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Don’t Be a Doormat

Something I neglected to mention in yesterday’s post— There must be, unfortunately, a limit to a PA’s kindness. Certain departments (I’m just gonna come right out and say it’s usually costumes) like to take advantage of friendly production assistants, if you’re not careful.

For instance, sometimes mail gets delivered to the production office, rather than the department it’s intended for. You call them up and say, “This is Anonymous in the production office.  We received a package for you.”

They go, “Oh, we’re suuuuper busy right now. Could you be a doll and bring it up to us?”  You, being a nice guy-or-girl, take that box right on upstairs.

Then, it happens again the next week, and again you helpfully bring them their box. But they’ve also got something to go back to the mail room. Could you be a peach and run on over there?

Pretty soon, they’re asking you to run to set, the writers’ office, Starbucks. Basically, you’re doing PA work for two departments.

You need to set boundaries early. One easy out is to say, “Let me just check with [Production Coordinator Name], first.” This keeps him in on the loop on who’s trying to steal his PAs.

Another option is to say, “I’ll get right on that,” and then… don’t. As Jared pointed out the other day, your responsibility is to the coordinator. What’s the costume supervisor going to do? Call your boss and say, “Hey! Anonymous is doing a terrible job ignoring you and working for me!”

On the flip side, don’t be a dick. At this stage in your career, you don’t know where you’re going to end up. Maybe you discover you like the camera department, but if you make an AC come to the office every time they get a box of lens cleaner, that crew isn’t going to want to hire you in the future.

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3 Responses

  1. I end up working in Wardrobe a lot, and I can 100% confirm that Costumes WILL steal as many PAs as they can. It’s like a department of Sirens, luring PAs to smash their boat on the z racks and stay there forever.* Usually because they actually need more PAs than someone estimated, and often because the Designer is a total diva and thinks s/he is getting a Personal Assistant, rather than a Production Assistant.

    My advice is the same – use the Coordinator as your excuse, pass the buck to them, as you don’t get paid enough to be pulled in 12 directions/departments and covering the work of many. If this is happening, you’re only hurting yourself later, because they’ll think they can get by with less PAs next time, thus whittling the budget smaller and smaller, and making your job harder. And once the budget has been whittled, it doesn’t tend to grow back. Because “We got along just fine with X amount of PAs last time…”

    *IF you end up as a Wardrobe PA, use the Costume Supervisor as your filter. Designers will completely abuse their PA – taking yards and yards of your soul, if you give them one inch. Be the droid PA that has to ask their Supe about absolutely everything. Doing so will be your salvation.

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