Who You Gonna Call?

Scott writes:

I really enjoy your blog, it’s entertaining and informative. I do have one question to which I could not find the answer after going through your past blogs. I’m pretty new to all this so; when cold calling from Production Notices, like this one:

“THE CAPE” Pilot / NBC 02-11-10
BERMANBRAUN
STATUS – Late March 2010 LOCATION – Los Angeles
PRODUCER: Lloyd Braun – Gail Berman – Gene Stein WRITER/PRODUCER: Tom Wheeler DIRECTOR: Simon West
UNIVERSAL MEDIA STUDIOS

Who should I be calling? Bermanbraun or Universal or both? I know I should be trying to get a hold of the Production Coordinator but finding that info before I call is proving troublesome. Any suggestions?

I was sure I wrote about this in the past, but I couldn’t find the post, so here it is (again?).

Studios aren’t really built like other companies.  Management is structured more or less the same, with CEOs and CFOs and such (a CTO is something else altogether; ask Michael about that one).  But when you get into production, we don’t have a factory floor.  (We used to, back in the days of the Studio System, when even the stars were salaried employees.)

Nowadays, every show or movie is created as it’s own LLC, wholly owned by the studio or production company.  The studio has dozens of these at any given time, and they come and go quite regularly.  The studio switchboard operator isn’t likely to know the number for any pilot or new film.  Hell, sometimes they don’t even know returning series’ contact.

They usually have only one point of contact at the Studio, and another at the production company (if they’re even different).  You can find this out by reading the trades and seeing who’s “shepherding” or overseeing the project.

If the pilot is actually greenlit, another option is to call the head of production at the studio.  His assistant will have the numbers for every pilot’s production office.

Calling Berman/Braun, or any production company for that matter, will likely be trickier.  They’re smaller, and may only have a few, or even just one, show at a time.  This tends to make them overprotective.  They’ll start interrogating you like they’re the FBI and you’re checking out Mein Kampf and books on nuclear fusion.

But there’s no harm in trying.  If you get a friendly person, you might be able to get the name of the coordinator.  They’ve got a lot going on, and even if they don’t give you anything useful, it’s not like they’ll call the PO and say, “Keep a look out for a PA named Scott.  He sounded shifty.”

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On an unrelated note, I always wonder if people find my hypertext humor funny.  Thomas Miko apparently does not.

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5 Responses to Who You Gonna Call?

  1. the anonymous commenter says:

    It’s funny to me, that Mr. Miko is annoyed by the grammar in the link (“Your link…written in grammatically incorrect English”), yet he writes, “I could care less about the autopsy scenes…”

    Really? How much less? Does he care a lot for them? I’m confused.

  2. Another PA says:

    I like the links. They’re funny. Keep it up.

  3. Lleah says:

    This is not relating to todays post… I’m simply curious, what is the objective of being in this industry, where are you hoping to end up?

  4. anonymousassistant says:

    Ultimately, I’d like to be a writer.

  5. Mike says:

    I can say that lots of production companies overseeing a pilot have pretty friendly receptionists and/or assistants answering their phones. I can’t guarantee you’ll get through to somebody helpful, but cold calling and getting the name of the UPM, PC or APOC from the production company is do-able 75% of the time in my experience during two pilot seasons. Many times, it’s more important you try to impress the person who will read your resume first, whether they can actually hire you or not. Let’s get real here – these are jobs a well-trained dog could probably do. The people hiring assistants and PA’s will not screen thousands of candidates. Not hundreds. I’d be surprised if they look at a dozen resumes. So many people apply with perfectly appropriate resumes that the real trick is to get lucky – and friendly, outgoing people with great follow-up and follow-through get lucky. Call, smile while you’re talking, thank them for their valuable time helping little old you and quickly get them your resume and a nice, brief cover letter detailing your experience and your gratitude for them helping you out.

    I’m on a pilot right now that I got entirely through cold-calling the production company first. I work twenty feet from the assistant who first answered my call and looked at my resume.

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