Missed Opportunity

Matthew writes:

I have experience PAing on two indie short films and a few student films. I was fortunate enough to get into the Directors Guild of Canada’s trainee program which states I must work 150 days on set in a year to be eligible to apply to the guild.

(The Directors’ Guild of America has similar requirements.)

Recently, I sent out my resume to a few productions. Within a few days, I received a call from a major television show asking me to do a day call. It turns out that it was the same day I had to work at my other job (which I work at 2 days a week). In the heat of the moment, I said I was sorry and that I would like to PA another time if that’s possible.

I now realize that I should have called in sick (to my other job I hate) and not have missed this opportunity. The fellow on the phone said that I was “on top of the list”, but I’m worried that they arn’t going to call back. How often should I send in my resume again? Will they call back? How many times do you need to refuse before they just stop calling? Should I completely quit my other job to pursue PAing? I think that I may have had an edge with this production because I PA’d on one of their crew members indie films before.

First off, the fact that you recognize your mistake is a step in the right direction.

It’s impossible to say if they’ll call you back.  They might not need anyone.  And maybe the kid they hired instead of you did a great job, and now she’s at the top of their list.  Or they could just forget about you.

Keep in mind, PAs are interchangeable.  From the production’s stand point, it’ much better to stick with a day player they’ve used before than to try out a new (to them) guy, just because he has a better resume.

It probably wouldn’t hurt to call back, in a week or so.  Mention that you were called this week, but were unavailable; you’re available (and eager) to work now, if needed.  I wouldn’t bother actually sending in your resume, unless it changes.

As far as quitting?  Don’t.

You have no idea when the next opportunity will come along.  If you don’t care about your current job, except insofar as it makes you money, then stick with it for the money.  Just be prepared to drop it if another show calls you up.

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4 Responses

  1. Something similar happened to my friend last week. He kept his job and ignored the longer show. Felt like he was more uncomfortable to have to leave his job and disappoint someone than going after the better gig.

    In the end, people won’t like you leaving on them, but they would understand. Everyone has bills to pay.

  2. What I’ve learned is a) since you don’t know the person who’s hiring you personally, a trip up like exposing such a little mistake is no big deal, basically, who cares, and b) You shouldn’t hold any loyalty to anyone except your absolute closest inner circle. It’s tough out there, and everyone wants the job you’re going for, if you need to drop everything for some better opportunity go for it without a second thought. No one will think much less of you, hell, it’s only business.

  3. Something similar happened to me before I started my career as a PA. It got to the point where I kept calling in to my other job that I had to let it go. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to have a boss that understood that PAing is what I really wanted to do and let me go. Now I work full time on a show and have had other experiences on features. Gotta strike while the iron is hot.

    1. How’d you get your steady gig, Matty? I’ve worked some as a PA (Office, Writers’, Set), but had to take some time off and now I’m deader than if I’d actually died. Any tips on reviving a reputation or starting from scratch, again?

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