[Post Updated August 8, 2018]
In this article, we’ll discuss production assistant clothing, accessories, and tools.
There are many different things people will tell you to bring to set as a production assistant. I’m just going to include the things that I have found useful.
What to Wear on Set as a Production Assistant? How to dress as a PA?
Before getting into the details, let’s answer this question. As a set production assistant, you are going to be running around all day. You’re going to get dirty. You’re going to sweat. You want to wear CASUAL/COMFORTABLE WORK CLOTHES. Jeans and a t-shirt, shorts and a t-shirt, comfortable shoes, hat and sunglasses. You can bring layers, like a long sleeve shirt. You can bring a jacket if you think it’s going to get cold. Are you shooting outside or on a stage? Stages can be cold, or hot, so it’s nice to bring options. See the “Wear Layers” section below. Basically, dress to move around and sweat. If you show up on set as a production assistant looking fancy, with loafers on, or open-toed shoes or sandels, you’re going to be a laughing stock.
If you’re working as an office production assistant.
Just wear casual office clothes. Again, nothing too fancy. Don’t wear a fucking suit and tie. You can wear a casual tie if you want… but I would advise against it. You’re just sitting at a desk all day, and occassionally running out to pick up lunches or office supplies. Jeans and a t-shirt or long-sleeve button up is fine. Unlike a set-pa, since you’re in an office setting, feel free to wear slightly nicer clothes and shoes. You won’t be running around and sweating as much. Office Casual. Now onto some specifics.
The items listed below are more geared towards what you would wear or bring as a SET PA. As an OFFICE PA, really all you need is a car and a laptop.
PRODUCTION ASSISTANT CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES
- GOOD SHOES. The number one most important piece of production assistant clothing. 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 necessary as a production assistant. [UPDATE: I 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. Plus they look good. Always good to get shoe compliments on set.] NEVER EVER BRING OPEN TOED SHOES OR SANDLES TO SET. SOME ASSISTANT DIRECTORS WILL SEND YOU HOME. BIG NO NO.
- WEAR LAYERS. Always check your call sheet for weather conditions, but I still recommend wearing layered clothing. LA weather is a fickle bitch. It could be cold in the morning, hot during the day, and then 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. (I once did a shoot on the beach, didn’t know the shoot was going to go for 21 HOURS STRAIGHT. I wore shorts. It was FUCKING COLD at night. I was miserable. Never made that mistake again. I always brought some extra clothes and kept them in my car.)
- 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. A good Assistant Director will always make you carry fresh bricks. You do NOT need to buy these. They are handed out at the AD trailer. You might be put in charge of handing them out.
- 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.
- PEN AND NOTEPAD. As a PA you will be going on runs. They will send you out to get coffee, lunch, ice, eight 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. (Or just use your phone.)
- 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. (You can keep stuff like this in your car, as long as crew parking isn’t a million miles away.)
- 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 learned how to drive around LA. But I also got a smartphone since I wrote this post… and that’s all you need. Get Waze or something.]
- SCISSORS. Put these in your PA bag as well. I’ve found them useful.
- DRUGS. Have a good assortment of Advil, Tylenol, etc. You cant always count on medics having these if you get a headache or sore muscles.
That’s all for now. Check back later for more advice and insights on production assistant clothing and accessories.
Any PA’s out there have some important production assistant clothing or accessories to add?
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