The P.A. Revolution Begins Now

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In a part ode/part lament in the name of production assistants all over Hollywood, a THR contributor today offers the modest proposal to -- gasp! -- unionize and pay P.A.'s a decent wage for their work. "One way producers think they can get around state and federal minimum-wage laws by not paying production assistants anything is to call them 'interns,'" writes the commentator, providing a number of egregious (albeit hilarious) examples. "If no union wants to protect Hollywood's production assistants, maybe the State Labor Board will." P.A. power, woot! Now get me more coffee. [THR]



Comments

  • Had Quite Enough, Thank You says:

    Frickin' idiots. That's what REALLY drove the business out of LA. First, the IA organizing low budget films. Then, frickin' SAG not giving the LBA to TV movies. Screw the lot of ya - I've NEVER paid below minimum wage to ANYBODY, I've treated my crew great, paid on time, carried WC insurance, etc. etc. I'll see you in China, losers!

  • Lucas says:

    all the state cares about is if you are paying min wage with appropriate overtime, that you get your legal breaks like meals on time etc. and that you are harassed at work.
    Like it or not if you work as a PA you are a grunt. And you will often be treated that way. Do the job well, pay attention to what's going around, make some friends on set and you could find a better role (if nothing else you could find yourself doing grunt work for only one department which is a little less exhausting). And when you get on a set that treats grunts better than just the legals, be grateful and show them you deserve it. So then those people will want you back for other projects and you can avoid the jerks.

  • George Philatery says:

    Way to go, Had Quite Enough! You go GET that Chinese slave labor!
    Just don't be upset when no one can pay more than a nickel a ticket for your movie....

  • Entry-Level_no_more says:

    Were any of you previously PA’s? I was. And I hated it… I was told, ‘We can’t pay you very much but you’ll get OT, you’ll get medical, you’ll get os credit”, and was told many other lies.
    However, I managed to get through it, managed to get better at what I did, and managed to become what I consider successful. I moved on because a PA is an entry-level position. In the same way the Greeter position at Wall-Mart is not intended to be a career, don’t expect to retire (or get a union pension) being a PA. It’s not a skill or craft, it’s a job! Oh and don’t forget, it’s not a career.
    The problem starts with everyone getting trophies for just participating… Suck it up you snot-nosed brats and clean out the fridge. (Yep, did that more then once…)

  • Dude says:

    As a PA currently working (um, I mean currently looking for work) in Los Angeles, I can say it is always a treat to get those job that pay you a little extra. Cutting your teeth can be tough and the process does weed out people who can't, or more importantly won't, do the job.
    If I got paid for the actual hours I worked, it would take away some of the sting of being at the bottom. Some days you can work 12 to 16 hours with very little turn around and you want to pull out your hair because you're not getting overtime or even getting paid less than minimum wage. Then to add insult to injury your check says you got a meal penalty but they worked it into your "day rate" to make it $125 total.
    Help from the state labor board? Yeah right! I don't really want to be blacklisted at the age of 25. What ever happened to those PA's that filed against American Idol two years ago? http://www.wga.org/subpage_newsevents.aspx?id=2887
    When I can get the work, I love it and I'm just grateful to get my foot in the door. Then I hope I'm in the right place at the right time to move up. So many times I've been on the cusp of advancement only to get shunned in favor of a political hire. But I continue on because I still have hopes of getting to the top, or even the middle, or hell, the middle-bottom. I'd take anything at this point. Lol.

  • HwoodHills says:

    Gotta say, there's some merit to the argument of creating a union for P.A.'s. Nothing crazy because it IS a starting position (as noted by ENTRY_LEVEL_NO_MORE above) but what other industry (please inform me if I'm wrong) that's financed by multi-billion dollar corporations is allowed to have people work 19 hour days for no pay?
    We're not talking about the 20's here when people were just happy to learn a trade. We're talking about BIG money productions.
    I've never been a P.A. but have seen plenty of them at work and the good ones DO rise above to higher positions after earning a reputation for being dependable, consistent and solid.
    Sure, the potential to hurt lower budgeted films could be an issue but like acting rates with SAG, different pay rates can be established for different budgeted films.
    It's an idea worth exploring.

  • Raving Dave says:

    Hey, you don't have to go all the way to China to find unpaid workers to make your movie for free, we've got plenty of them in the U.S. and they're called INTERNS!
    I'm a union 1st A.C. who worked on two low-budget, non-union features last year, both using the RED camera. I was dismayed to discover that it's apparently legal to work Production Assistants into the ground, day after 14-hour day FOR NO PAY as long they are film students getting school credit for the job. "They're not paying you anything", I asked in amazement!? "Uh, no, we're Interns. But we're just glad to be working on a movie!"
    I was so pissed off. I Googled for an hour trying to find something online about unpaid internships violating California Wage and Hour Laws to no avail. Apparently hiring Interns to work on your movie is the not-so-newest dirty little secret for movie producers.
    After a fair amount of begging and cajoling I finally shamed the producers into paying these kids $75.00 to $100.00 a day for the work they were doing but this whole Film School Internship situation stinks to high heaven.

  • Dude says:

    Raving Dave -
    I'm glad you spoke up for the voiceless! I know most schools forbid you from actually getting paid.
    The current "intern" system makes it even harder to get an actual paying PA gig. Why pay for something when you can get someone to do it for free? I worked on tv show that had 4 interns doing jobs that would have otherwise been paid PA positions, including going on errands. I wish all schools would forbid interns from going on errands as part of an internship. That way they would actually be on set, or in the office, learning something, not picking up a lunch.

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