When You Don’t Know Their Name

Steph writes in:

I am in the process of sending over my cover letter and resume to an open crew call for a new series. I am putting my name forth to be a Set PA. My issue right now is that I am unable to verify if the AD or 2nd AD that worked on the pilot (as I found on the IMDB page) is still in charge for the new episodes that will be shot later this year. I have Googled their names and checked LinkedIn to no avail.

Would it be okay if I simply put “Hi” as I did in this email, then go into my cover letter? Would that look bad?

It doesn’t look bad at all. They know you probably don’t know their names. Hell, you meet so many people in this business, the two of you might have met and don’t even remember

Starting your cover letter with a first name is a bonus, a way of connecting you and the employer as people. But if you can’t do it, you can’t do it. No harm. It’s much worse to get the name wrong.

For those of you who may be confused about why this issue would come up in the first place– many series turn over their entire crew between the pilot and series. One big reason is that California’s tax incentives give money to shows that return from out of state. It can make sense financially to film a pilot in, say, Georgia, and the series in California.

Also, networks like to hire feature directors for their pilots.1 Those directors will often bring their key departments heads (including and especially the 1st AD) onto the pilot, only to take them to their next feature once the series is under way.

And then there’s the simple fact that there’s usually a several-month gap between the pilot and the series. Many people find other work in the meanwhile. Remember, just because someone worked on the pilot, doesn’t mean they worked on the series.

Not that that prevents the pilot director from being listed as an Executive Producer on every episode. Yet another reason to not trust the credits.

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. A foolish idea, in my opinion, since its the episodic directors who really create the series over the seasons.

The Anonymous Production Assistant’s Blog

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Comments closed

Internal IT Customer Service from eni’s Experts

team work computers resized 600

eni has long believed that providing outstanding customer service is the cornerstone to providing any and all of our services.  It is a core value that we’ve made the crux of all we do with our corporate partners and members who receive our services.  To that end, we also take great pride in the way we approach Internal IT customer service.  Depending on the type of work and department, internal customer service can be grouped in to three main categories: skill/knowledge, responsiveness, and most important – communication.  In this article, we’ll examine how, when handled correctly, these three areas can strategically provide great internal customer service.

Skill/Knowledge: Let’s face it, without at least some level of skills and knowledge, it will be difficult to effectively respond to, manage, and improve the technology needs of the company.  Whether IT is outsourced at 100% or there is an entire internal team of dedicated resources, it is important that the technology team members within the company stay current regarding emerging technologies, particularly technologies within the organization’s industry.  By staying current and developing greater knowledge, internal customer service is improved via better input in projects, improved responses in help desk ticketing, and better corporate strategies to emerging threats such as viruses and end of life technologies.  For IT leaders, developing and learning new technological skills is important but it’s also important to seek training in effective management of vendor partner relationships and project management in providing outstanding internal customer service.

Responsiveness: As we can see, skill/knowledge is a very important area, but it’s not worth a thing without responsiveness.  A technology team member can have all the capability in the world, but without putting this into action whether providing information or fulfilling a help desk ticket in a prompt and acceptable manner, you cannot provide great internal customer service.  Your customers, aka fellow employees and managers, rely on technology to do their work effectively.  If the response is too slow, they cannot get their work done and internal customer service fails. 

Communication:  Responsiveness has a “big brother” and it’s called communication.  Communication is the cornerstone of all customer service, but in technology, its importance is often overlooked. Let’s face it, when a person needs their technology to work in order to hit their own deadline, they are often stressed and not thinking clearly.  They need to know how quickly the technology will be available or repaired.  Sometimes this is difficult to predict, but it is paramount that communication lines are open and transparent.  It’s not necessary to always provide every detail about the technology but it is important to provide enough so each party understands how long it will take and/or have a better idea of progress that has been made. This leads directly to greater understanding and improved internal customer service.  By “placing yourself in their shoes” you can better identify the exact need and perhaps identify alternatives or “work arounds” that can satisfy the internal customers’ needs.

By identifying the long term goals of your internal customers, you can put technology solutions in place that will continue to meet and exceed their needs now and in the future. 


Dynamic Work/Life Solutions Blog

Posted in Personal Assistant | Tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

Special Enrollment Periods For The Marketplace

Open enrollment for 2014 coverage is over, however, you may still have options to get health coverage through a special enrollment period for qualified health plans on the Marketplace.  Special enrollment periods are available only if you meet certain requirements.  Although, if you qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), you can enroll in those programs at any time of the year.

What you need to know before you apply:

If you have experienced a qualifying life event, you are eligible to enroll during the special enrollment period.  Here are some examples of qualifying life events:

  • Marriage or divorce.

  • Having a baby, adopting a child, or placing a child for adoption or foster care.

  • Moving your residence, gaining citizenship, leaving incarceration.

  • Losing other health coverage – due to losing job based coverage, the end of an individual policy plan year in 2014, COBRA expiration, aging off a parent’s plan, losing eligibility for Medicaid or CHIP.

  • Gaining status as a member of an American Indian tribe – members of federally recognized American Indian tribes can sign up for or change plans once a month throughout the year.

  • For people already enrolled in Marketplace coverage:  Having a change in income or household status that affects eligibility for premium tax credits or cost-sharing reductions.

If you think you qualify for a special enrollment period based on the above criteria, you can go to HealthCare.gov and start a Marketplace application.

If none of these options work for you, the Open Enrollment period for 2015 coverage begins on November 15, 2014.

Important:  If you don’t have minimum essential coverage, you must either pay a fee or have an exemption from paying the fee.  To find out more information on exemptions from the penalty, visit www.healthcare.gov/exemptions.

HR BLog Graphic resized 600

To learn more about special enrollment periods go to www.healthcare.gov.

This article is designed to provide general information and is not a substitute for legal advice 


Dynamic Work/Life Solutions Blog

Posted in Personal Assistant | Tagged , , , | Comments closed

The Importance of Taking a Vacation – Tips from eni’s Experts

NYC, battery park resized 600

When you think of the word vacation, what comes to mind? Some may think of the beach, a lake, or the mountains and for others just stepping away from the office for a few days is enough. Whatever your ideal vacation looks like, the importance is to just do it. It is vital to your mental and physical health and may even improve your relationships.

In today’s world many people are lacking the ability to fund a vacation without going further into debt, while others struggle with anxiety about missing a few days of work. Whatever the case may be, we challenge you to take that vacation anyway! There is always a way to make a vacation work.

Here are a few tips to help you disconnect from it all:

If you are struggling financially like much of America, get creative. Research nearby parks; grab some books or sporting equipment and go! If you have no idea where to go, ask a friend or co-worker. The most important thing is to do what you want to do and what is within your financial means. The last thing you want to do is go into debt for an expensive vacation and spend the whole time worrying about how you will pay for it. This is counter-productive and will just cause more stress.

Perhaps you feel anxiety about stepping away from the office for fear that things will not get done or maybe you are nervous that if you do, you will be perceived as slacking. We challenge those of you in this category to realize that this is the very reason that you need to step away. None of us are invincible and it is inevitable that you will increase your risk of burnout, depression, and many other disorders that come as a result of over-taxing your body.

The benefits of stepping away from it all include increased mental health, decreased stress, and less chance of burnout. Countless studies have proven that stress weakens our immune systems and increases our chances for illness and disease. Would you rather spend your paid time off being sick as a result of pushing yourself too hard or using it to actually relax doing what you want to do? So, go ahead and start planning that vacation and most importantly have fun!

eni’s behavioral health experts are available to provide our members with confidential assistance 24/7 on a wide variety of topics such as stress relief, time management, relationship/family concerns, substance abuse, grief, and much more.  Contact eni today to learn how our EAP service can help your employees more effectively balance the demands of work and life, resulting in a happier, healthier, more productive workforce!


Dynamic Work/Life Solutions Blog

Posted in Personal Assistant | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed

Guest Posts – The Trials of Being a PA

I wrote a guest blog post for Staff Me Up! Check it out.

And since I wrote for them, here’s a guest post from one of my more experienced readers:

1. Let’s assume you, the PA, are asked to take orders and deliver lunch for five people. Boring, demeaning, pointless work, right? WRONG! This is a test of critical skills. Can you politely interrupt five people of various ranks to ask them an urgent question (what they want for lunch)? Do you have the judgment from subtle cues to realize you’d better NOT interrupt someone after all? Can you interact gracefully with everyone from the executive producer to the unpaid intern, treating every single one with respect and as though they matter over a lunch order? Do you approach every meeting (yes, a lunch order is a meeting) with pen and paper so you can write down your instructions?

2. And, here is the real test: Given five people’s different orders (and yes, I know every order is slightly different, hold the mayo, get extra ranch on the side, etc), how quickly and efficiently (read: with zero drama) can you give each person exactly what they ordered?

Write down every stupid detail of every order (“bacon extra-crispy,” anyone?) and make the cashier at the restaurant show you that you are getting exactly what you asked for. Double check with your notes. Triple check.

You think you are delivering lunch, but really, you are delivering proof that you are not a fuck up. That you can be trusted not to fuck up. That you are detail oriented. But, wait, you say, “it’s just a missing side of ranch dressing, right?” — yes, technically that is true. It is a stupid condiment. But if you can’t be counted on not to screw up the trivial stuff, why should anyone trust you with anything that might actually count??

This is a more subtle point, but you need to understand that the people you are getting lunch for would PREFER to go out in the middle of the day, stretch their legs, see natural light, order their own lunch, etc.—but they don’t have time. And, if they had time to order their own lunch and go get it, they’d be just as detailed with the instructions (extra ranch, hold the cilantro, etc). So, by screwing up a lunch order, you’ve both reminded them that they are too busy to see sunlight and that they can’t even get what they’d’ve been able to get had they had the time to see the sun.

3. Speed on lunch runs matters too, because it is also really a test. Can you get things done almost before someone asks, or do you take forever? Sometimes you really can’t help it that lunch is late — there was a traffic accident; the restaurant kitchen caught on fire; etc.

Then, use this opportunity to show your good judgment: call back to the office, explain why the current lunch order cannot work, and suggest an alternative. But there is never any excuse for bringing lunch late “because the restaurant was hard to find” or “parking was tough.”

This is a test as well: Can you plan in advance? Can you solve problems? Don’t know where the place is? Google it before you go. Call the place and ask. Print out the directions. Put Waze on your iPhone. Trace the route in your head until you can visualize it. And, if parking’s going to be a problem, how well can you solve that problem? Take a second PA to double park? See if the place will bring the food out to the curb? Google parking lots near by? Bring quarters for the meters? Before you leave, what is your plan?

4. Sorry, but don’t count on any other PA not to screw something up that will come back on you. Your buddy PA says he’ll grab the lunch order and bring it back to the office for you? Do you trust him to check for the side of ranch? Do you have a good reason to trust that? Maybe you do — but if you do, it’ll be because he’s proven himself competent. And, if you do take him up on his offer and he screws up the side of ranch? It’s all on you, man, it’s all on you. When push came to shove, you couldn’t get it done.

5. Never trust another PA’s work when it might make you look bad. True story: my husband (a former PA) was sitting around with another PA (hereinafter “Dummy”) waiting for the call sheets to copy, so the two of them could distribute them. Dummy took the final call sheet to the copier to make 200 copies, and came back to the office to wait. Producer stuck his head out his door, asking why the call sheets still hadn’t been distributed. Dummy said, “oh, they are still copying,” and sat there. My husband perked up, went to check the copier, and realized Dummy had made 1 — count it — 1 copy, not 200. He quickly made the other 199 copies and got them distributed. But if he’d relied on Dummy, well, he’d have looked like a dummy too.

5. Bringing pen and paper to meetings is a sign of respect, pure and simple, even if you think/know there will be nothing to write down. Never be without them. Never. Seriously.

6. Entertainment offices and locations are casual. People make jokes, and tease each other. Things that would never be heard in a legal office are unremarkable in the entertainment industry. Get comfortable with it, so people will feel comfortable having you hang around while they talk about editorial cuts, future plans, etc — the inside dirt on the biz. Don’t be the quiet, dour guy that no one really likes or remembers and no one felt relaxed around. That said, don’t push too many edges yourself. Don’t be the PA everyone remembers for his raunchy sexual jokes, or for the CFM boots and sheer dresses she wore everyday. The rules that apply to everyone else don’t really apply to PAs. Sorry.

7. If you are in charge of craft service for the office — take a survey and ask everyone what THEY would like to have to snack on and drink. No one cares that the PA is a vegan organic seed obsessed health nut — do you really want to be the PA “who fucking never bought anything good to eat”? It’s okay to get a range of stuff, but unless you get specific requests for healthy stuff, assume people mostly want junk food. If something sells fast, buy more next time you go shopping. And go to store as soon as the office is out of key things like plastic forks, coffee cups, and junk food. Don’t wait until someone — in hungry desperation — eats that last box of chia seed bars. As soon as the good stuff is gone, you need to go to the store again, even if the rest of what you got is still gathering dust. You, the PA, are not the office’s mother — trying to free the office to be healthy will just annoy everyone. And always have extra Diet Coke on hand. That stuff goes FAST.

 

The Anonymous Production Assistant’s Blog

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Comments closed

So You Work at a Studio, But You Want to Work on a Show

Ira1 writes in:

I am currently interning at one of the bigger studios in the industry right now. I was curious, is there anyone who works here (in the offices) that I would be able to network with in hopes of getting connected with a PA job? There seems to be more chances of networking with post-production people and not as much for the on set production side of things.

First of all, congrats on the internship. Even though you’re working free, studio internship programs can be very competitive.

As I’ve explained before, every show is its own entity. When you work on an ABC series or a Fox movie, you’re not really working for ABC or Fox. You’re working for that show, until it wraps or gets cancelled. Few people have contact with the studio or network directly.

That being said, post is one of those departments that have contact with the studio regularly.2 On most shows, the post department3 has a close relationship with the production office. Production is, of course, integral to the functioning of nearly every other department.

Every studio has a physical production department, too. They deal with the producers and line producers, who then oversea the UPMs, ADs, and production coordinators. In other words, the people who hire PAs. They’re the ones you’ll want to talk to.

If you want to get on set, it becomes a game of Six Degrees of Separation.

*I have no idea if this story is true.

True story.*

Of course, with each step makes your connection all the more tenuous. Suppose the AD needs to hire a day player PA. Is he going to hire someone who knows an executive at network post who knows the post coordinator who knows the production coordinator who knows the AD? Or is she going to hire one of the regular PA’s buddies?

You should also look at it as a long game. Right now, you’re at a studio. Your next step is to get on a show, in any capacity. If that means you get a post PA gig because you’ve been friendly with the co-producer,4 so be it.

From there, start making friends with the ADs and 2nds and 2nd 2nds every time you go to set to pick up a hard drive. You probably won’t be a set PA this season, but maybe next season, or on another show down the road.

One more thing: don’t be afraid to tell people what you want to do. Especially as an intern. People love to help out (assuming you’re a good intern), and finding you work is a common way of showing gratitude.

You tell them you want to be a set PA, the next time they hear from the grapevine that some show is looking for a set PA, your name will be the one that pops into their heads.

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. My grandfather’s name!
  2. The others are accounting, production, the writers, and casting, for some reason.
  3. You can’t call it the “post office.”
  4. Fun fact: the head of the post production department is almost always a co-producer, not to be confused with the myriad writing co-producers your show may have.

The Anonymous Production Assistant’s Blog

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Comments closed

How to Dress for a Studio or Network

Evelyn has found herself in a fortunate position:

A family contact has arranged for my son to have lunch with a VP of Production at a major studio.  This may not lead to a job, but hopefully he will end up having a valuable contact.

Lunch will be in the studio cafeteria, with a tour to follow.  How should he dress?

Evelyn’s son is already approaching this the right way. He’s just having lunch, not begging for a job or presuming that he’s even ready for a particular position. Making connections, that’s all.

The thing to remember is, being at a studio or a network is not like working on a show. They are much more corporate; the sound stage is like the factory floor.

He is not as excited as I would be, standing next to a Tesla.

This.

My second career.

Not this.

One of the great things about being a PA is that you can wear (pretty much) whatever you want. Comfort and practicality take precedence over dressing fancy. But if you want to get behind a desk and tell the crew what’s what, you’ll need to dress the part.

If you’re having lunch with one of the suits, and later applying to be one of those suits, you should  wear what we from the Midwest call “church clothes.” Slacks, button up shirt, nice shoes (not tennis shoes/sneakers). A tie, if it matches the outfit. A literal suit wouldn’t be amiss, unless you’re meeting at Radford in August. Fuck that.

On that subject, definitely wear deodorant. Shave, comb your hair, brush your teeth.

Women have a lot more options,1 which can therefore be a lot more confusing: anything from a pantsuit to a nice dress and flats or heels.

It might be easier to tell you what not to wear: jeans; anything that can be construed as slutty;2 uncomfortable shoes (because you’ll look silly); too comfortable shoes like sneakers or flip flops; a shitload of accessories (they’re distracting). Hair should be neat, whatever that means for your hair texture.

And don’t do your eyebrows like this…

Seriously. Nope.

Nope.

Lastly, don’t listen to me. Talk to one of the costumers on whatever show you’re on. They’ll have a much better idea of what looks good.

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. One of many reasons I enjoy being on set.
  2. I understand that that’s a problematic word, but listen, shut up. You understand what I mean, and we don’t need to get into a debate on the semiotics of the patriarchy. If you’re applying for a real job, that means you’re not in your Womyn’s Stydies class anymore.

The Anonymous Production Assistant’s Blog

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments closed

Property Master Jim Falkenstein

Today’s episode features a very enthusiastic prop master, Jim Falkenstein.

He talks with TAPA about on-set dressers, brain cheese, unscrupulous prop masters, and Val Kilmer’s cigarette lighter.

Check out Jim’s website, including the prop mistake of the week.

The producer of today’s episode was Chris Henry, who also wrote the theme.

If you like the show, please rate and review us on iTunes. You can also subscribe via Stitcher, or with the Crew Call xml feed.  Back episodes of Crew Call can be found on the Anonymous Production Assistant website.

To help support Crew Call, simply click on the Amazon banner before you go shopping.

The Anonymous Production Assistant’s Blog

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments closed

TAPA Meetup in July

It’s July. It’s hot. You need a drink.

It usually is.

Milk was a bad choice…

So why not come on down to Joxer Daly’s on Sunday, July 20? We can all cool off, relax, and make new friends in the summer heat.

The address is 11168 Washington Blvd Culver City, CA 90232:

It’s located right off the 405, which is convenient for pretty much everybody. And since it’s a Sunday, the freeway won’t be a parking lot for once.

The new TV season is almost upon us. Before it takes over your life, come on out and have a few drinks.

Let us know you’re coming on the Facebook page, and invite your friends!

The Anonymous Production Assistant’s Blog

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments closed

Slow Down for your Waistline – Tips from eni’s Wellness Experts

place setting, plate, knife, fork resized 600

Do you remember growing up? All those times your mother told you to “slow down”, “Chew your food! You’re going to choke!” Did you know that the average American spends just 11 minutes eating a typical meal? It seems our mothers do in fact have cause for concern when it comes to our eating habits.

Outside of the very real threat of choking due to eating too fast there are a lot of issues that can arise from eating too quickly including: overeating, indigestion and weight gain. Each of these issues are all too common and have become an epidemic in our society in recent years.

Here are some of the benefits of slowing down while eating:

Weight Loss

It takes about 20 min after you have eaten enough to make your stomach stretch for your body to produce the hormones that tell your brain that you have had enough to eat. Taking your time might mean you realize that you are satisfied sooner. A recent study was focused on individuals who were given a huge portion of pasta to eat on two separate occasions. On one occasion they were told to eat quickly and most finished eating within 9 minutes, the 2nd time they were told to eat slowly resulting in an average finish time of 22 minutes. Calorie measures were taken afterwards and the slower eating groups generally ate around 100 calories less of their meal, yet reported feeling less hungry afterward.

Better Food Choices

Taking the time to taste your food might start to affect the choices you make. Natural foods and processed foods have a very different consistency after a few chews, noticing this might help you make better choices in the long run.

More Time to Socialize

Using meal time to socialize not only helps slow your eating habits but can allow for some wonderful quality time with those who are important to you. Plan meals to be an event and the highlight of your day instead of something you just have to get through.

Improved Digestion

Digestion begins with chewing and doing this well eases the burden on your stomach leading to less indigestion, bloating and gas.

Solutions:

  • Slowing down takes practice, so give yourself time to make the adjustment.

  • Try setting down your utensils between bites.

  • Make a point of limiting distractions when you eat — watching TV or catching up on facebook can cause you to lose track of how much and how quickly you are eating.

  • Try to set aside 30 min to eat and USE the whole time! Try sharing a meal with someone else whenever possible to slow yourself down, taking time to converse during a meal can really help!

  • ENJOY your food, try to stop looking at eating as another task to get through in a day and instead make it worth savoring! This may lead to making better choices AND eating at a better pace!

eni’s BalanceHealth service is an enhanced Corporate Wellness Program developed with the medical expertise of the world-renowned Harvard School of Public Health to help your employees effectively take control of their health and effectively balance the competing demands of work and life – before personal problems effect professional performance.

Contact eni today to learn how you can develop a happier, healthier, more productive workforce!

 

Sources:

Study: J.Acad.Nutr.Diet 114:393, 2014

Content: Average time to eat: about.com healthy aging


Dynamic Work/Life Solutions Blog

Posted in Personal Assistant | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Run Your Business Well

Every individual tries their best to achieve success. They adopt every profession with some passion and then they do their best to carve a niche in that. It is always difficult to run a particular business as competition is increasing day by day. It is generally seen that most of the business houses hire some professional people so that they can keep on getting regular professional help. A professional assistant has been a very sought after profile as business assistance is in a great demand. The readers who are also under the same category can ease their burden with professional help. Many online links can be clicked for this purpose. There are many professional identities that relay help in this aspect and then they have been registered as the most reliable resource.

Professional Assistant is that pillar that can be depended on during the time of crises. There are many situations that require instant decisions and then there is a need for those who are well versed in decision making tendency. The professionals can be the only option in that situation. The search for those assistants can be made from those job searching sites where the resumes are uploaded by the aspirants only. These sites can be subscribed at by paying a nominal amount and then regular alerts can be received in that aspect. The suitable one can be hired as per the requirements of an organization. They are made clear about the rules and regulations and the conditions are also put forth. It is the time when they are told about the future aims of an organization so that regular steps can be taken in that regard. The aspirants who are hired are considered highly important to achieve those goals. This is the reason that every decision taken by them is given prime consideration so that the business can run successfully. Facilities management companies such as Fidelis Contract Service at 197-201 Streetly Road, Birmingham, B23 7AJ (Phone: 0121 683 6933)

The professional assistance is also provided by private organizations that provide a facility to hire their candidates. They have an expertise in training their candidates so that quality stuff can be ensured and good decisions can be taken at the time of need. These candidates have a great experience in the same stream and their professional career is justified by their career profile only. The kind of assistance that they provide is relevant enough and their decision can be worth spending time upon.

The contact details of professional assistants can be grabbed from the respective sites so that an instant help can be assured. It's also worth mentioning that to assist a personal assistant's operations, some sort of unified communications service may be needed, similar services are offered by Aitch Telecom, found at; Regus Building, Central Boulevard, Blythe Valley Business Park, Solihull B90 8AG. Telephone: 01564 330 802. Thus, last but not the least, it can be stated that there are many avenues in a business that need urgent care and attention and that attention can only be assured by those who have a deep insight for the same. It’s not just about doing hard work but this modern era is more focused on smart work. The individuals that are hired should be competent enough to handle the pace of competition so that a constant rate of success can be made sure for a particular business entity.