Once you start going out on meetings, you never know when you're going to be called for a job. And sometimes, there are jobs that need to be filled immediately. This means you have to be readily accessible.
Everyone in this business should have an answering machine, but more importantly, you need a pager and/or cell phone. There have been times when I've needed an extra production assistant so badly that I'd just go through my list of PAs and hire the first one I could reach. If you're just going to rely on your answering machine, you may be out when that call comes in; and in the time it takes for you to get home and return your calls, someone else will have been easier to reach and will have gotten the job.
It happens all the time. For example, last year I submitted my resume for a job I had heard about and the very next day received a call from a producer who wanted to know how soon I could come over to meet with him. I was there in an hour. He called a second time on a Sunday, wanting to know if I could come by again, this time to meet his partner. He got me in the car just as I was pulling into a car wash, and once again, asked if I could come over right away. I was there in half an hour, and the car stayed dirty for a while longer. My actions not only told him I wanted the job, but also that I was flexible.
Sometimes I get ample notice before starting a new show, and sometimes I don't. My friend Phil called once from South Carolina, where he was working on a show for HBO. He explained that he had been brought in at the last minute to replace someone and needed me on a plane the next morning to help him get this show ready for shooting on Monday. It was one hectic evening, but I made it. There's also my friend Ira, who will occasionally call and say, "So . . . can you start tomorrow?" You don't always get reasonable notice, but if you're not flexible and don't go for it, you could easily miss a good opportunity. That doesn't mean you never make plans for fear that an important call will come in. It means that you go ahead and make plans, but be prepared to change them if necessary.
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