Jess writes in:
I’m an experienced production set, location and office runner in Britain (basically our equivalent of a PA, sure you know that…) with loads of credits in prime-time UK TV programmes.
I’ve wanted to work in the US since ‘always’ but can’t for the life of me work out how to get my first job / rung over in the US.
So this is my question to you APA, how does a non-US citizen get work with LA/NY based production companies? I have friends in both states so moving wouldn’t necessarily be difficult.
Any tips or am I asking the impossible here?
I like how she (mis)spells “programs.” She probably calls seasons “series,” too. Funny colloquialisms aside, the immigration question is tough.
I’ve touched on the subject before, but it’s worth bringing up again.
I’m no immigration lawyer, but my understanding is, the US limits work visas to people who bring skills that can’t otherwise be found in America. (There might be other ways to get a visa, but again, I’m not an expert.)
Unfortunately, for you (and me, honestly), finding PAs in America isn’t hard. Hell, a lot of shows won’t hire PAs from out of state, much less outside the country.
If you can somehow find another legal way into the country, your experiences are definitely worth while. I would recommend using the title known to Americans, “production assistant,” rather than “office runner,” just so everyone’s on the same page.
Another option is to exercise patience. While PAing isn’t a unique skill, directing, writing, even editing, production designing, and cinematography…ing(?) definitely are. Work your way up in the English television industry, then move over here later on.
America is a great country, and we’ll be happy to have you. As long as you prove yourself useful to our economy.