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There’s a Limit

Jack writes in with a sad story:

I moved to LA from Nebraska two weeks ago and landed my first PA gig with a production company working a live event. With no prior experience, I couldn’t believe my luck. On set, I was seen as a valuable member of the team and gained a ton of valuable knowledge from my fellow PAs (including, but not limited to, reading your blog).

Ultimately, my career ambitions are to be in front of the camera and I exude the presence of a performer, which I know can be overwhelming for those in administrative positions. Though I don’t find it difficult to tone down the personality and act professional. The coordinator regarded my work highly, and has offered to continue to find me work, as we are currently on a text friendly basis.

Being on set was not the issue, however…

Artist’s rendering.

Post-wrap, the production company held an after party with a fairly substantial open tab. Who wouldn’t want to take advantage of this networking opportunity? Having my fair share of gratis libations, inhibitions were lowered and I found it quite easy to schmooze with our producer, the showrunners, the art director, and the production supervisor. All seemed very positive about my work and eager to hire me for future jobs.

Unfortunately, it was taken into account that coinciding with the lowered inhibitions, my tendency to have a flirtatious nature was evoked and apparently some of the men were uncomfortable with how I was acting (I’m a queer man).1 In my opinion, which I understand doesn’t exist to the big wigs, I was behaving harmlessly. The producer even danced with me a bit (albeit in a silly, joking manner). It wasn’t my intention to cross the line, but I guess it just shows that you have to be prepared that someone will always be judging one’s behavior. Today, the coordinator shot me a text regarding the company’s decision, though will try to hire me on for other projects.

Moral of the story: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, but all work and horseplay makes Jack unemployed.

This is an unfortunate story. If it had happened at the work place, this would be a legal question. Jack could be seen as “contributing to a hostile workplace.”

After hours, though, it’s more of a question of, “How much time do I want to spend with this person, now that I know what they’re really like? In vino veritas…2

To some people, even entire companies, Jack’s behavior would be totally fine and acceptable. Even encouraged. But you have to be able to read a room, even while drunk. If you can’t, well… don’t get drunk.

When you’re a PA, especially a new one, it doesn’t really matter who you make uncomfortable. Someone says a bad word about you, meh, there’s a million more PAs where you came from.

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. This fact is pretty incidental; the same situation can come up for men or women, gay or straight.
  2. Yes, I think in Latin when asking myself rhetorical questions. What of it?
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6 Responses

      1. I wouldn’t phrase it that way, but it’s pretty good advice.

        Joaquin Sedillo, a guest on Crew Call, said “You have two eyes, two ears, and one mouth. Use them proportionally.”

  1. ALWAYS be careful at wrap parties. Know your limits, yes it’s an open bar but remember you’re still lowest on the totem pole and lije it or not, even if you’re not on the clock peopke judge you. I feel bad for thus guy but he has to know that there is a certain, unspoken ettiquette peopke want from their PAs.

  2. Anyone who announces themselves as ‘exuding the presence of a performer’ needs a swift, harsh reality check. I fear only employing this person in an on-set capacity is only going to make them more delusional and a pain in the ass to work with. Being a loud, brash, boisterous personality may be funny to your family over the holidays but when people are around you 60+ hours a week, you’re gonna how to shut up and do your job or else you aren’t going to have one.

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