Joe, who is healthier than either you or me, writes in:
I’ve worked as a PA, as an AD, and Location Assistant, which has all been fantastic and what I’ve read on your site has been very helpful.
I’ve found myself in a bit of a lull in the last month, and I’ve had a lot of time to go on some great runs during the day time. What I’ve noticed consistently as I leave the apartment colony that is my neighborhood and head up into the lovely hills filled with nice houses and Teslas, is lots of filming going on in the residences there.
My question is: is there a smooth, non-annoying way for me to go and introduce myself to the crew in hopes of networking and finding a gig? I jog by at least 3 large film crews in there neighborhood per week, and I always find myself wondering, would stopping by with some business cards do me any good or just piss people off?
- Do you have a spare surveillance mic laying around?
- Are you a good improviser?
- Have you considered doing something I like to call “camouflaging”?
But in all seriousness, I think a different way to look at it is to ask yourself this question: “How would I want a stranger to approach ME, if I was the one working on set?”
In my case, high on the list would be “cautiously inquisitive” and “not reeking of desperation.”
For example, I used to work as a stage PA and often times my job would require directing background actors to cross back-and-forth through sets we were shooting on. In between takes, many of the BG actors would politely engage me to talk about, well, me. They’d ask things like how I got this job, who I knew to get this job, and where they could apply to get this job too.
And to be perfectly honest, I was happy to answer their scintillating questions. Why? Because they came off unassuming and were genuinely interested in ME. (We’ve covered how narcissistic this town is, right?)
But that’s what you have to do. Scope out the situation, find somebody who doesn’t look too important and/or having the most miserable time on earth, and ask him/her what they’re shooting. Show genuine interest in them. Ask them what they do, if they like it, and how they think it’s going so far. That’s easily a couple minutes of them enjoying the sound of their own voice while you learn more about them.
Then it’s all about reading the situation at hand. Are they in a hurry to go back to work? If not, this would be the perfect opportunity to introduce yourself. Tell them you’ve jogged by their film set a bunch and have a lot of experience working on sets doing XYZ. Sell yourself, but be brief. It’s about them, remember?
When all is going well, and they deem you unthreatening (but more importantly, clinically sane), maybe you could say something like, “I’d really love to work on a project like this sometime. Do you know a way I’d be able to send my resume over to the ADs?”
If they’re nice, they might give you an email address. If they’re really nice, they might offer to forward your resume to the POC or AD themselves. If they’re an angel, they might just introduce you to the person right then and there. Whichever way, that’s your first “in”.
Afterwards, show eternal gratitude for their time and generosity, and go on your merry jogging way.