One of my readers, Sam, has added some valuable advice for a new PA, on my previous post Tips for a PA: Hard Work and No Pay. Here is what he had to say:
I’ve been a PA on some smaller TV shows and I was an unpaid intern on a big, 50 million dollar Hollywood project, and I can say that it is not easy. My tips are as follows:
– Never sit down: If a Producer sees you sitting without some sort of paperwork in front of you, they assume you are not working at all. Wait until lunchtime to sit down. If your legs get tired, then lean on something.
– Never stand near another PA during set-up, wrap time: Those times are the busiest, if a Producer or Chief PA or Second Second AD sees you, they assume you are being unproductive.
– Live and die by the walkie talkie: If you are lucky enough to have a radio, keep it attached to your ear at all times, and do not speak unless you absolutely need somebody/something. Before long, the sound the walkie talkie will be easy to listen to, even during multitasking, like an internal monologue. When you do speak, make sure you don’t “step-on” someone who was already talking. Always lower the volume before a take. This brings me to the most obvious thing which is:
– Never ruin a take, ever: This seems obvious, but I’m always surprised to see how volatile even the most controlled of studio environments can be. For this reason, I recommend that you overcompensate by being basically motionless and utterly silent during takes, with your phone shut off, no matter where you are. There will be exceptions to this rule, but get in the habit of being the most silent, most still person on set each and every take.
– Wear a name tag on your first day. Introduce yourself briefly. Make them feel comfortable coming to you for help with anything.
For extra credit: bring nice cigarettes and share, you’ll get bonding points from the smokers.
Great advice Sam!
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