A PA who wished to remain nameless wrote in about a situation that is all too common in Hollywood. She had been working on a movie, when all of a sudden they fired her, and replaced her with the AD’s fresh-out-of-film-school niece.
This is a shitty situation, and yes, I have encountered it before. This is, unfortunately, a hazard of working in Hollywood. There’s not much you can do about this situation. But there is something you can do in the future.
It’s a little sad to think about, but the basic minimum requirements of a PA are easy to meet. Almost anybody can do it, which is why it’s the slot so many higher-ups decide to dump their nephew/girlfriend/whatever.
But not everybody can do it well. Even if you’re not a cameraman or editor or set designer, you need to treat your job as completely vital. You need to be the best fucking PA there is, so that they can’t possibly afford to lose you.
Sure, you could auto-pilot your way through most of the day– buying lunch, making sides, shuttling the actors, etc. And if you’re buds with the producer or AD, that’ll be fine. The work will get done, the show will survive, even if it’s not the smoothest ride.
But if you’re not friends, you need to give it 110%. I mean that literally. Do more than what’s required, more than what’s expected, more than they’ve ever seen. Take care of things before anybody asks. Don’t sit idle.
And don’t make mistakes. Ever. I mean that literally, too. If they’re looking for a reason to drop you and bring in their drinking buddy who just moved to LA, they will latch on to each mistake as if it’s the most important thing in the world.
Attitude is important, too. Don’t say anything negative, ever. You love everybody and you love everything. A crack about what a fuckup this episode’s director is might be funny, but it’s not worth being perceived as that critical girl on the team.
Anticipate. Solve problems before they arise. Don’t bother your boss with details when she’s got better things to do.
You want to be unobtrusive, while leaving her with the nagging feeling that if you hadn’t been there, things would have gone horribly wrong.
You can make yourself irreplaceable. It’s not easy, but it can be done. You have to get over the fact that most of what you do matters very little. That doesn’t matter; they hired you to do the job of a PA. Be the best damn PA there is.
Or just, you know, suck up to the producer and hope that you’re the must-hire next time.