As I’ve said before, I don’t do PA work for the money. I get paid, sure, but the pay is so ridiculously low that if that was my only reason, I’d quit and become a stock boy. The hours are better, and I’d actually have insurance.
No, the reason to be a PA is to learn. Most of that learning comes in the form of doing. Anybody with two eyes and two ears will learn a lot just being around an office or set. But eventually, there comes a point when you need to use your mouth, too.
…To ask questions, I mean. (Boy, you have a dirty mind.)
A lot of people are nervous about asking questions. They don’t want to bother anyone, or they don’t want to appear stupid, or they’re just plain shy.
But the most important issue, not bothering people, isn’t even a problem. See, people in general love talking about their jobs; this goes double for Hollywood. Ask an art director about some mundane detail in the set design, and she’ll go on for hours about color schemes and textures and who knows what else.
I overheard the transpo coordinator talking to the UPM about what kind of picture car they needed to get for a particular scene. Afterward, I asked him about how he approached the car companies, how much they charged, and things like that.
For the most part, our show was popular enough that they’d basically just give us cars for free, as long as we only drove them on screen. We had to actually pick them up from the lot on a truck. The only other restrictions came from the American car companies, who didn’t want their cars driven by the bad guys. Go figure.
Now, none of this helps me do my job right now. But it might be useful knowledge to have if I ever decide to become a teamster, or write a movie about cars, or just need to get a free car for a short.
And I only know this stuff because I asked.