As we start this year waiting for the jobs to flow it is hard to anticipate what to expect. But, if last year was any indication we can expect more of the same. Vancouver is booming. Production in BC is seeing unprecedented levels. The city is expecting some really big shows. Dead Poole 2, and Predator just to name a few. With this comes a few challenges.
Increased production volume means more work is available. Vancouver is experiencing more productions than it traditionally handled in the past. This means that experienced workers are stretched thin, giving an opportunity for new film workers to move up or into various jobs.
This sudden influx of inexperienced film workers has bypassed the normal model for gaining experience. Starting off as a PA gives you knowledge of how film sets operate. Jumping into a position and not knowing anything about it means you need to learn fast. You sink or swim. And many are just barely treading water. This reflects on the industry as a whole. And as an industry, we need to help new film employees fit in and learn this fast paced high energy industry many of us are familiar with. If we want shows to keep coming and Vancouver to be known as having high-quality film crews, this is something that has to happen.
Let's start with some basics.
• If you agree to work, show up. If you're sick call the ALM, or your boss immediately.
• Make sure you know where the location is the night before and how to get there.
• Show up 10 minutes early. Grab a “quick” breakfast and be ready for work at your call time. Don't show up just before your call time and order something that takes a long time to make. Want a bigger breakfast? Arrive 30min early.
• Crew Call / your call time means the time you start working. Not the time you arrive at crew park or breakfast. • Put the cellphone away. This is a huge issue right now. We get work calls and text, that's fine. But you are paid to be attentive and aware. (Producers down south have taken notice and consider the quality of crews to be dropping) want to work here? Then be present on set, Instagram and twitter can wait.
• Don't take photo’s of sets for social media without prior approval. Also, be professional and don’t give away anything about the show.
• Don't expect to go home early. That includes prep and wrap crews. It is perfectly alright for ALMs to call you to set after your location is finished. You call the ALM or LM when you are done and they can tell you to leave.
• Listen to your radio and be ready to respond. Nothing is more frustrating and says ‘Green’ employee like not responding on the radio when your name is called. Even Veteran employees can look bad if they can't use the radio.
That being said, we have a lot of “Green” crew members. Others are jumping at job opportunities with little knowledge of that job. Getting opportunities to be TADs, TALs, Grips etc. is great. But, you will have a very steep learning curve. As we go on through the year we will give more tips on how to rock your on set job. And, what it takes to get skilled in film.
Unless you are able to rise to the challenge, making the jump from PA to a higher category with little experience is not advised. It’s like getting your drivers license for a car and then getting behind the wheel of a Semi truck. Skipping the training levels can hurt your career. You may be seen as not qualified, and producers - though they say they are fine with inexperience, (really they are not) - won't put up with such inexperienced for long. As soon as someone with experience comes along you are out. So steep learning curve is an understatement. And if you do make this jump up, know the various union collective agreements pertaining to your employment; this is a must. When entering a management position, you are responsible to uphold the agreements. , And, as managers there is discipline for those that break the agreement. So read it, know your rights and of those under you.
If you don't know, ask. If you are unsure of what is expected in this high paced job, be proactive and find out. BCPAX is a community open for discussion. Get involved. Ask Questions. Find the answers.