Share Your Ice Cream Sandwich

When you’re a PA, it can be easy to feel separate from the higher ups. They’re older, more experienced, higher paid. It’s understandable that you might think of them as different or somehow special. While respecting aged wisdom is a good idea, don’t forget that producers, directors, and star are still people.

Case in point: last week, we were shooting on location, and I had to run some paperwork from the production office to be signed by our UPM on set. When I showed up, though, he was sitting down with our executive producer in the AD trailer.

Now, I’ve never actually met our executive producer. He didn’t come to set often; he didn’t need to. He’s a big enough producer, simply having his name on the callsheet probably got the movie greenlit. Needless to say, I was a little intimidated to be in a room with him.

Thankfully, the UPM came to the rescue. He told me to just hand over the papers and come back in 15 minutes. I didn’t have to stand there awkwardly while he signed a bajillion checks. (Some UPMs make you do this; I don’t know why.)

After making the rounds, saying hi to everyone I knew on set, I went over to crafty to see if they had anything good. Boy, did they!

Crafty on this show does not disappoint.

It had been about fifteen minutes, so I headed back to the trailers, unwrapping my sandwich along the way. I stepped up into the trailer, and saw the UPM was still signing. The EP glanced up and saw me. Or, more specifically, my ice cream sandwich.

“Is that an ice cream sandwich?” he asked excitedly.

“…Yeah.” I mean, what else would it be?

“Where did you get it?”

“Crafty?” Then I realized. “Do you want this one? I can go back and get another one.”

“Really? Thanks!” His eyes lit up. I swear to God, he looked like a little kid.

“Sure.” I handed over the sandwich and he imediately dug into it.

I grabbed myself another ice cream from craft services, and by the time I got back, the EP was gone.

“Looks like you made a friend,” the UPM told me.

“Really?” It didn’t seem like that big a deal to me.

But just yesterday, the EP came by the office to talk with the head accountant. He saw me at my desk and actually came by to say hi. We had a little five minute conversation about nothing, really. Just a friendly chat.

My boss was agog. “Do you know him from another show?”

We’re not best friends or anything, but a simple act of kindness, without any expectation of any sort of reciprocation, made an impression. Maybe he’ll give me a job in the future, maybe not. It doesn’t matter. This business runs on relationships, and every new relationship is worth while.

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3 Responses

  1. Great example of the simple things that help out. Sometimes it’s not firsthand relationships that get people hired. I’m in camera so I spend a lot of time in close proximity to directors and talent and my department heads notice when I can be respectfully friendly with them. It’s the kind of attitude they like to have on set.

  2. I had a similar situation at the beginning of my career. I wasn’t even in the union yet, still trying to get my days, when a UPM noticed my “never say no” attitude after my boss ran out of equipment. I made some calls and got some equipment there immediately. While I never worked for that boss again (he thought I usurped his “authoritah”) the UPM appreciated my willingness to go above and beyond to make something happen that needed to happen. That was in 2005. The UPM was instrumental in helping me get my days to join the union, and that same UPM has taken me with him on 90% of his productions. He and his family have also become family friends. So, you’re right. You never know what an act of kindness or due diligence will do for your career.

  3. Excellent story. I always tell people the same that it’s never about meeting people to angle for work, it’s about meeting people, full stop! If work comes, great, but if it doesn’t then so what, you met someone.

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