Ashley writes in:
I’ll be moving to LA in the next few months to chase my dream of becoming a screenwriter. I’m also interested in production, though, and have thought about working on set starting as a PA. I’ve read that as a PA there’s usually little to no time outside of work, and I also read in your description that you’re a writer. The classes I want to take require 10 hours of writing a week, do you think that’s possible while also working as a PA?
PAs work twelve hours a day, every day. It’s not even the same twelve hours every day. There is no way you can make it to a regularly scheduled class on a weekly basis. You can barely plan your evening tomorrow, much less all semester.
I’m not a big fan of writing classes, anyway. The way to learn is to write. And write a lot.
And that’s not as hard as it seems, for a PA. Whether you’re on set or in the office, there’s a lot of downtime in this job. You always see people sitting on apple boxes or tucked into a corner, reading their phones.
Instead, take out a notebook and pen (or a small tablet), and write. It honestly doesn’t matter what, as long as you’re writing something. You’ll be surprised how much you get done when you forgo Facebook and Reddit.
By the end of the shoot, you’ll not only have a first draft of your screenplay, you’ll be surrounded by people who work in film and know you want to be a writer. Someone will want to read your script, maybe even do something with it. Which is more than I can say for a professor at the UCLA extension.
Just be careful not to show them your notebook–