Due to the nature of production and the long shifts, would you still recommend PA to someone trying to write films? Many writers have told me that it is often best to pick a job that allows you to pay bills and still have time to write. Since you are obviously doing both, your opinion would be greatly appreciated.
I’m of two minds about this. As John August and Craig Mazin are always saying on their podcast1, writing a good script is worthless if nobody reads it. Working in a production office is a great way to meet producers who might like your script.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be a production office. You could just work for a production company or an agency or some other industry-related job.
Is being a PA better than those other positions? I don’t know. I want to write for TV, so it seems like a good place.
I also firmly believe that everyone should be a PA, for at least a little while. I know way too many producers who are totally out of it, who have no idea what the rest of the crew is doing to make their show. You don’t want to be that guy.
On the other hand, I feel like the majority of writers I know have never been a PA. They either started their writing career straight out of college, or they were an assistant for several years.
But who’s to say what worked for them will work for me? Or you?
PAing does take a lot of time. Some days I just don’t have the energy to write, even if I do have time. For some people, that’s not an issue. Maybe you can wake up at 5:00am every day and burn through a few pages before work. Maybe you can write all day, and not be bothered when you get called away to do some menial task.
Also, I’ve been doing this PA thing for a while. So maybe I’m pretty good evidence that you shouldn’t be a PA.