PRODUCTION ASSISTANT SECRETS
I used to run basecamp on movie and TV sets. Job responsibilities included receiving actors, having them sign their contracts, getting them through hair, makeup and wardrobe, making sure they arrive on set in a timely fashion and keeping EVERYONE happy.
- •We lie to everyone.We lie to HMU and wardrobe about projected times, we lie to our bosses (the assistant directors) about how long until they can have an actor on set, we lie to the actors about the length of the day and how much longer until they are needed. Pro tip-- when they need an actor to 'travel' to set in 10 minutes, give the actor a 5 minute warning. It will take them 10 minutes.
- •The most important people to befriend on set is the catering crew and craft services.Since you have to get breakfast/lunch for the actors and sometimes HMU/wardrobe people with early call times, these guys can save your ass. Be nice to them and they will let you in the front of the long breakfast line to put in 10 breakfast orders (and the good ones will make sure you didn't forget to give them your own order).
- •Sometimes, we really resent the actors.If you are getting paid 10x my day rate to come to work for a few hours (and spend half of that time sleeping in your trailer or sitting in the makeup chair) and want to bitch at me that you can't believe there's sour cream on your omelet, I will think you're an asshole.
- •But sometimes you get to meet people you really respect and admire.And they are as cool as you had hoped. Out of the many actors I dealt with on a daily basis, I would say that only about 10% of them were assholes, which is a pretty good ratio for a job with a stereotype of being filled with difficult people.
- •Some of the best people you will meet are your fellow PAsThey will make the long days seem shorter by cracking disgusting jokes, messing around on the walkie (only after wrap!!!) and covering your ass when the 1st AD gets in a mood (by nature of 1st ADs, this happens a lot). They will also generously refer you to other jobs, which is a must considering you could work on 5 different shows in a week.
- •We don't give a shit when other departments complain about the rate/hours/work loadOh you had a 6am pre-call? I was there at 4:42am and will be there 2 hours after camera wrap. For less than a quarter of your day rate.
- •Be nice to the PAs entertainment people!The good ones will be signing your checks someday (just kidding, it will be some producer's nephew with no industry experience)