normally do?” “I usually produce,” the girl said, without missing a beat. Brittany blinked in surprise, and almost laughed out loud. The girl didn’t know the back end of a grip truck from a honeywagon, and she wouldn’t know a sandbag if she tripped over it. “Uh…okay. What have you produced?” “Well, I just did a music video, at Watkins,” she bragged. WATKINS! THE FILM SCHOOL. AND SHE WAS SERIOUS. Apologies for the use of caps, but I had to convey how absolutely absurd that is. I don’t mean to belittle experiences gained by going to film school, but film school projects do not equate to real world projects, period. I never saw that girl on a film set again.   The Antithesis There’s a flipside to this Watkins music video story: The director of that student music video. He’s a good work comrade of mine, and we got into the business at the same time and PA’ed together for a couple of years. He is a film snob, and has seen every movie ever made and is quick to offer his professional opinion… but it’s because he’s passionate and he knows his stuff. The difference is, even though he was more than capable and was often frustrated by the menial tasks – he did his time as a production assistant. And never in the two years that we PA’ed together did he approach a director with a ridiculous statement such as, “Hi, I don’t usually PA. I’m a director too!” As a result, he is now a successful 1st AD. The lesson? There’s a difference between being passionate and driven, and being delusional. Paying a large sum of money to an arts school to earn a degree doesn’t make you a “director”, but success in the real film world does. If you have the passion — and you do need it to succeed in almost all careers — GREAT! Buy a camera, round up some likeminded folks, and shoot no/low budget movies, enter them in local film festivals until you succeed. PA...

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