I am now 4 years out of college and currently work as a PA in NYC. I've realized that my plan was a bit naive. I work 16-18 hour days, most hours of which are devoted to bringing coffee orders to the ADs, locking the perimeter of set, and controlling background actors in a holding area. Obviously, not much time or opportunity to network or work on my reel outside of the day job (not to mention I make $9 an hour and pay NYC rent, so no extra cash for fancy equipment of my own). I realize that I have work that loads of people would love to have, so I'm not really complaining, but I have come to a crossroads. I definitely don't want to be an AD (logical endgame of PAing, as far as I can tell), but I'm clearly not making the connections or building the reel I need to work toward a career as a DoP.
I have a very good eye, but as I said not much real-world experience or technical confidence. Also worth noting is my gender, female - not a problem for me strength-wise as I can easily lift at least 50 pounds above my head, but I am relatively small in stature and frame so I don't think I would come to mind as a good candidate for the camera department, regardless of my hustle on set (seeing me, well-meaning coworkers might assume I'm not as strong as I am, and it's not like I can give on-the-hour weight-lifting demos). Hard to strike that balance between proving I could be of use and avoiding being in the way...
Any tips? Should I quit the day job, get something unrelated that will pay the bills, and work on beefing up my art and technique and reel on the side??
Edited by J R, 28 August 2012 - 10:49 PM.