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Per Diem

Brian writes in:

Love your blog…it’s so helpful and I really appreciate the info!

A little about me: I am a new-ish PA with a few local, unpaid shoots under my belt. I recently got hired as a paid PA, and I am super excited about it!

They are covering travel and hotel for sure, and are giving me $500 per diem pay. My question is this: Is per diem for the random coffee runs I’ll be making? Or will it cover my meals as well?

Your post mentioned both, and I’m sure it varies by production, but I’d welcome any insight you may have.

I don’t wanna eff anything up with these guys. They have discussed the possibility of a long term relationship!

I’m assuming this is the post Brian is referring to:

If you’re shooting out of town, the production needs to do a few things– pay for your hotel, pay for your transportation, and pay per diem to cover expenses. If they do not pay for these things, you should not work on this show.

I can see how that’d be unclear. Per diem covers your expenses, not the production’s. If they’re sending you on coffee runs,1 you’ll be using petty cash. Save those receipts, and turn them in to accounting.

What exactly per diem is for can change from show to show. In general, you should not have to incur any expenses while shooting on location. This includes lodging, transportation (both to the remote location, and to set from your hotel), and food.

It’s usually easier (and cheaper) if a travel coordinator arranges all the flights and hotel reservations for the cast and crew. Some people will also be given rental cars (the cast and department heads). Everyone else will be shuttled from the hotel to set via transpo vans.

Breakfast and lunch are usually provided on set, but you’re also entitled to dinner (even if they provide a hot, walking meal before wrap), as well as three meals on your off days. No one wants to deal with 600 receipts for every weekend, so the studio just says, “You get $60 per day. Go nuts.”

Most people won’t spend the entire per diem on food; instead they’ll pocket it as extra cash. If you’re a light eater, I recommend this course of action.

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. Something that’s become far less common since the time I started.
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6 Responses

  1. Hi Brian!

    Is there anyway you can contact me privately as I’ve been offered a similar role.

    Best Regards,
    West Taylor

  2. Side note: As someone who has to scan all these documents into the computer (including petty cash receipts), I cannot stress enough how awesome it is when people tape down all the corners of the receipts. And the less staples used in general the better.

  3. Am I right in thinking that $500 per diem is more than PAs usually get? This guy is getting paid that amount daily??? Seems like a lot of money.

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