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Booking Agent for PAs

Martin writes in:

I was wondering if you had ever heard of Booking Agents for PA’s. I found a job posting through a networking group on Facebook for a two-day PA gig which pays the normal rate. The contact person sent me an email stating this

“Thank you for your submission. I would like to bring you to the team. My company is a training and booking service non-exclusively, and therefore my fee is 15% of work I book you directly, and rehires. If you are interested in receiving additional work from me, please sign this independent contract agreement and fill out the contact sheet.”

I’m still very green in the industry and have never come across this before. Is this a scam or are booking agents for gigs a legitimate thing. The company is called Vegas PA’s, maybe you’ve heard of them before.

That is… bizarre.

No, I’ve never heard of a booking agent for production assistants at all, much less these guys. Granted, I’m based in Los Angeles, so that could be why I’ve never heard of a Las Vegas-based company. But I’m skeptical.

In simplest terms, the way an agency works is, they get you a job, and take a percentage of your paycheck for said job. This only makes sense for the client if the agent has better connections for gigs than they themselves do.1

Conversely, this only makes sense for the agent if 15% of the paycheck is worth the time and energy. A commission on Tom Cruise’s salary is more money than I’ve ever seen. Commission on a PA’s rate is less impressive.

And this is why I’m skeptical. Anytime I can’t figure out how someone is making money, I assume it must be a scam. Even if I don’t know what the scam is, I back away slowly, because clearly this person has thought it out more thoroughly than I have.

Now, it’s entirely possible Vegas PAs are on the level. It might be so difficult to find qualified production assistants in Las Vegas, that every production turns to them for their staffing needs.

It certainly wouldn’t be a viable business model in L.A. The only thing easier to find that PAs willing to work hard for little money is actors who are willing to do the same.2 An agency devoted to PAs wouldn’t be able to control the market. As an APOC or production secretary, I’d find Mandy or Craigslist (or even this very site) much less of a hassle.

Back to Martin’s question, I’d suggest reading the contract very closely. If they help you find work, that’s great! 85% of a PA paycheck is better than 0%, if you can’t land a gig on your own.

Just make sure you don’t pay anything upfront, first. That’s definitely a scam.

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. Agents also provide other services, like negotiating complex contracts and handling disputes between parties, which is why even big-name stars have representation. But that’s not really relevant to this discussion.
  2. An actor’s life is not for me.
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5 Responses

  1. This is very bizarre…I’ve heard of people offering “PA Academy Classes,” but I have never heard of someone trying to profit off of the poor PA’s that really need a job. I work for a Music Booking Agency, and yes we charge 15% (which is industry standard) for unsigned bands, and only 10% for signed bands, but that is only because we actually get these bands gigs, and they have the potential to get higher offers. A PA has a limit to how much they can make, so having a PA agency makes no sense…where is the opportunity for growth?

  2. I had an agent back in Boston at Central Booking. I have him $55 a month and he would get me at least one gig. It’s that service that let me quit working retail. P.A. rates were much better there than in L.A. I’m considering going back to retail since moving to L.A.

  3. I have companies that I work for doing work similar to PA, like AV and some music industry jobs. In Vegas, that might be their idea of a PA, since so many shows go through there. But none of these companies have contracts where they take a certain percentage, they just have rates they charge the client and then rates they quote us. If I were bringing a production to an unknown place I might prefer to go through an agency than place an ad somewhere, because I’m presumably getting people who know what they’re doing. And, if nothing else, it keeps production from having to go through a bunch of resumes.

    That being said, I agree with proceeding with caution. Even if it’s legit, the chances of getting a quality job is probably slim, although if it gets you good experience and you’re not limited to only working with them, it could be worth looking into.

  4. Bizarre is a great observation. I wouldn’t pay anyone on your level to find you work. As someone who has hired PA’s for the last 20 plus years, I can honestly say I wouldn’t hire a PA from a staffing agency. If I don’t know local people in the various places I am working in, I trust my local AD or Coordinator recommends for hires on that level. Then I obviously meet with them and see if they are a good fit. A couple of things bumped me about this. First being that agents only legally can charge 10%. At least via the reputable agencies here in Los Angeles. I would laugh at my agent if he asked for more). Depending on the job an average PA makes between $120 – $250 a day. That’s not a great business model for the amount of work there is in Vegas. I checked out the Vegas PA facebook page and it seems like it’s more of a training company, which to me is also a bit of noise and nonsense. The training comes from on the job. However, I will say the couple of movies I have done in Vegas I only found a few people that had any skill set and the tenacity to be good production people. At the time, I asked other AD’s who had done shows out there and they all said the same thing, “Bring your full staff from LA or anywhere else”. Hotel rooms are cheap for features and the companies buy discounted blocks of them. So it’s not really a huge overall cost. Certainly not the cost of making a movie. Now that being said, maybe this group has been set up to counter what has been built up over the years to have more qualified PA’s. I guess only time will tell. But in the meanwhile I don’t think you should pay anyone to find you a gig as a PA. That’s part of the process. Finding jobs only gets easier over time, if you are committed to being in production. So much for my two cents!

    Jason

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