Transitioning from broadcast TV to on set work.

I've been in the television for over a decade now and a radio DJ long before that. I'd love to move from broadcast over to the fun side of the business. My problem is I know no one who can make that a reality. I've been told by the IATSE to simply email some ADs and plead my case of wanting to get into this. Om not afraid of the work and I'll take anything including PA. Any tips for what to do or where to look? I've also had others tell me that's it's all in who you know and if you don't have connections it will never happen.

Comments

  • @Justin Toney I completely understand your conundrum. It may feel like a dead circle, but it is not.

    If I could do it, so could you.

    I grew up in a tiny fisherman village in Europe and moved to NYC only a few years back: did not know anyone, did not have any money, had visa restrictions, had zero work experience in US, no parents no connection - nobody was here to cushion me and that's fine because I expected it - just knew I wanted to work in film and I did it. Today I have about 20 film credits (could be waaaay more if it were not for the visa restrictions I had gone through may that be said).

    But let's not make this my birthday: let's get back to you.

    WHAT TO EXPECT AS A NEW ON SET PRODUCTION ASSISTANT?
    1. If you go from another industry to film industry, you must be ready to Production Assist. It is the BEST way to learn the craft. Do not skip this part unless you are planning to become a shape-shifter (see next point).
    2. A lot of the superiors you work in the beginning are not professionals - I call them "faux filmmakers". Those are some magician shape-shifters who work hard to create a spell of make-belive of themselves as filmmakers. In reality they do not care about cinema or filmmaking. They care about how they are perceived and what their Facebook status says about themselves. Every industry has those shape-shifters. So if in your gut it feels insane, it probably is.
    3. You may also meet a few despots who occasionally rise to rule "their country of this incredible indie film". They sound loud and exclamatory and they are ready to punish anyone who questions their authority and yada yada {insert missing therapy on self-esteem}. Don't get phased: they live and die on those sets just like the beautiful summer beetles.
    4. Being a legend is never won by competing in the ego massaging chairs. It is won by gratitude, patience, humility, hard work and providing great customer service.
    5. Long hours and not so professional sets in the beginning.
    6. No clear instructions. Chaos. No amazing Jack Donaghy type of mentor (unless you are lucky).

    WHERE TO FIND A FIRST PA GIG?
    1. Facebook groups: join "I Need a PA" group. You will see all kinds of PA jobs you can apply to. Just keep applying until you get one. Never stop until you get one even if that means applying every day for 4 hours. If that is what you gotta do, then do it.
    2. Craigslist: surprisingly there are a lot of legit indie films on craigslist that look for cheap PA-s. Choose the ones that offer IMDB credit only. That builds your resume even if you get paid in M&M s, it is something tangible you can take away. Don't bother with the ones that do not state right away that they give out IMDB credits: those are the same shape-shifters trying to lure you in to their lair of exploitation and zero education. It is sad what the "Film Schools" mean these days.
    3. Meet up groups: Google "Meet Up" and see if there is a filmmaker group nearby your location and go to one of their meetings.
    4. Emailing to the AD-s may help, but I would do it as a secondary step after I have gained some experience. Otherwise you have zero leverage. Setwork is not a joke nor its easy. PA-ing is a craft that takes experience to master. Absolutely not trying to advertise, but I think it may truly help you: I just published a first-ever instructional book on professional setwork on iTunes ("Setworks: Fundamentals of Walkie Communication for Production Assistants" ). So if you want to get an idea how the porfessional setwork happens, you may want to read it. DM me if you have any questions.

    Hope it helps!

    R.

  • I made this same transition about 8 years ago. It quite honestly was extremely difficult at first, plus having to start over as a PA is never fun. For the first year I basically didn’t make any money, and I took whatever jobs I could get and wherever I could get them. I remember I drove 700 miles for a one-day PA gig.

    It does it get easier. The 2 industries are vastly different but once you get your feet on the ground on this side you can easily climb. Just jump in, do the work, and go above what is needed. That way you make a name for yourself, and that’ll help you in landing the better gigs.

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