So You Want to Become a Suit

Jessica asks:

First of all, thank you so much for all that you do. I am incredibly grateful for everything your blog and all of the information you provide. You are awesome.

I have lived in LA for 5 years now—began as a barista who knew no one until I finally got a Costume PA gig from a customer at the coffee shop. I have had steady work ever since, which makes me very lucky, I know. I spent two years as an actress’s assistant which was great, but other than that the only jobs I get offered are Costume PA jobs. The problem is that I have absolutely no interest in Costumes whatsoever.

I would really like to find a job at a production company as a receptionist, an assistant, anything. I’d like to make it to development eventually. I have no idea how to find contact info for production companies, or how to get my foot in the door. Do you have any resources for contacting production companies or finding available jobs (besides the UTA list)? Any advice you have would be very much appreciated.

Don’t do it, Jess! Don’t fall for the seductive lure of better pay, more reasonable hours, consistent employment– wait…

Why do I work in production again?

Being a suit is a very different job than being a part of the crew. As such, your potential employer is looking for different things. Your resume isn’t just a list of credits; you need to actually describe what you did, what you accomplished.1 You can’t wear just whatever’s comfortable; you have to dress nice.

Essentially, you have to behave as you would at a real job, and not the magical dream factory I call… work.

The UTA Joblist is a great place to start looking for these types of jobs, as is my own humble job postings page. Beyond that, if you look in the sidebar of my blog (I think it’s only visible on a desktop), there’s a section labeled “Job Sites.” Most of those are desk jobs, as well.

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. If you’re not sure how to do this, why not use my resume service?
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2 Responses

  1. The hours really aren’t great on the business side. And the pay really isn’t either. Most assistant jobs will pay you minimum wage, and some will do so with a salary, so you won’t even get overtime. That’s once you get past the year of unpaid experience required to get that minimum wage job. If you work as an assistant at a major agency for example, you’ll be in the office 12 hours a day, every day. Plus you need to be on call 24/7, on weekends too.

    I’ve done both. Both have advantages and disadvantages. But on set you at least aren’t working every day of the week. Unless you’re a very lucky PA with lots of gigs. Overall, I’d say being on set is the less miserable existence of life than being somebody’s office bitch. But working up the business side gives you a better chance at a financially secure future.

  2. Also the Tracking Board! I prefer the production side of things, but I have several friends who got internships which turned into assistant jobs which then got promoted within etc etc all from that site. There’s a subscription fee I think but it’s probably worth it.

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