Life’s Not Fair

Running the same train if thought as political hires, I recall a specific event that happened on a previous gig that hammered home how unfair it all is.

I was working as a PA in the post department on a major studio film (can’t say which but when I mean big I mean summer blockbuster behemoth big). Our department currently had two PAs including yours truly and they wanted a third to run the front desk.

First they filled the position with an intern but soon abandoned that when they realized there needed to be someone there full time, so the position opened up.

Knowing the position was open I submitted to the producer the resumes for a few friends of mine who were desperately looking for work along with my highest recommendations. These people were incredibly qualified: film graduates from USC with plethoras of credits. One had even worked at that particular studio before and was entirely familiar with the people and the layout.

After some time the position was filled… by a Brazilian communications graduate (female) who wished to work in journalism (not the movies). She was nice enough but had absolutely no knowledge or interest in film production or the business. Apparently she was previous friends with the producer and he wanted to help her out. Three days later she was gone; her visa didn’t allow her to work legitimately for the studio. Since we needed this third person I returned to his office and reminded him he had good available candidates on his desk, but of course I couldn’t help but wonder why the producer didn’t check the girl’s visa status before hiring her.

The PA position remained open another two weeks until the third time it was filled. A young woman barely 20 was hired. Though she looked like she could walk the runway in Paris she was pretty much a space cadet and somehow studying for a law degree. It was difficult to rely on her for anything complicated or that required knowledge of computers despite this being, well, Post. Eventually I asked her how she got the job. She replied that the producer walked in on her bartending shift and after talking for some time he liked her enough to offer her this. She didn’t even have to interview. Two weeks later she bailed, reportedly citing that it was “too much work” ( I have no idea what she was expecting).

So the position was once again opened, but was it ever filled again? Nope. They never did get a 3rd PA.

So take my word for it. Here’s high level proof. Even at the top levels where the most is at stake, neither your degree, your awards, nor your resume will be enough next to the flirty model beside you.

I better go take a shower; I’m a tad bloody after shooting myself in the head.

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5 Responses

  1. I don’t know what I hate more, the political hires, or the playing of favorites.

    Unless you’re just unaware, you know that there’s a certain amount of nepotism and above-the-line bestowal that goes on in this business and that you’ll have to deal with it much more often than you’d like.

    What chaps my ass is when a dept head or a 2nd passes me or someone I’ve worked with over for someone less experienced or less qualified because that person is their poker buddy or reminds them of a younger version of themself.

    Then again, this sort of thing happens in the *real* world all the time also.

    1. Early in my TV commecial days, while wnrkiog as a grip-trician, I once did a nine day straight stretch hopscotching from one job to another. But the end of that ordeal, I could hardly remember my name, much less whether I was supposed to be a grip or juicer that day.Cable productions are the new sweatshops of Hollywood. The 20% pay cut is bad enough, but on cable shows, the standard 12 hours ’til doubletime bumps up to 14 hours. When you throw in the hour lunch (which ends up being thirty minutes after washing up and waiting in line), that’s a 15 hour day on set. Add in travel time to and from, and you’re very lucky to have eight hours of shit/shower/shave/eat/sleep time before coming back for another 15 hour marathon.Trouble is, all the good (read: watchable) shows are on cable, and cable is on the rise.Overtime came about as a financial firewall to discourage productions from abusing crews by wnrkiog endless hours. Producers are accustomed to paying time-and-a-half, but they absoultely hate to pay doubletime, which effectively shuts down most productions after 12 hours. It won’t stop all abuses Cameron once pushed his crew on True Lies for seventeen days straight on location, but at least he had to pay through the nose (double-time, forced call, the whole incredibly expensive nine yards) for the privilige. Still, the 12 hour rule helps prevent routine abuse but cable is erasing this last bastion of civilized wnrkiog hours on set. Welcome to the increasingly ugly future

  2. If it makes you feel any better, there’s a flip side to that. In the mid-90’s I had the producer of a show ask me to hire a guy he had met (yes…in a bar…yes…with no experience…yes…with visa issues). He turned out to be a really nice kid and he learned quickly.

    I ran into him a couple of years ago. He’s been a valued member of Spielberg’s team for over a decade now. You never know where your best people are going to come from.

    On second thought, that doesn’t make me feel any better either.


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