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When Do We Start?

Reader Dallas writes in:

I was told by an AD that I got a job as a PA on a series being made by a very legit place and I could not be happier! The person who I believe is the 2nd AD also reached out to me and confirmed my start date over the phone.

My start date is in early April, and as of now, that is all I know. I do not know where I will be going or if I will be signing some kind of contract or any other information, just that I am starting somewhere on a day in early April.

This is not uncommon (especially now, with the ever-shifting demands of COVID protocols). Start dates change due to actors’ availability, funding falling through, or just general shit happening.

A lot can go wrong in three weeks. Hopefully the show doesn’t fall apart, but if you’re not told to show up to work tomorrow, always keep in mind that you may be looking for work before you even start shooting.

I sent the AD this email with the subject line “Quick Question” Hi _____________,

I’m so excited to start working in 3 weeks! I have two questions for you: do you know when I will be getting more info about where I will be going and what time I should get there on April 4th? Also, do you know if my job will involve a contract of some kind? 

Thank you so much for all of your help.

Best,
Dallas

This is the first time I have reached out to him since the job offer, and I have not heard back. At what point do I reach out again, to him or the 2nd? Should I just be waiting quietly for a call sheet? Should I expect to be signing something at some point? I see so much info about the job, but in these crazily stressful pre-job days I have no idea what to do or expect!

Callsheets are created the day before shooting. The shooting schedule probably won’t be final until a week or so before. There is basically no way to answer the first question three weeks in advance.

If you have a start date of the 4th, don’t bother anyone until the 1st, and even then, just give a casual, “Looking forward to working with you next week!” kind of email.

As for a contract, PA’s (and most of the crew) have to sign a lot of start paperwork: I-9, W9 or 1099, a waiver for appearing in behind-the-scenes stuff, maybe an NDA. There’s probably not a “contract” per se, since PA’s are at-will, non-union employees.1 There still might be, depending on the network, but don’t expect it.

They’ll give all of this to you on day 1. There’s no reason to ask the AD for it in advance. Also, if it’s a seriously big show, the AD isn’t going to be your direct supervisor, anyway. The 2nd is.

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. The reason why is a post for another day.
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