What Does A Production Assistant Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

Alyssa OmandacCareer, Overview

Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Production Assistants

The main responsibility of the PA is to assist Producers or Directors. They help the production run smoothly by handling various errands and delivering communications between members of the crew.

Salary
$55300
Education
Bachelor or Associate's degree
Personality





Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.Confucius

A Production Assistant (PA) is a member of the crew for television or movie productions. They support the Producers and Directors by carrying out a wide range of tasks. From delivering daily call sheets to actors to running errands, they are an essential part of the production process.

The Production Assistant job is an entry-level position, often used as a stepping stone for those wanting to work in film or television. However, competition is also high, which may require aspiring Production Assistants to seek a college degree or specialized training. A PA also needs strong communication and time-management skills due to the variety of responsibilities.

What they do

The main responsibility of the PA is to assist Producers or Directors. They help the production run smoothly by handling various errands and delivering communications between members of the crew.

Run errands and gather supplies

Production Assistants spend most of their time running errands. This may include getting coffee or food for Producers, Directors, and other members of the crew. The Production Assistant is also often responsible for gathering last-minute supplies, especially when working on a smaller set. The PA may need to visit local stores and purchase items needed for the production.

Non-union Production Assistants may perform additional errands compared to PAs who are part of a union. Non-union PAs may wash dishes, arrange laundry services, and clean up after others. Union PAs rarely need to perform these menial tasks.

Perform various administrative tasks

Along with running errands, Production Assistants spend a lot of time on administrative duties. They may need to answer phones and fill out paperwork. The PA may also perform data entry tasks such as inputting data related to budgets or shooting schedules. They may also review correspondence on behalf of the Producer or Director.

Print and distribute daily call sheets or scripts

When working on a movie or television production, the Production Assistant may need to print and distribute the daily call sheets or scripts. They are often required to distribute these materials to Actors. After distributing the call sheets or scripts, the PA may also need to escort Actors to filming areas. For example, they may need to escort the Actors to the costume department or makeup department to ensure that they are ready to perform by the time indicated on the call sheet.

Assist with the preparation of lights and equipment

Production Assistants often assist other crew members as needed. For example, when not running errands or gathering supplies, a PA may need to help set up the lighting, props, and equipment. They may help with dressing the set and placing markers for the Actors.

The PA may also deliver messages from the Producers or Directors to other crew members. The PA may need to instruct the camera crew to rearrange the lighting or cameras based on the instructions of the Producer or Director. In some cases, the Production Assistant assists Editors and Directors with reviewing the footage obtained throughout the day and looking for ways to alter the scene or improve it.

Help keep crowds away from production sets

When filming in a public area (on-location filming), the PA is often required to keep crowds away. They may need to put up signs and barriers. The PA may also maintain crowd control by directing pedestrians around the set.

Manage and coordinate the extras

The Production Assistant may be responsible for managing the extras on the film or television set. They may need to coordinate with the extras to ensure that they are ready when required for a specific scene. In some cases, the Production Assistant acts as a liaison between the extras and Producers or Directors. The PA may need to explain rules and requirements to the extras and monitor their activity on the set.

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What is the job like

Pros

You get to become part of a film crew

Working on a movie or television set can be an exciting experience. You get to help create movies or TV shows by supporting the rest of the crew.

You may get to meet and interact with celebs

When working on a movie or television production, you may get to meet famous actors and actresses.

You gain industry experience

Working as a PA gives you experience and allows you to build useful contacts in the film or television industry, which may make it easier to pursue a career in the industry.

Your job is often interesting and full of surprises

Each day brings something new. Production Assistants get to travel to interesting locations, work on unusual sets, and interact with a diverse range of people.

Cons

You may work long hours and travel frequently

Working as a Production Assistant typically involves long hours on set. You may even need to travel long distances for work and be available day or night.

Production Assistants often feel underappreciated

Production Assistants do not always receive recognition or thanks for their hard work, making this a thankless job for many. The lack of recognition can be discouraging.

Where they work

Film Studios
Production Companies
Producers and Directors
Publishing Companies


Production Assistants typically work on television and movie sets as employees of production companies or film studios. Some Production Assistants may work directly for Producers, Directors, or Actors. Production Assistants are also employed by publishing companies such as magazines and newspapers. A PA may be responsible for running errands and gathering supplies.

How to become one

Step 1: Get Involved in Local Productions

During high school, aspiring Production Assistants can start learning more about film production by volunteering for local productions. This may include high school theater productions.

Step 2: Earn a Relevant Degree

Due to the competition for Production Assistants, it may help to have a relevant degree. Many PAs have Associate’s degrees or Bachelor’s degrees in Communications, Film, Writing, or Acting. An alternative to earning a degree is to enroll in a Production Assistant Training Program. These programs provide the skills needed to work on a production set.

Step 3: Complete an Internship

Either during college or after graduation, look for internship opportunities at production companies. This helps you gain valuable experience and build your resume.

Step 4: Apply for Production Assistant Jobs

After completing an internship, start applying for Production Assistant jobs. You may find it easier to land your first job at small production companies and independent studios.

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Organizer

People with this personality type likes to follow set procedures and routines. They prefer working with data and details more than with ideas.

You can read more about these career personality types here.

Production Assistants need to have a friendly personality as they frequently work with individuals who have eccentric personalities. Having a strong sense of personal responsibility is also essential due to the variety of tasks assigned to Production Assistants.

Successful Production Assistants are also good listeners. Production Assistants are provided with a lot of information throughout the day and need to complete tasks with detailed instructions. You need good listening skills to carry out your duties.

Take this quiz to see if this is the right career for you.

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