Saving Money

A friend of mine got a new gig recently. When introduced to the producer, the producer said, “Really? I wanted the nicer walkie talkies, but I can’t afford them and your rate, too. Fuck. Well, good for you.”

This is not to say those walkies were expensive. It’s ridiculous to suggest a production couldn’t afford some gear because of one PA’s salary. An actor with one line in one scene is guaranteed, by SAG, more money in one day than we make in a week. I know of actors and producers who stay in hotels, on the production’s dime, that cost more per night than I make in two weeks.

PAs get paid next to nothing. I am so poor, I have to borrow money to be broke. I’m so poor, I can’t even pay attention. I’m so poor, I can’t even give you my two cents.

I could keep going.

What I’m getting at is, PAs don’t make a ton of money, and we need to save every little penny we can. Here’s a few ways:

  • Sign up for rewards programs. Ralph’s, Staples, anywhere you shop with the company’s money. Ralph’s gives you, I think, 5% cash back after you spend a few hundred dollars. Buy an office’s worth of crafty every week, and that’s a lot of grocery money.
  • Similar to the above, sign up for Coke Rewards. Every production office goes through gallons of Coke products (Pepsi isn’t as popular, for some reason). The points add up quickly, and you can get free stuff, like movie tickets or restaurant gift cards.
  • This is an obvious one, but when I’m on a show, I basically only pay for meals on the weekends. Breakfast and lunch are always catered, of course. If you’re smart, you’ll take a second plate to eat at home (or, sadly, at your desk, still waiting for wrap seven hours later).

And then there are less legitimate ways, too.1

If you have more money saving ideas, share them in the comments!

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. I edited these out, on the premise that I bear some responsibility to what some of my greener readers might do upon reading my blog.
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6 Responses

  1. If you’re a PA, you should never have to buy food when you’re working. Arrive early to ensure you get breakfast. Feast heartily on lunch. Grab a sandwich to save for after wrap. If you’re lucky enough to work on a show that gives out a third meal, this is much easier. And if you’re REALLY lucky, the crafty/catering guy will let you take home the tray of sandwiches after everyone important has wrapped and no one else wants the food.

    If you grab a snack or a soda, always grab two and stash the other one in your bag. If you don’t wind up eating/drinking it on set, you can save it for your days off.

    If you’re clever enough, all your weekend meals should be covered by your mini stockpile you’ve accumulated throughout the week.

    Sidenote: protein bars are easily snagged and can replace a meal in a pinch.

  2. Just out of curiosity, why isn’t there an Occupy Hollywood protest? With so many productions out of state/country to save money, laying off of the extras and staff but not the actors or directors to save more money… You’d think there would be more than enough reason to be upset at a group who pays their top actor twice what the top CEO on Wall Street makes while paying the staff who work on the film the same or less than the CEO pays his staff. Takes productions overseas so they don’t have to pay the cost to make the movie in America and calls it “on location” while not actually using THAT location… Add to it that the movie itself makes a profit far greater than the record profits on Wall Street and you’d think that all the production staff would be camped outside the studio demanding something. Just saying.

  3. For Canadians the here, sometimes it sucks for us because we don’t get the awesome coupon deals that US stores offer (doubling coupons etc). has a great forum and blog that lists freebies and coupons specifically for Canadians. I end up getting quite a few free samples of things from toothpaste to shampoo to food (I recently got two full-size boxes of cereal for free). It saves my life to be able to get deals on things and free stuff.

  4. I was once interning on a TV show, and I overheard the Producer, when asking the key PA who I was, laughing and clapping when he found out I was an intern and therefore not adding to his budget.

    The set went 14 hours that day so I stayed in the complementary hotel they provided us. I definitely cost him money, too bad I didn’t get to pocket any though.

  5. On my last gig we were shooting a cooking segment. As we were wrapping, the food stylist said she was going to throw away most of the food. I was not surprised as Hollywood is such a wasteful industry but I jumped right in and asked if I could possibly take some home to share with my also very poor PA room mates. She said ok and I took everything down to the herbs and left that night with over $300 in food. How do I know? Well I’m also the one who filled out the PC Report. We all ate like Kings for a week!

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