Tag Archives: featuredNO

Resumes and Curriculum Vitae (For the PA)

Bad-Resume

This article is going to focus on how to tailor your resume for a PRODUCTION ASSISTANT JOB in film or TV only.

What everyone says about this industry is correct — it really is  “who you know” — most of the time your resume is not going to factor into you getting a job. It is more of a formality, as the interview is what will land you the job… but sometimes the resume will land you the interview. Now that I’ve thoroughly confused you, let’s start!

I was recently hiring PAs for a production office —  I would say about 2 out of 10 production assistant resumes didn’t immediately go into the trash pile. When hiring a PA, I only care about two things:

#1: Can you do your job.

#2: Can I stand to be around you for the length of this show.

People don’t give a shit about what your goals are. They don’t give a shit if you went to college. They don’t give a shit about your short film. All they want to know is — do you know how to be a PA?

Look at your resume. If any of this shit on there, take it off.

DON’T INCLUDE

  • Student Films
  • Unrelated Work Experience – No one cares if you worked at Starbucks — and don’t argue that it applies because you’re getting people coffee. If it’s not a job in the industry, take it off.)
  • Anything you Directed or DP’d or any High Level Sounding Job – Why the fuck are you applying for a PA position if you’re a director. No one cares.
  • Career Objective – No one cares.
  • Hobbies – Again, no one cares.
  • References – If they want a reference they’ll ask. 99% of the time they heard about you from someone else anyway.
  • Background – Don’t think the person hiring you, who has probably been working in a production office for longer than you’ve been alive, cares about your background. There is plenty of time for this type of conversation after you’re hired.
  • Interests – Definitely Not.
  • That you Wrote a Screenplay – Seriously, I’m looking at a resume right now where a PA lists a feature screenplay in his work experience. Dude, in what way do you think a Prod. Coord. hiring you to go pick up lunch gives a shit if you’ve written a screenplay?

Now, here is what your resume should include.

INCLUDE

  • Name and Contact Info – Email, phone number, home address.
  • Job History – Show Name, Position, Date of job (if you want), Production Company (this is where you can make it a little sexier by adding in WALT DISNEY STUDIOS or something).

That’s it. Anything else on your resume should go below those two things. Your resume should look like a list. Name and contact on top. Below just a list of all the jobs you’ve done.

Chances are you haven’t worked that much. If you need some padding see below:

PADDING

  • Schooling – No one really cares, but it doesn’t take up much room… and why else did you get a film degree if not to do SOMETHING with it… so put it on the resume. At the bottom.
  • Skills – A producer friend of mine says he likes it when skills are listed on a resume. It doesn’t take up much room. But it’s where you can list appropriate skills like Microsoft Office Suite, Adobe Suite, Scenechronize, Final Draft, Final Cut, Avid… etc. This is more relevant for a non-set PA job. You can even put MAC and PC… If you know how to hook up network printers on Macs AND PCs you instantly become like a god-figure in the office. Same with knowing the ins and outs of how to use an iPhone ( a lot of technologically impaired people work in production).
  • Internships – Unlike student films and your own shorts, an internship can basically be a non-paid PA job.  Internship is an easily dismissible word, when the experience you gained shouldn’t be dismissed. I would just change the job title “internship” into whatever job you were doing  — Office PA, producer’s assistant, development assistant… Looks better and it’s basically the same exact job, you were just getting school credit instead of being paid.
  • Job Descriptions – You can add this stuff if you’re seriously lacking in things to put on your resume. Just a few bullet points under every job. Try to not be monotonous.

DESIGN

  • Make your resume clear and easy to read – You won’t believe how many people’s resumes look like a jumbled mess of text. Nobody wants to read — they want to SCAN! I should look at your resume and know in 1 second if I’m putting you in the consider pile or the trash. If I have to read too much… sorry buddy. You might now be thinking, “Why is this guy so lazy and disgruntled? He’s going to pass on a qualified applicant just because they have “too much text” on the page?” Dude … when you work in a production office hiring PAs, you literally have about 100 resumes to go through in an hour. I’m not reading your fucking wall of text. If it takes a wall of text for me to realize your talent, you’re doing it wrong. You get a quick glance.
  • Keep your resume ONE PAGE  – You’ve done 40 jobs? Pick the sexiest looking ones. I shouldn’t have to turn the page when looking through your resume. No seriously… keep it one page.
  • Portrait View – Seriously… a landscape resume? Don’t. Ever.
  • Make Font Bigger – A larger font is easier to read, and stands out more. Even just bumping the standard 12pt to 14pt is a nice touch.
  • A Little Color Never Hurt Anyone – Even using greys with black looks better than a simple black text resume, and it’s non-color printer safe.
  • Too Much Color Hurts Everyone – If it looks like a teletubby took a shit on your resume — I will burn it.

IN CLOSING

People in a hiring position only want to know that YOU know what you’re doing. And the best way to persuade them is by showing that you’ve done the job before. So if you’re looking for set PA work — stack your resume with Set PA jobs. They’ll take one look at it and see SET PA, SET PA, SET PA, SET PA. “Great! Bring ’em in for an interview.” If they have to navigate through your resume like pans fucking labyrinth — you’re on a fast track to the trash.

[UPDATE]

Download a simple PA resume template here!

12PTRESUMETEMPLATE082714-page-001Also check out:

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

screaming-into-phone

One of the main responsibilities of an Office PA is to roll calls. You have a phone on your desk with many buttons (and every fucking phone is different and way more complicated than it needs to be) and it rings all day long. The thought of answering phones when I started office PAing was honestly terrifying. Not only did I have the fear of not knowing what I was doing — I had the fear of  not knowing what I was doing in front of a bunch of people. When you’re in a production office, generally all the PA’s are set up in a bullpen. No cubicle dividers — just a room full of desks. So everyone can hear everything you say.  It was scary… but a completely unjustified fear. Answering phones is one of the easiest things in the world. Suffice to say, I learned fast. So here are some tips.

You’re sitting at your desk. The phones ring. Pick it up as fast as possible. If possible don’t let it ring more than once. Answer. “Production, this is [Insert Name Here].” Some people just answer with “Production”. But I like to let people know who they’re talking to.

One of the first things you should do if you’re on a new phone system is figure out how to transfer a call. Like I said, every phone is different. There are two types of transfers. Blind Transfers and Consult Transfers. A blind transfer simply transfers one call to another phone. A consult transfer transfers you first so you can say, “So and So is on the line, would you like me to put them through?” and they will either say, “Yes”, and you complete the transfer, or, “No, take a message”. You usually only have to do this if it’s someone important… or if you’re transferring out to someone’s cell.  If someone is calling for another department — just blind transfer. No need to consult. 

So someone calls and you answer the phone, person on the other line says, “Hello, can I talk to so and so”. If it’s another department, simply say “Yes, please hold.”  and blind transfer them to the extension on the phone list.  If they’re asking for someone in your department (Apoc, Poc, another PA, etc) you can probably just put them on hold and tell that person what line they’re on. E.g. “Hey, Jess, So and So is on Line 1 for you.”

9000 times out of 10 the person on the other line will say “Hi, can I speak to so and so?” Without giving their name or why they’re calling.  If it’s for another department… just transfer them over. But if it’s for someone in production — you need to find out two things. Who they are, and why they’re calling.

“Yes, may I ask who’s calling please?”  If it’s a name you recognize or know to be important, it’s probably okay to just walk up to the person in your department and be like, “So and So is on the line for you.” But if it’s someone you don’t recognize you need to be all like, “May I ask what the call is regarding.” I had so much trouble with this when I started out. How do you ask someone why they’re calling without sounding like a little shit. You can’t just ask, “Why are you calling?” It just sounds bad. So asking what the call is regarding seems to be the best way to ask that question.

Also if the dude doesn’t have the name John Smith and you’re not exactly sure what he said… a good way to find out what his name is, is by asking “Can you spell your first and last name for me, please?” That why when you tell the producer that Moises Trajicomahetmetet is calling for him, he actually knows who you’re talking about. It’s very important to get names right. Double checking with the person on the phone is way less embarrassing than getting the name wrong while talking to the producer.  DONT BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS ON THE PHONE. Get the information down correctly. Get their name spelt right. If the dude on the other end of the phone is an irritated piece of shit, it’s not like they can reach through the phone and strangle you. Remember, you’re just doing your job. Get the name right. Ask what the call is regarding, and then place them on hold.

Same thing for taking messages. Name. Who they’re with. Why they’re calling. Note down the date and time, and ALWAYS ask for a callback number. Unless it’s a person you know is very familiar to the person they’re calling, always ask something along the lines of “And what number can you be reached at?” Even if you know the person you’re giving the message to has their number, you’ll save them the time to look it up.

That’s all I can think of about phones at the moment. There is always 3 way calling and conference calling… but every phone is different so I can’t really tell you how to do that.

I hate phones.

Production Assistant Pay [Updated]

The only thing a PA is missing is the Y – Anonymous

How much does a Production Assistant get paid? — seems to be a recurring question, so I’ll answer it: NOT MUCH!

PAs don’t get paid hourly.  A PA gets paid on a “per-day” day rate, based on a 12 hour day.  Day rates depend on the type of show you’re working on. On average, in Los Angeles, the PA day rate is around $125 a day. A day rate is good, because if you work 6 hours instead of 12, you will still get paid for a full day. Those days are rare, and you will more likely be working over 12 hours, most of the time. For more information on how a day rate works, check out TAPAs post on the subject.

Commercials and Music Video’s tend to pay more than Movies and TV, but you don’t work as long. I’ve been a PA on a couple photo shoots that pay a day rate of $250, but the shoots only last 1-2 days.  I’ve also worked as a PA on a couple commercials that pay a day rate of $200, but those shoots were only a few days long as well.  If you’re on a movie or TV show, you could be getting paid $125 a day for a few months. This is what I am currently trying to do…  and it’s a pain in the ass.

You’ll find that most industry jobs don’t do “pay by the hour”.  It’s either by the day, week, or job.

Ask any questions in the comments section, and I’ll be glad to answer them to the best of my ability.

[UPDATE]

So I just recently worked on a feature and figured out a little more on how we’re paid.

On this feature I was making $112 a day, with a guaranteed 12 hour day. So even if I only worked 10 hours instead of 12, I would still get paid for the full 12 hours.

Now on paper this breaks down to $8/hr for the first 8 hours. After 8 hours you get time and a half for the next 4 hours. So I’d be getting paid $8/hr for 8 hours and $12/hr for 4 hours. That makes the $112/12 day rate. Anything I work after 12 hours is double time, which would be $16 an hour.

Now on this feature I was working 6 day weeks. So my “6th day” rate is time and a half for every hour. So I would make $12/hr for the first 12 hours and then $16/hr for anything after 12.

I also got one $7 meal penalty per day. Basically you have to be fed 6 hours after your call time. Because I am a PA, I always have a pre-call. Which means If the call time for crew is at 8am, I’ll probably have a call time for 7am. When we break for lunch at 2pm, it’s been 7 hours of work for me before lunch… which means I get a meal penalty. It’s not much… but on a 6 day week that’s $42 extra in the bank.

Also check out: