Kara writes in:
I have been talking to an AD for a TV show about getting a job as a Set PA for their upcoming season. He has contacted me about setting up an interview, but this happened a couple of weeks ago and I haven’t heard from him since.
Thanks to social media, I know that he just had their first production meeting. Should I be concerned? Are Set PAs usually already hired by the first production meeting? Or worse, are they supposed to be there as well?
This is a great time to talk about production meetings, a topic I’m not sure if I’ve ever touched on.
Production meetings are for department heads to discuss actual, practical matters pertaining to the upcoming episode. It’s usually held only a day or two before filming begins, but after the tech scout.
Wait wait wait, back up– what’s a tech scout? That’s a scout where all of the department heads go to each location for a given episode, and discuss the logistics of those locations. This, of course, happens after a series of scouts with only the location manager, director, and AD, with the goal of finding the best locations, artistically speaking.
Once those locations are nailed down, the heads go on a tech scout, then they have a production meeting. But before that, the director and AD have meetings with each department individually, to discuss the needs of the script.
And then there’s the concept and tone meetings, which is usually just the director, writer, producer, AD, and maybe the DP and/or production designer. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what the difference is between these meetings.
Why not? Because PAs would rarely, if ever, go to one. Remember, we make no decisions of consequence. The only reason we care about these meetings is that we have to clean up the conference room first, make sure there are plenty of pens, pencils, highlighters, and whatnot. And, of course, make copies of everyfuckingthing, because even though we distribute the script to every single person on the crew, they still can’t remember to bring their own copies to meetings.
Back to Kara’s original question (hey, remember her?): set PAs usually start only a couple days before physical production begins, sometimes on that day. Just because the meetings have started doesn’t mean you’re out of a job.
If they start filming and you still haven’t gotten a call… then you’re in trouble.