Summary: Simply called a PA, the production assistant is someone assigned to various responsibilities involved in a TV or film production. The work of a personal assistant varies largely depending on a production’s budget and requirements. Sometimes, production assistants serve as a go-to person of actors, filmmakers and other important people on a production set.
Duties: Tasks of a production assistant varies from one day to the next. Generally, a PA performs different tasks depending on the current needs of a filmmaker or actor. These tasks may include (but are not limited to) delivering scripts to actors or the director, preparing food and drinks for the crew, fixing actor’s dressing room or handling various errands of important crew members on set. The PA may be sent by the producers to pick up equipments, tools, props, emergency equipment replacements and other immediate needs. In some instances, a production assistant would be asked to serve as an “extra” on scenes, help with creating extravagant sets, operate fog machines, clean up after different scenes, and perform various menial tasks.
Education and Training Requirements: There are no formal education requirements for the production assistant and most people consider it as an entry-level position in the industry. Being part of the set of a film provides a hands-on learning of the ropes of the industry. Going to a film school can give you an understanding of the industry and may help you make some connections but does not guarantee entry into the business. Most newly graduate film students work as a production assistant temporarily to gain hands-on experience in the industry.
Knowledge and Skills Requirements: A PA should have a good grasp of the artistic and technical aspects of production, as well as a wide knowledge of the industry itself. It would also be an advantage to take courses in photography, broadcast journalism, and media to learn about cameras and sound equipment, or study art and art history to learn about visual composition, and English to develop communication skills.
Working Conditions: Since most production assistants work with non-union terms, they can be asked to perform tasks from multiple producers. As such, many production assistants work long hours to complete all errands assigned to them. Unglamorous as the PA’s work may seem, being part of the production is still the best way to learn about the film and television industries.
Salary: The production assistant‘s salary depends largely on company, location, industry, experience and benefits, but statistics show that the average pay amounts to $44,000.00.