Hello, hope this Christmas season is treating you well! Back when I was working as a production assistant — Christmas was the worst. I was stuck out in California away from my family with nowhere to go. And guess what, the ENTIRE FUCKING INDUSTRY basically grinds to a halt. Which means no work. Which means no money. Which means… blegh. So, I feel for you production assistants out there. I really do. Hopefully you were able to grab enough work over the past few months to tide you over.
One thing I tried to do every year was find a producer or someone who needed house-sitting over the holidays. A good way to make a little cash over Christmas break. Especially if you’re not going home to visit family or something. But if you CAN go home on your parents dime, DO IT! Free food = the best food when you’re poor.
Anyway — here is a reader question I found in my inbox recently.
Hey, just found your blog and absolutely love it! Anyway I have a big question… I was hired almost 2 months ago at an Agency – I’m finally starting to get everything down and about to hit 2 weeks paid vacation for the holidays. They’ve trained me from being fresh out of college and Pilot season is around the corner. I’m also on REDACTED IMPORTANT PERSON’S desk, which is pretty awesome. The thing is I’ve got a potential job opp for doing what I really want to do, gain experience as a PA on a show. Do I cut and run knowing this opportunity is rare or should I tough it out at the Agency to prevent burning this bridge?
Okay. My first response is DON’T FUCKING LEAVE YOUR JOB. WHAT ARE YOU FUCKING CRAZY! YOU’RE WORKING A SECURE JOB THAT GIVES YOU PAID, I REPEAT, P-A-I-D, VACATIONS AND YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT LEAVING TO BECOME A SET PA? WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FUCK!?
Okay — now with that out-of-the-way.
What you should be asking yourself is — what is your end goal?
Do you want to be an agent? Or do you want to work in production? If you’re not sure what you want to do — maybe talk to some current Production Assistants about production and see if it’s something you really want to do. Or better yet — dip your toes in by offering to work as a PA for free one day — A day that you don’t have to be at your agency job — just as extra help to get some set experience.
The thing is — Being a PA sucks.
There are some (crazy) people out there that actually love being a production assistant. But most of those people want to become ADs or coordinators. I admit — I REALLY enjoyed being a production assistant for the first year I moved to LA. But after the initial HOLY SHIT I’M WORKING IN THE FILM INDUSTRY FOR REAL wears off — you will realize you’re just a slave at the bottom of a very long totem pole. You’re a slave at the bottom with the job you have now, but YOU’RE a slave with PAID vacations. Do you get health insurance at your job as well? — because holy Christ if you do DON’T LEAVE.
Every job in the industry is really hard to get
— even the one you have. Working a desk at an agency is super competitive. So if you have ANY desire to become an agent — or hell — even a producer. I would 100% stay at the job you have and milk all the contacts and relationships out of it that you can. Production assistant jobs will come and go. The worst thing (and the most likely thing) to come out of leaving you job for this PA job is — you take the PA job — it lasts what? A few months? Half a year at best? And then you decide you don’t like it. And when the show is over — so is your job. And guess what — there is a new girl sitting at the desk job you used to have. So you’re fucked outta luck, kiddo.
But honestly, if becoming a set production assistant is 100% your hearts desire — do it. I just want you to know the risks you’re taking.
I assume you’re talking about a set PA position, but my answer applies to all PA positions. Except maybe a writer’s PA position. If you want to be a writer and a writer’s PA position becomes available 100% take it.