I just attended PA Bootcamp, and I thought it would be a good idea to write up an itty-bitty post about it because they seem to be getting some bad press from people that don’t actually know anything about them.
The basic question you should ask yourself after going to a class like that is “was it worth it?” My answer is a resounding “yes.”
The basic question you should ask me after I answer a question like that is “why the hell was it worth two-hundred dollars to attend a class for an entry level job?” My answer is “let me explain.”
PA Bootcamp’s job was to train me to be a fully capable production assistant. I honestly believe that they fulfilled their obligation. I’m confident that I can get a radio on my hip and not piss off the AD. I’m confident I can look at my paperwork, including call sheets, sides and anything else they would throw at me (as a PA, that probably isn’t much… but it is still more than you think) without scrambling.
Hell, I’m even confident I won’t have the deer-in-the-headlights look that the instructors there told me I would have regardless of whether I attended the camp or not. That might be because my ego is so large that Dr. Dre wrote a song about me.
I’m not stupid. I researched the company as much as I could before I actually sent them any of that digital money that lives in the world of Paypal. The negative things I read were relatively ridiculous.
All of the instructors I met were well established in the industry. I feel confident saying that because after they told me they were a producer, AD and long-time PA I went back to my hotel room and checked their IMDB creds. They weren’t lying. I didn’t think they were, but I decided to take the advice they gave me and act jaded.
An important thing to mention is that most of the training they give is devoted to being a SET PA. Being an office PA is a completely different thing. The job of an office PA is a job that can be learned rather quickly, and anyone with any experience in a working office can probably do it rather well. That’s because being an office PA is the equivalent of being a glorified gopher. I don’t have experience as an office PA, so I’m not the expert, but them’s the breaks. You’ll just have to trust me on that one.
The first day of class we got hammered with paperwork. This included terminology, radio etiquette, what not to do, sides, call sheets and what it will take to move up the ranks when you’ve paid your dues as a production assistant.
The second day we started by being given a headset, radio and three call sheets. Then we were sent away and hammered with questions. I crushed it, of course. But I should give some credit where it’s due and admit that if I hadn’t shown up to day one I would have probably walked away with a bruised ego.
Fortunately I heal damn quick. More fortunate is that I didn’t have to. The instructors did their job preparing me.
Anyway, if you’re thinking about getting into the work part of the movie industry because you want to be involved and you know that your script is going to take forever to sell and your director’s reel will take forever to get up to par and you can’t act for squat, I suggest dropping a little cash. Get the training. When you show up on set, I’m sure you’ll be appreciative.
I bet your AD will, too.