A High Class Problem: How to Choose Between Two Offers

Nick writes in:

I recently was called by a Production Coordinator I’ve worked with previously for an Office PA position on a TV show.  He mentioned the show’s producer/writer was also in need of an assistant, and if I preferred I could take that position.

Which position make the most sense to take from a career advancing standpoint?  As far as I know, the pay is the same.  In the office I get to work with a solid production office team I know and like.  I’ve never met the writer/producer, but it sounds like it would be interesting to try out a new role.

My long-term goal is to be a film producer, so I’m excited about the prospect of working with a producer and seeing first hand what their day-to-day is like (although I know TV and film producers have very different jobs).

Writer-producers aren’t real producers, not in the sense that you want to be. They’re writers with nice titles (and paychecks).

I’m not saying writing is an easy job. It’s very difficult, and few people can do it. But they’re not the ones making the budget, setting the schedule, organizing every department, and ensuring the film actually gets made.

Writer-producers get involved in the creative aspects of the show; they spend a lot of time in concept meetings, on set, and in editorial. They get to offer their artistic opinions on the aesthetic nature of the show. But they’re not getting into the nitty-gritty of making sure the crane shows up on set at the right time.

That being said, writer-producers have connections to the people you want to get to know, whether you want to be a writer or producer.

While it’s great working with the people in the office you like, they’ll be the only people you’re going to work with. As a producer’s assistant, you’ll be dealing with the studio, network, agents, other producers. More importantly, you’ll be dealing with those people’s assistants, who will eventually grow into those jobs, just like you will. Ten years from now, you’ll have the network you need to make a great producer.

If you want to be a producer, take the producer’s assistant job.

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Speaking of networking, check out the latest assistant get-together, happening April 29.

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