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What is the minimum wage for PAs?


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#1 George Hammer

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Posted 28 June 2008 - 11:35 PM

What is the minimum wage for PAs?
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#2 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 02:37 AM

What is the minimum wage for PAs?


The minimum wage for any crew/cast position is nothing. That is what I pay PAs. Then again I deal with people who are more concerned with getting a chance to build their resume than just making money.

I want to add that you are supposed to have a handle that is both your first and last name. You might have a hard time convincing moderators that you only have one name.
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#3 Mike Williamson

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 09:41 AM

The minimum wage for a PA in California is $8.00 an hour, with time and a half after 8 hours. That's the law and it's not negotiable, for example you cannot legally agree not to be paid overtime. If you're getting paid less than that, your employer is in violation of state law.

I would also keep in mind the aggressive attitude that you're seeing in the previous post next time you have the pleasure of negotiating with somebody who wants to pay you less than minimum wage, as it a clear example of how people will try to devalue your time and skills if you let them.
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#4 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 09:57 AM

It's been a while, but when I first moved to LA I was a PA for a little while on some infomercials and a couple other broadcast specials. I was getting paid something like $75 a day FLAT to run around LA and do "whatever." I got a peek at the UPM's budget once though to discover that "officially" we were all getting paid more. Lord knows all the intricacies of the Hollywood budget, but it's likely that doing this allowed her to "come in under budget" and/or allow some skimming off the top to take place for one reason or another.

Legal or not, PAs still were going home with less than they should have. Just be careful to not let anyone abuse you and take advantage of you just because you want to work in the movie business. Remember, they need you as much as you need them.
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#5 Andrew McCarrick

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 10:13 AM

Pay varies widely depending on the type of television show or film production. Standard rates in film typically range from 112-150 dollars for 12 hours plus overtime. On a television show, pay ranges from 8 dollars an hour with overtime, to flat fees of 500-650 dollars a week, including or excluding possible overtime. Benefits are conferred depending on where a PA is employed. Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Brothers, Touchstone Television, and NBC all offer benefits to PAs.


No union currently exists for production assistants, but the affiliation of a production with a union (or unions) can affect the job responsibilities of a PA. Less unionized shows have more positions that can be serviced by non-union personnel; consequently, PAs on such productions may take on a greater variety of non-traditional duties. Examples of this would be a PA setting a light bounce (grip department) or driving a passenger van (teamster/transportation department).

Source: http://en.wikipedia....ction_assistant
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#6 Tim Terner

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 11:07 AM

I agree wholeheartedly with Mike's post, but if you have to work for nothing, make sure you work for someone with talent that will appreciate it
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#7 Richard Boddington

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 12:23 PM

I want to add that you are supposed to have a handle that is both your first and last name. You might have a hard time convincing moderators that you only have one name.


Well maybe he's such a famous PA he only goes by one name like, Bono or Cher.

R,
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#8 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 12:52 PM

I would also keep in mind the aggressive attitude that you're seeing in the previous post next time you have the pleasure of negotiating with somebody who wants to pay you less than minimum wage, as it a clear example of how people will try to devalue your time and skills if you let them.


That's Bull and you know it Mike. The film industry has been like this as long as there has been a film industry, pretty much. There isn't a single person on this forum that has never done freebies...at least not that I've met. What your saying is akin to saying that hospitals and Drs offices are breaking the law because they don't pay medical externs anything. That is nonsense. MANY lines of work are entitled to have "interns" working for them for nothing.
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#9 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 12:54 PM

I agree wholeheartedly with Mike's post, but if you have to work for nothing, make sure you work for someone with talent that will appreciate it


By talent, do you mean "creating quality work" OR "having name recognition?"
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#10 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 02:45 PM

The minimum wage for any crew/cast position is nothing. That is what I pay PAs. Then again I deal with people who are more concerned with getting a chance to build their resume than just making money.


I think the original question was regarding PA work on movies with an actual working budget. Not to step on anyone's toes, but there are some of us who make money working on film productions and would like to continue doing so, for every hour worked. That is why we have unions in this business. No matter the job position a person is holding: If that person is actually working, he or she DESERVES to be paid, unless it is agreed beforehand that the work will be performed gratis. I don't know why would anyone want to do this longer than a couple of days.

Mike is right, DGA rules dictate that $8.00 is the wages for SET PA's in its area of coverage, plus overtime after 8 hours. Otherwise it varies by department and it can be up to $15 per hour or more, but it often is a flat rate, and it usually works against the PA. Very often a flat-rate PA ends up working endless hours.
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#11 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 03:09 PM

I think the original question was regarding PA work on movies with an actual working budget. Not to step on anyone's toes, but there are some of us who make money working on film productions and would like to continue doing so, for every hour worked. That is why we have unions in this business. No matter the job position a person is holding: If that person is actually working, he or she DESERVES to be paid, unless it is agreed beforehand that the work will be performed gratis. I don't know why would anyone want to do this longer than a couple of days.

Mike is right, DGA rules dictate that $8.00 is the wages for SET PA's in its area of coverage, plus overtime after 8 hours. Otherwise it varies by department and it can be up to $15 per hour or more, but it often is a flat rate, and it usually works against the PA. Very often a flat-rate PA ends up working endless hours.


Saul, I realize what you are saying. I'm just saying that people are setting themselves up for a response like that when they ask what the "minimum" is. You can quote collective bargain rates and laws and all of that, but in practice, it comes down to the individuals involved. During times of bounty, you can be more selective as a PA, or anything for that matter. In times of struggle, you may want to take a low daily rate over not eating for the day. Another thing that I take offense to is how little regard is giving for the "Extras" that some productions give in this field that many other industries don't. For instance, if one production gives you $10.00/hr for a 10 hour day and there is no mileage reimbursement, no lodging for out of town expenses, no food, nothing but your rate, is that better than getting paid a daily rate of $75 where you get mileage reimbursement, decent lodging, all meals and beverages covered, etc. I realize that when this is your livelihood that you need money. But there is more to consider than just the hourly or daily rate.
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#12 Richard Boddington

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 04:20 PM

That's Bull and you know it Mike. The film industry has been like this as long as there has been a film industry, pretty much. There isn't a single person on this forum that has never done freebies...at least not that I've met. What your saying is akin to saying that hospitals and Drs offices are breaking the law because they don't pay medical externs anything. That is nonsense. MANY lines of work are entitled to have "interns" working for them for nothing.


Well Matthew you did originally respond with, "The minimum wage for any crew/cast position is nothing."

Now you have switched gears to talk about "interns". Crew and Cast are not "interns" they are crew and cast. How can a lead actor or a DOP be an intern?

Yes many interns do work for free that's true. I think if some one works on a film and is receiving college credit, but no salary, that is considered ok because at least they are getting some thing in return for their labour.

The only freebies I've done was when I was a volunteer at the local cable station, age 16. Then as a PA on a student film when I was 18 and in university. I've never allowed any one onto one of my sets to work for free. Maybe I only paid PAs $75.00/day, but they still got paid.

R,
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#13 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 04:34 PM

Well Matthew you did originally respond with, "The minimum wage for any crew/cast position is nothing."


Yes, I did. I don't think the concept of an unpaid job is new to you. I know it isn't to me. Everytime someone in my family moves, I help them pro bono or gratis or whatever the current politically correct word for free is.

Now you have switched gears to talk about "interns". Crew and Cast are not "interns" they are crew and cast. How can a lead actor or a DOP be an intern?

Yes many interns do work for free that's true. I think if some one works on a film and is receiving college credit, but no salary, that is considered ok because at least they are getting some thing in return for their labour.


This attitude is troubling, Richard, especially coming from you. Since when is gaining knowledge not a reward in itself? Do I have to get paid to go to school? Let's hope not. I think you and others are mistaking what I'm saying, and maybe I shouldn't have been sarcastic in regards to the original post in this thread. The people I work with are the people with little or no experience, and people who you probably wouldn't spit on if they were on fire. I don't pay them because I feel they are getting a chance that they are not getting anywhere else and that is to learn something and have something, no matter how humble, to put on a resume for something "better" next time. I'm sorry if people are so obsessed with compensation or college credit that they don't care about personal growth or learning anymore. I guess it shouldn't surprise me. I was one of very few people at my college who took classes for personal enrichment and I would get laughed at because it wouldn't "increase my earning potential" or "factor into the units I need for my degree" or whatever.

The only freebies I've done was when I was a volunteer at the local cable station, age 16. Then as a PA on a student film when I was 18 and in university. I've never allowed any one onto one of my sets to work for free. Maybe I only paid PAs $75.00/day, but they still got paid.

R,

I would love to be able to pay people but my budgets haven't been large enough yet unless I wanted to shoot digitally instead of on film. Sad to say though, if I start paying people, my requirements will go up proportinally to the amount I am willing to pay. This is the tradeoff. The people whom I don't pay now probably wouldn't benefit from if I started paying because they lack the experience to warrant a rate that an experienced position would make...did that make sense? :blink:

Anyhow, it seems to be a matter of perspective...you see me as taking advantage where I see it as giving someone a chance.
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#14 Richard Boddington

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 07:47 PM

"This attitude is troubling, Richard, especially coming from you. Since when is gaining knowledge not a reward in itself?"

Ok well if you have some sort of filmmaking "collective" where people get together to make films just for the joy and experience, then that's fine of course. People are also free to give away their labour if they want to, even if they don't have any stake in the project.

Like I said I worked for free at the local cable station in high school, I was glad to be there, and I never felt I was being taken advantage of.

What is nuts though are the Mandy ads asking for free labour or "deferral" on what is obviously an attempt to make a commercial project. The reason I think this is wrong is because the film industry is a "dream" job for most people and they are willing to do any thing to break into the industry. How many people work for free to break into a back breaking profession like landscaping? Would many be willing to lay sod for 10 hours a day, for eight weeks, to gain experience?

In my case I hear bitching and moaning through the grape vine from past crew members who think I took advantage of them, even though they where paid their day rate in full and every Friday!

It's going to get worse when I finally announce all the deals that have closed on my feature, and crew members start seeing it pop up "every where."

R,
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#15 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 10:25 PM

Ok well if you have some sort of filmmaking "collective" where people get together to make films just for the joy and experience, then that's fine of course. People are also free to give away their labour if they want to, even if they don't have any stake in the project.


I list ads for positions and I'm totally up front from the beginning about it. I tell people that there is no pay OR deferment. I inform them that the project will not likely make money but serve to be entered into film festivals.

Like I said I worked for free at the local cable station in high school, I was glad to be there, and I never felt I was being taken advantage of.


I'm glad you did your pro bono work Richard.

What is nuts though are the Mandy ads asking for free labour or "deferral" on what is obviously an attempt to make a commercial project. The reason I think this is wrong is because the film industry is a "dream" job for most people and they are willing to do any thing to break into the industry. How many people work for free to break into a back breaking profession like landscaping? Would many be willing to lay sod for 10 hours a day, for eight weeks, to gain experience?


This is hilarious. The landscaping analogy cracked me up. If you look at it like this, your reasoning is right. Then again, how many people dream of becoming landscapers?

In my case I hear bitching and moaning through the grape vine from past crew members who think I took advantage of them, even though they where paid their day rate in full and every Friday!


See! Regardless of what you do, some people still won't be happy.

It's going to get worse when I finally announce all the deals that have closed on my feature, and crew members start seeing it pop up "every where."


Oh well, maybe if they had a better atittude you might higher them at a hire rate for another project.
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#16 Andrew Koch

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Posted 30 June 2008 - 01:21 AM

I'm sure many of us on this forum have done our share of freebies. I certainly have done a hefty amount of them in the past. This is how I learned and built up experience. This is fine when you are brandspanking new to the business and have absolutely no connections or experience, but eventually you need to get paid for your work. It is necessary for survival. It is impossible to pay rent without making money. I still can't understand how someone can work for 3 months on a no budget feature for free and still afford to live in LA. I can barely pay rent right now and I get paid to work.


Matthew W. Phillips, is the reason that you don't pay your PA's because you can't afford to? If you are making something that is ultra low budget, I could see how that could be a situation. I just hope that you realize what a huge favor these PA's are doing for you. When someone works for free, they are a volunteer. Do you show them appreciation and say thankyou everyday to each of them. Do you feed them hot meals (not Pizza or Subway) every six hours. Do you compensate them for gas/ lodging, etc... If people are working for free for you, these things are the BARE MINIMUM. And I'm sure if you had a bigger budget you would pay your PAs.

I know some PA's who make $250 a day. I don't know what the minimum wage is for a PA other than $8 per hour in California, but being a PA doesn't necessarily mean crappy pay either.

This thread has gotten rather argumentative. I think everyone on this thread has interesting points and perspectives and I hope we can respect them all.
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#17 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 30 June 2008 - 01:49 AM

I'm sure many of us on this forum have done our share of freebies. I certainly have done a hefty amount of them in the past. This is how I learned and built up experience. This is fine when you are brandspanking new to the business and have absolutely no connections or experience, but eventually you need to get paid for your work. It is necessary for survival. It is impossible to pay rent without making money. I still can't understand how someone can work for 3 months on a no budget feature for free and still afford to live in LA. I can barely pay rent right now and I get paid to work.


I don't know about this as I don't live in LA. I tend to find other ways to make a living, many are not so glamourous...such is the price to pay for pursuing a great career field.

Matthew W. Phillips, is the reason that you don't pay your PA's because you can't afford to? If you are making something that is ultra low budget, I could see how that could be a situation. I just hope that you realize what a huge favor these PA's are doing for you. When someone works for free, they are a volunteer. Do you show them appreciation and say thankyou everyday to each of them. Do you feed them hot meals (not Pizza or Subway) every six hours. Do you compensate them for gas/ lodging, etc... If people are working for free for you, these things are the BARE MINIMUM. And I'm sure if you had a bigger budget you would pay your PAs.


Yes, I cannot afford to pay PAs. All of the PAs I work with are aware of this and they don't have a problem with it. One thing to realize is...I'm not working these people for 3-8 week features. I'm only making single day to weekend shorts. That is much easier to swallow in regards to a free gig. I am very appreciative, I also am willing to allow them chances to do other things on set if they desire to. For instance, I had a PA who wanted to get into AC work so I let him shoot a scene with the help of the DP. I'll even give them credit as a 2nd AC if they end up progressing to it. I do provide food and beverages on set too. They work about 12 hours in a day and get 2 meals so I guess that's approx. 6 hours. Lodging hasn't been a problem up until now since I've worked with very local crew on mostly single day shoots. I most definitely would pay PAs if I had a larger budget and many of them I plan to take with me in the future in higher positions if I get the chance. My set has always ran more like a family than like a regimented military camp. I've never had to "tell people off" or anything like that.

I know some PA's who make $250 a day. I don't know what the minimum wage is for a PA other than $8 per hour in California, but being a PA doesn't necessarily mean crappy pay either.


I think $250/day for a PA is starting to take advantage of a filmmakers hospitality. This is assuming that they get the other perks like food, gas, and lodging. I refuse to work anyone more than 12 hours/day so that would be like me paying them over $20/hr. I'm not sure I would ever pay a PA that.

This thread has gotten rather argumentative. I think everyone on this thread has interesting points and perspectives and I hope we can respect them all.


I think that whenever Richard or I am involved in any thread, it can seem arguementative. Put us together and it really seems that way. However, my posts tend to sound harsher than what I mean them to. Sorry if I offended anyone...I value PAs, as I value anyone on my set...without them, my film would not be made.
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#18 Andrew Koch

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Posted 30 June 2008 - 03:47 AM

I think $250/day for a PA is starting to take advantage of a filmmakers hospitality. This is assuming that they get the other perks like food, gas, and lodging. I refuse to work anyone more than 12 hours/day so that would be like me paying them over $20/hr. I'm not sure I would ever pay a PA that.


I'm glad that you keep your days at a maximum of 12 hours. I wish more productions would operate this way. The thing is, paying a PA $20 dollars per hour might seem like a lot when it is coming out of your own pocket for a 12hr day. And if you're on a very low budget, that would be a considerable expense. But it is different when it is a large production working the PA's 18 hours a day. I know a PA who make $200 a day, but he often works 16-17 hours a day and there is no overtime.

If you were to divide this into an hourly wage, it would be approximately 10 dollars an hour plus time and a half from hour 8-12 and double time from hour 12-17 according to California Law. It's better than minimum wage, but not by much.

I'm glad that you appreciate your crew and try to give them opportunities to move up. I hope you keep your 12 hr maximum. It's better for everyone.
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#19 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 30 June 2008 - 09:35 AM

I refuse to work anyone more than 12 hours/day so that would be like me paying them over $20/hr. I'm not sure I would ever pay a PA that.

...I value PAs, as I value anyone on my set...without them, my film would not be made.


So you value PAs just as long as they don't cost $20/hr? ;)


I think that everyone understands that not every film/tv project can be $100 million+. With that in mind, not every Producer can pay PAs what they are worth. If there's anything bothersome, it's the use of the words "would ever" which indicates that the contribution of some people isn't worth a livable wage. There are certainly different skillsets and levels of experience and "more" should command a higher rate. But to suggest that someone with limited or no experience isn't worth any money at all (in exchange for "experience") is devaluing that person's help for your project even if all they really know how to do is drive X from A to B. Just showing up to help is worth something because if that person isn't there, then who is going to do that job?
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#20 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 30 June 2008 - 01:02 PM

So you value PAs just as long as they don't cost $20/hr? ;)


All work is important but let's be honest, not everyone is going to make $50-$100/hr. I'll be my own PA before i'll do that. I'm not trying to devalue anyone but there has to be a pay scale equitable with the job difficulty involved. Otherwise, why not pay PAs like DPs? Don't they work as hard...probably harder? DPs work smarter and what they do takes much more knowledge than a PA so that's why they get paid more.

If there's anything bothersome, it's the use of the words "would ever" which indicates that the contribution of some people isn't worth a livable wage. There are certainly different skillsets and levels of experience and "more" should command a higher rate. But to suggest that someone with limited or no experience isn't worth any money at all (in exchange for "experience") is devaluing that person's help for your project even if all they really know how to do is drive X from A to B. Just showing up to help is worth something because if that person isn't there, then who is going to do that job?


Well, when I say "would ever" I'm referring to the now. Obviously as inflation makes things more expensive, salaries must be adjusted. As far as "livable wage", you really think the a person has to make $250/day to live? Maybe in LA but where I'm at $250/day wages are above average. That is another thing people aren't realizing is geography. LA needs to pay higher because the cost of living is higher AND their is more demand. Sad fact of life is the supply and demand curve. When demand is high, prices go up. When demand is low (where I'm at) prices go way down. I didn't suggest that people with no experience aren't worth anything. I said I would pay people if I had the budget. I just said that it's human nature to look for experience when you do start paying people. So I worry that the people I "hire" now wouldn't get hired if I started paying people because then you start looking at things like experience.
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