Choosing Between Gigs

Ryan writes in about being forced to choose between jobs:

A predicament that I had earlier this summer was that I was offered an Additional PA gig on a TV show for one day at the time, but with the opportunity for more days; but I was simultaneously offered a six-week Set PA gig on a feature film. I went with the feature, because it was a longer period of time and I was a full-on Set PA, not additional.

I initially told the series, earlier in the summer, that I was free in general. But when the second round of follow-ups came through, I had booked the feature, and told them I was unavailable.

But the series had a bigger name, with a bigger company. Also, I’m not sure if turning that down has torpedoed my chances of working with that show/company ever again?

As I’ve said many times before, the most important thing a PA needs to do is be there. If you’re not there, you’re of no use to the production.

That being said, the one and only time it’s okay to turn down a gig is if you have another gig. They didn’t put you on hold or anything; you got another job. It’s bad timing, and happens to everyone. They’re not going to hold it against you.

But you weren’t there, so you don’t get credit, either. The PA that wound up on the series may have been stellar; now he’s at the top of their call list, and you’ve moved down a notch. Such is life.

When you’re choosing between jobs, (which is a high class problem to have), you’re right to weigh the pros and cons. A big name show on a big name network sure looks nice on your resume. On the other hand, six straight weeks of work looks much better in your bank account than random day playing gigs.

Personally, I think Ryan made the sensible choice.

The best thing about series, though, is that they keep going. After the feature wraps, Ryan should check back in with the 2nd AD, saying something like, “Hey, that movie I was working on wrapped. If you still need additional PAs, I’m available.”

Again, you might not be their first choice, if that other day player was great. But maybe he sucked, and they’re relieved to know you’re free. Bingo! Best of both worlds.

But it’s impossible to know whether things will work out. Your feature shoot might be miserable; hell, they may run out of money and fire you after just a couple weeks. That sort of things happens. Choosing between jobs is hard; all you can do is use the information you have on hand, then hope for the best.

This is what freelance life is like. You will never not have this problem.

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One Response

  1. “You will never not have this problem” — that’s the truth, no matter what you do in this industry. Having to make these lady-or-the-tiger, this-job-or-that-one calls can be excruciating, but it comes with the turf of free-lance work.

    I once had three commercial jobs dovetail perfectly so that as one ended, the next began. That was the good news — the bad news was that I then had to work nine straight days without a break, with the UPM of each job expecting me to show up on set each morning fresh as a daisy, ready to give his baby my all. I pulled it off, more or less, but by the end of that ninth day, could hardly remember my name, much less how to get home.

    Still, that was the exception. Nine times out of ten, the timing of multiple job offers conflicts, and then you have to make that painful decision…

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