Tag Archives: SoCal

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.

Road Trip Randy Blog Update

Hello! I feel like it’s been awhile.

I also feel like this how every undisciplined, cliche writer on WordPress starts a post.  And then repeats the routine every three months.  See you in January?

Personal Updates

I just wanted to take some time to let you know Hollywood is eating me alive.  I’m currently PAing on a gig that usually goes 12-16 hours a day, six to seven days a week.  I’m not complaining.  This is actually quite common in my industry.  And it’s fun at times.  But it’s a big change from my last show which was only 11 hours a day, five days a week.  I had so much free time!!  Anyway, my current gig will take me through mid-December.  The good news is I’m making lots of money (GoPro Hero4, anyone?). The bad news is I don’t see how I’ll have time for road trips anytime soon.  Maybe I’ll try to do a Sunday day trip if I’m not too exhausted.  Or maybe I’ll write a post about my job.

I also bought a new night stand.  And black socks.

Blog Update

I’ve made a few changes to the blog. If you didn’t notice, I don’t blame you, but just pretend you did.  I added a nice new “Video” tab on the top navigation bar with some videos you probably haven’t seen yet. Check ’em out.

I’ve also added a Facebook Page (see right column).  If you like reading my stuff, please show me some love by following me on there or one of my other social media pages:

I have 60 WordPress readers, which means 54 are probably spammers. So there are at least six of you who are real.  Let’s connect.

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.”


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.

Palm Springs Road Trip Preview

I went to Palm Springs this weekend.  September is the wrong month to go (unless you enjoy 115 degree temperatures and closed mountains).  More on that in a later post.  Here’s a 7-second time lapse I made of Palm Springs at night with Mt. San Jacinto in the background.

HD. Full Screen. HD. Full Screen.

EDIT: I just realized you can’t see any of the stars in the video 😦 I’m going back to YouTube.

Welcome to Road Trip Randy, Now Here’s My Story

When I was young,  I didn’t venture out much further than my neighborhood.  I was content.  When choosing a college, I didn’t even think about going anywhere out of state.  I was content.  And then I graduated college and something weird happened.  I wasn’t content.  I wanted more.  I wanted to see what else was out there.  Sure, I’d been on a few vacations out of state, but I could count those on my hand:

  1. The “You’re only a healthy family if you take your kids to Disney World at least once!” vacation.
  2. The educational Washington DC and Boston double-feature trip.
  3. The aunt’s wedding in Vegas when you’re nine vacation.  There was so much for me to enjoy on the Strip at that age!

For whatever reason, I didn’t really care about vacations very much (It was probably because I was just a miserable kid).  I was happy staying in my hometown, with the people I knew, doing the things that I enjoyed doing.

It wasn’t until after graduation and I became strange that I realized I might not want to spend the rest of my life living in my hometown.  Maybe I’ll move to another state someday.  Or even another country!

That’s when I decided to move to Korea.  Yep.  After spending my entire life living contently in Michigan and rarely stepping foot outside it’s borders, I decided I wanted to move to the other side of the world on a whim. My parents thought I was nuts.  But I was determined to do it.  And so I did.  And for a year, I lived in Seoul, South Korea teaching English.  I visited five other Asian countries and had the time of my life.  That year was when I finally learned just what else was out there.

So now I’m back in the States but no longer living in the Mitten.  I’ve moved all the way to the Golden State to pursue a career in film.  I’ve got an awesome job working in television, and when I have a weekend free or a break between shows, I try to fill it with traveling.  That’s where this blog comes in (about time!).

road trips

Californians think they live in the greatest state in the world.  To them, there’s nothing better than their beloved bear, sunshine, and vineyards.  Well, I’ll be the judge of that.  So far all I’ve seen is copious amounts of smog, awful traffic, and hippies.  Yes, I live in L.A.  I’m hoping the rest of the state makes up this disappointment, because so far, I’m unimpressed.  They say you either love LA or hate it, and that’s so true.  I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t have a strong opinion about it either way.

My plan is to take road trips.  Lots of them.  Short trips to the OC, day trips into the Mojave Desert, and hopefully, eventually some extended trips up north to the national parks.  I’d love to say I’ll be doing this everyday, full time, and making you envious of my lifestyle.  But that’s not true.  As of now, I’m dirt poor.  It wasn’t until recently I bought a real bed.  For a year I was sleeping on an air mattress (3 actually. I’d buy a new one each time one popped), unemployed, and accumulating debt.  I’m finally starting to move up in the world.  I even have matching hand and shower towels.

After reading my childhood story and knowing my new life plan, I know what you must be thinking.  But you’re wrong!  I’m not some free-spirit hippie living a vagabond lifestyle.  I actually thrive on having structure and routine in my life. I enjoy doing work and making money!  Weirdly enough, I also just like traveling and not having a single place to call home (Sigh. I sound like such bag in the wind).

What I want from you:

A group of loyal followers that tells me how great I am.  And people who give me money to go on trips and endless compliments.  Just kidding.  Really, I just want to e-meet some cool people who share my interest in traveling and adventure, have mad love or hate for LA, and aren’t on the gluten-free diet because it’s trendy.

Let’s begin!