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Not In The Budget?

The agency I once worked for was across the street from a high school. My boss said he liked the location because it reminded him of the old saying, “Hollywood is just high school with money.”

(His other favorite saying was, “Farmers farm, plumbers plumb, and agents lie.” I learned more from him than he intended to teach, I think.)

The high school analogy is trite, but rather apt. Everyone is in a little clique, only we call them “guilds.” You’ve got your cool kids (actors), your nerds (writers), your jocks (grip & electric), and so on. There’s even a faculty that nobody likes and no one would listen to if they weren’t in charge. They’re called executives.

As for the PAs and assistants? We’re the freshman class. Everyone picks on us, no one listens to us, but before you know it, we’ll be running the school.

Like all freshmen, we get wedgies. These Hollywood wedgies come in the form of getting screwed for no particular reason.

A friend of mine was making a run to our filming location, and he got lost. It was dark, and late, and we were shooting in the middle of nowhere. He wound up with an extra thirty miles on the odometer. (Did I mention he’s not good with directions?)

When the UPM saw his mileage sheet, he came to my friend and asked, “What the hell is this?” (Normally, the UPM wouldn’t know if a run should be seven miles or seventy miles, but in this case, he had the exact distance from the location department.)

My friend gave the honest answer– he was a dumbass and got lost. The UPM responded, “We’re not paying you to get lost,” and promptly deducted $15 from the mileage sheet.

Now, seriously. Fifteen bucks doesn’t sound like a ton of cash, but it’s more than ten percent of what us PA’s make in a day.

And this is TV! We’ll throw a hundred dollars at a Starbucks run for the producers. What kind of jerk would begrudge a lowly PA fifteen dollars?

So, to amend my former employer’s axium, Hollywood is high school with money, except when it comes to PA’s.

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7 Responses

  1. OK. This is an old post with a new comment but this is so, so annoyingly true, I should have it tatooed into my hand so that I don’t ever forget.

  2. You’re totally right. I just don’t think it’s right to not reimburse the kid. If he’s doing a bad job, he should be fired.

  3. PAs who “aren’t good with directions” quickly become unemployed. Google maps and a GPS make life a ton easier.

    I once worked on a series where the UPM hired a runner who didn’t have a car, but he did have a bus pass. Guess who got fired? That’s right–both of ’em.

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