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Waiting for Scripts

Sheila writes:

I’m the third PA on [show]. When I started, it was great – I felt like I have a leg up by having a gig in the first place. Plus, we almost never shot nights, and I was only working about 10 hours a day.

But… in the last few weeks, we started getting scripts hella late at night. I mean like HOURS after wrap. I get good OT, but it’s killing my social life! I haven’t seen my boyfriend on a weeknight in almost a month. 🙁

Soo…my question is – is it normal for the writers to write so late? Or has something gone wrong in the writer’s room? Is this a sign that the show is going down hill??

Sadly, this is the norm. It sounds to me like you were blessed at the start.

I don’t think this is necessarily a bad sign. It just shows that your broadcast schedule is catching up with your production schedule. Remember, episodes air once a week, but they take 8 workdays to shoot (assuming you’re on a drama). As the season progresses, every department, from the writers on down, start to feel the time pressure.

That’s why the writers tend to start a few months ahead of production. They want a head start, before this catching up process begins. You’ve apparently reached the stage where the episodes are piling up.

Another reason you’re getting scripts late is Parkinson’s Law— “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” The network, or studio, or whoever gives them until the end of the day to complete a script. So, they take the entire day. Why would they finish a script at noon, when they can refine it for another eight hours and still turn it in “on time”?

Unfortunately, the “end of the day” is different for them than for you. Once the writers finish a script, they hand it to the script coordinator, who checks for spelling and grammatical mistakes, formats the script properly, makes sure there’s no glaring continuity errors, stuff like that. This process can take an hour or two, sometimes more.

Only then does he hand it off to the production office, who are responsible for distributing the script widely. This includes emails (five minutes), copying (a good hour, for a full script), and finally driving scripts to actors’ homes (anywhere from an hour to three days, depending on traffic).

The writers could be working bankers hours, and you still wouldn’t necessarily be home before midnight.

Ultimately, not seeing loved ones outside of the weekend is normal, not just for PAs, but for everyone. It’s one of those things we have to put up with, in order to be a part of the magic of Hollywood.

That's right, fuck the industry that made me a millionaire.

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4 Responses

  1. …and by withstanding I mean upholding* (I never said I was good at vocab. …I didn’t get the job? no? darn. ah well, better luck next time/comment)

  2. well this sounds like just the job for me! I never have a social life OR friends so, good news. I graduate college in may and am planning on moving out there and seeing if I can’t weasel my way somewhere on a tv or movie set. I will do just about anything (morally and ethically withstanding of course) to make this happen so, i’m rather hopeful.

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