Being a Post PAJune 9, 2019
BEING A POST PA is a straight-forward job. If you like helping those that are caring for the edit(s), you have the power to ease the post-process by simply showing up, smiling, and taking care of the needs that arise. Eventually you’ll learn to anticipate needs and provide resources to help the team. Listen and think ahead. Every position is different. Some jobs require technical knowledge of server room and shared storage workflows; some are way more hands-off and just need someone to take care of everyday tasks. My crew consumed La Croix - it had to be on-hand. Time-management and caring for your relationships with people are always vital to keep in mind. Here are a few basic responsibilities.
• “Learn what the people around you need before they even know that they need it.”
• “Create an environment people want to spend time in comfortably.”
• “Listen to what’s going on in the office while staying out of the way.”
• “Before the post-production office even opens, find out what the editor, assistant editor, director, really anyone that will be in the office, likes in craft service.”
Don’t Miss Out On Any Avocado Milkshakes - The Art and Joy of being a Film Editor, Troy Takaki, ACE
Every scripted narrative show/feature has a script, production schedules, and camera and sound crews. Amongst other things, all departments’ work converges in the edit rooms. Specifically for post, let’s focus on a very basic process for locking & finishing a cut. At the start of the show, you have dailies which are integral and usually a very busy time for post-production. Production is shooting and we’re cutting at the same time. Dailies come into the edit room in different ways and is totally dependent upon the workflow established prior to your start-date. The Post PA may be asked to pick-up dailies from a telecine-house or could be ported to the editor(s) and assistant editor(s) via shared storage or anything in-between. Editors are trying to finish their Editor’s Cut; then they work with the director(s) to reach a Director’s Cut; then a Producer/Studio Network cut; and then eventually it gets locked. At this point, the assistant editors have begun turning over shots for VFX, audio finishing & sweetening, and even to a DI/colorist. The assists are responsible for keeping track of all the different elements on the timeline, outputting screeners, finals, and sometimes even going so far as to create the deliverable IMF for the network (Avid: 6/20/19 release).
During dailies, edit rooms will receive paperwork that correlates the footage shot during the previous days’ shoot. If you’re not on those emails, Pix playlists, etc., speak with your Post-producers and figure out how to get included on those distros. Some of that paperwork is essential to your editors, assists, and post-production in general. There are scripts, lined scripts, facing pages, camera reports, sound reports, etc. These have a high chance of being referenced daily. Keep track of all your paperwork but start with these in the morning. Lined script & facing pages get a binder; camera and sound reports get a binder; scripts get a binder. Some editors and assists like all these combined into 1 or 2 binders; some prefer digital PDFs; some like both - find out. See attached PDF example on how to organize your lined scripts & facing pages. (Below: link)
**Bonus Points: Being a Post PA for David Fincher, a director whose known for shooting a lot of coverage for frame manipulation and crafting the best story, I found it vital to have my own guide of what was shot and when. This helped answer 99% of the questions that anyone asked about production. Because I knew that Ep. 1 Scs. 9 & 10 were shot on Day 1, I knew exactly where to find those camera reports, sound reports, or any other production reports that would point me to the answer I needed. Or better yet, I had a quick, dirty, searchable summary of the entire production’s shoot. (There are better ways to track this, such as with a database program like Filemaker Pro).
***Image example redacted until the show airs.***
LUNCH / CRAFTY / OFFICE SUPPLIES
People gotta eat - this is where you can save or trash the day. This is your most important job and everyone has a method. Figure it out or ask your peers. Try to gauge which restaurants the editor(s) and entire office prefers. Check orders before you leave the restaurant. It’s a shitty feeling getting someone’s order wrong and although it happens, try to keep it from happening. Personally, I sent out an email every day at 10a and made sure I had everyone’s order by 11:15a. Depending on the restaurant, I’d give them the order 45-minutes-1hour ahead of time. KEEP TRACK OF PEOPLE’s MONEY. Some shows pay for lunch everyday, some pay for Friday/weekend lunches, some don’t pay for anything. You have a petty cash float? Use it to buy supplies needed in the office. Do people float lunch money to you? Whatever money you’re spending on lunch and expecting people to pay back to you, also expect them to ask questions about prices or a reminder about what they’ve previously ordered. Have an answer. Excel is your friend - it’ll make life easier. Here are examples of order/float/money tracking.
What do you ultimately want to do? Do you want to cut trailers or commercials? Find another job. Do you want to cut narrative features and episodic TV? You’re in the right place BUT, join the union. See if the assistant editors need help. Get affiliated with ACE. Get outside of your edit rooms, apartments and normal circles. Go see some art as it will inform yours - LA is filled with stuff. Make new friends in the industry. Go see what it’s like on their shows - every workflow and team operates differently. We are employed to keep people fed, answer and predict questions, help create an enjoyable environment, and do our part to help the editors craft the best story possible. I’ll leave with another great guide: How To Become a 2nd Assistant Editor.
See you out there.