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Can I Be an Office And a Set PA?

Janice writes in:

I just landed an office PA job for a pilot that has a good chance of going to series. But all of the jobs I’ve had so far have been on set.

I’m nervous; I don’t want to be stuck in the relatively small office and never see set, or be just working on paperwork, and I know from your last post on the subject that they’re relatively different worlds.

I’m not sure yet where I want my career to go, but I know I enjoy getting down in the trenches of production.

So my question is, do people ever switch from office/set PA or vice versa? Would it be looked at badly if I politely asked the UPM, after trying out the office and finding it wasn’t for me, if I could have a chance at being on set? (as in, working in the office til production starts, and then transitioning over).

You can definitely switch from set to office between shows. I have experience in both, and most people I know do, as well.

But usually this means working on the set on one show, and in the office for another. During the course of a show, this is far less likely.

Switching in the middle of the season (and make no mistake, even if you haven’t started filming, it’s still “the middle of the season” for the office) is tough. I have seen it happen, but more on a “It’s a busy day on set, and we don’t want to hire a day-player” basis.

If such an opportunity comes up, definitely volunteer. But I wouldn’t bring up the possibility in, like, your first week or anything. Asking to be put on set is a favor. That’s something you need to build up to, after you’ve been a hard-working and reliable office PA for a while.

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