How to Balance Different Titles on Your Resume

Jim writes in about how he should handle varying credits on his resume–

It’s a pretty random career so far. I’ve held positions in the camera department, art department, prod office, post. if I’m applying for a Day Player Set PA position should I downplay the specific PA credits and just make it a general PA credit?

Generally speaking, working in different departments is a good thing. It show versatility and adaptability. On the other hand, you don’t want every single credit to be a different job; that looks scattershot and indecisive. What you’re looking for is a good middle ground, with at least a couple of credits in each department that you’re interested in.

What you definitely don’t want is 10 camera PA credits when you’re applying for the art department.

Two Types of PA’s

Broadly speaking, most PA’s fall under two main categories: set PA’s and office PA’s.

Office PA’s tend to work more-or-less regular hours at the same location every day. They work on their computers a lot, and do runs. Writers PA’s and post PA’s generally fall into this category, and it’s not unsusual to see someone move from one to another of these departments.

On the other end is set PA’s, who help run the set (obviously). Their hours vary with the shooting schedule, and they work workever the production is shooting. They do occassionally have to work on their laptops in the AD trailer, but mostly, they’re on their feet all day, every day, handling issues on set nonstop.

At least, the first three seasons.
Still the best show ever.

Camera PA’s are on set all day, too. Again, it’s not unusual for someone to start as a set PA before specializing as a camera PA. Art PA’s and costume PA’s may spend more time on set or in their respective offices, depending on the needs (and size) of the production.

The Trick

You might be thinking, “That’s interesting trivia, but what does it matter?”

It matters because you want to tailor your resume to the job you’re applying to. If it’s a set-type job, emphasize your set experience; if it’s an office-type job, emphasize your office experience. If you really need to demphasize the other side (like, for example, if all of your credits are set PA gigs), you can simply change your title to “production assistant.” Don’t even mention the type of PA. This will likely come up the first time you apply for an office gig, since your first experiences are almost always on set.


What About IMDb?

If you’re new to the industry, you might be concerned if your IMDb page doesn’t match your resume. Don’t worry. Everyone knows you’re sometimes not given the credit you deserve. And I mean literally, the on-screen credit at the end of the movie can be wrong. And, of course, IMDb will tend to reflect that mistake.

Remember, IMDb is open-source. You can create an account and fix your IMDb page yourself. If you’re modifying your resume, you can modify IMDb at the same.

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One Response

  1. A word of caution. If working as a PA on a union project, no PA should be designated as a union department PA (Camera, Art, Props etc.). If/when the union benefit funds audit the production, these personnel will be categorized as union “thirds” and the producer will be charged for pension, health and welfare contributions as well as penalties and interest. This can amount to hundreds of dollars per day worked as so designated. I have seen it happen.

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