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TAPA On Set

An Office PA’s place is in the office. (Any loyal readers want to embroider that on a pillow for me?) So when an Office PA ventures on set, it creates a classic fish-out-of-water scenario.

On my last show, I had to accompany the supervisor’s seventeen-year-old neighbor to set. She sat there, starry-eyed, watching take after take after take after take.

I sat there, asleep… because let’s be honest. It can get boring.

Sad Keanu.
Even Keanu gets bored on set!

When I visit set, I like to take care of my errands as quickly as possible, then find a corner to watch a take or two. I zero in on the director and try to watch him direct between takes. As a PA with big-time aspirations, I really try to use this time to glean some bit of wisdom…

But then I inevitably get bored waiting around for them to set up the next shot, so I swing by craft service and then head back to the office, rackin’ up the odometer at 50¢/mile.

Last week, Joe Buck the EP found me on set and forced me to sit and watch. “We’re making a movie here. You should get to see some of it.”

I appreciated the gesture and I thanked him for it, but I still jettisoned after three takes. There’s only so many times you can watch a Goodfellas-esque tracking shot before you start to nod off.

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7 Responses

  1. Is this blog cynical? It can be but at least there are clear lessons and themes in the posts as opposed to other entry-level Hollywood blogs that basically cut down everything. Even if there’s some negativity, it still comes from a genuine appreciation of the industry and the personal desire to improve professionally, both for TAPA and the readers.

    Keep bringing the vibes, TAPA. Knowledge is power in this town…

  2. I used to do extra work if you want to talk about boring; but one day as I was sweating in period costume waiting for our next “1st places” I got to observe the creation of a ‘glass shot’. Yes, I am 112 years old.
    The glass shot for those of you who don’t know is how they did green screen before they invented … well, green.
    I watched a very talented old dude paint a mountain on a piece of glass attached in front of the lens; the painted backdrop created a mask around the street scene to give the impression that said street was not only in the mountains but in the past as well. Way, way cool. That was in 1980 and I still am impressed with how the guy did live post production before the shot happened. While we waited.
    Also see:
    http://marlin55.hubpages.com/hub/Movie-Magic-and-the-Glass-Shot
    for maybe a more technical definition.
    Thanks for keeping TaPa tapping.
    ed

  3. Pete,

    You can tell it’s written by an authentic insider because it’s usually cynical. Bitching about your job is an unwritten right in every union contract in the biz.

    I’ve been a location manager for over 20 years and I promise you, unless we’re blowing something up or crashing something or throwing a guy off of something tall, most days stuck on set bore me to tears.

    Movies are great. Watching two actors having the same quiet conversation at a restaurant table over and over and over and over and over again for 8 hours…not so much. I can’t tell you how many days I’ve considered an alternate career track in, say, aluminum siding sales.

    BTW, I’d wager it’s not hard to find people in most any industry who enjoy bitching about it. And they wouldn’t do anything else if you offered them twice the salary. If you want rainbows and sparkly unicorn farts you’d probably do better finding a blog by an aspiring, clueless, eager wannabe.

    Just my 2¢.

  4. If a man can’t express his own views – on his own blog – when can he? If you don’t agree with his tone, please refrain from fruitlessly publicizing the fact and stop reading.

  5. What part of office work makes you excited? This is one of the most cynical blogs about the film industry. And if you aren’t complaining about your office work, you’re talking about how you have to suffer through your experiences on set. But go ahead, keep telling yourself that you made the right choice.

  6. I don’t see how I am, Pete. An Office PA spends hardly any time on set. And the little time I do spend there is spent with very few tasks, so of course it gets boring.

    I’d be in the wrong business if I found my desk boring or the copier boring or daily trips to pick up lunch or coffee or yogurt (or all three at once) boring. But I don’t. I love the office.

    That’s why I’m in the right business… buddy.

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