Get Your Goddamn Hands Off Her

I have four little sisters, and if any one of them told me that they wanted to work on a film set, I would try my best to dissuade them from entering such a filthy pit of depravity.

It’s not that I don’t think they could cut it in the dog-eat-dog world of film and television. It’s not that I don’t think they could work hard or come up with million dollar ideas. It’s that I wouldn’t want to subject them to the blatant sexual harassment that goes on on a film set.

On a film set, you’d be astonished how many women have first names like “Honey” and “Sweetie.” Once they’re out of earshot, guys usually refer to them by their middle names, “The Blonde One” or “The One With The Legs.”

  • An on-set assistant wore a pair of skinny jeans. When she ran into her boss, the EP, that morning, he exclaimed, “Wow! Look at those legs!”
  • A buddy of mine once overheard a Set PA ask the Oscar-winning DP, “Would you like me to get you a sandwich?” He replied, “No. I don’t want a sandwich. Show me your tits.” Fortunately, an EP was nearby and made him apologize.
  • While driving, an on-set assistant once told me, “I’m not sexist, but in my experience, women can’t drive.” I found it highly ironic that later in this same car trip, he told me about the web site Not Racist, But…

“But, TAPA,” you’re probably saying, “those stories aren’t that bad.”

Uhhh, yeah they are. Imagine that instead of movies, we were working at a bank. If the bank manager asked a teller to show him her tits, that’s it. Boom. He’s fired. No matter how many “Bankies” he’s won (or whatever they call awards for bankers).

Don’t believe me? Walk with a woman across ANY studio backlot in town. Listen to the sound of the hammers. Listen to the silence as she passes by. Listen to the suddenly brazen Heys and Yeeeahs after she passes.


I understand that we work in an industry where we’re photographing beautiful women every day. But that doesn’t give us carte blanche to hoot and holler.

Tell 'em, George
You Are My Density

Still don’t believe me? Stand by the craft service table long enough, and you’ll see lots of creepy hands on the small of her back. You’ll see an arm graze a boob as it reaches for that bagel all the way across the table. You’ll see a guy “struggle” to squeeze past a girl, “accidentally” rubbing up against her butt as he goes.

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6 Responses

  1. I am dealing w this issue now for months! It’s a TV series, major network and the man is still there! I’m a stand in it has been horrible and he is my supervisor. I want this nonsense to stop for women like me on set or location. We need a type of “we are Sarah Jones” but use maybe Ashley Judd who recently came forward with her experiences. The film and TV industry needs to throw out the casting couch, vulgar etc behavior!!

  2. My first PA hire this spring was for some day-play and that weekend the key drunkenly sexted and repeatedly tried to booty call me.

    He’s been working on big shows since. I have not. It’s horrible; what am I supposed to do, ignore it and call begging for a job?

    1. Hey barbarella, that’s a terrible spot to be in. I can empathize with being so hard up for a job, you’d be willing to work for a total skeezeball. If I were you, I would call the guy and ask for a job. If he makes a move, then I’d shoot him down – honestly and unequivocally. If it costs you the job, then so be it. You wouldn’t want to work in that type of environment anyhow. If you get the job and he makes a move, then I’d report him to the 2nd AD.

  3. It may have something to do with the fact that I’m a juicer and have a “don’t mess with the chick who lugs around heavy shit all day” vibe around me, but it’s rare for me to encounter harassment that blatant. That’s not to say that I haven’t, or that I have any idea what’s said after I walk by, but like Esther, I feel like it kinda comes with the territory. Is that a good outlook to have? No, probably not. But hey, at least there are more women on set than before, and someday, as the numbers grow, hopefully this behavior will change.

  4. As a girl working in the European film industry for the last year, I’m actually really surprised to say that I haven’t encountered anything of the sort so far- with the possible exception of one mildly creepy French-Algerian Unit Manager who liked my car and declared “She eez eh good car for eh good woman!”. But said with a thick enough French accent, anything can sound suggestive.

    Maybe it’s because I’m based in the Mediterranean and we’re generally touchy-feely as a culture, but the lines are slightly blurrier here. I mean, even I (the lowly office PA) does the double-air-kiss with the HoDs and so on when we’re introduced.

    That said, I’ve had problems with Italian crews who are very much boys clubs, particularly in the male-dominated departments. Currently I’m working with a Scandinavian crew though, and I have to say they are exceptionally friendly and polite for the most part.

  5. I’ve definitely experienced sexual harassment while set PAing. I go by the nickname “Little Muscles,” on account of being really short but still able to carry a lot. For the most part I’m fine with it because it makes me memorable and keeps jobs coming, but I can see that it verges on sexual harassment. None of the other male PAs have nicknames. (I guess it’s no surprise that they can do heavy lifting…)

    I also tend to talk to a lot of the other 20-something year old guys on set. Running joke is that they’re all my boyfriend. I’ve also been asked to be numeral people’s valentine while working on sets in February.

    A DP on a big tv show once asked me whether I always stood with my legs apart. (I was 19 at the time). Same DP called me “one of those giggly sorority types” for laughing in between takes.

    But you’re right about your post, for the most part I’ve overlooked a lot of it. I’ve sort of felt like it went with the territory. It’s not a good outlook to have.

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