The turning of the calendar got me thinking about dates, and scheduling. This is always a major headache in Hollywood, because you’re working with a lot of busy, important people who want to prove they’re important by pretending to be busy.
As an assistant or a PA, scheduling a meeting can be difficult, especially when you’re trying to work around multiple schedules. (It can be even worse when you’re a PA dealing with an idiot assistant.)
Worst Producer Ever
I’m reminded of a truly terrible producer I worked with last year. It was a short film, which is something you shouldn’t be able to screw up, but she somehow found a way at every turn. Things like not giving actors call times or not securing film permits. She actually showed up in open-toed, high heels to a location in the woods. That’s someone who is not planning on doing any work on set.
Anyway, I had scheduled a time to discuss the latest cut, about a week in advance. It was a date and time she had suggested. It was also expected to be our locked cut, so I would finally have this idiot out of me hair.
The appointed time came and went, and… she never showed up. The editor and I waited ten minutes… twenty… Finally, after a half hour, I texted her to see if she was okay.
She replied, “I never confirmed.”
Again, I had asked her what time worked. I emailed everyone the schedule she wanted. But… she never actually replied to say yes, she would arrive at the time she told me she wanted to meet.
Okay, so, she is a terrible person. But, she is neither the first nor that last terrible person I’ve had to work with/for. And luckily, this all happened on a rinky-dink short film I directed.
On a real show, I now make sure that 100% of the meeting participants respond to my scheduling requests. In writing, too; I want to be able to show my boss an email or text that confirms the person in question knew the time.
There’s a handy little app called Boomerang for Gmail1 that I like to use. One of its core functions is to remind you of emails that haven’t been responded to. Whenever I send out a scheduling email, I set it to remind me in two days. If I get confirmations, great! If not, I send a second email asking for confirmation.
Some people like to use group calendars, like Google or Outlook. The problem with these is, not everyone uses Google or Outlook. As a PA, you’re not really in a position to drag everyone into the 21st century with modern, electronic calendars. Some people are just going to stick with their pocket diaries, no matter what you do.
Plus, there’s the issue of time zones. I’ve had this happen more than once– someone from the East Coast is shooting in LA. You send them a calendar invite, and for some reason, the time is transposed to EST. Then they show up three hours late, and complain that your invitation said 6:00pm instead of 3:00.
Best to avoid this issue altogether with a straightforward, unambiguous email.
- Not a paid endorsement; I just genuinely like the app.↩