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A New Way to Network

Walking around the lot today, I ran into a UPM I worked for last year. During that show, she had recommended I read a book that was very important to her life. (She also claimed it was the second most read book in the world, but that isn’t actually true.)

Anyway, I had read the book in the intervening year (I checked it out from the library, just for the irony). Seeing an opportunity to network, I went over to talk with her about the book. The conversation went something like this–

TAPA

Hi, [UPM’s Name]! How’s it going?

UPM

(blank stare)

...?

The UPM clearly doesn’t recognize TAPA, but she continues anyway...

TAPA

I finally got around to reading Atlas Shrugged.

UPM

Oh, great! What did you think?

TAPA

It made some interesting points, although-

UPM

Well, you see, For twelve years, you have been asking: Who is John Galt? [...long-winded Objectivist rant that I won’t reproduce here] ...nor ask another man to live for mine.

TAPA

zzzzZZZksrgh! Whu-? Are you still talking?

Okay, I’m exaggerating1, but that’s the gist.

My point is, she clearly didn’t recognize me, but she pretended to, because I clearly recognized her.

As I’ve said before, a show is like summer camp. You meet a hundred people, spend every waking hour with them for several months, become BFFs with a lot of them, but when the show’s over… you probably won’t ever see them again.

Except, every once in a while, you do see them again. Then you have to rack your brain to remember what show you worked on together, what department they were in, and, most importantly, just who the hell they are.

It’s like that scene in Memento:

“If you think you’re supposed to recognize somebody, you just pretend to. You bluff it, to get a pat on the head.”

Not that a UPM needs a pat on the head from a PA, but you get the point.

Then, suddenly, it occurred to me. What if I hadn’t actually worked for this UPM? She would’ve reacted the exact same way.

She would’ve just rolled with it, talked about whatever with me, and when the conversation ended and I asked if I could send her my resume, she would’ve said yes.

“Ah! There’s a hole in ‘brilliant’ your plan, TAPA!” I hear you saying from across the internet. “If you never worked with her, how would you know where to send your resume?”

“Au, contraire,” I reply. “UPMs are members of the DGA, and are therefore listed in the DGA website’s directory.”

“But TAPA,” you object, “the moral implications of lying for your employment-”

“Shut your face.”

I’m kidding, of course. Not about shutting your face2, but about approaching someone and pretending to know them. I can think of at least a dozen different ways it could blow up in your face.

It’s one of those devilish thoughts that enters your mind from time to time. Like when you pass by a coffee truck that’s designated for another show. No one would know if you just stepped in line and ordered a half double decaffeinated half-caf (with a twist of lemon), right? I mean, there are so many office staff that the set crew never see (accountants, assistant editors, script coordinators, etc), there’s almost no chance anyone would call you out and say, “Hey, you’re not on this show!”

And yet, I can never quite bring myself to do it. I don’t know if it’s because I’m honest3, or because I’m just too afraid of getting caught4.

Still, if anyone does decide to try this technique… man, I would sure like to hear about it.

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. Not about the long-winded Objectivist rant. That’s a little too true.
  2. Seriously, shut it.
  3. No, it’s not.
  4. That’s the one.
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4 Responses

  1. I remember i read your blog on a random day with a random click last year. Being a PA and all its duties, coffee runs, boss’ passport runs, pets runs, pick up laundry runs…you blog truly gave me some courage to carry on. i often think about your blog title “a view of hollywood from the bottom” when i PA. it’s a good description. As a bottom PA, sometimes you get a better sense of a whole picture. and PA does open up a lot connections and opportunities. i don’t mind being a PA as long as i learn stuff from that set, anything, any department. and Stay creative, keep creating my own short films, art works, anything creative. THAT-being my own boss, balances out the bottom PA jobs-everybody is your boss.

    1. I know! I’m embarrassed, too. I thought about changing the title, but I liked the “long-winded, Objective rant” bit too much.

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