The production office is one of the few departments that works in shifts. Because we’re one of the few departments that can, and because we kinda have to. On days when the production is shooting late, you still need to open the doors at around 8:00am. Business needs to be taken care of during business hours.
But the office needs to stay open as long as the crew is shooting. Rather than make the whole office work 29 hours straight, the PA pool is split into early, middle, and late shifts– one PA comes in an hour before call or 8:00am (whichever is earlier); another comes in at call, but usually no later than lunch; and the third comes in an hour or two after call.
Why would someone come in after call time? Well, doing the wrap report, making sides and callsheets, possibly running more scripts takes time. A normal shooting day is twelve hours, plus an hour for lunch. If the wrap PA came in at call, she’d be in overtime before the day wrapped. Producers don’t want to pay overtime.
And that’s precisely why you want to work on the early shift.
Your odds of getting overtime are neigh on zero, but your odds of getting out during daylight hours are better than everyone else. (Especially the middle shift guy1.) And even as the late shift PA, does overtime really matter all that much to you?
I know, I know, no one likes to get up early. Which is an even better reason to volunteer to be the early PA.
Most shows switch the PAs’ start times on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, so nobody gets stuck in one shift too much. By volunteering to be the early PA, you look like a go-getter to the coordinator (always a plus), and you relieve your fellow PAs of the burden of 6:00am calls. 99% of the time, they’ll be happy to never have the first shift ever again.
This is a bit of advice that you can generalize, too. Anything you can do to make yourself stand out (in a positive way) is something you should do. Coordinators tend to remember PAs who never once complain about an early call, who take care of business before they even show up, who work work with everyone to find the best way the office can be run.
Be that PA. Be a morning person.
- I don’t know how many people click on my links to old posts, but you really should read this one. It’s pretty important.↩