When your employer is wrong...

In one of my recent gigs as a production assistant, I noticed that the address for a specific venue was incorrect. I politely pointed this out to a producer, who thanked me for the information. Later on, I received an email stating that the previous address was correct, yet I knew they were mistaken. I considered the possibility that perhaps, I was incorrect, and left it at that (even though I had lived in this city for my whole life; they were only visiting).

When we traveled to the address given, we discovered I had been correct. The producer in the car with me emailed everyone and told them it was not correct...that we were just there, yet the response was resistant of this information. I tried again to let them know that the address to which they would travel was not only incorrect but did not even exist. In the end, they all went to the wrong address anyway with the talent in the car.

I can't help but feel like they were unhappy with me after that. They returned to my city for another production, and I applied to work for them again with no success.

My question is this: What was the correct protocol? Should I have kept my mouth shut after my initial attempt? Should I have persisted? Did I do something wrong by even trying to let them know?

Comments

  • I'm sorry. I should be clearer in my posts. I am not looking for others to tell me who was right or wrong. I am very new to the entertainment industry, and I don't know certain protocols for situations like these. I feel like my actions may have compromised future employment, and while I know it is possible to recover from mistakes, I do not wish to make the same mistake again.

    Being a production assistant, should I have simply pointed it out once and then just stayed silent? Should I have been assertive (like I was)? Is there some kind rule on the professional "no-no" list that I broke? I am not looking for gratification; I am simply looking for direction.

  • I'm not sure. I was always told not to argue with higher ups in the production Industry.
    However in this case, I think in the beginning you were correct. Afterwards, it was in the producer's hands. He should've been the one to constantly inform everyone they were incorrect.
    Were there any other experiences on set? Have you work with them prior to this.

  • No, I never worked with them before. All they hired me for was to drive them around. I offered to help load and unload stuff, but they turned me down. They just wanted me to sit in the car and be ready to drive. I never asked for more, but I always offered to help.
    So try not to argue with the producers. I'll try to remember that. Thanks.

  • Hi Allyson! You were absolutely right to point it out. Simply Google mapping it would've confirmed that the address was wrong. It was in their hands after you let them know. I wouldn't be too concerned with the fact that they didn't rehire you when they returned. It stinks, but there are a million reasons it could've happened. Just keep applying and working hard!

  • Thank you. I will keep at it.

  • edited May 27

    Allyson,

    I went through a similar situation recently...and I could give you many more examples of when I was talked down to despite following instructions (and doing my job well).  The worst is when you're reprimanded for using a highlighter when verifying contacts or brought in as many cups as were requested with the morning coffee.  Lol. I've also dealt with situations where I tried to problem-solve instead of stoking the fire of stress only to be shot down because it wasn't their idea and they would rather be right than get the job done well for the client.  Productivity will increase results in the end and it's poor business practice to let egos get in the way, even for production companies- however, I've heard of this being a prominent issue in the biz.  (Interestingly though, the executive producer of that same project where I had such encounters was actually really cool.  He came in from a different market- a partner company, different office/city, totally different vibes.)

    I have friends who work behind the scenes in LA and other large markets as well.  They have told me that some employers will never be happy, and at some point, you have to decide if you want to work with them.  It's not just a one-way street especially if you have skills to bring to the table.  I have been assured that not everyone is like that. It might take time, but you will find people who are more positive to work with.  Ask yourself- is this worth the mental state they are putting me in, and how is it affecting my well-being?  Don't let it get to the point where you lose the passion you have for what you do. (The exec. mentioned this as he recalled working his way up and starting out as a PA himself- he said that angry PA's are the worst, and you’ve got to make changes if you see yourself becoming that way, but don't be afraid to move onward and upward towards your goals).

    The longer I've worked in many different industries, the more I have come to realize how sometimes it's just as important to know when not to pursue work with such employers as it is to make the effort in finding the good ones.  They are out there.  Fortunately, I've been able to keep my commitments and finish out gigs despite such circumstances.  That's partly thanks to my business friends who carried me through the hard times w/ good advice via phone in the middle of the night.

    When one door closes though, another one opens.  I was told by another industry player that someday I'll look back and laugh at the times I put up with such mistreatment.  Keep caring about what you do- it's a good thing!  But also realize some people will never be happy.  I strive to find teams to work with who can work hard, collaborate, and remain as calm/ positive as possible...those are just harder to find as such qualities take life lessons and skills to develop. Hang in there, because things will get better!  Attitude is everything.

  • I'm a on set Still Photographer with decades of experience. I mostly shoot in the direction of first camera, but there are times i spot something in the background or a much better camera angle and depending on the director I may make a suggestion, or some that I have worked with before may take a look at my angle and shoot or put b camera there. But will let me get my shot during rehearsal. Then there are a couple of directors that you never say a word to and bite my lip, even if it means a shot that definitely will be reshot.

  • You were correct in telling them. If they can't see how your knowledge can help, perhaps they are just the wrong employer.
    If you just applied to the other job by answering via StaffMeUp, there is a huge chance that they did not even see your application. With clients I have worked with, I always send them a direct email when they are needing me in NYC.

    Good luck, and keep correcting what is wrong, saves time for all of us!

  • Allyson, I don't understand the post. It looks like you're saying that you got there and the address was wrong and the address that they were at right before that was also wrong, and then they were going to go back to that other incorrect address. I don't follow that. Sorry, Martin

  • When I received the call sheet, I looked up the addresses for the locations (as I always do), and I noticed one of the addresses was incorrect. I notified the coordinator, who was very grateful.

    The next morning, one of the producers sent us an email that said the address was correct. I have lived in this city for 25 years, and I knew this person was wrong. But I entertained the possibility that I was wrong. I looked up the address on Google maps and went to the street view, which confirmed my suspicions.
    I informed the producer who was in my car. He was nice about it and asked me to drive to the location to verify. We did, and I was correct. He sent out an email to let everyone know that the address was wrong.
    We received an email a few minutes later that said the address was correct. And later, they ended up going to that incorrect address with the talent in the car. I tried to tell them that I had just been there, but I was told to drop it.

    Should I have fought harder? Should I have just stayed silent after the first attempt?

  • Allyson, The real problem is that there's a lot of bad people in this business and a lot of incompetent people. I'll probably get in trouble for this somehow, but the best productions are run by women, that is just historically accurate. Sometimes if you point out something that's wrong people think that you are telling them that they're not doing their job right. And that might be accurate, that might be what you're telling them. This business has a serious problem of ridiculousness about it. Maybe ask whoever you should be asking this question of, ask them if I see something that's wrong with directions do I say something or keep my mouth shut? I've worked for producers that say absolutely tell us if something is wrong. And I've worked for producers that don't want you to say anything. I usually refer to those people as stupid.
    Sincerely, Martin

  • Unfortunately, there is no way to placate incompetent people or those with unearned power in our "industry." You could hire a CPA to prove payroll fraud and they'd blame you for their sneaky accounting. If you complain to a union and even provide proof and corroboration with other members, the union will almost always side with the studio who is paying the bills, and someone will no doubt get fired in retaliation. If you ask why your major employer's paychecks are not cash-able, even after spending hours with their supposedly up and up accountant who insists he/she doesn't understand, they will not hire you next season. And if you wait a month for a paycheck and find nobody even entered your startup paperwork and ask if you could be paid, you will be fired.

    Please note these are each violations of various Acts and subject to discipline by the NLRB and other government agencies but they go completely unpunished and the statues of limitations can be 90 days which make them almost impossible to pursue.

    Bottom line, many companies making a living off Old Media Hollywood are fairly adept at being corrupt evil, celebrating incompetence and everything you're not supposed to discriminate about. Personally, I'm making my bed in New Media and the major corporations behind it. They'll be corrupt soon, but at least they have too much to lose to get the NLRB after them, so they'll be more accountable one would suppose.

    Does that mean to give up working in Entertainment? NO! But be very careful who you work for and judge them on their behavior overall so you know what to talk about. It's like a dysfunctional cartel. Keep your head down and land a better job when you smell sulphur :wink:

    -- Blessings

    Richard

  • Allyson, what you did was right. You always want to email your production coordinator with updated information.

    Being in many branches of the arts and entertainment and specifically coming from theater I have learned, that when pointing something out, most people in positions of power would rather if you asked them a question about it, instead of telling them straight up that they are incorrect.

    For example, I could word a brief email to a production 2 different ways.

    -Dear Production, I was googling the address you sent me and noticed that it took me to an empty lot. Here is the copy paste of the address I typed in "address", did I do something wrong? Although I am familiar with the area, maybe you could share any pictures of the location, so I make sure that I don't go to the wrong place?

    -Dear Production, I was googling the address you sent me and noticed that it took me to an empty lot. Here is the copy paste of the address I typed in "address", I believe this is not the right address, maybe you guys missed a number or something? I am familiar with the area and I'm almost positive this is the wrong address.

    I believe it was right for you to tell them they had the wrong address, but I don't know them and any little detail could've rubbed them the wrong way. I also don't know how you brought it up to them, in which tone, your email was set.

    Because I come from theater, were people in power enjoyed yelling at assistants and nip picking everything, I developed a way to speak to them that almost makes them believe it occurred to them and didn't even come from me.

    Since I'm not about my ego but about my work opportunities, people with egos can take credit all they want (of anything not subject to copyright, of course).

    I read all the comments ( I agree with you doing what was right but...) but did notice in your last reply, a portion I could address to help you stay part of as many productions as possible.

    Your reply: "We received an email a few minutes later that said the address was correct. And later, they ended up going to that incorrect address with the talent in the car. I tried to tell them that I had just been there, but I was told to drop it."

    About your reply: It seems to me, that after you had alerted your production coordinator, you went ahead and reminded the producer on site how you had been right from the beginning (I could be misinterpreting the facts, apologies if they happened differently); also, when you say that you tried to tell them you had just been there, means to me that you re-emailed them back after pointing the invalidity of this address to a second producer (on-site).

    I this happened the way I understood, I would recommend you to point things out one time and one time only. As a PA it's not your job to be in charge of logistics and any mistakes made on that department will fall under the right party, so don't worry about it, simply embrace your tasks and department as best as possible and don't try to do someone's job for them, even if it's evident that they need help, which in this case, they did.

    If you did go back to the address topic a second, third and even fourth time; that's where I would say you ticked someone off. A first time, like I said before was enough.

    However talking about the production in general, every time I send out call sheets:
    -I visit the location or do google maps streets if I'm coming from out of town.
    -Send a picture of the location from Google maps.
    -Send a picture of the map zoomed out enough to display the 2 main roads close to location.
    -Send short links to a gas station, a printing shop, a hospital, a grocery store, a coffee shop and a home depot.

    I don't know why this coordinator doesn't get as specific as possible with the call sheet. It only makes the production look bad.

    Anyways lady, good luck to you, and if you don't mind making suggestions in the form of questions, kind of letting them come up with the idea themselves, but from your suggestion; I would totally recommend you to do that.

    Stay blessed

  • Thank you all so much for your helpful advice. I know that in every industry, there is specific protocol for everything (for instance, in customer service, the customer is ALWAYS right). I'm still learning about "setiquette" (how to behave). I just wanted to be sure I didn't break some basic protocol or did some kind of faux pas that would blacklist me from ever working in the industry.

    I didn't care about taking credit; I just wanted to be the best production assistant I could be, which means do your best to make their production run smoothly and efficiently. When they went to the wrong address, they wasted time (which is money) and looked bad in front of the talent. I wanted to prevent that for them.

    I will try to be more "political" when addressing situations such as these. That is a good idea about taking a picture and sending it. I should have tried that. And the tone should always be respectful. And present things different ways.

    Thank you all so much!

  • Allyson, there's no set way to do this. Pun intended. It really depends on who you're working for. If you're dealing with somebody who's got some weird ego thing and never wants to be wrong then you probably shouldn't say anything. One of my favorite producers she would want me to tell her anything that's not absolutely perfect, whether it's in my "department" or not. The whole department thing can really screw you up on a set, you might ask somebody "hey can you open the door for me" and they respond that they're not in the door opening department. Those really aren't fun sets. You will have to just sort it out every time you're on set. Good luck.

    Martin

  • Allyson, I must have experienced several situations like this one in 22 years but you're doing the right thing by looking at your situation from different perspectives.

    You will accurately read the room and the set you're working for very quickly, you'll see

  • edited August 1

    To me the protocol is very clear. In this business each job has very specific responsibilities and there shouldn't be much overlap. There should be one person responsible for knowing the correct address for the talent and crew - production coordinator, locations person, AP... So in the future, if you notice a mistake, identify the person who is responsible for knowing the correct address and go specifically to that person only. That person is the one who is going to be blamed if he/she makes a mistake and not you. If you tell the producer, the info can get lost because he/she has too many things on his/her mind...

  • I also want to say that while there is set etiquette, it constantly changes depending on who you are working with, so don't yourself up too much on trying to make everyone happy.

    I've had producers get angry because I set out crafty and made it look nice before. I've also worked with producers who kept shooting down the POC on everything (including her trying to be efficient and giving helpful tips to us PAs). That may fly in larger cities like LA and New York, but in the south and smaller markets those producers have a difficult time finding crew again. Some LA producers who have come here learned that lesson and are now the nicest people to work with. They also told me they acted that way because it's how their bosses acted and they didn't realize there was another way of managing. I've noticed that the tone of the project will be set by the producers. If the producers are kind, decent human beings then the project atmosphere will be a lot better than that of a tyrant.

    I'm a firm believer in that those you're meant to work for will see your enthusiasm and professionalism and will hire you again. Those who do not should not be given a second thought from you.

  • I've worked with many productions, small and large. This, very fun, industry is full of very low self-esteemed individuals who make themselves feel better by putting down their crew. I personally hate working with anyone who disrespects anyone. I pull no punches while on set. I'm being paid to do a job and if I think that you're going to screw something up, I don't hesitate to tell someone. The worst that will happen is someone will get pissed at me, which I will in turn politely tell them...in front of the Producer, that we share the same goal: keep cost down and production up.

    I've been in situations where a particular crew didn't invite me back for a second production, but I certainly didn't care. If they can't respect me, then I won't work for them. I have built my business on treating everyone the same, from Producer to PA's. I've even written a blog post that, although is meant for those who don't want work from the bottom up, but it also serves to help establish boundaries in this 'very fun' industry. You can read it here: https://episode11productions.com/director-pa/

  • Not only were you correct in pointing out the error, you were working with a group of morons/Idiots/A*$hols, or other.
    A "client" such as this (as hard as it is to believe, when you are first starting out) is actually doing you a great favor by NOT bringing you back.
    I used to work with lots of clowns such as this in local television...No talent, big ego, always had to be right!
    Left that branch or the business 25 years ago...Only work on motorsports projects now as very successful freelancer (my true passion in life). I work with WONDEFUL clients whom I have the utmost respect for, and visa-versa.
    I can't imagine anything like tihis happening on any of our shoots.
    If they do call you back, don't walk away from them...RUN!!!!

  • edited August 18

    Over time you get to know when to speak up and when to just keep your head down and not rock the boat. I've been in this business many years now. Some people you'll work with will be great people, others will be total morons and everything in between. If I know something to be right, but I also know that I'm working with morons then I'll just keep quiet and make a plan to be efficient when I'm left to deal with the mess. The only time I'll confront morons is if they mess with my pay, don't respect my time, or are trying to do something that is unsafe and dangerous. Thankfully most of the people I work with are nice enough and will listen if they know that I'm just speaking up because I have their backs and I just want to make their lives easier. Of course the one rule is not to interfere with anyone's creative vision unless they ask for input, even if you can clearly see that what they are trying to do is dumb.

  • Yes, to everything Martin said. So, it's a Martin majority opinion.

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