Can a 2nd 2nd AD Hire Me?

Jessica writes in:

Do 2nd 2nd ADs have authority to hire PAs? I saw that a mutual friend of mine was a 2nd 2nd on a pretty big TV show and I’ve been thinking about reaching out to her for a PA job when the time comes.

Some of my readers may be wondering what a “2nd 2nd AD” is. She’s the second, 2nd Assistant Director on a set. Why isn’t she just the “3rd AD”? I have no idea. Unions are weird.

Not every show has a 2nd 2nd, but if they do, she’ll probably go back and forth between basecamp and set for much of the day. She’ll fill in for the 2nd while he’s making the callsheet, for instance; but she’ll also make sure the cast gets to wardrobe and makeup on time, too. It’s a full union position; they’re in the DGA. They’re just not the lead 2nd on this particular shoot.

So is the 2nd 2nd AD in charge of hiring PAs? Probably not on her own authority. Any set PA hires will have to be approved by the 1st AD, and maybe UPM. But the 2nd 2nd is an important part of the team, and her recommendation carries a lot of weight. If the 1st AD has gone through her list of good PAs and none are available, she’ll ask the AD team for recs. If you’re lucky, your friend will put you at the top of the pile.

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3 Responses

  1. I would say 95 percent of Union shows that are full budget have a 2nd 2nd AD. TV and Film. These days the 2nd 2nd is always on set, until the end of the day where they head back to the trailer or AD office to do the production report. At basecamp you can have a PA or additional AD who is the point person for the cast. That is the person making sure cast, hair, makeup, and costumes knows what is going on.

    With hiring PAs the 2nd 2nd is very much a part of the hiring process. the 1st normally has 1 person they like to hire but normally leave it to the 2nd and 2nd 2nd. Depending on the set 2nd 2nds can do a lot of the PA hirings if the 2nd AD is busy. I would say when you are already shooting and looking for day players. The 1st AD doesn’t think about PAs because they are so busy.

  2. In England the 2nd 2nd is referred to as the 3rd AD. I guess we’re weird on this side of the pond.

    Anyways, hiring staff PAs starts in prep which I’m sure is a 1st and 2nd AD decision as the 2nd 2nd doesn’t usually have a lot of prep days. I assume it’s natural that the 2nd 2nd has input though. Once we start shooting though, if the AD trusts the Key PA, it will be the Key PA that hires the additionals. The 2nd 2nd (and other ADs) get involved as necessary. And if they like someone, 2nd 2nd included, it is usual for them to urge the Key PA to hire a recommendation.

    Absolutely your reader should reach out to her 2nd 2nd friend.

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