Christmas Gifts for Screenwriters

Want to get that writer or screenwriter something they’ll love and actually USE for Christmas? Here’s a quick buying guide. Enjoy.


Kindle Paperwhite

I bounced this item to the top of my list because it is literally my favorite electronic device. The kindle paperwhite is a brilliant piece of technology. And it actually looks like you’re reading off paper. And the battery life lasts for weeks. I would rather cut off my hands than ever read off an ipad or kindle fire again. Buy this. Now.

Coffee Mug Warmer

This thing is awesome. I have one. It rocks. Keeps that coffee warm if you enjoy drinking out of a mug — if you don’t like a mug, check below item.

Yeti Rambler

I literally use the Yeti Rambler every single day. Works for hot drinks and cold drinks. It is my favorite cup/mug/travel mug. A little embarrassed to say it, but I actually own three of these things. They clean easy and keep drinks cold all day long. No shit. Put ice coffee in this thing at 8am, you’ll still have ice cubes well after lunch.


Another thing I use on the reg. Adjustable height. Great if you don’t want to buy a super expensive stand up desk.

Writer Emergency Pack

26 Illustrated cards designed by those great guys over at the ScriptNotes Podcast. Designed to help you out of a bind when you’re hitting some much dreaded writer’s block.

On Writing by Stephen King

This is one of my all time favorite books, let alone my favorite book on the craft of writing. Advice works for screenwriting just as much as novel writing. A must read for anyone interested in writing.


A writer can never have enough sharpies. ‘Nuff Said.


A writer can also never have enough Note Cards. They’re amazing for breaking story.

I will frequently be updating this page as the holiday season comes along and good gift ideas come to mind.


Alright everyone. Long time no posting. Let’s remedy that.

I spend a shit ton of time listening to podcasts since my commute is about an hour every morning and every afternoon. If you’re doing the math, that is pretty much 10 hours of podcasts going into my face every work week. Some of that time is dedicated to listening to podcasts about writing — specifically screenwriting. So here they are in no particular order.

  1. WRITING EXCUSES – “Brandon Sanderson, Mary Roninette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Daniel Wells discuss writing techniques in a fast-paced, 15-minute format.” Now although this podcast is specifically geared towards writing science fiction and fantasy novels, short stories, and comics, I can tell you from personal experience that pretty much everything they saw also applies to screenwriting.  A story is a story is a story . . . plus the short podcast length is perfect for a quick trip around town on errands.  Downside is the podcast seems to crash my iphone quite a bit. Not sure why.
  2. THE WRITER’S GUILD FOUNDATION PODCAST – “Founded in swinging, mondo-groovy 1966, The Writer’s Guild Foundation is the only organization in the world devoted solely to the promotion and preservation of writing for the screen. Our events and interviews capture screenwriters and television writers at their most intimate, and run the gamut from Oscar-winning dramatists to TV scribes writing to devoted fanbases.” This podcast provides some great interviews with screenwriters. The only problem is their episodes are few and far-inbetween.
  3. NERDIST WRITER’S PANEL – “The Nerdist Writer’s Panel series is an informal chat moderated by Ben Blacker (co-creator of the Thrilling Adventure Hour; writer for Supah Ninjas, Supernatural, among others) with professional writers about the process and business of writing. Covering TV, film, comic books, music novels, and any other kind of writing about which you’d care to hear. Proceeds from the live panels benefit 826LA, the national non-profit tutoring program.” This podcast puts out a shit ton of material and some great interviews with screenwriters and comic writers. The only downside is sometimes the audio quality is total garbage. Lots of live panels.
  4. SCRIPTNOTES PODCAST – “Screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin discuss screenwriting and related topics in the film and television industry, everything from getting stuff written to the vagaries of copyright and work-for-hire law.” A very helpful and entertaining podcast from two working screenwriters. Arguably one of the most popular screenwriting specific podcasts.
  5. FRESH AIR – “Fresh Air from WHYY, the Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues, is one of public radio’s most popular programs. Hosted by Terry Gross, the show features intimate conversations with today’s biggest luminaries.” Okay — so technically not a writing podcast. However Terry Gross does interview  a lot of writers. And a lot of topics the show tackles are good inspiration for stories. So I would def add to your podcast  list. The only downside is the sheer amount of material Fresh Air puts out is hard to make time to listen to. Even with the amount of time I put into listening.

There you have it. Go have fun.

Production Assistant Store

Hello! We’ve had an increase in page views on the clothing and accessories for a PA article, so I’ve decided to put it all in one place on a new page called the Production Assistant Store!

I’m not selling anything personally, but if you buy something off Amazon from one of those links they’ll kick me back a small percentage — so shop away me little PA minions!

But really — don’t spend money you don’t have. Most of these things can be acquired slowly throughout your production assistant career.



Back Up and Running

The site went down for a couple of weeks. Server-side problems. Sorry about that. All better now. How about a reader question!? I have a backlog.  Lets blow through these.

First, a quick one:

What do you think of sites like StaffMeUp and Mandy? – Nick

I’ve honestly never used either.  But it can’t hurt to look. Just beware of all the people asking for non-paid work. I think I wrote some articles on working for free before. ARTICLE ONE, ARTICLE TWO, ARTICLE THREE

Alright, onto the next one.

So I am currently going into my senior year at film school, and am trying to work as a PA in LA this summer. I have some money saved up, and am trying to buy some essential gear to have on set. I just don’t have enough money right now to buy all the essentials I have been compiling. Do you have any suggestions on which are the most important up front? Any suggestions are welcome. Thank you. – Shaeden.

I have an article written about PA gear here. But when talking about ESSENTIALS… I would say good shoes are #1, followed by sunscreen for day work, followed by warm clothes for night work, and sunglasses. Everything else is just extra. Don’t waste your money on crap you don’t need… until you can afford it. You can slowly build up your PA arsenal over time. Buy a multi-tool on one job… get something else on another. For now just get yourself some good comfortable shoes to run around in all day and you’ll be well on your way.  Everything else can come later. Save your money for surviving.

Note that all of this crap is for a Set PA… if you’re going to be in the office you’ll need different stuff. Like #1 would probably be a laptop.

Next one.

Hello, my name is Stevie and I am film school right now at Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida.  I came across your blog and find it very helpful.  I even take notes, its always good to keep those things in mind.  I am in a program where I will have my bachelors in 20 months.  I am in my 10th month right now so I will graduate in 10 months.  I am starting to feel the stress of wondering how I’m going to break into the business.  I read that you packed up and headed to LA which is what I plan to do.  I was just wondering if you had any advice for a film student getting ready to try to break into the PA world.  Thanks. – Stevie.

Hi Stevie. If you go through the archives of this website you’ll find a bunch of good advice. I would, if you can, try to lock down some work or make as many connections out here as you can NOW before moving out here. If you can afford to take a summer internship for no pay out here while still in school, do it. But if you can’t do any of that, just save up as much money as you can, come out here, find a place to stay, and start calling up ANYONE you know who works out here and asking them for a job, or if they know of anyone who can give you a job. Then take ANY job you’re offered. You just need to worry about getting your foot in the door. Even if it’s a job you don’t really want to stay in…. doesn’t matter. Take it. While you’re on that job meet everyone and make connections and when the job is over start bothering everyone you met about getting another job. Rinse and repeat until you have enough contacts that know you’re a kick ass worker who will call you up on the reg for work.

Alright. That’s all we have time for today. I’ve been working non-stop. Writing a lot. Still trying to get a manager. See you in another 6 months with an update.

Two Reader Questions: Looking for a Job & Cold Calling

I’ve been busy, blah blah blah, excuses…

Here is a reader question:


I been looking for a PA job for months and I am using a production listing to look as well. When is the best time to contact production offices and how  do I use the production listing properly? I call and they usually tell me they are already full or  that they have not set up yet.

Thank You

Hello person,

First of all, cold calling production offices usually results in a black hole email address. The absolute best way to get a job in the industry is to know someone already working in the industry. I know… this doesn’t help you. But think… really think. Who do I know that maybe knows someone who knows someone in the industry? Reach as far as you can go. I once met a guy at a bar that ended up getting me work. He worked for a division of a record label that produced music videos. So when they were shooting a music video, he told the production company to hire me… and they did. Not because they wanted to (they have their own PAs) but because their client asked them to. You have to really hustle your way in there.

BUT to answer your questions. The phone number you’re looking for on those production listings is the “PRODUCTION OFFICE”. Sometimes when you call those numbers it’s not the production office, but the office of the production company… or a network office. This may be confusing. The PRODUCTION OFFICE is a temporary office opened up when production starts. Then after the show is over the PRODUCTION OFFICE is closed. The PRODUCTION COMPANY will have their own office. That is always open. Because the producers work there. And they sometimes work on multiple shows at the same time which all have their own respective PRODUCTION OFFICES.

Anyway, if it is the production office someone will usually answer the phone with, “Production”. If it’s not the production office just ask if you could be transferred to the production office of said show, or ask if there is a production office open yet. If there is no production office open yet, ask when they expect to open a production office. Then call back around that time.

Once you get the production office, ask if they’re hiring PAs. They’re probably not. If they say, “yes”. Hooray! Send them your résumé and ask for an interview. If they’re not, STILL ask if there is an email address you can send your résumé to. 99% of the time, your résumé will never be looked at. But it does happen sometimes.

Ultimately you want to get in contact with the production coordinator or the assistant production coordinator. They hire office PAs. The earlier you can get to them the better because all office PAs are usually hired before production starts.

If you want to work on set you NEED TO KNOW ADs. All ADs have their own list of PAs they like to work with. But sometimes their normal PAs are busy, which means they need fresh blood. So, again, call the production office. Ask if they’re hiring set PAs and try to get your résumé into the hands of the 1st or 2nd AD (2nd ADs usually hires the PAs).

The window for hiring PAs is very small. And most PAs are personally called and hired because they’ve already worked with someone on the crew. So most of the time it will be too early (they haven’t started hiring PAs yet) and then there is a small window when they do hire and that is usually filled up with other people and then when you call they’re not hiring any more.

I know. It sucks. I’ve never gotten a job from cold calling. Ever. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen. Keep trying. But more importantly get out there and try to meet some people who work in the industry.

Good luck!

Okay, on to the next one. It’s kind of similar.


In reference to your 2011 your post about cold calling, what is the best/simplest way to ask if hiring and not be another annoying 45 second phone call? I’m a very literal person, so my intro is usually:
Me: Hi, my name is _______ . I was calling to see if you were hiring any set PA’s? (I also have an interest in editing asst., but I feel that’s too wordy?)
Production: Not right now
Me: Okay, could I send you my resume? What’s your name?
Me: Okay thank you (do I say I’ll follow up?)

I’m noticing this trend I’m doing and I feel like it’s not working well. Also, is it creepy or pushy to ask to speak directly to the POC?

I’ve already touched on this in my response to the first question.  I’m not sure of any way not to be that annoying 45 second phone call. I guess just be nice. ALWAYS BE NICE. And… this might not be good advice… but maybe sound like someone the person you’re talking to on the phone wants to work with. Because that person is another PA. And you’re encroaching on their PAness. Ha..haha. But if you sound friendly and like a cool person then they’ll probably be more likely to go to bat for you when it’s time to hire you. Be friends with that person on the phone. How you ask? I have no idea. But it can’t hurt because you’re probably not going to get the job anyway. So try it out.

As far as the Post PA/Editorial PA goes (they’re the same thing)… if it is a movie, ask if you can get your résumé to the Editor or Assistant Editor. This can be tricky because the person on the phone might not have that information. So keep pressing them on how to get that information. An editor may have not even been hired yet.  If it’s TV it is a little weirder… I’m not exactly sure how Post works in the TV world. But I know there is usually a post-house or something. Sometimes there is also a post coordinator your can get your résumé to, or a co-producer who is in charge of overseeing post-production. The production coordinator will know this information. So if the PA you’re speaking with doesn’t want to transfer you over to the POC than just ask said PA if he/she minds asking the POC if there is someone you can send your résumé to in post. They’ll help you out.

As far as following up. I would just ask when they think they’ll be hiring. And then call back around that time and follow-up. Or if they don’t know, just give them a ring ever 7 days or so until they say they’re not hiring anymore. After that move on.

If they say their hiring. Maybe call back every 2-3 days and just check-in to see if they’ve hired PAs yet. And try to score an interview.

Asking to speak with the POC is okay… but they don’t want to speak with you. So maybe ask if you can speak with APOC (assistant production coordinator) because they’re way more likely to speak with you. Be super friendly with the APOC and try to score an interview.  If neither of them will speak with you, ask the PA on the phone if they’ll hand them your résumé for you. And always be nice. Because if you sound like a prick that PA will not do anything for you. No matter what they say.

OKAY! Have fun out there.


2015 sounds so futuristic to me. A distant place where cars drive themselves and humans explore Mars. And here we are. 2015.

In my resolution post of 2014 I wanted to write more, read more, and save more. How did I do…

WRITE MORE: My goal was to have two polished pilots finished by the end of 2014, and I’m happy to say that I have THREE! I have done a lot of writing this year and it feels good. My new goal for 2015 is to finish a feature I’m working on. 

READ MORE: I read 12 books in 2014 — this year I read… 13! Still didn’t hit my 15 mark, but I’m pleased with what I did.  My goal for 2015… again 15 books. One day I’ll get there.

SAVE MORE: I saved a total of $0.00 in 2014. So I completely failed on that resolution. BUT! I did make a budget and I paid off a lot of debt. So that is still a win in my book. I’m changing my goal for this year. I want to curb spending and clear a lot of my smaller debts so that I can focus on saving more next year.

And my last resolution for 2015 is to get an agent and shop my pilots. Casual.

So there it is. Finish a feature. Read 15 books. Pay off some debt. Get an Agent.

What are your resolutions?

12ptCourier’s Top Posts of 2014

Here are the top 10 posts on the site in order of views for 2014:

#10: Tips for a PA: Downtime and Cold Calling [UPDATED]

#9: Production Assistant Resume Template

#8: TIPS FOR A PA: How to Roll Calls aka Answering Phones for Newbs

#7: What Kind of Jobs Do You Get From Being a PA?

#6: Tips for a PA: Clothing and Accessories [UPDATED]

#5: Production Assistant Pay [Updated]

#4: Tips for a PA: Walkie Talkie Lingo

#3: Tips for a Production Assistant: Set Lingo

#2: Resumes and Curriculum Vitae (For the PA)

#1: Production Assistant Job Description and Duties [Updated]

12ptCourier’s Most Anticipated Movies of 2015


There are a lot of movies coming out next year that didn’t make this list. A few that deserve a mention are Mission Impossible 5, Ant Man, and Avengers: Age of Ultron. I really enjoy those franchises, but I feel like I’ve already seen what they have to offer, and I’m excited for something a little different in 2015.



I love Pixar movies and the trailer looks really cute.

I am excited about anything Guillermo del Toro is directing.

I know nothing about this film except that it’s directed by Spielberg, stars Tom Hanks, and is about a cold war spy. ‘Nuff Said.


I am very scared of being let down by this movie. But it still hits my top 10. Because Jurassic Park.

Because Quentin Tarantino.


Neill Blomkamp is one of my favorite new directors. District 9 is one of the best Sci-fi movies I’ve ever seen. I also really enjoyed Elysium despite unfavorable reviews. I’m very excited to see his next film.

I still have faith in Ridley Scott despite his recent string of movies. I haven’t read this book yet, but it is rated one of the best of the year. Also — Matt Damon.

#3: 007: SPECTRE
I love James Bond. I grew up watching these movies with my grandparents. I’m in the Daniel Craig camp. I think this new era of James Bond movies are fantastic — with Casino Royale being one of my favorite movies of all time. I don’t know a whole lot of details about Spectre, but it’s #3 on this list because — James Bond.


I really love the original Mad Max movies. The fact this new one is from the same creator and an all-star cast has me really excited. But perhaps the most exciting thing about it was the trailer. Which is probably not only the best trailer of the year, but maybe the best trailer I have ever seen.


I have never felt more anticipation for a movie in my life. Maybe that statement isn’t totally true. But that is how I feel right now. My entire childhood evolved around the original three films, and the trailer brought back those feelings. Not the prequel feels… but the original feels. I can not wait to see this movie opening night.

12pt’s Best Movies of 2014

Not going to go into detail. Just a quick list. Also — there are a ton of movies I haven’t seen this year. This is just a list of what I was able to see!

1 – Guardians of the Galaxy (A)

2 – Edge of Tomorrow (A)

3 – The Raid 2 (A)

4 – The Lego Movie (A)

5 – Gone Girl (A-)

6 – 22 Jump Street (A-)

7 – X-Men: Days of Future Past (A-)

8 – The Grand Budapest Hotel (B+)

9 – The Hobbit (B+)

10 – Snowpiercer (B+)

11 – Night Crawler (B)

12 – American Sniper (B)

13 – Whiplash (B)

14 – Unbroken (C)

15 – Into the Woods (D+)

Still haven’t seen:

Jodorowski’s Dune

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes


The Purge: Anarchy

How to Train your Dragon 2

A Walk Among the Tombstones


The Babadook


Captain America: The Winter Soldier


Big Hero 6


John Wick

The Unknown Known


Creamy, Spicy, FUCKING AMAZING, Butternut Squash Soup

I made some soup from scratch last night. It was so damn good I need to share it with all of you. It’s so easy. I took a couple recipes off the internet — ditched some ingredients, added some others. It turned out so fucking good.  Some of the best soup of my life.

Portions: Made 4 good sized bowls of soup.


  • 2x butternut squash
  • 1x Chopped White Onion
  • A stick of Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt (as needed)
  • Ground Pepper (I used White peppercorn for more flavor as needed)
  • Honey (A couple big squirts)
  • 1/4 tsp of nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp or so of Fresh chopped/grated ginger
  • 4 cups of Vegetable stock/broth
  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • Sour Cream for Garnish


THE SQUASH: Set your stove to 400 degrees. Cut the ends off the squash. Half them length-wise. Scoop out the seeds and gross shit with a spoon.  Lather those fuckers with melted butter. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Put them on a baking sheet with some tin foil. Pop those fuckers (4 halves in total) into the oven. Set timer for 55 minutes (or until they’re soft as fuck. Just don’t burn them).

THE BROTH: Wait until the clock on the squash has about 10-15 min or so left. Throw some olive oil in a sauce pan on low heat. Not a lot. Just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Throw in about 4 TBS of butter.  Let that butter melt a little. Throw in the chopped onion, nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and chopped ginger. Squirt in a couple good goblets of honey. Add about 1/4 teaspoon of both salt and pepper. And stir all the shit together until the onions are soft (NOT BROWNED). Add in the 4 cups of vegetable broth and then stir until hot and add that 1 cup of whipping cream.

By now your squash should be done and out of the oven — cooling off. Take a spoon and scrape all the meat out of that squash and put it in the broth. Stirring at you do so. Try no to get any of the squash skin in there.  Mix all of it in together and let the flavors fuck each other for a bit.

Dump all of it into a blender and purée that shit. Instead of using the blender lid, tightly hold a dish towel over the top to let the heat escape easily.

After the soup is pureed, give it a taste and adjust salt, pepper, and cayenne to your preference.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

Fuck yes.

(For Extra points — You can also butter and bake some sliced baguette. Take it out of the oven after about 10 min or so and add some shredded cheese, put it back in for 5 min, take out and serve with the soup.)

A blog for aspiring screenwriters and those seeking to break into the film industry.