Amanda, the Aspiring TV Writer, gives us some insight into the most desired entry level job for writers on the planet. Well, her anonymous source does. But without Amanda and her blog, none of this would be here. Muchas gracias, Amanda!
I interviewed a Writers’ PA on a network drama (who wishes to stay anonymous). I can relate to her story of a winding path: a career is more than just one job or one opportunity!
1. What’s your background?
I went to film school at USC, majored in Critical Studies (Film Studies). I did a wide variety of internships from production companies to TV shows and even in TV I dabbled…I worked in the art department on Mad Men but then also worked in writers’ offices on shows like Smallville and Brothers and Sisters. I also at one point worked with an executive coordinating animation events which was interesting. And then if I don’t sound career ADD enough, on weekends, I was doing film makeup and working as a production designer on music videos and student projects. I was all over the place, but honestly I think a lot of the moving around came from fear. I knew I wanted to write and was trying to find everything and anything to replace what seemed like a far-fetched dream but then a few years later decided to actually take a chance on myself.
2. How did you finally get the writers’ PA job?
Oh god. I honestly thought after school I was golden, I had done so many internships, I thought I’d easily land back on a show after graduation but it didn’t happen that way, not for 3 more years. I sort of had to take every step possible to get there which frustrated me beyond belief. I ended up temping / PAing at a studio which then got me assistant experience. With that assistant experience I was able to land a desk at a management company where I also worked for a film / tv producer in development. While I was there, I was trying to take advantage of building up my network which ultimately helped me finally move back into TV where I landed a gig as a production PA. I was on a few Showtime shows as a production PA before I was able to finally hop over into the writers’ office as a writers’ PA on a network drama. My friend worked on the sister show and let me know about the opening.
3. What are the typical duties and hours of your job, and how long did the job last?
I was pretty luck that this writers’ PA gig lasted from March to the holidays — but the catch is that because it’s a new show and wouldn’t air until a couple months after, if we did get picked up, we wouldn’t work until June so then you’re on the search all over again. While on the show, the hours depended on where the writers were on the deadlines.