How to become a Production Assistant

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Everyone knows the formula: you enter a film set as a young, unrespected servant to the whims of a film set, where you’re able to soak up everything you need to know about working on a set.

So the first step is getting on the film set which has got to be easy right? I mean it’s not like there’s secure sets – anyone can just walk on there right?

But if you want to get paid and not potentially kicked off the set, there’s a whole other set of protocols. First you need to find out what productions are coming to a town near you. This information is usually on a state sponsored page focused on the arts. If you live in one of the ever increasing states that offer films tax incentives they usually have an entire website dedicated to the productions coming into town (and if you’re not why are you even reading this. Get up and find a state that does and put your other foot in the ground there. Seriously you’re not going to get any chances if you don’t have a ton of opportunities coming into your area)

Once you find out what productions are coming near you, take a look at the emails that are next to each listing. Now completely ignore them because that’s what the actual production officies do with those same emails. So you don’t have to waste your time trying to come up with some nice witty paragraph about your “skills” and “experience” so the reader can think you’re halfway competent for their job.

But the film industry cares none for that. Notice how almost anyone can get experience in the film industry by starting off as a P.A. So remember that as you look at these listings. They will literally take anyone who can at least take direction and then manage to carry out those same directions. I was just talking to a location manager about becoming a P.A. and she mentioned how during one production, one of her friends was a P.A. who suddenly had to find 4 other P.A.s for that day. Her methodology in finding these potential candidates? Making a post on Facebook and recruiting anyone who answered. Literally all these people had to do to find work on a set was to do the exact opposite of working.

So what do you do instead? First you have to find out where the production offices are for each film being made. It’s best to focus more on the films that are in pre-production first since these are the ones that will more likely be hiring. Films already in production may need additional people down the line so definitely still check up on them also.

So after you find one office, the good news is usually different production companies rent out offices in the same building. So if just find the location of one office, you’ll most likely find a little cluster of other ones huddled together in the same vicinity.

Before you head to these officies, make sure you have some form of paper with your name and phone number on it since that’s literally all they need. And a flexible schedule. So you get into those offices, find someone who will at least make eye contact with you, and offer your information for them to hold on file.

Next step is to repeat this process at as many offices that you can find until you finally find one that is desperate enough to take you. And kiddo once you are in, you hopefully will get the network connections you need to actually continue in the industry.

So go forth and try these handy little steps! Or if that doesn’t quite work out, you can always try and be an extra instead.

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