My short lived experience as a Production Assistant

When I say short lived, I mean that it literally only lasted a day.  But don’t assume I gave up too quickly, because that one day was a 13 hour shift.  I’m confident that I gave this low budget indie film (concerning the repression of female nudity…ha!) my complete 100 percent before very happily throwing in the towel.

Let’s break down my job responsibilities throughout the day, and forget for just a moment, that I wasn’t getting paid for this.

1.) My first task was to wait in the lobby of the apartment building they were shooting in, and open the door for the arriving cast/crew.  Mind you, it was 6 am, and I was still severely jet lagged from my 10 hour flight to NY.  This task lasted not the “five minutes” they had promised me, but an entire hour.  I considered walking out after 30 minutes, but then I thought…I’ll have nothing interesting to write about if I bail.

2.) My second task was to run to Target in Queens and pick up a list of ridiculous items.  After handing me an envelope of cash, the production coordinator said “This is 240 dollars.  I think that’s enough…?”  Yes, just like that, with a question mark in her tone.  As if I knew whether 240 dollars would be enough to buy things like ratchet belts, pop-up-tents, printer ink and 3-plug-outlets.  Anyhow, they had their driver take me to Target, which was absolutely not the closest Target, but the one that had the necessary items.  It took us more than 45 minutes to get there in the infamous NYC traffic.  Once I arrived, I was sent on a wild goose chase, trying to find items that I had never knowingly seen before, like a Carabiner, for example.  Do you know what that is by any chance?  It’s just a key clip with a pretentious name.  After getting the help of almost every Target employee, I finally found mostly everything on the list.  The one thing I couldn’t find, was the specifically priced pop-up tent they had requested.  Naturally, I called the production coordinator and told her what they had available.  She asked me to send her pictures of each of the items, so I hung up and did so.  A very long ten minutes later, she called me back and said, “Honey, not camping tents.  Gazebo tents.”

Okay, I’m so very sorry, honey, but with a list that includes some of the most random things known to earth, how would you expect me to guess that?!   In any case, Target didn’t end up having the $100 Gazebo tent they wanted, and thank god, because the total cost was $210 without it.  I guess they figured I’d fork out my own money to cover the rest, and maybe pay me back later.  How presumptuous of them.

3.)After I returned to the set with three bursting Target bags, I assumed everyone would rush towards me to grab the ridiculous items that they somehow needed so desperately for purposes unknown.  But no, I was asked to throw the bags to the side, as if the whole thing was just some horrifying test of faith.  I was then asked to assist in the kitchen, which is something I knew immediately that I wouldn’t be good at.  I’m just not a kitchen girl.  But after mindlessly making 50 peanut better and jelly sandwiches for the cast and making sure that each member’s tea was appropriately caffeinated or not, I figured I could manage.  The rest of the afternoon was spent climbing about 8 million flights of stairs up to the rooftop where they were filming, and delivering things like PB&J, pizza rolls, and room-temperature water bottles that they needed “ASAP”.  I never actually saw them pick up anything I brought them.

4.) My last and final task worth mentioning, was to “fire watch“.  Umm, I’m sorry, what’s that again?  “Fire watch.  Like stand outside the building and make sure nothing burns.”  Seriously?

By 6:30 pm, I was exhausted, and not because I had learned something or done anything worthwhile, but more just from climbing stairs and performing inane chores.  When I collapsed into my bed later that night, I took out my computer and wrote a very brief email to the production coordinator, announcing that I had found a paid job and would not be joining them again the next day.  Although the first part was unfortunately a lie/an easy way out, the latter part was absolutely 100 percent true.  She responded immediately, saying “Congratulations!  You are outstanding and I can absolutely understand how you got a paying gig.”  …….Great.

You know, I’m going to take back the previous statement that I didn’t learn anything, because I did end the day with one new important philosophy: No matter how small the budget, film cast & crew members are stuck up assholes.

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