On Set Crew : How do you find opportunities for work? by Lina Lansky

How do you find opportunities for work?

Hello Stage32'ers! Particularly those of you who are non-union Assistant Directors ( if anyone else wants to chime in, please do). I have a serious inquiry, and I would love your feedback.

How do you secure your gigs? What do you do when there is major downtime and you aren't seeing any opportunities for work? Do you zone down and focus on non paying creative endeavors waiting for the wave to pass? Do you have part-time work that is really flexible? Do you go to more networking events?


I am a non-union AD, and after every gig I have, I find myself struggling to land the next one fast enough to recover financially. I have noticed that some people apply to any job possible to make ends meet, but I feel this method is counterproductive to career growth. Yeah I can take the PA job for 3 weeks, but then might miss out on an AD opportunity, and won't learn how to hone the craft of being a better AD that way. Plus, given that I am part of 20+ filmmaking groups in the NYC area on Facebook, these pages are usually bombarded with jobs specific to other on set roles not so much ADing and so it feels like there are slim pickings.

Part time work would be nice, but most people I know who work in the industry while having a PT job have really really flexible jobs, with bosses they have known for quite some time allowing them the cushion.

This business is very much about who you know and the last two gigs I got were from referrals, but one can't always count on that as the only sure fire method of landing the next gig.

I would love and truly appreciate some guidance on this so please no rude commentary. Thank you all! Looking forward to chatting it up and learning what the hell it is I am doing wrong.

M L.

Hi Lina,
I've you've worked in NY as a 1st A.D. you probably already know some set techs who are in IATSE and who work on bigger shows. They could potentially connect you to some key P.A.'s or UPMS or coordinators in production who could maybe let you jump in as a 2nd 2nd A.D. and work you way up toward DGA membership or a union card.

It's worth a shot if you're climbing the production ladder. It's all who you know, like you said and just as you couldn't recommend me as a DP to anyone you know without having worked with me, I couldn't do that either.

The 1st A.D. job is one of the most important positions on set. I am not surprised that nobody would post an ad for that job online and entertain hiring someone they don't actually know. Unless they have no clue what the job is, and many new directors don't. They think it's a personal assistant position. haha.

So the first people to approach for legit referrals are those you already know and have worked with who can vouch that you know what you're doing and are friendly and professional on set. Their recommendation can go far especially if they move up themselves and start producing their own work. These days everyone on set is a potential producer.

On the other hand, if your IMDB is solid enough, cold calls may work for you with your extended Linked In network (Everyone knows someone on a Marvel or Netflix or Amazon show in this town). That of course is a last resort and will only work if your resume is already at that level to reach out to such shows. I know one producer who told me that many UPMS are calling the hall these days desperately trying to staff cause there aren't enough set techs. It's incredibly busy right now. Whether that's true for production staff as well, I have no idea.

Lina Lansky

Thanks so much Mike. All sound points. I didn't think Keys or UPMS could get me in the door as a 2nd 2nd since I am not union, but that is definitely something to consider. :)

Isaiah Andrés Galarza

Hey Lina, non-union 1st AD out here in Lala Land... Mandy.com sucks. I use craigslist for most of my jobs. But, like investor-needing and actor friends, I join every network for Producers, actors, screenwriters, etc and I go to EVERY party and pass out my card. I have a standing offer to ALL OF MY FILM FRIENDS that they will get 10% of any job they connect me with... and 1% every job thereafter with the same Producers. Just blitz out an email. Raindance is a networking group that includes Producers. Call the PGA and see when there events are. I also have a weekend job where I'm surrounded by actors and amazingly they give me weeks off at a time to work on film shoots! Good luck!

Royce Allen Dudley

You may want to be proactively networking with other ADs 1st and 2nd... and UPMs... as well as past DPs and Art Directors and any other keys that you have worked with in the past who like you. Sometimes a DP is hired before an AD, and asked for recommendations in other departments. It needs to snowball to the point where you are taking calls for the next job at lunch on the current job. It won't always be that way, but getting your name and phone number in people's contacts and staying in the front of their mind is most of it.

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