Hi there, I read most of your site and enjoyed it a lot… But what I’ve failed to find info on online is what exactly it is that a Key set PA does. I’ve been hired into this position in a film and I want to educate myself on the position.
I mean, I’m thinking maybe I’m responsible for the other PAs. But what else do I do? Do I give them work the AD or the 2nd AD hands to me? What’s my responsibility as a Key set PA and how does it differ from being a PA? Can you give me an example of what a typical day of doing this might include?
A film set runs like a military operation. There are very clear hierarchies consisting of generals, colonels, captains, and soldiers and in order to keep people organized. Departments are like platoons. Production is a very generalized term; The Office and The Set are very distinct and separate worlds connected by phones and runners. On a set, PA’s are in every department since everyone needs random hands, so specifically AD hierarchy goes something like this:
On-Set Production Coordinator -> Assistant Director -> 2nd Assistant Director -> 2nd 2nd AD -> Key Production Assistant -> Production Assistants
When you have an army of PA’s on a set, someone has to be in charge or it’s chaos reins.
To make a short story even shorter, the Key PA is the PA king, the one the aliens should see when invading PA Nation. The Key is oftentimes the most experienced, has excellent delegation abilities, and is the guy that crew and extras should complain to (the higher-ups should be bothered with small trifles as little as humanly possible) so he or she should be one tough cookie. As the most experienced and the leader of PA Nation they can demand a higher day rate, and are considered a Department Head, which is a Good Feeling.
During lockdown, a practice which has PA’s placed in widening radiuses from the set to ensure security when a shot is rolling, the Key is at the center by the 1st AD, hand on mic, calling rolling and cut and prepared to command his soldiers at immediate notice. The Key also organizes and places his troops for the most efficient lockdown.
When it comes to non-union shoots that lack teamsters (drivers), they’re usually familiar with driving small trucks. I’ve seen this vary from shoot to shoot but sometimes the key is also in charge of walkies, and has no problem pestering grips three times his or her size to just be responsible for once and not leave it at home because NO there aren’t any extras. Also, sometimes, the Key’s day is the longest of all, getting there earliest and leaving last, and while interns and other PA’s may leave set the Key always stays nearby.
Any PA generally does anything the 1st or 2nd AD’s tell them to (it gets complicated when the tasks intersect each other, be very sure to clear with all parties which is the more pressing task). You could delegate the jobs handed to you to the underlings but they could possibly be inexperienced or untested, so you’d be wary to send them with the “football” (all the day’s paperwork) to the office.
That’s basically it. The Key’s job is maximum efficiency. If you don’t know where your soldiers are at any given time, you’re doing it wrong.