Walk Right In

Alex writes:

My friend and I are approximately 3 weeks away from departure to New Orleans and we are trying to figure out the best way to find our first PA jobs.

We have heard from some people we know that are already there that it is better to simply walk into production offices and state your case rather than send emails/resumes to production offices. In your experience does this work any better or efficiently? What are some other ways to break into the industry for that all important first job?

If a stranger walked into my show’s office and asked for a job, we’d politely turn them away. Then mock them for the rest of the day.

Don’t forget, you the business you’re getting into. Your co-workers are celebrities. Many of them have stalkers. If they don’t, they think they have stalkers. And many shows have rabid fans.

A stranger walking in unannounced will set off a lot of alarm bells. And even if you don’t appear to be any kind of threat, you’ll like appear inexperienced, since you don’t even recognize your own behavior as odd.

Did these people you talked to actually try walking into production offices? If so, maybe they do things differently in New Orleans. I don’t know; I don’t watch Treme.

My first job came from the UTA Joblist. I also got work from Craig’s List and Mandy, until eventually I had enough connections to hear about jobs first hand. Again, I have no experience in New Orleans, but that’s where I’d start.

Actually, that’s where I would start, not knowing anyone in New Orleans. Since you do, you should start by asking them if they know of any jobs.

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6 Responses

  1. As a POC, I think drop ins are generally a bad idea. There is a specific mix of gumption and reservedness that I look for in staff members. Dropping in is presumptuous and too forthright. Plus it’s always irritating when my staff is slammed with prep or a difficult shoot day and someone is there asking for me just so they can hand me a resume.

  2. We believe that our unique neighborhoods are a large part of what makes New Orleans attractive to the entertainment industry and we want to ensure that both our city and your production have a successful filming experience.

  3. For what it’s worth, I’m a production secretary and have had production office drop-ins before. I’ve never actually seen anyone hired anyone that way. That said, I would consider someone if they already had relevant experience (say, had interned, had been a PA in another capacity, etc) and it just so happened that they dropped in when we were hiring people.

    The bottom line about production office PA jobs is that we hire when we hire. They’re permanent positions with low turnover, and, bottom line, most of the positions are usually filled before anyone even knows we exist.

    The only way I can see it working would be on a long-established series, if the dropper inner knew the TV staffing rhythms and lucked into stopping by right as we were having the “so we need fresh blood” conversation.

    So I’d say try doing this in May/June, on an established network series where you can find out where that specific production office is located. I think it could especially work for shows where the production office is on a studio lot, because the assumption is that if you can get onto the lot, you probably are not completely green.

    I’m not sure how this would work for New Orleans, considering it’s mostly features and doesn’t have the seasonal rhythm that Los Angeles and New York have. A better approach for breaking into the New Orleans scene might be to call the production office, ask to talk to the locations department, and see if they need any scouts. There’s much higher turnover in the world of locations, and location folks are much more likely to be local and hop effortlessly from job to job. It’s also a job that depends less on previous experience and more on having a car and a digital camera.

  4. I can actually second the success of walking into a production office and being polite. One of my very best friends did exactly that, walked into a studio feature’s office, and even though that production didn’t hire him, the POC passed his name along, and he got hired for another studio feature. All because he shook the POC’s hand, and made him laugh.

    That said, I think my buddy is a rare breed in that he has the guts to go in and do this, but also the social awareness to not seem like a creep. It helps that he’s a very good looking, not threatening guy. And, for what it’s worth, he pulled this stunt at two offices in the same day, and he never heard a thing from the other office.

    There’s no such thing as a “best tactic” for breaking in. But, if you’re like me and you find the sending out resumes and answering posts and looking at descriptions in job postings and it crushes your soul into oblivion, you’re probably better off just walking in.

    Oh, that said, my buddy works in New York. Given the intense competition out in LA, and the structure that the production world has — I could guess it’s probably less likely to work out here. But New York, Atlanta, New Orleans – those people are desperate for good PAs. In LA, you trip over them.

    In the end, remember – this business is relationships. Genuine relationships. And narcissism. If you want advice, ask for a job. If you want a job, ask for advice. And find people who sees themselves in you, and will therefore want you to succeed. They’ll bring you along with them. Plus, they’ll be a lot easier to bust your ass for if you can see yourself in them.

    End rant.

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