Production Assistant Pay: How Much Does A Production Assistant Make?

Production Assistant Pay

The only thing a PA is missing is the Y – Anonymous

[Post Updated August 7, 2018]

How much does a Production Assistant get paid?

This seems to be a recurring question, so I’ll answer it: NOT MUCH!

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT PAY

Production Assistants don’t get paid hourly.  A PA is paid on a “per-day” day rate, based on a 12 hour day (which is broken up into hourly pay for payroll reasons). The day rates for a production assistant depend on the type of show you’re working on and are typically higher for shorter jobs and lower for longer jobs. On average, in Los Angeles, the PA day rate is around $125 a day (in 2011). A day rate is better than getting an hourly rate because if you work 6 hours instead of 12, you will still get paid for a full day. Those types of days are rare (you will more likely be working over 12 hours), but they do happen. For more information on how a day rate works, check out TAPAs post on the subject.

Production assistant pay on commercials and music videos is usually more than on movies and TV.

But you don’t work as long. I was a production assistant on a couple of photo shoots that paid a day rate of $250, but the shoots only last 1-2 days.  I also worked as a PA on a couple of commercials that paid a day rate of $200, but those shoots were only a few days as well.  If you’re on a movie or TV show, you could be getting paid $125 a day for a few months. This is what I am currently trying to do…  and it’s a pain in the ass.

You’ll find that most industry jobs, including high level and writing jobs, don’t “pay by the hour.” They either pay by the day, week, or one fee for the whole job.

Ask any questions on production assistant pay in the comments section, and I’ll be glad to answer them to the best of my ability.

[UPDATE]

I just worked on a feature and figured out a little more on production pay.

On this feature, I was making $112 a day, with a guaranteed 12 hour day. So even if I only worked 10 hours instead of 12, I would still get paid for the full 12 hours.

Now on paper, this breaks down to $8/hr for the first 8 hours. After 8 hours you get time and a half for the next 4 hours. So I’d be getting paid $8/hr for 8 hours and $12/hr for 4 hours. That makes the $112/12 day rate. Anything I work after 12 hours is double time, which would be $16 an hour.

Now on this feature, I was working six-day weeks. So my “6th-day” rate was time and a half for every hour. So I would make $12/hr for the first 12 hours and then $16/hr for anything after 12 hours.

MEAL PENALTIES

I also got one $7 meal penalty per day. On a show, you have to be fed 6 hours after your call time. Because I am a Production Assistant, I always have a pre-call. Which means if the call time for the crew is at 8 am, I’ll probably have a call time for 7 am. When we break for lunch at 2 pm, it’s been 7 hours of work for me before lunch… which means I get a meal penalty. (Production assistants are never guaranteed a meal penalty because there is no union for Production Assistants, but any good show will pay their PA’s meal penalties. If they don’t, throw a fit and demand it! ALSO– you will never get a meal penalty if you don’t fill it out on your time cards, so make sure you ask the 2nd AD how that works.) Meal penalties aren’t very much money, but on a six-day week that’s $42 extra in the bank. That’s a tank of gas!

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19 Replies to “Production Assistant Pay: How Much Does A Production Assistant Make?”

  1. Hey man,

    Love this blog about you starting out in the industry. I had a couple of gigs here and there and I agree, it is definitely tough trying to find that “in.”

    I’ve been on two long term gigs so far and about to start my third gig on a TV show. Would love to connect since I will be following this blog anyways.

  2. whats up, just started reading your page really helped me just moved to Resdea from santa barbara, to get involved in the industry. Thank you very much for your input really helped me get an idea on what i am about to get into. Ill keep checking in, thanks again

  3. Thank you so much for the enlightenment of the P.A world. I’m getting familiar with the this field thanks to Made in New York P.A program, I’m in training and so excited to get started.

  4. I just moved here from Ohio, and there I’ve been working on sets for about three years in various positions. I have been asked to PA on from indie commercial shoots and was asked what my day rate would be. I’ve never been asked, so is the average in LA $125 or $150. It’s not a union project as far as I know. I just don’t want to overprice…

    Thanks!

  5. Hi love this blog’s overview and detailed insight into the PA position on a film, music video, or commercial’s set. I have been working between the film industry and the AV industry though now it is time to further focus on film, forever more

  6. Thanks Nick!

    Hey Michelle! If you’re working a commercial shoot, and you have experience on set, I would say $200. If you’re working TV or Film I would say $125. If you’ve never worked on set before I would take whatever they’re willing to pay you just to get some experience and meet some people.

    – 12pt

  7. This is great! I came across your blog through the Anonymous PA. What a good find. I remember when I got started, I had such a hard time finding info like this. I’m glad to see someone is making it *a little bit* easier to make it out here!

  8. @Erica — Exactly! That’s pretty much why I started this website in the first place. It was hard finding knowledge out there, so I wanted to share with people what I was learning. I’m glad you enjoy it!

  9. Pingback: Film Production Assistant Resume Template | Get Resume Idea
  10. This is the right site for everyone who really wants to understand this topic. You know so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I actually would want laugh out loud). You certainly put a new spin on a subject that’s been discussed for years. Great stuff, just great!

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