Upward Mobility

As we approach the end of the televsion season, Jason writes in about moving onward and upward to other shows:

I work on a tv show right now as a PA, but really I do more personal assistant type work for one of the shows producers.  It’s not that the job isn’t a good one, but I don’t feel like there’s any upward mobility on the show for me.

We shoot at a prominent studio, and there are plenty of other shows here that I would love to work on.  I don’t know how to go about meeting anyone on their crews, though, aside from lurking around where they shoot and trying to chat up PAs.  I was wondering if you had any suggestions as to how I can get to know the other crews.

Like I said, I’m more of a personal assistant than an actual PA. I mostly just run errands for my boss. I feel like she would feel betrayed if i tried to move into a different position. And I’m sort of secluded from the rest of the crew, so there hasn’t been much opportunity to impress anyone to the point that I would be promoted. Any thoughts on what you would do in that situation?

I wouldn’t recommend attempting to jump to another show. Upward mobility only happens when you stick with a show for multiple seasons. Jumping from one show to another means starting over.

Instead, you should go visit your own set. First of all, your boss surely goes there all the time; you’re not chained to your desk. Also, there should be a lot of departments in the same building as you– post, art, the production office, etc.

You can always stretch your legs and talk with them. I mean, you get coffee and snacks from crafty, right? There’s a reason “water cooler talk” is a thing.

The onomatopoeia in this is perfect.
No, not this kind of water cooler talk…

Then there’s the fact that you probably don’t work the same hours as the crew. From my experience, producer’s assistants tend to work normal (i.e. real world) office hours. If you’re on a single camera, why not swing by the set on those days when you’re done but they’re still shooting?

In short, I think you’re feeling more confined than you actually are. You’re the producer’s assistant; everyone wants to know you, since you have the producer’s ear. Use that to your advantage.

If, at the end of the season, you realize you’d like to be the Art PA or writer’s assistant or whatever, just tell your producer. It’s not a betrayal. They know that no one wants to be an assistant forever.

Plus, if you can recommend someone to replace you, you’ll curry favor with them. Hunting for a new assistant is a pain in the ass. Do that job for them, and you’ll be a hero.

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