Is It Okay to Call a Stranger?

Beth writes in about calling a complete stranger:

I’ve recently moved to LA and while I have been networking I don’t want to wait around for that to be the only way to get a job lead. I found the phone number of the AD on a tv show called [redacted]. I found it using IMDB Pro, while I know they put the information on there to contact them, is it meant for someone like me seeking PA work? Would it be inappropriate to call? I’m not even sure how to address the question about the production needing PAs. Any advice would be brilliant.

Evolvoing Ettiquete

Phone calls have evolved in the time since cell phones became commonplace. No one really likes getting cold-calls on their personal line (if they ever did).

Think about how many spam calls you get on a regular basis. Now imagine you’re in a position to hire people for a job that’s in-demand. AD’s, cooridnators, UPMs, producers and so are flooded with “unknown caller” notifications every day. There’s a good chance they’ll just ignore you.

Plus, we’re talking about an assistant director on a TV show that is currently in production. He doesn’t have time to call his mother on her birthday, much less talk to you.

Aint nobody got time for that.


More to the point, what is the best case case scenario for this conversation?


Hello, Mr. AD, I’m a complete and total stranger, but can I have a job?


Absolutely! I just happen to need a PA right now, and even though I clearly have decades of film industry experience (or I wouldn’t be an AD on a network show), I don’t happen to know anyone else who can do that job.

No, the most likely scenario is… he won’t even answer.

But if he does answer, he’ll dismissively tell you to email your resume. Skip that step and go straight to the email. Introduce yourself politely, describe your professional film experience, and offer to fill in anytime he needs a day player. Don’t forget to thank him for his time!

This method is not much more likely to yield a job than cold-calling, but at least it won’t leave a negative impression.

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2 Responses

  1. I’ve had good luck making contacts by e-mailing people. It doesn’t lead to work right away. I don’t generally ask for work. I just say I’m looking for experience and advice and offer to take them out for coffee or lunch in the next couple weeks. If I get a lunch or coffee meeting I write a thank you note the day after and every month or so I check in to see how they are doing, and I send them links to any new work I’ve done. Eventually they need someone for a lower paid project, personal favor for a friend, or have a project where all their usual guys are busy and I get a gig.

  2. I agree with that. I would venture to say a text wouldn’t be super annoying, either.. it’d be more likely to catch my attention than an e-mail if I’m in the weeds, as long as it’s polite and professional and not-stalker-y. I didn’t realize people put their contact info on IMDB? Do seasoned veterans actually get work that way?

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