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Workin' hard for the money

When Your Boss Gives You Work That’s Not Your Job

Samantha writes in:

I work as an office PA, but cover also as a runner and as our Post PA too. I have a quick question to ask if I’m getting taken advantage of or not in my workload.

Now, the question I have pertains to a Sr./ Co-EP Story Producer asking me to go through her grids and types just the important parts of her scenes within the Acts to present/pitch to the network. In 4 years of working in reality tv this has always been the job of the Story Producer, not the PA. I feel like she’s taking advantage of me, and also- I’m doing work that I’m not being paid to do.

Please give me the best advice/ info/ or solution that you would see in all of this, if you can.

Thanks, again for having a site. I check it out always to see what’s going on in the nation of us thankless dozers of the dirty work.

It may not seem like it now, but this is actually a good thing.

You don’t want to be a PA forever. Your boss understands that. If she’s a good boss, she wants to promote you; you’re much more use to her as a story producer than a PA. Because, let’s face it, a PA can be replaced, but a good story producer is hard to find.

Not That Easy

The thing is, she can’t just wave a magic wand, and poof! You’re a story producer.

Although, that is how most story producers dress.
Pictured above: not how it works.

She has to let you try it out, first. I guarantee you she is going over your writeup with a fine-toothed comb. She’s not simply trusting you to do the work; she’s giving you a shot.

Unfortunately, this leads to a situation where you have more work and responsibility, but not more pay. This happens at almost any job, when you’re ready for a promotion.

It’s Up to You

This more-responsibility-but-not-pay situation could go on for a while, if you’re not careful. After all, if you’re good at it, the EP is getting a story producer for the price of a PA. In order to avoid this, there’s two questions you need to ask.

The first is, How am I doing? Ask her what you did right, and what you did wrong. Ask how you can improve. Clearly demonstrate that you’re willing to learn, and that you aspire to do better.

Only after that, do you get to ask the second question: Can I get a promotion? It’s not always an easy question to ask, but you’ll never get anywhere if you don’t.

Just as importantly, be prepared for a No.

Budgets for TV shows are usually decided way in advance. They know how many trucks they need, how much the camera rental will be, and, yes, how many producers they’ll hire, all from the start of the season. There’s obviously a little bit of wiggle room in a season budget, but at a certain point, it might be difficult to shift enough money around to properly pay you.

So, be patient. You might have to wait a few episodes, or until the next season. It’s impossible to know, unless she has you doing the work of the UPM, too.

But don’t be a doormat beyond the current season. You have to make it clear, you want to move up or move on. You won’t do the extra work for nothing forever.

Just for now.

Looking for That Next Gig?

If you decide to move on, you’ll need to meet with other people in the industry. That’s where the Hollywood Assistants Networking Event and Panel Discussion comes in! It’s this Saturday, March 31st, at 6:00pm, at the With Love Market and Cafe. Tickets are on sale now! Get yours before they’re gone.

Our panelists this time include Oscar-nominated director Tim Reckart, WGA & PGA Award-nomiated writer/producer Scott Reynolds, and literary manager Jethro Rothe-Kushel. We have a limited number of VIP tickets for people who want to spend time talking with our guests before the panel. Those tickets are also on sale at Brown Paper Tickets.

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