As a Production Assistant (PA) you will be expected to do tasks and think on your feet. Even though this is the entry level position into the Film Industry, you will be responsible for many important tasks and equipment. PA’s are usually the first to arrive and the last to leave. We are always expected to be ‘available to assist’ while on the job and on our feet.
Mostly as a PA you will be :
- Getting lunch orders.
- Making copies of important documents.
- Answering phones.
- Moving furniture and equipment.
- Setting up or taking down pop-ups, tables, chairs and other equipment.
- Making deliveries in your own car or a rental van / Cube truck.
- Picking up and dropping off equipment.
- Managing Petty Cash.
- Greeting clients, guests, actors, staff.
- Security type work – Blocking exits while filming is in progress, crowd control.
When working an active film set, you must always be at the ready for a task. At the same time, you must always look like you are busy doing a task. Most of the time, you can do simple house keeping chores to keep up the appearance of being busy. Tasks like picking up trash, wiping down the tables, handing out bottles of water work great to achieve this.
Upon first arriving to the set, we should always set up the breakfast / snack table and drink coolers. Then we meetup with management and figure out what the day will entail. From then on, we just do what they ask and hopefully the day rolls along in some type of fun and exciting way.
Always clean up after yourself and anything that you see around you. Always report any and all safety concerns, damaged equipment as soon as you see it. As a Set Key, I would rather have 3 of my PA’s report the same scratch on the wall then see them walk past it. The sooner we notice mistakes, the sooner we can resolve them. Every minute we can save during the day by cleaning up trash, staging equipment, etc can set the day’s mood.
At the end of the day, we clean up everything and ensure the location is cleaner then when we arrived. This final task is extremely important! The appearance of the location when we roll tail lights directly reflects on your personal character. I can not stress enough on this. The way we leave a set determines if we get invited back to that location or as is sometimes the case, to other locations as well.
During Pre and Post Production we are mostly doing office work, runs and equipment pickups or drop offs.
Standard Items you should always carry :
- Pens (Red and Black)
- Pencils and Erasers.
- Sharpies (Various colors and widths)
- 3M brand Blue Painters Tape – 3 Inch width. Have at least 3 of these at the start of each shoot.
- Small Notepad – Don’t use your phone as a notepad, nothing beats an old fashioned pen and paper.
- Standard Envelopes – Just a few, to help keep your recipes organized and such.
- Legal size Envelops – Have at least 2 at the start of a shoot. These are for all the vendor paper work and your PC.
- USB Thumb drive – Minimum of 32 gigs, 64+ is best.
- Car Charger for your cell phone.
- USB cable to computer for your cell phone.
- Wall charger for your cell phone.
- Extra Batteries for your cell phone (if possible)
- Extra bottles of water (you never know when you will be stuck in traffic on a hot day)
- Healthy snacks. Such as nuts, crackers, chips, fruits.
- A laptop and internet cable – You can leave this at home if you are just doing set or logistical work.
- State ID and SSN card OR USA Passport on the First day so you can complete your start Paperwork. This is very important as this is usually how you get paid. Of course, you should always have your Driver’s License on you at all times.
There is much more to being a PA then what I have said here. A lot of what is needed is just experience. Being on set far outweighs anything else, but these are just the basics.