So, for the past week I’ve been working as a Production Assistant. Due to confidentially contracts and such I can’t say who’s there or what happens (in the show they’re shooting), but I think I can safely talk about a day in the life of a PA without giving anything away.
5:30am (or earlier) — Wake up and get ready for the day
6:15 — Get picked up to go to work (since I don’t live in LA normally, and don’t have a car, one of the other PA’s drives me in the morning and then he or another friend will give me a ride home at night).
6:45-7:15 — Arrive at the parking lot and play parking attendant while the rest of the crew arrives. Somehow I got put in charge of making sure everyone parks in the right direction, around 7:15 I’ll get on the last shuttle up to the location.
7:20 — Arrive on location. Sign in and hook up my walkie. Eat something from the catered breakfast. While I eat I go over the order of the shots and read sides (sides are the pieces of the script being filmed that day).
7:30 — Actors arrive. Some PA’s take the cars of guest stars down to the parking lot and then are shuttled back up. See if the art department needs any help. The goal is to be rolling by 9 or 9:30.
8:30 — Actors, Director, Cameras, all of the above begin blocking rehearsals, last minute hair, make-up, and wardrobe touch-ups. At this point the house goes into Fortress Mode. Since we are in a residential neighborhood we are trying our best not to disturb anyone and that includes making sure that no one is hanging out in front of the house. There are two PA’s at the front door at all times (there are five of us so we take shifts).
9:00-1:00 — Rolling, and so begin the lock ins. PA’s are situated on each floor of the house to call “Picture’s Up”, “Rolling”, and “Cut” after the director does so that everyone in the house knows. We have to make sure that the noise level stays down, especially in areas right next to where they are shooting. There’s a lot of shushing people. Meanwhile other things are going on too. Art department is setting up for the next scene, craft services is making snacks, runs need to be made, and one of the executive producer’s has a dog that we’ll take out when needed. At 12:30 the caterer shows up with lunch and all the PA’s help load it in from the car, and get anything they need.
1:00 — Someone calls for lunch a little before 1 and the cast and core crew goes first through the line. After everyone has gone through the line the PA’s go through. We call last man which means we announce over the walkie’s that the last person has gone through the buffet and we have a half hour to eat.
1:30ish-7:30 — Depending on when the last man goes through, we go back to work anywhere from 1:20 to 1:40. Back to work returns to the same state of lock-ins, noise checks, set ups, door duty, runs, and dog walks.
7:30 — Around 7:30 or a little later the director calls the Martini Shot or the last shot of the day. As they are rehearsing for that, we have someone go down to the parking lot to bring the shuttle van up the hill. Meanwhile, the rest of us start gathering up the trash, getting tomorrow’s call sheets from the production office, and getting ready to wrap up.
8:00 — We have to be done by 8 so at this point the van is outside and a group will go down to the parking lot. PA’s and other miscellaneous cast and crew (a few are even staying at the house) do odd jobs that need doing before leaving. Mostly this includes checking in walkies, making sure that the refrigerator got plugged back in, and anything that is outside is not in danger of tipping over and blowing away.
8:30 — Hopefully I’m out the door at or before 8:30. It’s been earlier and it’s been later, but 8:30 is the goal.
9:00ish — I’ll be dropped off. Officially I suppose this would be the time to do other non-production related stuff, but for the most part I’m too tired. I’ll eat something and see if there’s anything on TV (not usually), then go to bed.
Of course, this schedule can be different without warning. For example, after I wrote a draft for this post we had a 16 hour day where I didn’t get home until nearly 1 in the morning. Awesome.