Joe writes in:
I’ve worked on several productions now ranging from commercials to reality shows and feature films. On many occasions I have been assigned to be in charge of the radios. Although it is much easier to manage with small crew reality shows or short gig commercials, I still haven’t found an efficient way to do so with feature films.
The two occasions that stick out were:
- Production A (my first gig as Radio PA) started with 150 radios that I inventoried. I only received 148 back at the end of filming (55 days) The lost two were floaters and were not assigned to anyone to one job. Several Burger King headsets were not returned. I was not in charge of the surveillance headsets (the UPM only gave them out to people who gave her a $75 deposit).
- Production B started with 90 radios which I originally didn’t inventory (I was put on Radio PA after they were already inventoried and passed out by someone else). I received 95 back at the end of filming (26 days). The additional 5 were not on the original inventory. Again, several Burger King headsets were not returned. I was in charge of 12 surveillance headsets… only 2 were returned…
I don’t know how to inventory the surveillance headsets or Burger King headsets. There aren’t any serial numbers to go by. Would I be allowed to require a “security deposit” for headsets as a PA? And how do I deal with the last day when near half the crew drops off their radios in boxes at the AD trailer without signing off their radio with the inventory?
I’m curious to see if there is an efficient way to go about radios?
Most rentals places will give you a list of serial numbers for all of the walkies the rented your show. If not, make such a list. Either way, turn this into a sign-out sheet. Don’t give a walkie to anyone without getting their name next to the serial number.
Then, take a moment to acknowledge that this is the last time you’ll ever have an accurate accounting of walkies.
I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’ve never once had every single radio accounted for at the end of a show. Usually, you come up short, but sometimes, somehow, you magically gain walkies, like somebody fed them after midnight.1
I try to be zen about the whole thing. Like a Donald Trump presidency or going on a date with Gregory Peck,2 it’s just never going to happen. I accept that, and you should, too.
Not that your boss will accept it. They’ll blame you for any lost walkies, even if someone deliberately stole one (which totally happens), or if you weren’t the person who passed them out initially. It just goes along with being the walkie PA at the end of the show.
So, in answer to Joe’s question, no, there is no more efficient way to do it. We live in an imperfect world. Suck it up.