Nash writes in:
I have been considering paying for a subscription to the Production Alert service. I just wanted to know if you thought it was worth it for someone looking to get more PA work?
I’ve never found a job through listing services like Production Alert or Production Weekly. The Hollywood Reporter apparently realized they weren’t useful to most people, because they stopped bothering sometime around 2012.
The biggest issue is, all of these places seem to miss a fundamental fact about production– production companies and production offices are two different things. Each production (be it a movie, a TV series, or what-have-you), has its own office set up somewhere near where filming is taking place. They’re extremely autonomous, hiring and firing crew (including PAs) at the producers’ discretion.
Calling the production company (or worse, the studio’s main line) will do you almost no good. If you’re lucky, they’ll tell you the number of the production office. If you’re not, they’ll simply say, “It’s too early,” and hang up on you.
Because you see, the listings people don’t do their due diligence. They start posting about productions WAY too early. As in, when they’re still in development. For instance, the sample copy Production Weekly supplies, from January 2014, lists “Untitled Planet of the Apes,” which has a release date of July 2016. Do you think the production office is hiring PAs right now? No, they’re fucking not.
There’s a very narrow window when productions are hiring, and those types of services don’t tell you when that is. Half the time, there is no production office number until the coordinator has set it up in the first place, and she’s probably already hired her PAs by that point.
The truth is, cold-calling is a sucker’s game, because a coordinator or AD on a big production already has a list of PAs she likes to hire on a regular basis. A stranger calling out of the blue is unlikely to get on that list.
(Cold calling a small or indie production can be fruitful, however; that’s because the department heads are usually themselves inexperienced. They haven’t yet built up the lists of reliable PAs that established coordinators and ADs have.)
This is where your network of friends comes in. You should get to know coordinators, APOCs, ADs, 2nd ADs, 2nd 2nds, and other PAs (again, by working on low-budget indies). They’ll be recommending you for jobs before Production Weekly and their ilk even get the production office number.
But that’s just my experience; maybe you’ve had better luck cold calling. Let me know in the comments below.