So let’s be honest…being a production assistant really isn’t that difficult.¬† That being said it amazes me how many bad production assistants there are out there and how few and far between a good PA is.
In reality being a PA is a lot like getting hazed for a fraternity or sorority in college, minus the forced drinking and paying for your friends part.¬† You are thrust onto a set where you have to prove yourself or you will be kicked out and replaced quicker¬† than you can say “walkie check”.¬† Why then will these PA’s come to set acting like they are too good to be a PA?
I blame it on what I like to call the “But what I really want to do is direct” syndrome.¬† New PA’s are usually fresh out of college or film school with a jaded view of Hollywood.¬† Most of these colleges and universities only teach film students certain parts of the industry. ¬† With classes such as “Directing The Motion Picture” or “Directing Actors 101″ instead of “How To Be A PA”,¬† it’s no wonder why a lot of PA’s think that Dreamworks will be calling them in a matter of months to direct their next summer blockbuster.
How then do you be a good production assistant?¬† Well there really is no set way, however, there are a few things you should always keep in mind:
Come dressed ready to work
It amazes me how many PA’s I have seen that will show up to set wearing flip flops or a dress, especially when they are hired to be a set PA.¬† If you are working on set you are most likely going to be running around a lot, lifting things, and standing for most of the day.¬† Get a great pair of sneakers and check the weather the night before because you definitely do not want to be stuck standing outside in 90 degree weather in jeans.
Listen to what people tell you to do
Seriously listen.¬† If someone on set asks you to run and get something you better know exactly what you are getting and where to get it.¬† Listen to what they are telling you and repeat it back to them so that you both know that you understood the errand.¬† DO NOT TALK BACK.¬† If they start yelling at you just smile and nod and get out of their way quickly.
Always keep your walkie on
Never ever ever turn off your walkie.¬† If the production coordinator is frantically searching for you for an important errand, or a AD needs you to drive a crew vehicle they will most likely get pretty upset when they try calling you on a walkie and you are no where to be found.¬† If can carry an extra brick (a walkie battery) with you so you will always have a back up.
Be nice to everyone
This one is pretty obvious.¬† If you are mean and talk back to people no one will want you around.¬† You can end up meeting some really great people on set so try and get to know everyone.¬† On a good set the whole crew can start to become like a family which makes working with everyone for 12 hour shifts a lot more enjoyable.
Work hard and it will all pay off in the end.¬† People notice when you are giving 100% to you job, and the will most likely hire you in the future because of that.¬† Keep up the good attitude, listen and do what you are told and you will eventually be out of the PA hazing and on to bigger and better things.