Hey guys, here is an experience to learn from:
We had a day playing PA in the office the other day. He didn’t have much office experience, but plenty of set, and he had a great attitude. However, because he had been in the industry for a few years he either felt really shy about asking about what he didn’t know (because he didn’t want to seem like he had no experience) or he was too proud to ask for help with things he didn’t know about.
This led us to believe he knew what he was doing and was confident in it. However, it had an unfortunate side effect: a lot of things got done incorrectly. Documents got filed in the wrong places, packages went unrecorded, and some vegetable drinks that the UPM ordered for himself (out of pocket) were not put in the fridge and exploded over the weekend because he assumed the UPM was going to come get them.
It can feel embarrassing to get to a new office and have to ask a million questions about where everything goes and how to do everything, but unlike set, where you can pretty much bring the same tasks and skills from set to set, every office is set up and run a bit differently. Files are organized differently, there are different procedures for taking and directing phone calls, even crafty runs can be tailored to the production tastes. So nobody expects you to come in and have complete control of the situation.
If you are asked to do something you don’t know how to do, or how to do something that you have done before but suspect might be done differently here, make sure to ask. Some things you can definitely try to figure out on your own, but when in doubt, ask. “Where do you keep X documents?” “How do you prefer X to be filed?” “What is your PO procedure?” Often times they will actually have instruction lists printed up and left over from when production started that they can let you look at.
Yes, I know, it can make you feel like you are asking for your hand to be held. Better to make sure you are doing the job right the first time, rather than unknowingly leaving a huge mess for the usual PAs and other office denizens to sort out. That is the best way to never get called back. If you really pay attention to how things run, likely they will call you back when they need another day player, and such jobs can even turn into full time (like my current one did). We ended up booking that day playing PA for a set day today, but he is never coming back to this office.