When Do You Start Day Playing?

Elizabeth has a question about day playing on an old post:

How early do you call for a day playing position? For instance I work a full time job as a PA at a VFX House but sometimes I have week days off. Should I call the day before? That day?

Day playing is, by it’s very nature, an uncertain position. Productions rarely know if they’ll need a day player more than a couple of days before.

That being said, when a show needs a day player, they probably need them that day. If cameras are rolling, it’s probably already too late, and the position’s been filled. You can roll the dice by calling the production office and asking if they happen to need a PA that day, but the chances of that working are slim. Instead, you want them to call you.

This is where your network comes in. If someone has a doctor’s appointment, jury duty, or just plain comes down sick, they’re likely to call their friends to fill in. If the crew needs an extra PA (or grip or MUA or whatever you are), again, they start by calling people they know. You only get on that call list if you know lots of people.

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Yeah, right, like I'm going to tell you.

2 Comments

  1. There’s a bit of a contradiction here, though- if you’re stuck day playing, that means you DON’T know enough people to get a solid PA position. So if you know enough people that they suddenly mention you for day playing, that should mean you don’t have to rely on day playing to begin with.

    So what about others who have no choice but to take the hard road, knocking on doors, personally selling themselves because they don’t have 50 friends in the business? I feel like that’s the sort of standpoint questions like this are coming from, and to go and answer them as if they’re already on the inside isn’t very useful.

    Sorry if this seems a bit harsh, but these are things I’m going through myself at the moment, so it’s a bit of a frustration to hear “Well people you know are supposed to get you in” when the whole point is people starting out don’t know anybody. I hope that makes sense.

    • I’m the one that asked this question. Here’s what I did. I quit my job as a PA in May at the VFX House because it wasn’t leading me towards what I needed to be doing and I made my first short film maybe two weeks after, it wasn’t perfect but it wasn’t awful either. I learned a lot and I met my now comedic partner. Since I made my film I’ve been working full time as a freelance DP and Editor as well as making comedy sketches because now I have the free time to do it. My network expands daily because of the leap I made. One of the best ways I’ve met people is through volunteer work (my first job after my film was a volunteer videography gig and after that they’ve hired me on for over 30 Instagram marketing projects and we’re still working together). Working for free isn’t ideal but if you work for free and out work everyone around you you’ll make a name for yourself. I did and the next time I was asked to film, we were able to discuss rates because they were calling me. Just don’t let yourself get taken advantage of, give something for free once but don’t continue to do so. Know your worth. Now when I’m not filming my own project or filming for my connections marketing campaign I find new people needing an extra set of hands on set and dedicate my entire day to them even if they only need me for a few hours they never turn me down for the whole day (I’m shooting this weekend with someone new that needed help!). Hope this helps, feel free to ask me any questions and connect with me on twitter to reach me @thelizharding

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