A film production assistant works on a movie set in a support role, providing assistance to crews of various departments. Their tasks might include helping out with the construction of sets, keeping wardrobes in order, and performing general office duties. They can also be tasked with bringing actors to the set from their trailers, driving off-site to collect or ship packages, and handing out scripts.
A film's production assistant (PA) provides support to crews while a movie is being made. Some film PAs specialize in certain areas, such as art or wardrobe, and they may work on the set or behind the scenes. While this position does not require any formal education, PAs must be willing to work irregular hours, including early mornings, late evenings and weekends.
|Other Requirements||Flexible schedule and ability to work long and/or irregular hours in various conditions; requirements also include ability to lift heavy equipment, maintain professional appearance and reliability|
|Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)||22% for film and video editors; 14% for television, video and motion picture camera operators; 3% for broadcast technicians*|
|Median Salary (2021)||$39,000** for production assistants|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics **PayScale.com
Film Production Assistant Job Duties
Film PAs who work in the art department may assist with building props and sets. They could also have administrative duties, such as light office work or running errands. Those who work in the costume and wardrobe department assist with labeling, collecting and organizing wardrobes. They may also be in charge of laundering and ironing.
Set PAs have numerous job duties--such as escorting actors and actresses to and from their trailers, helping with crowd control and lockup, giving out schedules or scripts, collecting paperwork, delivering film to various locations and managing extras. PAs in the transportation department may also be responsible for driving crewmembers and package pick-up and delivery.
Location PAs are in charge of creating and distributing maps, delivering contracts, film clean-up, photographing locations and putting up signs. Production office PAs duties include filing, answering phones and making photocopies.
While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't have career outlook data specifically for production assistants, there are a number of related career paths that prospective PAs may consider within the motion picture industry. For example, job openings for film and video editors, and television, video and motion picture camera operators are projected to increase from 2019 to 2029. PayScale.com reported that the median salary of production assistants was $39,000, as of May 2021.
Neither a formal degree nor prior experience is required to enter this career. High school or college courses in film or theater can provide a good educational start. Some state agencies offer free or low-cost production assistant training programs, such as the New York Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting or the District of Columbia Office of Motion Picture and Television Development (MPTD).
Future film PAs must possess qualities, such as dependability, punctuality and resourcefulness. They must also have a professional attitude and appearance. PAs also need to be able to lift and carry equipment to assist with loading and unloading, approximately 50 pounds.
Film PAs must be able to work long hours, usually between 12-16 hours per day. They must be able to work under various working conditions in outdoor weather. They also need be willing and able to travel. PA may need to possess a reliable vehicle and clean driving record.
There is no required education for a film production assistant. They need to be extremely flexible and willing to work long hours, often during nights and weekends. It is important for these individuals to maintain a high level of professionalism when working.