Generally speaking, it’s not a good idea to talk about being a great big fan of the show you’re applying for. This business attracts a lot of weirdos, which makes people extra cautious when deciding whether or not to hire someone. They’re going to be working with you 12 hours a day for the next 22 episodes. If you’re going to fan girl all over the cast whenever they stop by the office, it’s just going to make everyone’s job more difficult.
Don’t get me wrong, you should definitely express appreciation for the show you’re applying to. Just don’t go overboard. It’s a real turn off to people who treat this job like, you know, a job.
But there was one time when being obsessive with a show’s minutia actually landed me the gig.
Hey, I Like Your Jacket
Typically, when you interview for an office PA job, you talk with the APOC, and/or the coordinator, depending on who’s available. Sometimes both, if it’s a slow day.
But when I interviewed for a show last year, I was surprised that I wasn’t meeting either of them. I was meeting the UPM. For those of you who don’t know, the Unit Production Manager is kind of like the highest ranking non-commissioned officer in the platoon. He’s not a producer, but he does oversee the details of the budget and schedule, as well running the production office. He’s one of the few people on the crew who can actually sign a check.
So, yeah, he was pretty important. I have no idea why he was interviewing PAs. It must’ve been a really slow day.
As you might imagine, I was pretty nervous about screwing up. If I got the job, he’d be my boss’s boss’s boss.
I had to impress this guy. Naturally, I talked about the things I had done on previous shows, spoke highly of previous employers, generally stayed positive. That sort of thing. But he’d obviously seen several other PA’s, and wasn’t too impressed.
That’s when I noticed the jacket hanging over his chair. It was a crew jacket from a show I used to watch, long since cancelled. It was a great show, though, and I was a big fan. The unique thing about this particular crew gift, however, was the fact that it didn’t have the show’s logo on it. Instead, it featured the logo for the fictional company the series was about.
INT. PRODUCTION OFFICE – DAY
Glancing around the room, TAPA notices the logo on the UPM’s jacket.
Hey, you worked on [show title]?
Yeah, I did! How’d you know?
Your jacket. It has the company logo.
Wow, that’s some attention to detail.
Oh, I was a big fan. That show was hilarious!
Fun to work for, too.
I don’t know why nobody else watched it.
The UPM’s smile drops. Uh-Oh.
I really thought I’d cost myself the job with that last comment. Imagine my surprise when I got the call the next day saying I had the job!
A few months later, after I’d settled in, I asked why he hired me? He confirmed my suspicion that it was, in fact, because I was a fan of a show he had fond memories of working on. “It didn’t bother you when I said nobody else watched it?”
“Eh,” he shrugged. “Nobody else did watch it. That’s why it got cancelled and I’m on this show, now.”
Don’t Forget Hired in Hollywood
One more quick reminder: the next Hired in Hollywood online training session is tonight. Kate Lupo lays out a ton of great information, and does a Q&A afterwards. It’s absolutely free, and I highly recommend it. Sign up here!