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How Not To Approach a Production Office

Angie writes in about how to approach a production office:

I have a friend who’s well connected in the local industry (not Hollywood, but there are noteworthy productions around) They have kindly provided me with the phone numbers and addresses of the production offices for those shows. Understandably, they do not want me sharing how I got the information, but since I’m just starting out, the information is invaluable and I’d be a fool to not use it.

So my question is this: Do production offices mind people stopping by and inquiring politely about PA and other on-set entry-level jobs, or would it be smarter to call and set up an appointment (if they do that) even though I run the risk of being ignored or waved off?

Here’s the thing– productions need PAs when they need PAs. The odds that they need a PA on the day you decide to contact them are fairly slim.

This is why networking is so important. When an AD does need a new PA, you want them to think of you all on their own. And this is why breaking in is so difficult. You need to take internships, on set and in the office, to prove your worth.

What I don’t recommend doing is walking into the production office and asking for a job. There are a lot of weirdos trying to get into this business; heck, there are a lot of weirdos already in this business. There’s not much one can do about the former group, but everyone tries to avoid the latter group. If you walk in unannounced, you’ll look like a nut.

It doesn’t matter how well you’re dressed.

Calls and emails are the only way to start a conversation. It’s a good idea to mention who gave you the contact information. Again, this is so you don’t look like a stalker.

Good morning [name],

I’m a production assistant with [x] years of experience. [mutual friend] suggested I get in contact with you, in case you’re looking for PAs. My resume is attached for your reference, too.

Thanks,

[your name]

Keep it short and simple.

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3 Responses

  1. It’s all about how you approach it. As a PA you really have nothing to lose if you drop off your contact info at the PO.

    I suggest that you be very brief and concise. I say knock and be polite. Also, show up prepared (comfortable clothing/shoes, multitool, headset, work gloves, pen, pencil, sharpie, notepad, and most importantly, a good attitude. You never know if you’ll get hired on the spot.

    If you’re honest and motivated, it’ll show. UPM’s are a very scary judge of character.

    I personally know a very successful DGA AD that got his first job by following yellow location signs and walking into a PO fully prepared.

    -Vik

  2. I’ve heard success stories of people going to POs and saying “let me work for free for a week and if I’m valuable to you we can talk about payment. If not, no harm no foul.”

    1. On a professional shoot? Because that definitely won’t work on a union show.

      I’ve been in a tv show office where someone walked in and dropped off a resume, and as soon as he left we immediately threw it away and noted how weird that was.

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