What is a Production Assistant
Category: Movie Job Descriptions
The Production Assistant or P.A., is an entry-level position and is an individual hired to do various tasks during any film, television or media based production. The demanding job mainly involves completing any instructions given to them by the Assistant Directors(or A.D.)
This is not a job for someone with a chip on his, or her, shoulder or an ego.
Always remember that it is grunt work, and if you cannot handle stress or have any issues following instructions, start looking for other work.
The job consists of doing everything, and I mean everything, from getting coffee for various crew and cast members, to making copies, to running errands at a moment’s notice. There will be interaction between the P.A. and “above the line” members of the film production, it is very important to be a good listener.
There is no formal education needed for this position. It does benefit to be a creative thinker and being able to think on your feet without any direction.
Sometimes the A.D.,will ask you to help coordinate on-camera background extras.
Here is a perfect example of how to stand out and be creative.
(Example) Think about how the extras will be walking past camera; choose the beats of the action. What are the extras wearing, look and observe, clothes colors, hats, men women. Do not just hustle them through, hold them back and tell them when to go sometimes in small groups, sometimes as individuals. If the movement and action look natural, and the A.D. does not say anything then you are doing your job right. Believe it or not, they do remember these small things.
It also does benefit to be curious of all other positions in the production, so feel free to ask questions. But remember to only do so when the time is right. Most other departments are very willing, in most cases, to tell you everything about their job and duties.
You must remember to be responsible, because this position is easily replaceable.
Here are some things to keep in mind while being a production assistant:
1. Do not be late, be 15 minutes early.
2. Do not give your opinion, unless asked, and then be very cautious of your answer.
3. Do not speak to talent (do not speak unless spoken to, or otherwise instructed)
4. Do not be lazy, they only time you should sit is at lunch, and in the bathroom.
5. Do not complain or gossip
6. Always carry a pen and small note pad, in your pocket,
7. Expect to work long hours. (from 12 to 20, not a joke)
8. Be a good listener (nobody likes to repeat instructions)
9. Immediately become friendly with the teamsters and craft services. (you’ll appreciate this later)
10. Be quiet and keep aware of your surroundings at all time
11. Remember crew and cast names
Think about a film production this way: From anywhere from to 2-12 weeks, you will be working with the same people, day in and day out. You become sort of a family, and you are all working towards the same goal, to make things run smoothly. So during that time together you have to back each other up 100% at all time.
When the production ends everybody goes their separate ways, so keep that cast and crew list, and keep in touch.
And remember if you do a good job and make an impression, you will be called the next time.