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10 Responses to Lies I Get Told on Set

A New Orleans-based coordinator responded to Thursday’s post, and I felt it was worth calling everyone’s attention to:

10. I mostly rent PAs cars. When I ask for a personal vehicle to be used, you either get mileage or gas paid for. If a flat happens on the job, I work with accounting to get it coded to transpo. I don’t know what tyrants you’re working for, but I’ve worked in NOLA for a while, now, and I don’t know anyone that diabolical. Also, with that much wear and tear on a car you need to cut your losses in the long run and look for a new more economical car.

9. Production and their relationships with food, be it crafty or catering are pretty ridiculous. I agree. You can never keep it stocked well enough for very long. You have to realize that you’re dealing with a herd. If shooting crew and production are occupying the same crafty, say, for instance, when you’re on stage, crafty is an all day thing to keep up, but thems the breaks, baby. You took the gig and, from what I can tell, you knew this when you signed up. There are crapass aspects to everyone’s job. No one has it all lollipops and daisy chains. It is, after all, work. From the tone this manifesto is taking, it seems that you’d relish in watching people squirm and freak out from you being able to say, “we aren’t allowed to spend any more than this and there is nothing I can do about it.”

8. I’ve never said this, heard this, or had this said to me. The umbrage I take from this is that you’ve never seen someone “pay it forward.” Again, I think you’ve worked some dipshit shows with some dipshit people. I pay it forward every time I can and I see people do it often. Even on the show I am on.

7. I personally keep my PAs as close to twelve hours as possible The reality is that it doesn’t always work out that way. Runs and flare up are unpredictable. You make up for it other ways. Delayed start time. Cut early throughout the week. Little things. If the OT is truly well over twelve hours, I get it approved. For this point, I have to fall back on the whole, “you knew it was a snake before you picked it up, Josh.” You have such contempt for the snake. WHY DO YOU KEEP PICKING UP THE SNAKE?!

6. This reads like a hint of envy, but far be it from me to say it is so. I will say that perhaps the attitude you’re demonstrating in this kind of posting was prevalent during your tenure as a PA? ….and that the coordinator noticed it….? Perhaps? Production is all about the right attitude and you get out of it what you put into it. It might be time to move on if you haven’t moved up.

5. The worst thing I can think of is having to pick up someone’s dog’s shit. Probably in accounting…probably. This happened once to me in my PA days and I refused. I have a line. That crosses it. No one, but NO ONE, will come at you for being put in that unfair of a position. Regardless of this extreme instance, you are a god damned production assistant. You’re a jack of all trades ESPECIALLY when you work in production. The ones that move up and get noticed are the ones that sincerely WANT to. I know I did. My production friends and I talk about this a lot. The difference b/w us, and, trust me, we’re not that far apart, I think, is that when we were coming up we wanted it more. We wanted to be the best. We never sacrificed our principles by picking up dog shit, metaphorically or literally, and we were applauded for it. Sometimes promoted.

4. Here’s a point where I sort of agree with you, outside of the shitass attitude re: PAs. Interns, like communism, work on paper, In practice, they’re a bit tricky. There’s a mindset that gets a little wet at the thought of exacting revenge from the Production Groundlings and filing a class action. Talk about shooting your career in the foot before the first big race. It is very easy to abuse interns, but I think this is a double edged sword. I think that interns need to set a few standards and ground rules for their unpaid time. I know I did. What is the worst that can happen? You get fired from your unpaid job?

3. You’re yearning for the day a job will end as soon as you get it. Then you’re upset when it pushes or pulls. Oh, fuck off. Find something else, man.

2. I don’t know what kind of nonunion gigs have asked this of you, but you should avoid them. Then you won’t get treated like this.

1. Then walk at twelve. They won’t stop you. They might ask you to not come back, but I think, deep down inside, that’s what’s best. You have such bile and vitriol for the industry and the system and the people who make it something a lot of people enjoy, but you’re a masochist. You’re talking like a battered spouse. I’ve been doing this for a while and I can guarantee you that it is not for everyone. The worst people in this industry are the ones who get stuck. I hope you’re young enough to get out. This is simply not for you. It shows. I guarantee you your current boss, assuming you’re working, knows this. Anyone reading this knows this. You’re not gonna get ahead spitting on the system, even from behind a computer. It is a small town. 😉

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4 Responses

  1. Okay. I’m going to be the jerk who calls this post out. Even though I could barely take the bitterness in the Ten Lies post, I understood it.

    I love people who, when it *happens* for them, think a person’s career trajectory is entirely in their own hands. I did well. It was thanks to what I did, and how I did it. You did not. Therefore you must be doing something wrong.

    I’ve worked for total frauds and shysters and I can smell them a mile away now, but those kinds of abuses happen all the time in Los Angeles. Why not New Orleans?

    And not everybody intermittently making a day rate amounting to ten bucks an hour can afford a better car. That comment rubbed me the wrong way, because it smacked of privilege. Even well respected companies have those who can’t relate to the chronically underpaid and consequently expect more of them than they can give. I remember an accounting mistake made by VP at a major broadcasting company that was about to negatively impact my boss. My boss was mid-flight and when he landed, his hotel would tell him he had no room, and the entire city of Chicago was booked for several conventions. The VP of Finance’s response was this: relax, what is the worst that could happen? You lose your temp job? This eerily sounds like the author’s words of wisdom. Someone who thinks it’s okay to lose even an internship, doesn’t have the credibility to tell the world how much better they do their job. Or how they succeeded because they wanted it more.

    Assuming the absence of failure on the part of PA Ten Lies (because who would even have a job if that were the case?), I think it is safe to say that any two regularly employed PAs are very much alike. If one has a sucky attitude on the job, no Coordinator is going to bring them back. People move up because of important connections, dumb luck, or they’re the kind of person the right person relates to whether or not they excelled at their job. Just look at a Scripty’s job. That job sucks. Anyone doing it for multiple productions, is probably organized and hard working. Yet, some people can’t break out of it. I have seen this happen time and time again.

    I quit being any kind of assistant, but I certainly have stories. One time I lost out on a job I had been internally referred for at Capitol Records. I had loads of relevant experience, but they hired the cute mail room guy. He played in a band and all the women had a crush on him. I took a job outside of the company, outside of the industry. A year later, I got a late night call to bring my resume to a boutique management company, and hand it to the VP of something or other. He was the VP. Mail room. Yep, true story. David Phillips. The kind of guy you’d like to have a beer with. He didn’t deliver mail so well that people saw his potential, and frankly all he talked about was how much LA sucked compared to Athens, GA, so his attitude wasn’t winning. He wasn’t even funny. He was pretty cute though, and he played guitar for a household name. That got him from the mail room, to an entry level position in a marketing department, to who knows where, to a VP position at a management company. Different industries. Different departments. In a year.

    It’s a tricky business. Not everyone ends up happy. Or gainfully employed. I think it’s unfair to assume it’s their fault. Just as I think people who have done well and are not bitter, should stay out of thinking they understand these results and just be grateful. Not fingerpointy and didactic.

  2. A couple of friends and I were chatting about that post the other night because after reading it, I thought “well, it’s possible that NOLA shows are really terrible, but hmm…”

    Especially when it comes to No. 6 and 8– I’ve never known an AD team that was shady like that. Perhaps somewhere some ADs and PAs sneak around concealing what show they might work next week… but on every show, every time? It might now be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Still, I can totally relate to getting mad and venting at a bad day/night or even at the circumstances of an entire show. However maybe this author should have cooled off a bit and reviewed that draft before sending it. Then they also might have caught some of those “your/you’re” and “or/of” errors that spell-check missed =D

  3. I think it all depends on where you work and who you work for. That’s why I can’t get behind this coordinator’s attitude of “Well the industry isn’t for you, then. Get out now.” Sounds like the PA has worked some shit jobs and the coordinator, in general, has worked some decent ones (though I’m sure the coordinator has had to put up with some crap too).

    But having worked on some of the bad ones, and having friends who worked on some of the good ones, the difference can be ridiculous. It can be the difference between having to run annoying personal errands for someone, or having to work on a Saturday driving an hour to the producer’s house to feed his dog except he locked all his doors and didn’t leave a key so you have to crawl in through the doggy door. It can be the difference between getting yelled at for something you didn’t do, or getting yelled at because you were unwilling to jump inside of a half-full trash dumpster to retrieve a script that somehow ended up there.

    Sometimes the only way to get through the day is to complain like all hell about it, whether that’s with your friends or on the Internet. I don’t think it means he complains to his boss, does a crappy job, or doesn’t belong in the industry at all. All possible, yes, but it’s a big leap.

  4. As someone aspiring to work in the industry, that ’10 lies’ post was really depressing. I’m glad there’s a chance to see the opposing point of view as well.

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