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: