A day player is a PA who works on a show sporadically. He or she doesn’t have the luxury of a regular Monday through Friday
prison sentence work schedule. They could work two days one week, three days the next, five days the next, and then not at all for four weeks. It all depends on when the production office needs them.
On my first show, I was hired to day play for the last week of prep / first week of shooting. What was supposed to be a one week job turned into the run of the show. It became a joke with my friends.
“My last day of work is this Friday.”
“How many ‘last days’ have you had now?”
“At least six.”
Day playing serves a two different functions:
- It gives the office a chance to figure out if they like you or not. If an interview is like a blind date, then day playing is like a group date. There’s no pressure and no hurt feelings if they never call you again.
- It maximizes their use of you. I know it sucks to not be there every day, but if they’re not calling you in, it’s probably because there’s absolutely nothing for you to do.
The obvious drawback of day playing is the lack of financial stability. Even ramen will seem like a kingly feast when you’re only working one or two days a week.
However, the benefit of day playing is that holy-grail relationship that you’re fostering every day you’re there. Before long, the secretary and I became friends. He’s directly or indirectly gotten me three more jobs since then.
If I were someone who was blindly calling production offices, trying to send in my resume and find a job, I might ask if they were hiring any day players. This will A) show them that you know at least one industry term and B) let them know that they don’t have to go all in with you. They can hedge their bet (and are therefore more likely to hire you).