Recently, on the boards of Reddit, several former production assistants went on a walk down memory lane discussing their craziest moments as a PA.
Here are are the five best stories from /r/filmmakers:
Many, many years ago I was officially the “handler” for the drug addicted actor who constantly kept disappearing from the set to snort MDMA in any bathroom he could find.
I’m not even joking, I was warned by a fantastic producer to stick to him like “white on rice”. The actor was also getting fairly well known by this point. However, he was a slippery one.
Once we were filming in a gigantic warehouse for an amazing feature for TV. He disappeared right at the moment we were ready to shoot, and day light was already disappearing. In a panicked frenzy I ran EVERYWHERE looking for him. About two and a half hours later I found him in the bathroom of a nearby pub, high as fuck and annoyed that I had discovered his “secret”. Lays into me, to the point I think he’s going to hit me.
I have to remind him of the time, he panics, and we race back to the set whilst he is still throwing insult after insult at me. Get to the set, he does his supporting scenes with a horrible nervous twitch that’s still visible in the final cut. Producer storms over to him when he’s done and gives him the most epic, Malcolm Tucker style dressing down I have ever seen.
She was a whole foot shorter than he was, but she might as well have been a giant.
Years later, said actor, still high, rocks into my audition room for a commercial I produced for Amazon. Told him – instantly – to get out.
We can only guess who was the actor.
My first job in LA was a short-lived reality show with Coolio. I was told to take his vehicle to the carwash because they were doing driving cut-ins later. Coolio drives a late-90s baby-blue Hummer with matching rims and a crazy sound system. All eyes on me as I (a 22 year old, chubby white kid) jumps out of that Hummer at an Inglewood car wash. I swear there was a record scratch heard somewhere.
The kicker is: a few months later, Coolio makes news getting pulled over for expired plates. The plates had been expired for years and no one on production noticed. Cops found drugs in that car, and he was arrested.
To this day I get nervous imagining getting pulled over by the cops, and having to claim, “I swear, officer, those are Coolio’s drugs!”
PA’d for Ian Ziering (of Sharknado fame) and he requires 24oz of organic rotisserie chicken every 4 hours as part of his diet. Needless to say… I visited California Chicken Cafe a lot that day.
Back when I was PAing, I worked on a reality pilot that was being produced by Rob Lowe here in Washington DC. Typical PA stuff throughout the 3 day shoot until the final day in the afternoon. One of the producers pulled me aside and asked me to take my personal car to pick up Rob from a restaurant, take him back to his hotel to change and then meet at the final location of the day.
I pick Rob up from Legal Seafood and get stuck in DC traffic. I ended up being stuck in the car with hime for about an hour in total and had the coolest chat with him, talking about the business and my aspirations of being a TV writer. At the time, Rob’s autobiography “Stories I Only Tell My Friends” was in the works and while he was with me his agent sent the dust jacket summary of the book to him so that he could proofread it. He asked if he could read it out loud to me so I could help him catch any errors. Here’s the summary that he read to me:
“A wryly funny and surprisingly moving account of an extraordinary life lived almost entirely in the public eye
A teen idol at fifteen, an international icon and founder of the Brat Pack at twenty, and one of Hollywood’s top stars to this day, Rob Lowe chronicles his experiences as a painfully misunderstood child actor in Ohio uprooted to the wild counterculture of mid-seventies Malibu, where he embarked on his unrelenting pursuit of a career in Hollywood.
The Outsiders placed Lowe at the birth of the modern youth movement in the entertainment industry. During his time on The West Wing, he witnessed the surreal nexus of show business and politics both on the set and in the actual White House. And in between are deft and humorous stories of the wild excesses that marked the eighties, leading to his quest for family and sobriety.
Never mean-spirited or salacious, Lowe delivers unexpected glimpses into his successes, disappointments, relationships, and one-of-a-kind encounters with people who shaped our world over the last twenty-five years. These stories are as entertaining as they are unforgettable.”
It was while he was reading it to me that it really hit me who I was sitting next to. It was a really surreal experience and one I remember to this day.
Here’s a photo from the shoot. Rob’s on the left obviously and I’m the guy on the right hauling the monitor
UPM on a show once gave me a dressing down in the production office in front of everyone because I bought him the wrong type of lettuce.
He told me “get a head of lettuce” for his pre-lunch meal, and the only grocery stores in 15 blocks of the office had iceberg. Dude flipped a ****.
Still want to become a Production Assistant?