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Oh, Goody! My First Reader Question!

Reader Brian sent me a question, proving once again that “expertise” is a meaningless concept on the internet.

I really enjoy your blog — thanks for all the info and frequent posting.

That’s not actually part of the question. It just made me feel good.

I just applied for a PA position at a network comedy after meeting their showrunner at a film festival. After a chat, said showrunner told me to call his line producer at the show and say that “I [the showrunner] said to contact” him about PA work.

I need to stop you right there. Here’s the thing about showrunners, besides the fact that my spell checker hates them: they don’t often know how a show is run. They create the characters and story, but they can’t tell an electrician from a grip. (A hint: look what’s in his hand; if it has a plug, he’s an electric.)

The line producer is his contact with the actual production. Since hiring PAs is several pay grades below the LP, it’s possible this showrunner just didn’t know who to direct your query to.

I phoned this week, got hold of the line producer’s assistant, and sent her my resume for passing along to the line producer and other appropriate departments.

Never, ever, ever trust someone to forward your resume to someone else. I’ve been burned by this in the past. Through either laziness (it’s not their department, so they don’t care) or avarice (they want to have you, not that other department), it won’t get to where you want it to.

If you wanna be an art PA, ask to be transferred to the art department. If you want to work in locations, ask for the location manager. Don’t expect an assistant to do your leg work for you.

Also, on your initial call, you should have asked if there were any open positions. The season is well underway, and having a one-time chat with the showrunner does not guarantee you a spot. Of course, people are hired and fired all the time, so you never know. Which is why you should ask.

My questions:

1. When’s the appropriate time for me to follow up?
2. When I do follow up, should I speak with the assistant again, or try for the line producer directly?

1. When I worked at an agency, my boss’s rule of thumb was 2-3 days, depending on how busy they sounded and what time of day you sent it. If you spoke on Monday, Wednesday’s a good day. Called on Wednesday? Try Friday. And so on.

2. The line producer has many more important things to do than talk to a prospective PA, unless the showrunner’s your brother. I’m assuming you would have mentioned that, so so let’s go with, “He’s just not that into you.”

Talk to the assistant. Make friends with the assistant. In a few years, she’s gonna be the line producer, and you’ll be… whatever you want to be. Hopefully, she’ll still want to talk to you.

Lastly, in this case, it’d be a good idea to get transferred to the showrunner’s assistant. Just ask him to pass along the message that it was nice to meet Alan Ball or John Rogers or whoever. You don’t want him to forget about you, either.

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