How to Become a Production Assistant


Production Assistant (PA) in the film industry of television houses are employed to assist in all areas and stages of film production. Since you will be interacting with so many production crew members as a production assistant, you have to possess certain skills to work effectively. These skills are what your employer really look out for before picking you for the PA job.

As an aspiring Production Assistant, you must have good communication skills and stamina to work for long hours. A Production Assistant should also possess the skill to work in all weather conditions, both indoor and outdoor, and must be ready to travel with the film production crew to long and short distance locations at any given period.

Production Assistant Job Description

The duty of a production assistant is to assist in all stages of video, film and telecast production. Though, film or telecast production has several sections and departments where a production assistant can serve as an additional hand needed for smooth film production.

In some cases, a production assistant is fixed to a department for effective work output or asked to assist in any production section that needs a supporting hand during film production.

The sections or departments of film production where a production assistant can be fixed or posted to as supporting hand at intervals are:

Set Department (Set Production Assistant)

Here, the PA takes instructions from the assistant director and helps in passing the received information accordingly. The PA also assists in the crowd control job, serves as lock-ups support to the set, loading and unloading equipment, and runs all necessary set department errands.

The assistant director can also ask a Production Assistant (PA) to collect all paperwork and distribute scripts, time/jobs schedules to actors and to deliver the film to the appropriate hands, department or offices*.

Art Department PA

Runs errands and assist in the other office jobs, production stage, set dressing, props construction and does whatever you are instructed to do*.

Wardrobe PA

PA assists in labeling costumes, does whatever the costume designer instructs, package up costumes for washing and cleaning and does errands relating to putting together of film production costumes*.

Location PA

Production Assistant assists in putting up film location signs to direct actors and workers to the appropriate film production location, assisting in drawing and distribution of maps to film production location. Assist in cleaning and packing up of filming set off the film location and does errands relating to film venue management*.

Skills: Character Qualities that a Production Assistant Should Possess*:

  • Possess ability to work according to instruction and be dependable
  • Punctual; Keeps to work time and schedules
  • Flexible and adjusts fast to change of plans
  • Takes corrections and avoids repeating mistakes he has been corrected for
  • Communicates clearly,   both in written and verbal manners
  • Works calmly without panic, even under stress
  • Attentive
  • Has respect and co-ordination for self and to others
  • Can think on his feet, makes thing happen as expected
  • Smart and brave
  • Vigilant
  • Loves the job and be able to do it with all seriousness
  • Resilient and can absorb being yelled at
  • Possess ability to get over issues without taking it personal

Educational Requirement

One who is applying to do the job of film production assistant should possess a bachelor degree (from any field), or possess relevant skill without necessarily having a degree. College graduates can be hired; one who had taken courses in editing, lighting and directing film or telecast may have an edge on the competition.

Basically, you really do not need any degree as much as you need to have the skills and quality of a production assistant as listed earlier. However, it may help get your foot in the door or allow you to meet industry insiders while learning techniques in the field. You will get trained on the job once hired, your zeal to work in the film production industry and disposition is what those who want to hire you will like to see in you, and as you improve on the job, with interest to build a career in it, you may then choose to take some courses and special training in the area of specialization that you desire.

Work experience is really not a prerequisite in most cases, but you can add it to your CV as prove that you can do the job. Individual with good driving skill have it as added advantage too.

The Down Sides and Benefits of Being a Production Assistant

Being a PA has its downsides and benefits. The downside of being a PA may include low wages, at least at first. Long hours and weekends may be the norm when working on some projects, so stamina and willingness to cooperate while tired may be required. Another downside is that jobs may be sparse at times and hectic at others. There may be deadlines involved which may require you to work even longer hours**.

One of the benefits of being a production assistant is the experience you gain while working on each project. You may gain a variety of skills which you can add to your repertoire and potentially get bigger and better jobs in the future. Another pro to this job is that there may be opportunity for advancement in several different areas of production. You may also have the chance to give creative input on set and get the opportunity to put your talents and abilities to good use to aid in the production of the project you are working on**.

As you prove yourself to be good at what you do, your talent and working enthusiasm may earn you promotion with increased pay and easier access to experts that can guide you on how to go about building your career in film or telecast production. With a good education and experience, a job that may have started out with a salary on the lower end side may turn into a career with possibilities for advancement and stability.


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