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Show Title or Job Title?

Today’s a good day to buy a t-shirt, don’t you think?

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Mitch writes in:

My current predicament is probably a caviar problem.

I got hired to PA on a network talk show earlier this year, which was great, I really enjoyed it. Then we went on hiatus for the, and I began looking around for a new gig in case things fell through when the show came back.1

Fast forward two months and I’ve just been offered an Associate Producer position at a much smaller network. I’d honestly never even heard of the company before they offered me the job. It produces a lot of syndicated content though, and has even had 1 or 2 daytime Emmy noms over the last few years. Apparently, they largely hire young non-union kids in their 20s and pay a much lower rate than what they’d get an experienced person for (they may have gained something of a reputation for it, but very few people have heard of them to begin with). For me, this job means a small pay bump from my PA salary and a pretty great title jump. Also, a ton of creative freedom (writing, graphics editing, casting, etc) since the place seems to care more about quantity than quality.

The question is, do I stay with the well known and reputable network show that I’ve been working for as a PA or do I hop on board with the content mill as an AP and cross my fingers that I’ll be able to continue working at that level when I move on?

Take the promotion.

If you were shifting from one type of show to another (say, hour-long scripted to game show), you’d have to stop and think. You may end up working in a field you don’t like.

But getting a promotion on the same type of show on a smaller network? That’s totally fine. That’s how lots of people move up in the world. It’s no different than an AC on a TV series stepping up to DP on an indie movie.

Take the credit (and raise!), do a good job, then look for the same job on a better series, or a better job on another low-level show. Always move upwards, in at least one of those columns. The one thing you don’t want to do is take a lateral move voluntarily.

You’re much better off having a long-term relationship with your current show than making new relationships on new shows. Why? Three seasons from now, people from the first show aren’t going to remember you if you were only there for nine months. The will remember you if you were a fixture on the series for three years.

I’ve noticed readers who contact me about my resume service tend to focus too much on the people around them, and not on what they themselves did. They list the director and producers of the show, like they have any real association with those people.

Yes, you should use the name of the biggest company involved, but beyond that, I don’t really care who you worked with. If I’m looking to hire an associate producer, who’s resume do you think stands out more? Someone who’s been an AP on a shitty show, or someone who was a PA on a big show?

The first one, every time.

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. Always a good idea.
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