I received two different, but related, emails in the last few days.
I’ve been combing Craigs List and Mandy.com for a while and I tend to notice that like, every single ad or call for a PA is indefinitely nonpaying. Is it as if there is some secret club you’re let into after you’ve done a few non paying gigs where you start to find paying gigs? Also, I’ve been roving the internet like crazy trying to find any other jobs that have anything to do with productions. It almost seems as if I made a huge mistake in getting my degree. The reason I say that is that every single entry level position for film or television production I can find is either A.) non paying or B.) an internship. So even if they were paying, they’re looking for college students. Whats a 5 years of experience television station production assistant with a bachelors degree to do?
And Chris asks:
PAing, as you’ve said, is a full-time job, and often the only way to get started is to get on a low/no-budget production before you move on to a paid position. So how does someone in that position pay the bills (such as student loans that have suddenly come due) when they’re working full-time in an unpaid position?
The answer, in both cases, is suck it up. This is that time in your (and my) life called, “Paying your dues.”
People survive in a number of ways. They borrow off credit cards; they live off mommy and daddy (also unfair, I know); they get part time jobs on nights and weekends, filling the rest in with savings; they get married and sponge off their spouse, who has a real job. (Hi, honey!)
Basically, you do whatever you can, until you actually do get paid. There’s really just no way around it. (Mostly.)
Unfortunately, we are paying our dues in a recession. Everyone is taking pay cuts, from A-list actors to lowly PAs. People who were getting paid millions are now settling for hundreds of thousands. Departments heads are seeing their salaries and their budgets slashed. Those of us who used to get paid next to nothing are now getting paid literally nothing.
It’s completely unfair, but if you decide to pack it up and move back to Michigan (or wherever), take comfort in the fact that no one will notice. There’s always another PA, ready to take your place.