We Were Driving, Driving in Your Car

Colin commented on the bus story:

I’ve been living & working in LA for almost 2 years now, car-less… Yes it can be more complicated, but as a working cinematographer/director on small projects, I find people either give me transportation, (or you fly to another city) or I’m on a 2-day shoot and then editing from home most of the time.

I’ve PA’ed on features and I guess being an on-set PA meant runs wasn’t what they wanted me for, presence on set was… (maybe that was a choice made due to my lack of car…)

either way, If you are smart or talented enough, you can figure it out without one… (though I guess I haven’t figured it out QUITE enough to purchase my own yet… : )

Yes, if you’re above the line or a department head, you can probably find a ride.

But even between set and office PAs, you’re comparing apples and oranges. In fact, those are too similar. Apples and oranges are both sweet, round fruit that your stupid, hippie neighbors put in your bag on Halloween.

Set PAs and office PAs have different requirements. Doing runs is a major part of an office PA’s job; set PAs, like you intimated, almost never leave set. You’ve probably never been required to bring your own computer, either.

It has nothing to do with how clever you are. Even though both fall under the category of “production assistant,” Hollywood has a very clear division of labor. Our jobs are just different.

As far as getting around town without a car, that’s pretty impressive. It limits one’s freedom, but it also helps keep Los Angeles from looking like this:

Man, it hasn't looked like that here in... days.
According to Wikipedia (which is never wrong), the Chumash called the area "the valley of smoke," because of smog caused by campfires.

Thanks, Colin!

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6 Responses

  1. Hi, sorry I couldn’t find a better place to post this but do you have a subscribe feature on this blog? I’d love to add you to my rss feed.

  2. You had to bring your own computer to work? Production offices have gotten crappier since I was in them. I had a production give me a pager once, and one time — one unbelievable time that I still don’t really understand — they rented me a car when mine broke down.

  3. Honored that my comment was worth of a post : )

    its true, I don’t know the world of office PA’s, and I haven’t ever been required to bring my own computer… only my own two hands.

    For myself, the fact that most of the projects I work on are lower-stress, and lower-stakes… probably also allows me to navigate around those issues. Another 6 months and I think i’ll be ready to purchase a whip though.

    LAs public transportation isn’t great, but manageable. I usually just ride my bike. I do rescind my ‘clever’ comment though… Positions vary so much from project to project and person to person, its ill-advised for me to speak for other peoples situations.

    always appreciate the wisdom from your writings.

  4. At least in LA you have some semblance of public transportation. In Atlanta we have MARTA, and you’re better off walking most of the time.

  5. Work is hard enough to get below-the-line even for those who have cars — which is nearly all of us. Not having the use of a car would make getting (and keeping) work all but impossible. I can’t count the times I’ve had a 6 a.m. call in Malibu on Monday, a 7 a.m. call in Long Beach on Tuesday, then a 7 a.m. call in Santa Clarita on Wednesday. Given that these work days are invariably 12 hours or more, it’s simply not possible to navigate such far-flung locations using what passes for public transportation here in LA.

    When a best boy needs extra hands for the next day, he/she is going to call people he knows will be there on time — and that means people who don’t have to rely on the bus or hitchhiking to get to work.

    Given enough lead-time, you could rent a car for the duration of a job, but often those work calls come at 6 p.m. the night before. You’d spend half your life working and the other half getting or returning rental cars — then spend way too much of your paycheck for the privilege. For most of us in LA, owning a car is as essential to our work as a pair of gloves. Without a car, we’re dead in the water.

    I can think of only one exception: during the writer’s strike, a grip I know (who had a steady gig on a sit-com) was able to take the bus from his home in Sherman Oaks to the studio, a straight shot down Ventura Blvd. This was possible only because he lived near the studio, had a good idea what his working hours would be every day, and could catch a ride with another crew member when the buses weren’t longer running.

    I applaud Collin for managing to pulling this off — but as you said, if you’re above-the-line (even on cheapie productions), everybody wants to give you a ride…

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