Advice from Other People

Giovanni writes in:

I’m eyeing a few productions that will shoot in Louisiana this summer. For an on location shoot, when does the hiring process usually start? Is it constantly ongoing? I assume it happens during pre-production but how far in advance I have no clue- weeks, months?

I have already sent in my resume but worry that it might have been pointless if it’s too early.

I have no idea.

I’ve been doing this a long time, but I’ve never worked outside of Los Angeles.1 So, I turned to Twitter for help:

Alex helpfully replied:

Over on Facebook, Megan said:

I’ve worked in Iowa, Nebraska, Louisiana, Georgia and SC. If it’s a scout from LA it’s usually three weeks to two days out. Otherwise it varies based on the needs of the project, but it’s still several weeks.

And Ian emailed with this:

In the Seattle/Washington area, calls for commercial work would normally come in somewhere about a week out from production, sometimes even the day before shooting. For features, usually 2-3 weeks before production.

This is for Set PA work, I don’t usually do office work, although that has changed a bit recently…

How’s that crowd sourcing for ya?

In Los Angeles proper, TV production offices open a month or two before the first day of filming. PAs would be interviewed about a week before that. Sometimes the time frame is shorter, but I don’t think I’ve seen it longer. Not sure about big features.2

* * *

Yesterday, I offered some advice about what to buy for your kit. Michael has some differing opinions:

As a juicer, I’m always tying and untying rope knots that secure stingers and cable, and loose gloves are a serious impediment to that. I went to the SetWare Pro leather gloves when they hit the market because they fit well and lasted. There were (and are) expensive, no doubt about it, but having durable gloves that fit right was worth it for me.

As for welding gloves… I don’t quite know what to say. I use a pair to feed and tend the fire in my wood stove back on the Home Planet, but wouldn’t dream of using such large, clumsy oven-mitts on set. The only exception would be if I was helping a fellow juicer change the smoking-hot lenses of big HMI par lights — there, welding gloves would be great — but that’s about it.

Now, I suggested welding gloves based on advice given to me; it wasn’t my idea. But Mike’s been doing this a lot longer than I have, so you should still probably listen to what he says.

And regarding flashlights:

I use an earlier model of the Streamlight LED flash that your link leads to — and it’s by far the best flashlight I’ve ever had, brighter than the sun and as tough as a hammer.

Just don’t buy a Streamlight at the Mole store, where they’ll charge you at least twenty dollars more than Amazon…

Good to know.

* * *

Pete disagrees with me even more:

All you need, no matter what level you are at, are two pens, a sharpie, three sets of sides, and a call sheet.

If someone needs to borrow a pen, you give them your other one. Highlighters and fancy pens and whatever else was listed? You may use those once on the entire run of a job, but more than likely they will just sit on your waist, slowing you down.

Part of being a good PA is being quick on your feet, and in some cases, being asked to run from point A to point B. Nothing should slow you down.

Everything else that is listed here from binder clips to specialty pens to notepads can be found in the honey wagon or from your paperwork PA, both of which are a radio transmission away.

Everyone has their own way of working. I know PAs who carry even more stuff– scissors, water bottle holsters, tape rolls, multitools. I was trying to find a good middle ground of stuff I’ve used regularly. Maybe our experience are different, but I need my gloves several days a week.

But, if you’re more like Pete, that’s perfectly okay. I’ve known electricians who don’t wear gloves. It’s terrifying, but true.

You’ll have to decide for yourself what you need, and want, on set.

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. That’s not exactly true; I’ve shot out of town, but always on shows that started here.
  2. They don’t film here, anymore, anyways!
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One Response

  1. For me, a Gold Fold is a must.

    Even though I always have my ipad mini in my cargo pants pocket, I still usually have my goldfold in my back pocket. Note: your ipad will be fairly useless unless you take the time to upload everything you need to dropbox. And iAnnotate is a great app for being able to sign and return documents on the fly.

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