Business Cards

Jake writes:

You mentioned business cards in your latest post, “I made a few connections, had nice conversations, exchanged business cards (I carry one purporting to be a writer; there’s no need for a PA to have a business card).”

Back in October, an AD told me to get business cards stat, in order to look more professional and make a longer lasting impression on whoever I dole them out to.

I am primarily a PA, but I sometimes do 2nd AD work or assistant coordinating, or am given those titles in lieu of a decent day rate. Should I just put the blanket term “Production” under my name to account for my varied jobs, plus my dream to someday be a union POC? This trivial matter has lingered in my head for months, and I don’t want to print a card that seems presumptuous or casts a negative, douche baggy impression.

I feel like printing business cards is a way of saying, “I’m going to be in this position for a while.”  No PA wants that.

I do know people that have business cards with just their name and number, but that tends to come across as egotistical, like you think you’re Danny Ocean or something.

Listing off a bunch of titles just seems dumb.  The card (and by extension, you) will look cluttered and clumsy.

One of my friends has a card that reads, “Freelance office production,” which covers most of your positions, except the AD stuff.  It might behoove you to get two sets, one saying “AD,” and the other “production,” depending on the situation and target audience.

Maybe some of my more experienced readers can offer advice in the comments section?

But seriously, I wouldn’t stress too much about it.  It’s just a card.

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8 Responses

  1. Man, I read somewhere maybe a year ago — I thought it was John August, but I can’t find it on his blog — somebody In The Know saying that in fact a business card with just your name, phone number, and email IS the way to go. It’s versatile, allowing you to be PA to ADs and a writer to managers, and while it might be a touch Danny Ocean, it’s waaaay less pretentious than the aspirational “Writer/Director/Producer” or the hopelessly sad “Writer/Director/Producer/Coordinator/Craft Service/PA.”

    But yeah, something all-encompassing like “TV/Film Production” is good, too.

    And AAPA, there’s nothing wrong with calling yourself an AD if you working as one, even if you’re not in the union. My resume said “non-union AD” for years, and it was the truth. ADing on non-union shows is one way to build days to apply for the Guild. (If you’re going to put it on a resume, though, it helps to have at least one or two Googleable credits to back that up.)

  2. Actually, I disagree with the gaffer in NYC and I agree with the suggestion to make multiple cards, if it makes you feel more comfortable.

    This is Hollywood, people… since when do you need to be qualified to be an AD or coordinator, let alone Director or Producer?

    Seriously, though, take my advice and put the title on the card that is what you want to be and kick your own ass every day to live up to that title. Look at it this way: no matter how much underling experience, how many degrees, how many years of film school… no one is really ‘qualified’ to do any job they’ve never or rarely done before. You may not be ‘qualified’ enough for the union (but let’s not forget their main objective is to keep you the fuck out) but if you’ve PAed on a few films… especially one with terrible production and AD problems… you *could* step up and fare okay. I’m not suggesting you tell somebody you are ready to AD a Tier I film but you sure as hell are just as qualified to be a no-budget indie as most peeps you’ll meet.

    I got my first job as a sound mixer by confidently answering ‘yes’ despite thinking that I was just barely going to able to know what I was doing… but knowing I was going to bust ass to do the best job possible and learn fast OTF (not to mention I knew they were desperate and would be happy with whatever I could do to help them).

    If you never attempt to do more than you *know* you can do, how the hell can you find out what your limitations are?

  3. Thanks for posting my inquiry. I think what Abby suggestion is the most versatile and honest option. I don’t like telling people, even those less experienced than me, that I’m an “AD”, or “coordinator”, because I am not. I am not qualified for it, nor do I have the hours logged to prove it to DGA or IATSE.

    The video you posted is funny, because I worked very closely with Bill Sage, who plays Van Patten, last year. He was very supportive when he saw the “AD” in me come out on set. Cheers

  4. I like it when somebody hands me a business card that say PA. I’m always tempted to high five them. To me, it’s a sign of humility and honesty. At the film school I went to, everyone seemed to think they were going to graduate and just work above the line. They all made cards. The “/” was especially popular. Cinematographer/Director/Editor/Writer/Producer/Actor/Production Designer/and on/ and on/and on.

    The APA says “I feel like printing business cards is a way of saying, “I’m going to be in this position for a while.” No PA wants that.”

    I disagree with this statement. I wanted to be a PA. I am a PA. I like being a PA. And I want to be a PA for a while. As a matter of fact, I have to be to do what I want in the long run (AD).

    I do have business cards that say AD, but I hide them from professionals. I only give them out to students or people looking for me to work for free. I once got yelled at by a Gaffer in NYC. I was walking by a set and stopped to talk to some of the crew to see if I could get a job. As an ice breaker, I said I was an AD and new to the area. He asked if I was union. “working on it” was my reply. “Don’t call yourself an AD.” He said coldly. It was pretty awkward. I’m nervous that the same thing would happen if anyone on my show saw my AD cards.

    I guess I’m saying, if you are a PA, and are looking for PA work. Then there’s no harm in having a card that says PA. I know that if I was hiring PAs, I’d want to hire people who want to be PAs, and not something they’re not qualified for.

    So I suggest 2 different cards for 2 different situations. But what do I know? I’m just a PA.

  5. When I was still mostly PAing, but occasionally coordinating or doing other positions, my cards said “Freelance Television, Film and Video Production” instead of a job title. I figured that covered all the bases.

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