They are Hollywood’s production assistants, the lowest-paid workers on the set -- if paid at all -- and the only ones without a union, the only ones no union even wants to bother with.
They work in nearly every phase of production and postproduction, and sometimes their employers break the law by not even paying them.
Production assistants have five things in common: They’re young, they’re multi-takers, they’re trying to break into show business, they wear earpieces on the set so they can be yelled at from afar -- and they all have stories of abuse.
At any given time, there are probably hundreds of such people in Hollywood that fit the ‘PA’ description. One production assistant tells of being ordered to run into a burning building to deliver scripts -- a real building that actually was on fire.
Sexual abuse is not uncommon, either. Last year, ESPN baseball analyst Steve Phillips was fired after it was revealed that he had an affair with a 22-year-old production assistant.
Most PAs work for $10 an hour or less and often at minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour. But some low-budget producers think they don’t have to pay their production assistants at all.
Craigslist and Mandy.com, a jobs board for the entertainment industry, are full of advertisements seeking production assistants who will work for nothing.