Who Would Want To Be A PA? (Revisited)

Every once in a while, someone emails me to tell me they’ve just read my blog from beginning to end.  I’m not sure whether I should be proud or creeped out.

For instance, Another Anonymous PA writes:

I was playing your link game reading old posts and what not and I decided to go back to the beginning of your blog. Your first post is so…. eager. As the years have gone by your tone has become, well, not so eager :). At least that’s how it appears to me.

It might seem that way when you read it all at once, but keep in mind, you’re not only witnessing my life’s progress for two years, you’re also seeing my writing develop.  (Improve?)  After two years of this, I’ve gotten a pretty good idea of what people find interesting.  “And then we all got along” is not interesting.

Maybe I’m getting crankier, or maybe I’m just becoming more entertaining.

You ended your first post with “Being a PA is the best opportunity to learn who everybody is and what they do. ” Do you still think this is so?

PAs know everyone, and everyone knows the PAs.  If you can’t learn something in a position like that, then you’re just an incurious lump of coal.

I suppose a producer is also in a position to interact with every department, but at that point in your career, hopefully you already know a thing or two.

Looking back at your old posts, especially the first one, do you still believe the things you once did? Should everybody be a PA?

Going back to the end of my last answer, I wish everyone would have to be a production assistant at some point, if for no other reason than to learn a little humility.  Just because you’re a producer, doesn’t mean you don’t have something to learn.

Some people skip the PA experience; they take jobs at camera rental places or post houses, and focus on a single department.  (Some set their sights even higher.)  Being a PA is like traveling the world, before deciding whether you’re going to settle in London or Los Angeles.

Today, you ended with “If a PA has a better idea than the boss, then that means, to a certain extent, the PA is even more qualified than him to do his own job. Which, in my case, is true.” Are you over qualified now?

I am overqualified, which is probably why I sound so cranky.  The thing is, I’m probably underqualified to do much else.  At least, anything I’d want to do; an APOC once asked if I would want a production secretary position that was opening up. Here’s some video of my reaction:

There’s an old joke that the only entry-level positions in Hollywood are PA and director.  That’s me.

Do you think you still have more to learn?

If there’s one thing I know, it’s that I don’t know anything.  Or, as a wiser man once wrote, “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

If not what’s the next step? How does one graduate from PAdom?

I’ll let you know when I find out.

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6 Responses

  1. I’ve been a PA for about 2 years. I’ve done other things (just recently 2nd AD’d). It’s weird, but I kind of felt like a lazy PA (minus all the paperwork). But PAing definately helps you get along with everybody. And I think everyone should be a PA. My two cents. Btw, thanks for making this blog. Keeps things in perspective and is totally entertaining.

  2. I was a PA for 4 1/2 very long years. How did I get out? I just stopped being a PA. I had been doing work in the camera dept off and on, finally I said, “enough”. Then followed poverty…for a little while.

    The contacts that I made with various 1st AC’s paid off and I started getting steady work.

    The thing about L.A./Hollywood is: if you want to do something (cam dept, grip, producer, director, etc) you have to do it completely. You can’t do it a little bit, otherwise people won’t take you seriously.

    That’s what I learned anyway, contents may vary with each person. 😉 LOL

  3. ive been a PA for 3 years now and im beyond burnt out. Im sick of dealing with union babies that whine about the most miniscule (spelling??) things. Ive met some of the coolest people and some of the worst. Being a PA feels like a dead end job with a inhumane amount of hours for less pay than someone that works at mcdonalds. Whats the point…TV isnt that cool and 95% of television shows suck anyway.

  4. You can graduate from PAdom, but you can never graduate from being in the line of fire of a Director who’s a dick. (I just love delivering good news!)

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