Production crews have more than one reason to look forward to the end of the workweek: It’s a chance to win the on-set lottery known as “Five Dollar Friday.”
The weekly tradition, organized by PAs, is a common practice on film and TV sets. Hauling around a bucket, one PA will approach the cast and crew, including high-profile talent and helmers, for a $5 donation. Each “gambler” writes their name on a bill and drops it into the bucket. Whoever’s bill is drawn wins the pot, which can amount to hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Veteran actor James Caan has seen a bucket on almost every film set on which he’s worked.
“I think you root for certain people,” he said. “If (it) helps everybody have a good time, then it helps the film. All the good films that I’ve been on, people enjoyed each other, and that’s a really important element.”
And the PAs themselves usually benefit all around as the winner frequently tips the bucket-lugging PA from their haul. PA lore is rife with tales of large-scale celebrity contributions, often given anonymously, or the big brass showing gratitude to the newbies by writing “PA” on a bill instead of their own name.
“It’s a way of the higher-ups showing appreciation,” said Doug Schwartz, a production assistant who’s worked on a number of films. “It’s great, because for a PA, it’s like an extra week’s pay.”