What is a Production Assistant?
A Production Assistant, also known as a PA, is a entry level position in the entertainment industry. No education is required, but you must be a hard worker, responsible, and willing to learn. That’s right, you DON’T need to go to film school to become a PA. Who knew? If you work hard as a Production Assistant, people will notice. It’s not a glamorous job by any means — and you mostly get shit on — but many leading industry professionals once started out as PAs. It’s a entry level position that, if worked right, can launch you into any part of the industry.
There is no “age-limit” for being a PA, but it’s basically low-pay grunt work for those looking to break into the industry — primarily occupied by people in their early to mid 20’s. Work hours vary, but usually fall into 12-16 hour days — depending on the shoot. Pay can range anywhere from $100-$250 a day — also depending on the shoot. Film and TV usually falls closer to the $100-$125 side of things. Commercials and photo shoots can move closer towards $200-$250.
Production Assistant Job Duties.
A PA’s job duties can vary depending on what the budget is, or what department you are working in. Different types of PAs include Office PAs, Set PAs, Art PAs, Writer’s PAs, Wardrobe PAs… etc. Basically every department could have a PA working in it.
An Office PA works in the production office, and has job duties that include things like answering phones, going on runs (picking up/dropping off everything from equipment to payroll), taking lunch orders, picking up and distributing lunch, running copies, paperwork distro, maintaining office craft service, maintaining office supplies, etc…
A Set PA works on set, and job duties include things like “lock up” (making sure no one walks into the shot) and echo-ing “Cut” and “Rolling” as they come across the radio. They could be “running talent” or background, distributing paperwork and walkies, picking up trash, managing the craft service table, going on coffee runs, ..etc. The list of what a set PA ends up doing is… endless… and can even include picking up dog shit and used condoms off the side of the road. I wish I was joking.
[Updated 10/29/13: Just made some minor updates]
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