How To Stand Out From the Crowd

Max writes in:

First off thanks for your the wonderful blog!

As a student reading the “What to do with your student experience” gives me some confidence as I make the leap to LA. In the post you mentioned that if you were lucky you’d learn set etiquette and maybe how to set up a C stand. Fortunately the school I came from was extremely technical oriented, and my knowledge of most departments is quite diverse. I have a good knowledge base in G&E, Camera Department, how a (decent sized) picture functions, and most importantly my place in the world.

With my little professional experience and mostly student experience how do I use my knowledge base as an advantage as I enter the competitive world of Southern California?

I’m gonna start out with a lengthy quote from the original TAPA:

See, the thing is, you don’t know anything.

Well, you know a lot, but you also know very little. Film school can only prepare you so much. There are many, many things you won’t understand until you actually experience them.

Paying your dues, for instance. Professors always told me that I’d have to “pay my dues,” but I never quite understood that it meant working a series of terrible, mind-numbing, menial jobs on inconsequential shows, just so I could get promoted to doing horrible, soul-crushing, degrading jobs on good shows.

I’m glad that Max is excited, and that he learned a lot at his school. But in the real world, the difference between a great school and a crappy school is pretty negligible.

I like horizontal tracking shots.
Inspiration from Tyler Durden.

If you don’t have professional experience, you don’t have professional experience. Period. The end.

The way to be competitive is to show up, ready to work hard and learn. You will not stand out before you get here. There’s too many other excellent PAs already walking around.

The biggest mistake you can make at this point is think that you’re something special. You’ll become jaded and cynical really quickly, because no one else will agree with you, and you’ll wonder why you’re still PAing after six months, instead of being grateful for having six straight months of steady work.

If you truly are exceptional, people will see it. Use your knowledge and skill on the job; you’ll get hired for the next one, and the one after that.

Right now, all you can say is, “I will be the first to arrive and last to leave. I’ll keep my mouth shut and eyes open. The word ‘no’ isn’t in my vocabulary.” Follow through on that, and you will stand stand out.

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