Elle writes in:
I’m doing my non-paid, freelance internship as an Art Dept. PA. This one is a web-based, Emmy-nominated series.
I’m asking the 2nd AD for a call sheet (or any information at all, like ‘Hey, yes, we need you tomorrow’) at 8 pm and getting the emailed call sheet at 2 a.m. with, surprise! A location with a two-hour drive and a noon call time.
Here are my questions:
- What’s a reasonable time to wait for a call sheet/call time for the next day? (Paid or not.)
- When should you start asking for the info you need to be proactive but not annoying?
Working on a union show protects you, even if you yourself are non-union.
That being said, the professionalism of a non-union show is measured by how closely it adheres to union rules.
Here’s the basics (if there are any ADs out there, please correct me on any of these points)–
First, they must give you a callsheet at wrap. If you’re not on set, they have to deliver it to you electronically.
Calltime is, in part, determined by the longest turn around, which is typically the actors (they get twelve hours’ worth). If no actor in the last shot today is also in the first shot tomorrow, the next longest turn around is the camera department (eleven hours).
So, if you had a noon calltime, it’s not crazy for you to get a call sheet at 1:00AM.1
That being said, by lunch time, the ADs should have an idea of what tomorrow’s call will be. Again, big shows have “prelim callsheets,” which are preliminary (obviously), and therefore non-binding. Still, they give everybody an idea of what’s happening the next day, instead of surprising them at the end of today’s shoot.
Prelims are also helpful for those of us in the office who work normal business hours. If I leave at 7:00pm, but the crew doesn’t wrap until 2:00am, the prelim is all I have to go on when I wrap out for the day.
Now, a small show may not have the time or budget to run off prelims, but they should still give you a head’s up if you’re starting at an unusual hour the next day. I mean, the difference between a 7:00am and an 8:00am call is minimal, but shooting a split day really affects the rest of your week.
If they haven’t given you a call time by 8:00pm, and they’re not paying you, it’s time to give them a call. Try again every half hour or so. If they don’t respond by the time you hit the hay, fuck ’em.
When you’re getting a paycheck, you’re on the production’s clock, whatever that may be. But if you’re working for free, they at least owe you some courtesy. There’s a difference between paying your dues and being abused.
Again, if it’s non-union, they’re not obligated to film within the studio zone, but they’re assholes if they make some poor college student drive out to the middle of nowhere on her own dime. At the very least, this should have been something they warned you about in advance.
You’re supposed to learn as an intern. That’s why you get college credit instead of being paid. But on a show that’s being run unprofessionally? You’re learning all the wrong things.
Don’t stick around a shitty production like this. If they can’t get basic things like call sheets right, I can’t imagine what else they’re doing wrong on this show.
- Or slightly later, since the ADs have a bunch of shit to do before they can sit down and fire off an email. That’s why it’s the production office’s responsibility on a big show; small shows often don’t have a production office.↩
- A thirty mile circle, from the corner of Beverly and La Cienega. It’s where the show TMZ gets its name.↩