Tips for a PA: Clothing and Accessories [UPDATED]

There are many different things people will tell you to bring on set with you as a PA. I’m just going to include the things that I, personally, have found useful. This list will definitely be be updated as I get more work.

  • GOOD SHOES. You will be running around all day, and your feet are going to hurt. Try to get some comfortable shoes.  Spend the big bucks if you have to.  Some brands that have been recommended to me are; Merrell and Keen. I wear Merrell, but it’s all about personal preference.  I would also recommend getting some good Gel Inserts as well. Also, make sure your shoes can breathe. Steel-toe is not really necessary as a PA. [UPDATE: I actually pretty quickly switched from my Merrell’s to a pair of Nike Running Shoes. They were my favorite on set shoes. They’ll run anywhere from $100 to $150… but they’re def worth it. They come in different types of comfort vs lightness… so try them on and get what works for you. Plus they look good. Always good to get shoe compliments on set.]
  • WEAR LAYERS. Always check your call sheet for weather conditions, but I still recommend wearing layered clothing.  It could be cold in the morning, hot during the day, and then freezing cold at night. If you’re stuck standing outside, making sure no weirdos get on set all night, and it’s chilly –  you will want a jacket! If you know it’s going to be warm for the whole shoot, you can wear some cargo shorts (pockets are your friend), but I would still recommend jeans, or something similar.
  • KNIFE. Just in case a homeless person tries to rape you, or a bunch of little kids threaten to trample you, because they heard Justin Bieber was on set. But more practically, someone will always need a knife.  When that happens, you will always come to the rescue. [UPDATE: I always carried around a Husky Utility Knife
  • Lighter – Even if you don’t smoke, someone else will!  If they need a lighter, you’ll become a “Godsend”.
  • Sharpie — Always carry a black sharpie on your person, at all times. You WILL use it.
  • EXTRA “BRICKS”. A “brick” is a walkie battery. Someone always needs one, and it’s your job as a PA to get it for them. It will also save you time, and energy, if you carry a couple fresh “bricks” on your belt.
  • HAT, SUNGLASSES, & SUNSCREEN. The sun is your enemy when you’re outside for 14 hours. Protect yourself! You don’t want some dermatologist scraping melanoma off your face with an exact-o-knife in 20 years.
  • Camera – Don’t run around taking pictures of everything on set. But, if you happen to be working with the art department, they will love you for taking continuity pictures of the set(s), before they tear the place apart.  Then they will need you when it’s time to put everything back in its place.  Also, it’s probably a good idea to take a picture of any damaged items on location, BEFORE you begin tearing it apart, so that when they try and sue you later on, you can prove it was already damaged.
  • PEN AND NOTEPAD. As a PA you will be going on runs. They will send you out to get coffee, lunch, ice, 8 different packs of gum, vegan salad dressing, small and large water bottles, straw hats, spray on sunscreen, and just about anything else they can think of. Write this shit down because you will forget.
  • CORKSCREW. Whether it is attached to your knife or not, you will want to have one of these close by. Just the other day I had someone asking me for one because the talent wanted to drink a half a bottle of wine before her photo shoot. Just another way to come to the rescue of those in need.
  • GPS. Whether on your phone, or standalone, you will want some sort of GPS. You will be sent on a lot of runs. You will find that the ability to quickly navigate to the closest Trader Joe’s or StarBucks is instrumental in being a good PA. [UPDATE: My GPS ended up breaking… which turned out to be a good thing because I actually learned how to drive around LA. But I also got a smart phone since I wrote this post… and the maps on that is really all you need.]
  • SCISSORS. Put these in your PA bag as well. I’ve found them useful.
  • DRUGS. Have a good assortment of Advil, Tylenol, etc.

That’s all for now. Check back later for more advice and insights.

Any PA’s out there have something important to add?

12 thoughts on “Tips for a PA: Clothing and Accessories [UPDATED]”

  1. Highlighters, pens, pencils, bandaids (I don’t think you need a full first aid kit – that’s what the medic is for), that being said: at least one tampon (though the medic should have these as well), bug spray (also available from the medic, but when you’re in the middle of nowhere, getting eaten live, 30 min to wait for it can seem like an eternity), gum, deodorant. I have many more items on my personal list, but these were the additions I wanted to share. Thanks!

  2. When going to work as a PA do you bring all of this in a backpack/bag and where do you end of putting it on set?

  3. @ Alexa

    I’ve seen super PA’s with a fucking workbelt. But I’ve never done that. Usually you’ll wear some sort of clothing with a lot of pockets, or if you’re in colder weather you can keep stuff in jacket pockets. Shoes, Hat, Sunglasses are obviously on your body. Knife, Lighter, Sharpie, Pen, etc in the pockets. Extra Bricks clipped onto your belt or in a pocket. Sunscreen, Camera, Corkscrew, GPS, Scissors, Drugs… etc you can keep in a backpack or something in the AD trailer (if they don’t care and let you) or you can just keep that shit in your car. Then ask to go get it if you need it.

  4. Just found your site few minutes ago looking for something else. Sure glad I did. My son has been doing for about a year now and he uses this lingo. I hate to keep asking what does that mean, so now I can come here to look it up.

  5. RAIN GEAR. It’s light and you don’t have to spend a lot on it. There is nothing worse than getting soaked and not being able to change into dry clothes for hours. Your shoes should be waterproof too. Most PAs I’ve seen wear waterproof hiking boots.

    Where to keep everything? Your very sturdy outdoors backpack. I’m on location a lot so keep that in mind. If you’re on stages in a nice studio somewhere, you don’t need as much gear. But if you’re on location, you need everything that has been mentioned here and you need it in your backpack with you at all times. Your backpack will very likely end up being dragged around everywhere so make sure it’s sturdy.

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