Imagine being at the brink of the official beginning of your life as far as your career is concerned. Staying up the entire night relentlessly researching, reading, watching, cramming and hoping that you’re retaining all of it information so that you can put it all to use the very next day. Frantically memorizing on-set lingo, learning all the do’s and don’ts for first time PAs, recommendations on how to act and react… so much information and so little time. The only way to know if I retained all of it was to apply it the very next day. Even after all the classes I’ve taken regarding film – even working on a short student film – did not comfort me in my ability to be useful on set. Despite my utter lack of experience, what I feared the most was not my fear of failure, but rather if I would enjoy the work that I’m pursuing. This is the moment of truth. If everything that I’ve strived towards and worked for will culminate in me hating and regretting all of my career choices or will I truly love what I’m pursuing. You then go to sleep with this heaviness in your chest, yet still eager for the day to come holding the fear deep in your gut – repressing it with excitement. The next day comes. You spring up ready to go reciting everything you’ve read the night before as if it were a prayer. A sense of ease washes over in the car as you remember that you won’t be PAing alone today, in fact you will be PAing with one of your close friends. This adds to the awe, taking our first steps into the film industry simultaneously, sharing an experience that both of us will hold onto for years to come in our future career. How lucky am I to have such a good friend willing to share half the burden of our first time PA work?
We approach the set for The Mothers, right away we are given our tasks and told who our supervisors are. Our first jobs of the day are to make props for the set. My first challenge was to make “veef” (vegan beef) jerky look as if it was wrapped with a homemade/industrial aesthetic. Sounds easy right? Took me a good while to get it right, shows just how incompetent I am. Luckily for me, everyone was forgiving, kind and ever so patient. I could not have been more grateful to have worked for such wonderfully nice people. My jobs throughout the day consisted of hauling props around, making props, setting up and replenishing the crafty table, cleaning the immediate vicinity by picking up trash, helping set up the scene, taking pictures for continuity, taking behind the scenes pictures, aiding anyone who needs help, dispersing water, and finally (quite surprisingly) being an extra on set.
I am especially grateful to the production designer, Codee, for letting me shadow her throughout the shoot. She taught me so much and was incredibly willing to teach me about what I should be keeping an eye out for. To stay vigilant, to be capable of doing so much at once and still remain focused on a task at hand. She taught me to be observant of the set, of everyone’s needs and to watch for things that others missed that could affect the shot. I learned so much from everyone, from my experiences, from the kindness shown to me that day. You cannot believe how relieved I was to learn of my realization that I absolutely loved what I am doing and what I am pursuing. I understand that not all of my experiences on the job will be like this in the future. Some may make me want to hate what I’m doing, some may break me down from the inside out, but I will always remember this day and know that there will be others like it that will bring out the hope and love that I have for the magic that is to be found when making a show or movie. I sincerely want to thank everyone for the opportunity.
written by Nazia Athar