TV vs Commercials (328th new thing).

July 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

On Day Three Hundred Twenty-Eight I worked the first shoot day on my first television pilot. I had worked as a Production Assistant on many commercials in the past year, but the only TV series experience I have is my one year at Whole World Theatre when they shot for Turner South. And I guess Gem Shopping, although that is an entirely different beast. Everything else has been commercials or promos. I suppose it’s been better for me financially (since commercials typically pay better), but I also like the range of work that comes with working on different narrative formats, even if I can usually be found doing office work.

The TV pilot I worked on was like Fight Club. We do not talk about Fight Club, at least until it airs (next January). However, I can spend a little time waxing about the difference (in my opinion) in working on on a television advertisement versus a television pilot. There aren’t an extensive amount of differences, but here are the ones that stuck in my mind:

The narrative. I liked reading the script of the TV show much more than any commercial. There is more dialogue, a plot, and developing characters. In a commercial the script can be an outline of movement, a suggested line, or even just an idea. Point one, pilot.

The activity. The activity on a commercial varies based on the budget, client, etc. I’m sure the same is true of a television show. However, being a PA on a commercial shoot that is longer than a day, it usually takes me about that time to establish myself to everyone, letting them know that I am not a slacker, but a smart, funny professional. It doesn’t always work, but it works often enough to where I begin to believe it. So I think the length of filming on a TV series would win in this battle, although I have worked on a few commercials for a week or more, so it’s kind of a toss up when comparing commercial and pilot.

The pay. Commercials pay better, across the board. So they win in a daily battle.

The titles. I was bumped up to a Production Coordinator title on the TV show I worked on. It’s a step up from Production Assistant, even though I was doing similar office work, just more of it. Resume-wise, though, pretty cool.

In all actuality, there wasn’t too much of a difference between my experience working on a commercial shoot and the TV pilot. The latter had a lower budget than a typical pilot shoot, which basically meant that I was working as a coordinator for commercial PA rate. And that the crafty selections were more limited. But I liked working on the pilot, liked the longevity that it could mean. And most importantly, I liked the project and the people I was working with. Which happens often on other freelance jobs, but this one just seemed cooler.

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