10 Things Every Production Assistant Should Know
Every production assistant should know a few basic things, here's a list of 10:
1. How to Put on a Headset
I'll be honest, putting on a headset is still a struggle for me. "Where do I put this clip? What do I do with this wire? Where do a put that?? How come it doesn't stay on/in my ear??!" It's definitely frusterating and embarrassing if you can't figure it out. A simple Google search could prepare you.
2. Gotta Wear comfortable Closed Toed shoes
I know this one may seem obvious, but people always forget. It's a struggle trying to find the perfect shoes that you can wear for 12+ hours on set. It's not always as simple as wearing athletic shoes, if you end up wearing the wrong pair you'll be wobbling like these penguins.
3. You'll get paid 2-6 weeks later
Don't expect to get paid in the next week. Most of the time it will take a few weeks to get a check in the mail. The longest I've ever had to wait to get paid for a gig was 3 months. But when that check comes through:
4. Bring your Phone Charger
Although you really shouldn't be on your phone texting or on social media when working, sometimes you're on a run for coffee or getting food. Most likely you'll need your phone to stay in contact with the production and to GPS. You want to make sure your phone is always available and charged, so bringing your charger is a good idea. We all know that feeling:
5. Make Sure To Make a Good Impression
A big part of continuing to get jobs is to network and make a good impression on the people that hired you. People like to hire those that are positive and hard working. Remember to listen to what's needed and act fast. If you're consistently showing the producer/production coordinator/or whoever that you're making the set better by being there, they'll make sure to keep you on their list of people to contact again.
6. Bring Your Business Card
After you make that good impression, you gotta come in quick with that business card.
Another "major key" is to anticipate what will be happening on set, so be aware of your surroundings. If the producer has been constantly working, grab them a water bottle. If you know that in 5 minutes, the set is going to need something, be the person to prepare for it.
8. Stay hydrated
Especially in Arizona, this is a huge one. Normally you'll be working on set for 10-12 hours, walking around, probably outside as well, and people often forget to stay hydrated. I worked on a set once that had the crew film exteriors all day on the middle of August and after a few hours the DP almost fainted and was rushed to Urgent Care. If that ever happens, go to the local drug store and grab a Pedialyte!
9. Know how to read a call sheet
Hopefully you've seen a call sheet before, but if not you should get familiar with it and know how to read the major components on the call sheet. Most important are the call times, locations, parking, weather info, and scenes. If this is a big shoot, there will probably be numerous locations and times, so here's a link to learn how to read a call sheet.
10. Director/Producer does not equal production assistant
When attempting to get a job as a production assistant, the producer or production coordinator doesn't really care about your portfolio of films because a director or producer doesn't mean you have the ability to be a good production assistant. The roles are completely different and people looking for a P.A care more about your experience taking orders rather than giving them. Just keep that in mind.
Alrighty, thanks for reading. If you liked this post, make sure to check out "11 Weird Film Lingo You Should Know" and "Is There Paid Film Work in Arizona?"