Production Listings

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.

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2 Responses

  1. I completely agree with this blog post. I tried cold calling for months before I was forced to network with people who knew ADs and not only have I made professional connections but almost all of them are my friends as well. Free work is great for leading to jobs but lets be honest, most of us don’t have the luxury to work for free…if you move to Los Angeles it’s going to cost a lot. Keep at it is my best advice

  2. Cold calling is a last resort, but that said, it’s a resort. You can’t be afraid to make those uncomfortable calls if you literally know no one. Mine and a buddy’s career started in a living room with a list of production company numbers culled from Production Weekly and IMDBpro – companies who we’re making the kind of movies we want to make – and dozens of polite rejections later, we both had internships that have directly led to successful paid jobs and careers. I can imagine the success rate if you are asking for paid work instead of offering free labor is much lower, but I will say that same friend once walked into a production office on a huge feature, shook the POC’s hand and handed him his resume, and on the strength of that first impression, the POC passed his name along to someone who was looking, and he ended up on another big feature. So it happens. But now that I’m thinking about it, the cold calling strategy was useless at getting either of us into agencies so… Cold-calling is a crap shoot. But if it’s your only option, don’t be above it.

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