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How to Become a Production Assistant

Advice

Ben Russell

Ben Russell

·5 min read

There’s a ton of work that goes on behind the scenes to make the “magic” happen. On every set, there’s a production assistant that aids in bringing that big idea to camera. A production assistant, or PA, is an entry level job for those wishing to work in the film and television industry. PAs assist with a variety of jobs from executing administrative work, running errands to helping prepare the set.

Qualities of a great PA

Since PAs' obligations vary in tasks, it’s hard to specify what makes someone “great”. It's likewise an entry level position, so you aren't required to have any significant experience. In any case, there are a couple of key qualities that every PA requires in order to perform well:

  • Be accessible. PAs are significant to film creation, and film groups need to know they can rely on their PAs to complete tasks. That implies that a great PA knows when and where they are required most.

    Have a great attitude. Driving individuals to and from the airport, going on various coffee runs a day, managing crazed individuals via telephone - PA work can be stressful. Having the ability to stay positive during high-stress scenarios separates great PAs from those that can’t keep up with demand.

    Ask questions. Since PAs aren't required to have any experience, there will be a lot of times when you aren't exactly certain what's happening. Ask questions when you need clarification.

Being a Production Assistant is an excellent way to get a foot in the door. Becoming a PA is not extremely easy, but luckily there are programs set up to help people eager to work in the industry.
  • “Made in NY” (New York City) Brooklyn Workforce Innovations and the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment together provide “Made in NY” free of charge to residents of New York City’s five boroughs. The program takes place over five weeks Monday through Friday from 7 A.M. to 6 P.M. “Made in NY” teaches set etiquette and valuable PA skills to better prepare those looking to join the film and television industry. Upon completion, “Made in NY” offers two years of job placement assistance and career counseling.

    “PA Boot Camp” (Los Angeles) “PA Book Camp,” founded by Leigh Paonessa and Chuck Canzoneri, takes place during one weekend from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. on both the Saturday and the Sunday. There, students participate in rigorous training sessions lead by Drill Instructors Paonessa and Canzoneri, and Director Jody Brockway. These sessions are meant to prepare people to join the Film and Television industry immediately upon completion. The program costs $240, but charges $200 with a valid student I.D.

If you don’t need a bootcamp, but instead a platform to find jobs, below are a few helpful sites for applying.
  • 1. [StaffMeUp.com](https://www.staffmeup.com) 2. [EntertainmentCareers.net](https://www.entertainmentcareers.com) 3. [Indeed.com](https://www.indeed.com) 4. [NYCFilmCrew.com](https://www.nycfilmcrew.com)
Of course, if there’s a specific production company that you’d like to work for - head to their job site to see their listings.

Being a PA isn’t often glamourous, but it’s a great entry-level job that can serve as a stepping stone into the career in the film/theater industry. Grab a few credits to put on your resume so that you can begin to better understand the structure of being on set. It’ll help you grow.