I have a story that epitomizes my time as a new Production Assistant this summer. I had the opportunity to work on “The Sinner,” a new television series produced by USA Network. I was the youngest person on set by 5 years, and I often misunderstood directions. Part of this is because a film set has a different language. This story has less to do with that language and more to do with my own ignorance, but it still shows how things got lost in translation for me during my time on set.
The Key PA had asked me to get our Assistant Director a “peanut butter and jelly sandwich, heavy PB and heavy jelly, triangle cut.” I enthusiastically ran to Crafty to execute the best PB&J this man had ever seen. For context, I never ate sandwiches as a child, so I am still pretty foreign to sandwich culture. I spend 15 minutes making this beautiful creation, bring it back, and a fellow PA says, “Uh, I think he meant cut down the middle.” I had cut the sandwich into a literal triangle, and I realize that I did not know what “triangle cut” meant. In my defense, I only started eating PB&Js in college! Sue me!
I left the sandwich by the door, and raced back to Crafty to construct another PB&J – cut down the middle this time. After 25 minutes, I hand it to my anxious AD and return back to my post. Suddenly, every crew member starts coming up to me and asking, “Hey, can I get an octagon-shaped sandwich?” Ah, another mistake: I left the sandwich on a bench, everyone got a picture, and word spread fast. From then on, that mistake was my trademark.
Although I was anxious about being the youngest crew member, it turned out to be an amazing experience. My naive mistakes gave other people a break from the stress of filmmaking. While I didn’t necessarily enjoy the torment, it reminded me about the nature of a film set. In the end, they respected me. I worked insanely hard for almost 4 months, 15 hours a day. A common saying for me was, “She’s young, she’s learning.” The crew taught me how to laugh at myself, and how to move on from errors. If you are ever the youngest person on set, use it to your advantage. Make friends with whoever crosses your path, because they want to give you advice. Being the center of a joke on set was truly amazing, because everyone learned the new kid’s name!
Here is a photo of the incident. Pictured next to me is our Director of Photography, Radium Cheung.