Category Archives: California

Vasquez Rocks and Charlie Brown Farms – Day Trip Near Los Angeles

Vasquez Rocks and Charlie Brown Farms –  Day Trip Near Los Angeles

 

Hey.

I wanted to write a quick post and share two new videos.  A few weeks ago, my friend Charles and I took a day trip to Vasquez Rocks.  I’m sure you’ve seen Vasquez Rocks, even if you don’t recognize the name, because it is in about 29384720639680 films and TV shows.  Most notably: Star Trek, Power Rangers, The Flintstones, Austin Powers, and Planet of the Apes.  It’s very easy to get to and right outside LA.

movie list star trektv shows films here

On our way back, we stopped at Charlie Brown Farms.  I didn’t really do much research before we went, so I was very confused when I arrived and there was no farm.  Basically it’s a shop that sells nostalgic candy, Texas BBQ, deliciously-unhealthy desserts, toys, gifts, and strange, life-size statues.  Outside you’ll find Santa, locked in a fence with a Pterodactyl, lion, horses, and the Eiffel Tower.  Why they are locked up, I have no idea.  Why they are even there, I have no idea.  I’m pretty sure you can buy some of them, though.  I guess putting dinosaurs outside your home would be kind of awesome.

“Which house does Randy live in?”

“Oh you can’t miss it.  It’s the one with the triceratops in the front yard!”

Anyway, if you’re planning a road trip near LA, make a pit stop at Charlie Brown Farms.

strange attractions california road trips

Salton Sea Road Trip: 4 Things you Absolutely, Undoubtedly, No-Question-About-It, Must See at Salton Sea Before You DIE

Salton Sea Road Trip: 4 Things you Absolutely, Undoubtedly, No-Question-About-It, Must See at Salton Sea Before You DIE!!

Wasn’t that such a Buzzfeed-esque/clickbait title? I feel like I could have perhaps pushed it a little further by adding “OMG!” or “…You won’t believe #4!”

Anyway, if you don’t want to read about my Salton Sea road trip, just watch my video of it here.  It’s short, upbeat, and gives you the gist of things:

That’s all.  Thanks for reading.

Just kidding.  I guess since you’re still reading you want to know the four things you absolutely, undoubtedly, no-question-about-it, must see at Salton Sea before you die.

Salton Sea is about three hours southeast of Los Angeles and used to be a top vacation destination for Californians.  Over time, the sea has slowly shrunk, and died, turning the once pristine beach community into a smelly ghost town.

1.  The Big, Smelly, Great Sea

The shrinking sea that smells like rotten eggs is definitely a must.  Different locations have different amenities.  If you go to the Salton Sea Recreation Area ($5) you’ll see a nice-looking beach*, with beautiful picnic tables and a visitor center.  You’ll also see piles of dead fish.  Or a fish on a stick!

*only from afar

Salton Sea Recreation Area

Salton sea palm trees

Salton Sea dead fish

If you go to Bombay Beach (free), however, you’ll first enter a town where you’re unsure if there’s anyone left living there (there are).  It’s tiny, but fascinating.  A few houses and trailers are in okay condition, while others are completely abandoned and falling apart.  The beach itself follows the latter. Rusted machinery, a pier, and random furniture litter the shoreline in each direction.

Salton Sea Bombay Beach

Salton Sea Bombay Beach 1

Salton Sea Bombay Beach 4

Salton Sea Bombay Beach 3

Salton Sea Bombay Beach 5

salton sea history

2.  Niland

If you follow the coast of the sea down to the southern tip, you’ll find the city of Niland.  Niland is a town that also looks like it is abandoned, yet isn’t.  It takes about 30 seconds to pass through, and there’s a gas station, a motel, a restaurant, and a broken pay phone.  We tried to stay at the motel, but there was no answer when we arrived.  Luckily, the restaurant we tried for lunch not only answered, but they were serving lunch until 2pm, and provided edible food.

Salton Sea niland cafe

Salton Sea niland pay phone

3.  Slab City/East Jesus

If you love hippies in the desert making art out of junk, you’ll love this place! The hippies also provide free tours in East Jesus.  Definitely go there.  The art is literally made out of junk.  I wasn’t being rude.  The rest of Slab City is unique too, as I was never quite sure what I was looking at.  Again, you’ll find trailers, “homes,”  art installations, and communal gathering areas for those individuals who enjoy living off the grid.

Salton Sea East Jesus 6

Salton Sea East Jesus 5

Salton Sea East Jesus 4

Salton Sea East Jesus 3

Salton Sea East Jesus 2

Salton Sea East Jesus 1

4.  Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain is probably the most popular stop for people visiting Salton Sea.  It’s, in my opinion, the most impressive piece of work in this area as it was created by one man, Leonard Knight.  Salvation Mountain is a hill that’s been painted in colorful Bible verses and Christian sayings.  There are rooms, passageways, stairs, and painted cars and trucks to explore.  Knight died a few years ago, but many people volunteer to keep the site from turning into the rest of the area.

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

Although my Salton Sea road trip was an enjoyable one and I find the abandoned/post-apocalyptic theme of the area fascinating, it was also kind of depressing to see.  Everything is dead or dying, and you’re essentially driving through a barren wasteland.  The remains of what used to be an exuberant and thriving community are found everywhere.  You can find homes that still have food in the pantry as though, one day, everyone rushed out and left for good.

empty road

To end on a less depressing note, I might be getting a new camera lens soon.  And last night, I ate six slices of pizza.

Go trip yourself!

How to Land a Production Assistant Job in the Film Industry – Actionable Steps and Advice

Actionable Steps to Finding an Entry-Level Job in Hollywood’s Film and Television Industry

I take road trips when I can, but being a Production Assistant currently consumes most of my life. I wrote about what I do as a PA earlier.  Now I’d like to write about how I became one.


EBOOK UPDATE

I’ve turned this article into an ebook on Amazon!   If you like what you read, please consider purchasing a copy.  Full disclosure: It’s very, very similar to what’s in this article (with a few bonus sections at the end). If you’re interested, check it out on Amazon, here:

How to Become a Production Assistant in Hollywood: Actionable Steps and Advice to Land the Job


Finding an entry-level position in Hollywood is harder than you think. But thanks to my struggles and stupid mistakes, I’ve learned a few things to help anyone get started on the right track.

Most blogs that talk about becoming a PA just tell you to “network!” and “be persistent!” And although those two things are important, those blogs usually fail to tell you how or even why.  I wanted to write something that went a little more in depth.  In order to start off on the right foot in Hollywood, you also have to learn how the industry works.  This post has nearly 5000 words, but I hope you find it just as useful and educational as it is long.

WHO THIS ARTICLE IS FOR:
  • Students still in school.
  • Recent grads trying to break into the industry.
  • Any young person looking to switch careers and make it in Hollywood (but any age is possible).
  • Anyone who just wants to read how it all works.

Warner Brothers Studio Tour
Warner Brothers Studio Tour

It’s been over two years since I moved to L.A.  I’d say I officially made it “in” the business in early 2014 when I landed a PA gig on my first real TV show.  I had had a lot of small (and unpaid) PA jobs prior to that, but never in major television.  It took me longer than some to get this coveted entry-level position, but certainly less time than others.

My boss always likes to say, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”  That saying definitely applies to getting into the entertainment business.  There are so many routes someone can take to get to the exact same spot, it’s impossible to cover all of them.  But for purposes of this article, I’m going to focus on a young person trying to get their first production assistant/entry-level job on a major film, TV show, or at a legitimate production company.

I surely did not know what I was doing when I first got here.  I naively thought that because being a production assistant is the lowest position on the totem pole, it’d be an easy job to snag.  I thought that because I was college educated and went to film school and worked on some short indie films back home, I’d be at an advantage in L.A.  I thought that because I knew a few people living and working in the city, I’d be fine.  Nope.  After my fluke one month stint as an apprentice editor, I learned the harsh realities of finding a job in Los Angeles.  I went into debt, got strung along at unpaid internships, and was weeks away from calling it quits and heading back home.

It was frustrating.  I was definitely qualified to be a production assistant.  It’s an entry-level position.  I knew I could be better than many, if not most, of the PAs already working on shows.  Why wasn’t this working out for me?  I spent over a year struggling to find steady work.  As I said in my first blog post, I was sleeping on air mattresses (plural, because they kept popping) for over a year before I could afford a real bed.

But last year, I finally got the phone call I was waiting for: “We’d love to have you on our team.  Can you start Monday?”  And that Monday I started working on a TV show at one of the major studios in Hollywood as a PA.  I got my foot in the door.

Looking back, I made a lot of mistakes.  I wasted so much time on things I shouldn’t have.  I missed opportunities that were staring me in the face.  I turned down a potentially great job because it wasn’t perfect!   But in the end, it all worked out.  I’m in the industry now.  I can’t say with 100% certainty I will be safely employed for the rest of my life.  But I feel confident that I have the know-how to keep afloat during the rough times. So now I’d like to extend my PA knowledge to you.  I want to help the newcomers flocking to Hollywood avoid the rookie mistakes I made.  My advice and my way are not the only routes to landing a job.  But I truly believe they will give you a tremendous head start in understanding how Hollywood works and understanding how you can put yourself in opportune situations to land the job.

Friends set

CHANGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS

The way Hollywood works is not the same as how the rest of the world works.

BEING COLLEGE EDUCATED DOES NOT MEAN YOU DESERVE ANYTHING IN THIS BUSINESS.

Brutal, but true.  In most fields, your college education is a major contributing factor in securing a job.  Your training in school is supposed to give you the skills to competently work at a business right away. Sure, it’s not always that cut and dry, especially in today’s economy, but for the most part, it’s true.  In the entertainment industry, a college education doesn’t guarantee you to a job right away, or even a job at all.  Anyone, educated or not, can become a PA and work their way up to director, producer, editor, etc. Everyone has to start at the bottom.  Everyone has to prove their worth first.  Yes, there are exceptions, but your Director of Photography credit on that student film you made means nothing in Tinseltown.  You can’t expect to land a DP position on anything major when you first arrive here.  The credits just don’t transfer.  It’s like trying to apply to a prestigious art school and saying you were the best finger painter in kindergarten.  It doesn’t fly.

Don’t think having a formal education is completely worthless though.  It can still be a huge benefit in jumpstarting your career.  It’s just not a requirement 0r a guaranteed ticket in.

IT’S ALL ABOUT WHO YOU KNOW.

I used to hate this saying.  I’d argue, “But I’m a hard worker. Doesn’t that matter? Why should ‘who I know’ limit me?”  Sure, you can complain about how unfair it is or you can learn to play the game.  I actually like this saying now because it puts me in control.  Who I know helps get me jobs! I know that if I need to meet a certain person to get the job, it’s up to me to figure out how to meet them.

You don’t have to be friends with A-list actors and directors to get a job here.  The best way, I’ve found, is meeting a friend of a friend.  And everyone has a friend in the area you’re trying to get into.  Build enough relationships with these people, and show that you’re a hard worker, and eventually someone will pass your name along to someone who’s hiring.

Also, once you’re already in the business you’ll love that it’s “all about who you know.”  The people you work with become the people who hire/refer you for your next job.  How great is that?  You’re in total control of your success.  This way of doing things is much easier than sending in a resume blind and hoping for the best.

A LOT IS ABOUT LUCK AND TIMING.

Sometimes getting the job is just about luck and timing.  Some people move to Hollywood and within a week they land an assistant position to a top television producer.  Are they the best person for the job? Not necessarily.  The person happened to move at the right time.  The producer happened to need an assistant at that time.  And their needs just happened to line up.  I’d say a big part of how I landed my network TV gig was luck and timing.  It may not be fair, but there’s a lot you can do to make sure those doors of opportunity are always open.

SantaMonicaBeachSunset

ACTION STEPS TO TAKE

START HERE IF YOU’RE STILL IN SCHOOL

So I know I probably depressed you when I said having a college education doesn’t mean anything in this industry.  And that’s true from the standpoint of entitlement and working your way up.  But if you’re still in school, you do have a huge advantage.  You qualify to apply for internships – internships at major, LA-based companies.  Most of the good internships require you to currently be enrolled in school.  And there are a lot of great companies looking for interns! If it’s possible, I highly recommend moving out to LA for a summer (or a semester) and applying to as many internships as you can.  It’s expensive to live out here, but if you find the right internship, it can be absolutely worth it.  These internships have major advantages:

1.  They give you reputable L.A. experience, which is what you want on your resume.  Getting a “Video Intern” credit at your local library back home isn’t quite as impressive as say, “post-production intern” at a LA-based company.

2.  They give you direct contacts and future possibilities of employment in L.A.  If your employers like you, they’ll want to hire you   eventually.  If not, they can still help you find work elsewhere through their contacts.

Here’s an example of just how beneficial L.A. internships can be.  My friend Nick got a job right out of school.  We had very similar skill levels and educations.  The only real difference was that Nick had three solid L.A. internship credits on his resume.  I had one credit from Michigan when I was a media center video intern.  Nick’s internships were at a post house for music videos, a post house for commercials, and a small production company producing reality TV.  All three were well-known names in the industry.

 When Nick graduated, one of the companies offered him a position. And when applying for other jobs, he landed multiple interviews.  Months later, we were talking and I realized we applied for many of the same jobs.  How many interviews did I land? 0.  I didn’t even receive a followup email.  Nick was swimming in choices.

I know, other factors might have been at play.  For example, it could have been good timing and luck, as I mentioned earlier.  Or maybe Nick had a killer resume.  But I’m confident that when companies are looking for an entry-level candidate, and they see you’ve worked for recognizable, established companies, your resume is going to go to the top of the pile.

It’s no surprise that internships help get you a job, but in this business, it’s the L.A. internships that really do the trick.

TAKE ACTION:

Look up your favorite companies and see if they offer summer internships.  Also, don’t be afraid to use some of the more “generic” websites like Craigslist or Indeed to look for companies.  They post many opportunities.  Just make sure you always do your own research before taking any job.  If you’re looking for an entertainment-based website that posts internships, I’ve had success using EntertainmentCareers.net.

chinese theater

START HERE IF YOU’VE ALREADY GRADUATED OR YOU’RE JUST STARTING OUT IN HOLLYWOOD

Hey, you can still get a job here too!  You may not have the connections or a killer resume yet, but you can get them pretty quickly.  Here’s what I suggest:

1.  GET A PART-TIME JOB SOONER RATHER THAN LATER 

If you’re moving out to LA, give yourself a set amount of time you’ll look for industry work, before finding a part-time job. If you don’t find work in that amount of time, take a part-time job, in any industry! Why?  First, you’re giving yourself a set amount of time to focus on one thing and one thing only: landing an entertainment job.  Second, a set time will keep you hungry during the search.  You didn’t move out to LA to work at a grocery store, so you’ll be motivated to look harder as the days fly by.  Third, you need money. Duh.  And if you don’t find a job within your set amount of time, this keeps you from going into debt.  As an added bonus, you’ll meet coworkers who might be in or know people in the industry.  I made the mistake of looking for industry work, getting an unpaid internship (thinking it would turn into paid work) and going way too many months without an income.  In my mind, the paid work was always just around the corner, so there was no reason to get a temporary job at TJ’s.  Big mistake.  Get a job and start making money.  You can always quit when something better comes along.

2.  USE CRAIGSLIST. IT CAN BE YOUR FRIEND

You can find legitimate, full-time work and/or small gigs that will lead to the full-time work right on Craigslist.  Start by looking to fill up your weekends with PA work on small music videos and short films.  Someone is always trying to make the next Star Wars on a $1 budget.  There is a lot of crap out there, and it’s difficult to sort through it all, but I believe it’s worth the effort.  If you have a halfway decent resume and you can convince the job poster that you’re a hard-working and dependable individual, these jobs are pretty easy to snag.  The pay might be $50 a day, free lunch, or even nothing.  But these gigs can lead to real opportunities.  Many people will argue with me on this, but if you’re new to the industry or LA, working for free can still be beneficial.  You may be working for free, but that doesn’t mean everyone else on the crew is.  They may have connections and friends they can introduce you to.  Or they’ll want to hire you for the next job, which will be paid.  Craigslist is a great place to start filling up your resume and make connections quickly.  A craigslist gig is actually what led me to my network TV gig.

A quick note about working for free:  Only work for free if you’re learning something new and/0r it will help you advance.  If you’re not learning anything to help you grow in your field, find something else.

3.  SIGN UP FOR ALL THE FILM JOB SITES, EMAIL LISTS, AND FACEBOOK GROUPS YOU CAN FIND

Make it a daily routine to go through each site, multiple times a day, looking for new jobs you can apply for.  Start here:

JOB SITES

Some of the most popular job-hunting sites in the industry:

  • StaffMeUp.com – This used to be my favorite.  An entertainment job website/network that posts new jobs each day.  Jobs range from PA to Producer and I’ve had good results with this website.
  • Mandy.com – You’ll hear about this one a lot.  New jobs are posted daily in a variety of crew positions.
  • EntertainmentCareers.net – Mentioned earlier, it’s another well-known choice.

FACEBOOK:

Follow your favorite companies and job sites.  Many times they will post ads on their social media pages making it easy for you to see new jobs right on your news feed.

Also look for closed groups you can join such as:

  • “I Need a Production Assistant” –  You’ll have to request to join, but once you’re in, you can connect directly with whoever is hiring.  Anyone can post a job, and since it’s a Facebook group, you can get a notification as soon as they post it.
  • “I Need a Producer” – This group also posts PA positions for some reason.

There are plenty of these types of groups on Facebook.  Spend some time looking through them.

EMAIL JOB LISTS:

This one can be tricky, because you have to find a way to get on the lists.  This is where knowing the right people can help.  Many schools have alumni email lists you can get on that send out regular job postings to a group of people.  People love helping out someone who went to their school.  First, find out if your school has an email list you can get on.  If not, find a friend who can get on one and have them forward you the emails.  Some may frown upon this, but remember, most job posters are sending out job opportunities via email in hopes that their network will bring in a good catch for them.  In other words, they expect their emails to be forwarded.  If not, they’ll say so.

UTA:

Google “UTA Job list”.  It’s one of the most well-known entertainment industry job lists not available to the public.  Although a quick Google search will show you how easy it is to find. It mostly covers assistant and entry-level positions.

4.  ASK THE RIGHT PEOPLE FOR ADVICE

People love to give advice and help others.  Once you start meeting people in the industry, work on building your relationships with them and start asking them questions.  Consider even asking if you can shadow them for a day.  When I was on the hunt for PA work, I met an editor for coffee and asked him a list of questions about the business.  I told him that I eventually want to become an editor and I’m just trying to get my foot in the door.  He gave a lot of great advice: PA knowledge, how to move up, what to expect, etc.  After our meeting, he kept his ears open for me and forwarded any job opportunities he received.  We still keep in touch and he always knows 1. When I’m looking for work and 2. My ultimate goal of becoming an editor.  This is what you ideally want all of your connections to know.  If you have multiple contacts who know these two things about you, you’ll have your own personal job search team working while you sleep.

Also find forums and websites where you can ask general questions about the business.  For example, there are many online communities for active filmmakers and editors.

Here are a few communities you can learn from and reach out to:

Many people who are already established in the industry are active in these kinds of forums.  Spend some time finding ones that apply to you and ask for advice.

I also like anonymousproductionassistant.com.  It’s not really a forum or community, but the author posts common questions and answers for people trying to get started in the business.  It’s always really solid advice.

 5.  BE SMART.  HAVE YOUR NETWORK DO THE WORK FOR YOU

If you already know people in the business, make sure you check in with them regularly and let them know you’re still looking for work.  For example, if you met someone who has connections during one of your weekend Craigslist gigs (and they liked you), follow up with him/her.  You don’t want to bother them, but you want them to keep your name in the back of their mind in case they hear of anything.  Don’t check in more than once every month or two, though.  This is a good strategy when your current gig is about to end too.

6.  COLD CALL 

If you’re interested in working for a company that doesn’t currently have a job posting: cold call.  Go old school.  Find an entertainment biz directory online that lists all the entertainment companies in your area.  Print it out, and highlight all the companies you’re interested in.  Call them up, one by one.  Don’t email. Don’t make it easy for them to ignore you.  Say who you are, what you do, and ask if they have any PA positions available.  Be specific and confident in what you want.  If they say no, ask if there’s someone you can send your resume to for later use.  Again, if you can keep yourself in the back of their mind, when they are looking to hire, you’ll be one of the first people they think of.

This won’t work for every company.  For example, you can’t just call up Warner Brothers and ask for a job. They’ll just direct you to their career website.  However, for many smaller companies and production houses, they’ll be impressed by your boldness.  Some may be annoyed, but who cares. Most won’t. And you need a job! If you impress them on the phone and follow through with your resume, you’re making their hiring process easier, and increasing your chances.

Note: If a job posting says “Please No Calls,” you do not call!

7.  ALWAYS WORK ON GROWING YOUR NETWORK, 24/7

Make friends.  Join meet up groups related to film (and not related).  Be nice to everyone.  Ask someone out to coffee.  Befriend everyone you meet. Do things you wouldn’t normally do to make connections in the business. Everyone is a connection out here. The best way to find a job is to find a friend who’s in the business or knows someone in the business.  The computer can only get you so far.  You’ve probably heard it too many times already: It’s all about who you know.  Networking is extremely important in any career field, but to land a job in the entertainment business, it’s probably the most important thing.  Also, unlike most jobs which last years, if not decades, most entertainment industry jobs last months.  You usually get hired for the duration of the show, film, or commercial, and once it ends, you’re looking for the next job.  That’s why networking is so critical.  If you don’t continue to build your network, you won’t have anyone to help you find a job when your gig ends.  Networking never stops.

When I first moved out here, I had a job as an apprentice editor.  Because I was new, and unsure how the industry worked, I didn’t go out of my way to connect with my coworkers.  I heard horror stories of people getting fired for saying the wrong thing to the editors.  I did my work well but I kept my head down.  I didn’t ask questions.  I didn’t get to know anyone.  When the gig ended, no one even knew I wanted to be an editor.  I just left without making any connections.  I was an idiot.  It was only a month-long gig, but I had plenty of time to plant the seed.  This was such a missed opportunity for me.  Remember when I said I want to be an editor?  This could have been a direct ticket in.

8.  BUILD A TEAM ON THE SIDE

This not only helps you gain experience and build a network, but it’s also critical for you to be ready to go when an opportunity presents itself later in you career.  If you want to be famous director, you should be directing stuff now.  If you want to be an editor, you should be editing stuff now.  You may make your living by being a PA, but you should be crafting your skill, in where you want to be, by making your own stuff.  You never know when a great opportunity will come up.  Be ready.

Get a team together and make your own stuff.  People love to find a group they can regularly work with and rely on.  Plus it’s just smart.  If you need to find a team, consider joining a Meetup group like the LA Film Collective (active as of early 2015). They get together about once a month to shoot a short film.  Every crew position is open for you to gain experience.  There are a handful of Meetups like this one!

We live in a great time when making videos can be relatively cheap.    Good cameras and equipment are affordable.  We have sites like Youtube and Vimeo where you can promote yourself and gain a following.  Take advantage of it all.  The tradition way of moving up the ladder still exists, but so many alternate ways have opened up, too.  If you’re doing things on the side, you’re just increasing your chances for success.

EXTRA: DON’T BE PICKY

Soon after I moved to LA, I landed an interview for a wedding videography company.  I wasn’t very happy about it though, because I didn’t really want to edit wedding videos.  After all, that’s not why I moved to LA.  Using this logic, I decided to not even go to the interview.  WTH, Randy!?  I guess I was worried I’d get stuck there and be in the wrong field for too long.  Never turn down an interview.  You never know what will happen.  Had I taken the interview and landed the job, I would not have gone thousands of dollars into debt, I probably would have learned a plethora of new editing skills, and who knows, maybe I’d have loved it. Things worked out eventually, but don’t be like me.  If you are offered an interview or job, don’t not take it just because it’s not perfect.   There are a thousand ways to skin a cat, remember?  You can still get to where you want to go even if you start somewhere else.

hollywood1

RESUME TIPS

Even though I said it’s all about who know, resumes are still used in this industry.  It’s important that your resume is top-notch.  I’m always amazed at what my bosses remember about me, months later, from reading my resume.

“Oh you worked on that ABC show right?”

“Hey, honor student, get me some coffee!”

Screw all the resume advice you hear from so-called experts.  The entertainment business is different.  Get rid of that pointless objective.  Margin size doesn’t matter.  Times New Roman font is just fine.  Don’t write that you work well with others.  You’re a functioning member of society.  You better work well with others!

Here’s what’s important:

  • Your resume should tell the reader exactly who you are at first glance.  Don’t make them search.  Get rid of unnecessary detail.  A list of your credits and few personal details is a good resume in this business.
  • List your job title.  You don’t need to describe your duties unless it’s something unique.  Those who hire a PA know what a PA does.
  • List the show name, production company, and the network or type of media it was.  Location and date are optional, especially if you have time gaps and no L.A. experience on your resume.  But neither is a resume killer.
  • If you are applying for a PA position DO NOT say you were a DP, director, or producer, on a student film.  Drop that stuff.  The L.A. film industry does not care.
  • Film degree? Graduated with honors?  Sure, keep it on there! People like to see you’re serious about the industry and know at least something.
  • If you want to list your skills/attributes, keep it short and pertaining to the job you’re applying for.  Heavy phone experience, going on runs, reliable car, personal laptop, and script or binder organization are a few good ones. Show them you already know what they’re looking for.
  • Tailor your resume to the job you’re applying for.  Do not just have one generic resume.
  • Are you from the Midwest? You’re in luck. The stereotype in L.A. is that people from the Midwest are hard working and dependable. They like us here. Fit that info on your resume somewhere ;).  Kidding. Kind of.  But I did land my first major PA gig this way.

FINAL NOTE

If you are lazy or incompetent you will leave this business as fast as you got in.  Show your superiors you want to be there.  Impress them.  Make them happy they hired you.  This is what keeps you employed.  Hollywood is small and word travels fast.  Don’t give anyone a reason to not like you.

There is no single, clear-cut way to break into the industry.  However, I do believe that if you follow the advice given above, you’ll get in much faster – or at the very least, you’ll avoid my stupid mistakes.

santamonicapiersunset2

If you have any questions, please go ahead and ask in the comments below.  Or connect with me on social media:

www.instagram.com/roadtriprandy22

www.twitter.com/randyalanmedia

www.facebook.com/roadtriprandy22

 

Check out the ebook on Amazon, here:

How to Become a Production Assistant in Hollywood: Actionable Steps and Advice to Land the Job

 

DISCLAIMER: Road Trip Randy is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Day Trip to Point Dume, Malibu / Iron Man’s Home

Point Dume – One of Malibu’s Top Scenic Spots

Remember that scene in Iron Man 3 where Tony Stark’s home gets blown up!?  Where his mansion goes crumbling into the Pacific?? (That wasn’t a spoiler, by the way.  That scene is in the trailer.) Anyway, not too long ago I went to Malibu, specifically to where that tragedy took place.  Point Dume. Anyone can go visit the exact location.  It’s a very beautiful area.  It doesn’t surprise me at all that Tony chose it for his home.

point dume malibu california

tony stark home
This is Malibu in the middle of winter!  But let’s be honest.  It looks the same in the summer.
iron man
Romantic spray paint prom invite.

I took a day trip to Point Dume with my friend Charles.  Malibu has plenty of great places to visit, but what makes Point Dume special is that it encompasses everything you imagine Malibu to be, in one place.  It has an incredible view of the ocean from a bluff, access to Zuma Beach on the right, a rocky coastline on the left, all backdropped by huge homes (which managed to escape the attack on Tony’s undamaged, from what I could tell) and the Santa Monica mountain range.   If you’re short on time, but want to see Malibu, I highly recommend Point Dume.  You can even drive through the mountains to get there, which is an experience in itself.  The only bad thing is that this “state beach” only has eight, maybe 12, parking spots.  No joke. What kind of state park only has a few spots?! Welcome to California, Randy.

zuma beach point dume
Zuuuuuuuuma!
point dume 2
This dude was probably looking for some Iron Man swag in the water.

Visiting Malibu and Point Dume was definitely a fun day trip.  I’d love to eventually go to all of the big SoCal beaches and see which obnoxiously wealthy beach community I like best.

point dume

malibu

You may have noticed I add a video in most of my posts.  Since I work in television, I’ve decided I want to start being a little more active in my craft during my free time.  I’m hoping to improve my skills beyond “excellent lunch ordering” and “great binder organization.”  So I’ve been bringing my camera along on my road trips to practice filming and editing more.  Here’s my latest from Point Dume:

Have you been to Malibu? What are your favorite spots?

Doing Things in L.A. – Griffith Observatory

When I was living in Seoul, I made a list of 50 things I wanted to do or see in the city before I left.  My students (all adults) always loved looking at that list and asking me why I put certain things on it.  It was a great conversation starter.  Most of those things on that list were just the usual tourist attractions I read about in guide books.  But at the end of my year in Korea, I had checked off almost all of them.  The only things I never accomplished were “Swim across the Han River,” (my students told me I’d die trying) “visit the Blue House,” and “eat Beondegi.”  Beondegi is silkworm larvae.  It had a very distinct smell and was sold everywhere.  I don’t know how I missed out on trying it.

Anyway, the reason I brought up the list is because I was surprised how many of my students had never done many of the things on it either.  Seoul is a giant city, yes, but I couldn’t comprehend how someone could live in a city for most of their life and not go to the most popular attractions.

Then I moved to L.A. and I began turning into the students I criticized.  At first, I went to all the places any tourist would: Hollywood and Sunset Blvd, the Hollywood sign, Santa Monica Pier, Beverly Hills, etc.  As I began to feel more and more like a resident though, I stopped exploring and stayed at the places I was familiar with around my apartment.  Recently, I realized that when you live in a big city, you feel like you have all the time in the world to explore.  You’re not a tourist rushing to see all the sites in a few days.  You can visit them whenever you want, as many times as you want.  So you put them off, and do lazy things like watch TV and go to your usual bars instead.  You’ll get to it later.  Although, like many others, you never do.

So this month, I decided to go to one place I’ve been putting off for over a year- Griffith Observatory.  Considering it’s practically in my backyard, it’s amazing that I’ve never been there until now.  I took these pictures with my new GoPro Hero 4, which I’m very impressed with.  Check this place out!

I have no problem exploring places outside of LA, but maybe it’s time I do some exploring inside the city too.  I practically write “I Hate LA” in all of my posts, but I’m clearly missing out on a few things here.  Perhaps I should make another “50 things to do/see” list.  If I do, swimming across (or down) the L.A. river will be one of them!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!  See you next year.

The Perks of Being a Production Assistant in Hollywood

Since my life currently consists of spending 12-14 hours a day at a studio,  I thought I’d take a few minutes to write about my life as a production assistant in Hollywood.  Yes, production assistants (PAs) are the lowest on the entertainment industry totem pole, and yes, you’ll see a lot of articles floating around about how terrible it is to be one.  But being a PA isn’t that bad, and it certainly has some great perks.

I’ve been a set and office PA (working for the team that films the show/movie/commercial) and a Post PA (working for the team that edits and finalizes the show/movie/commercial) on many different projects since moving out here.  The PA duties vary from project to project, but essentially, you’re the assistant to everyone you work with.  You do whatever they ask, with a smile on your face.  Sometimes it’s getting lunch for the team, setting up chairs, printing out documents, and making DVD copies.  Other times it’s driving two hours away to get a producer their favorite salad.  As a PA, you have to expect you’ll be asked to do anything.  But here are the perks:

Getting to go on all the studio lots and sets for free

As a PA, you’ll either work on or be asked to drive to any of the major studios around Hollywood.  You just have to flash your drive-on pass at the gate and go right in.  It’s fun to see the general public waiting in line for a tour or sitting on the tram, knowing they paid a small fortune to see something you get to see every day.  Also, you pretty much have free roam of the entire lot.  On any given day you might see your favorite actor walking around or your favorite show being filmed.

Look, a fake street corner! And yes, even I paid for a studio tour one time.  Anyone recognize the show/town?
Look, a fake street corner! And yes, even I paid for a studio tour one time. Anyone recognize the show/town?

Working with major talent (celebrities)

Even better than just seeing, you might get to directly work with major talent, too.  They’re certainly just normal people, but it’s still fun to interact with them, if allowed.  As a PA, you might be in charge of keeping their trailer tidy or walking/driving them to the stage.  Sure, you may get a few divas, but most of the actors are very professional and nice.

Catered lunches and unlimited crafty

Many times lunch will be paid for by the production.  Sometimes, as a PA, you’ll be the one running out to get it, but a free meal is a free meal.  It gets even better when lunch is catered.  They spare no expense to feed top-level talent and crew.  Health nuts, vegans, and junk-food enthusiasts will all be pleased.

Crafty, or unlimited snacks, is another perk.  If someone can’t wait for lunch, there’s usually a whole kitchen, room, or table filled with candy, chips, fruit, cereal, desserts, etc, that’s available for anyone to eat at any time of the day.

Getting to watch your TV show/film on the big screen in a private theater

This is a perk that would mostly only apply to Post PAs.  Once an episode/movie is close to being finished, it gets played in a huge, private theater for important people to make notes and to finalize sound.  The producers and editors will sometimes bring along a PA just in case anyone needs anything.  Many times you just get to sit back, relax, and watch an advance screening of a TV show that everyone else will have to wait another two months to see.

Wrap Parties

Wrap, which means the production has finished filming, usually follows with a wrap party.  If you worked on the production, you’re invited to the party with all the cast and crew.  Unfortunately, when you’re a Post PA, and they film in another state, you can’t go.  You sometimes get the invite, but sadly you just have to throw it away.  As a set/office PA, you can definitely go.  I’ve heard the wrap parties can be quite a blast, but unfortunately, I’ve never been to one.  All of the productions I’ve worked on so far either didn’t have one or I was a Post PA working in another state.  Someday I’ll get to take advantage of this perk!

Wrap Gifts

When a show finishes, the producers or director (or people way more important than you) may give the crew a gift as a way of saying thanks for all of their hard work.  This can be anything from a shirt, to a watch, to amusement park tickets.

Being privy to show information before the public

Many times PAs have access to scripts and early cuts.  It’s always funny to see the public’s reaction to things you knew about months ago.  I love reading reviews, fan theories, and incorrect spoilers about shows I worked on.  Of course, you’re not allowed to share any of the information you know, so no one knows that you know, and therefore, you’re not special. But at least you know you know.  8)

So the next time you hear a PA complaining about their job, remind them how good they have it -unless they just drove two hours for a salad.  That’s just cruel!

Is that New York City?!?!
Is that New York City?!?!                                                     No.

Palm Springs Road Trip – Don’t Visit in September

coachella nature

Update: Check out my Palm Springs road trip video above.

If you’re thinking about taking a vacation in Palm Springs, I have one piece of advice for you: Don’t visit in September.  I made the non-SoCal native mistake of assuming September would be cool in temperature like most normal places.  Apparently, September is California’s hottest month of the year.  The weekend I went to Palm Springs seemed to verify that.  And being in a desert only made it worse.

Basic Info

For those of you, like me, who know nothing about California (except that its residents believe it’s the greatest place on earth) Palm Springs is a small town located in the middle of the desert.  It’s about a two hour drive east of LA, right outside Joshua Tree.  The drive there is interesting because at first you look around and just see mountains, sand, and dirt everywhere.  Then all of a sudden, everything turns bright green and you see a welcome sign for Palm Springs.  Every road is lined with perfectly straight palm trees and well-groomed plants.  Shops, streets, and restaurants are up-to-date yet still have a lot of character.  It’s hard to believe such a clean, wealthy, and modern city sits in the middle of a desolate desert.

One great thing about Palm Springs is that the city can act as a central hub to all the other sites and attractions on your road trip or vacation.  the Coachella Valley, Joshua Tree, and Salton Sea are all easy day trips from Palm Springs.  People go to Palm Springs to get away for a weekend.  Golf, bars, pools, and casinos become their relaxation.  Many people move there to retire.  It’s not exactly a city to go do and see stuff.  But don’t let that stop you from making a visit there!  Spend an afternoon exploring the city and then spend the rest of your time outside it.

Let’s get back to why you shouldn’t visit in September:

  • It will be a scorching 115 at any time of the day.
  • You won’t see other people (This might be a positive thing depending who you ask).
  • The people you will see are mostly old.  Although this has nothing to do with September, I’m sure.
  • The #1 attraction is closed.  The tram/cable car up to Mt. San Jacinto was closed for two weeks when we visited. 😦

coachella oasis

This makes it sound like a really depressing place, but I want to make it clear that I did have a good time.  Here’s what I enjoyed:

The people are very friendly- probably because they never see anyone in September and get lonely. Pam, our dinner waitress, would strike up a five minute conversation with us every time she came to bring our food or drinks.  The single woman (probably age 65) behind us joined in too.

Cheap prices.  Did I mention I bought a beer for $4 dollars?

Abundant streets signs that said: “Free Unlimited Parking”.  It was almost like they were trying to taunt people from LA.

So if you’re visiting Palm Springs, what should you see?

Cabazon Dinosaurs. If you’re coming from LA, stop in Cabazon and see the giant dinosaurs.  There’s also an exhibit you can pay for, but the giant dinosaurs in front are completely free.

Wind turbines.  You can’t miss them.

Downtown.  Plenty of parking, nice shops, and a “Hollywood Walk of Fame” sidewalk.  Unfortunately, I have to admit the one in LA is a little better.

Mt. San Jacino tram.  I’m sure it’s open now.   About $25 to take a ride to the top.  #1 attraction on TripAdvisor.

Coachella Nature Preserve.  Palm trees, lizards, oasis, and a view of the San Andreas fault.  I highly recommend it.  I’d also highly recommend bringing water and staying on the trails…

Any lake, pond, or swimming pool you can find.

Tip: Don’t ask your hotel concierge what to do because ours just said this: “Oh, the tram is closed? Then, there’s nothing to do here.”

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Interesting Facts:

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians of the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation (that’s how you have to say their name every time) owns most of the land in Palm Springs. $$$

Apparently, there aren’t street lights on most of the main roads (truth) because the citizens want to be able to admire the stars at night (questionable).  How does star gazing trump common safety practices??

Most restaurants and bars close around 9PM.  Although they do have some clubs and a casino.

Premium beers in many of the bars are Heineken and Corona. We went to one place and they only had four kinds of beer.

They got rid of the giant Marilyn Monroe statue earlier this year.  Now, it seems, the city really has nothing to attract tourists.  Seeing giant dinosaurs and a giant Marilyn on the same trip would have made my day!

mt san jacinto

Who should visit:

  • Old people who just want to relax.
  • People who like taking trams up mountains.
  • People who like nice, wealthy cities in the middle of deserts.
  • People who don’t mind driving without street lights at night.
  • People who like wind turbines.