Career Advice

Seeking Employment as a Production Assistant: Plus Search Advice

Production assistants are crucial crew personnel who make sure the production of a movie, television show, or play goes off without a hitch. Starting a job as a production assistant in the entertainment business will help you gain experience and prepare you for advancement. If you’re thinking about going into this field of work, knowing how to land a job as a production assistant can be helpful. In this post, we outline the duties of production assistants, offer eight methods for locating employment as one, and provide three suggestions for improving job search efficiency.

What are the responsibilities of production assistants?

Performance assistants provide administrative and management support to the producer and director of a movie, television show, theatrical production, or video clip. The following tasks are frequently carried out by production assistants, though they may vary depending on the size, location, and type of production:

  • Distributing call sheets and scripts to actors
  • Ensuring that actors arrive at their hair and wardrobe appointments on time
  • Carrying out tasks for the producer or director
  • Transferring equipment between sets
  • Making payments or performing other administrative tasks
  • Responding to correspondence from suppliers
  • Making snacks or meals for the cast and crew

Various Types of Production Assistants

Three primary categories of PAs differ depending on the scale of the production:

  • Field production assistants: These individuals work throughout the filming of a movie or television show and are occasionally tasked with supporting a particular department.
  • Office production assistants: These individuals handle the documentation necessary to produce a film or television show while also performing clerical duties in the production office.
  • Postproduction assistants: These individuals support the experts who plan and complete the project after filming.

8 methods for locating production assistant positions

The following eight methods will help you find work as a production assistant on movie, television, theater, and video clip sets:

1. Look at career websites

Look for vacant openings on general or sector-specific employment websites as this is one of the best ways to discover production assistant employment. You can utilize filters on general job portals to find production helpers in your area. In addition, keep an eye on the websites of significant film and television production firms, as prospective employers there may post job openings there first. If a certain job website has the option, you might want to create an account if you use it frequently. You may be able to store job applications and complete the necessary information quickly by setting up an account.

2. Create a network of industry contacts.

Gaining a good reputation and connecting with career chances in your area might be facilitated by networking with other individuals in the entertainment field. You can boost your chances of getting suggested for a position on a production set by forming connections with other production assistants, filmmakers, customers, and production staff. You can also ask seasoned entertainment industry pros for career guidance, such as where to look for jobs, what sorts of certifications to obtain, and how to strengthen your résumé or social media profile.

3. Participate in an apprenticeship or an internship

Numerous production companies and networks give recent graduates and students in pertinent educational programs the opportunity to intern and apprentice. You can learn more about programs by speaking with the administrator of your university course or by going to the job center at your school. These programs allow you to gain practical experience working on a film, television, or music video set while learning about important production assistant skills. Additionally, you can capitalize on this opportunity to network with industry insiders who could aid in your job search once the program is through.

4. Participate in production-related events

To attract local crew personnel, such as production assistants, film, television, and video clip film studios may hold recruiting events before a major production. These gatherings can be a great way to network with local entertainment industry people, locate employment, and learn about the kinds of projects that will be in your region. The website or social media page of a producing business may have information about these events.

5. Use social media search

The promotion of job openings and forthcoming productions may be done by entertainment production houses through social media. Studio social media administrators may grant fans early information about job postings before posting the details on job portals to entice followers to their accounts. You can communicate with administrators and inquire about upcoming projects by going to a channel’s social media page, which can help you develop career plans. Additionally, you can learn about local hiring activities and employment criteria.

6. Check out local industry websites

Local government representatives might manage a website for the business in their area because television and film projects bring in money for a region or a state. These websites could provide information on local certification and degree courses, employment boards with openings on regional productions, and training possibilities for those interested in the entertainment business. By looking at these websites, you can learn about local opportunities and develop your career while still living in your state.

7. Speak with organizations directly

Even if there aren’t any available positions at the network or production business you would like to work for, you should still submit the recruiting manager your cover letter and resume. Contact details for the prospective employer may be found on the organization’s website or by texting the administrator of the firm’s social media pages. Building a relationship with the prospective employer and other administrative personnel through direct contact with the organization may provide you an advantage during a future position’s recruiting process.

8. Think about working for a company

Production assistants may find it advantageous to join a production crew firm since they are frequently independent contractors hired to work on certain productions. Film crew agencies are companies that gather data from independent customers, cinematographers, and other production industry experts. The agency may be used by a studio’s recruiting manager to find competent crew members for future production. Before releasing your information to producers, agencies could need a registration fee and other requirements.

3 suggestions for locating jobs as production assistants

You can undertake the following three things to strengthen your job hunt for a production assistant:

1. Establish a credible online presence

You may network with others in the business and possibly give yourself an edge throughout the job hunt process by having a personal webpage or a professional social media profile. Your contacts with movie crew social media forums or networking websites, for instance, could result in a reference if you have a corporate social media profile that lists your qualifications and career objectives for a position in the entertainment sector. Additionally, you can promote yourself by providing a link to a corporate website or social media profile during networking events.

2. Finish individual projects

You can participate in independent movie and video projects as a production assistant or in a different role on the camera crew while you look for a paid job as one. Even if working as a production assistant or supervisor on a self-financed short film may be voluntary employment, you can boost your credentials by adding that movie credit to your profile on social media and resume. Additionally, by completing these projects, you’ll be able to network with local film industry people who could recommend you or provide information on how to get a position with a production company.

3. Create a method for searching

Creating a system for your search may be helpful because looking for production assistant positions may include using many websites, contacting your professional network, and participating in events. Consider making a schedule for every significant task involved in your job hunt. For instance, you might spend an hour each morning looking through the websites of production studios and employment boards, saving any potential positions on a spreadsheet. After that, you can utilize your spreadsheet to apply for employment for many hours in the afternoon. By organizing your information, you may prevent duplication of effort and make sure you locate job openings from a variety of sources.

Internships and trainees

A fantastic approach to gaining paid professional practical experience is through trainee and internship programs. It’s worth a look even if these are undoubtedly competitive and may not be accessible where you live. These might be recommended by huge companies or found on websites for film commissions.

For instance, the UK has the BBC apprenticeship program and the Screen Skills Trainee Finder

Networking Techniques for Production Assistants

It cannot be overstated how important networking and making relationships are if you want to progress as a production assistant and gain more employment. Anyone interested in working as a PA should inform their local friends and relatives that they’re searching for work. Strange connections frequently lead to opportunities.   A person only needs to be referred by someone who knows the recruiting manager; they don’t even need to be a union member. Due to a large number of applicants when a job listing is posted on a recruiting website, it frequently happens that those with connections are the ones who are interviewed and possibly employed first.

How a Production Assistant Spends a Day at Work

The duties of a production assistant fluctuate virtually hourly and are typically established by important PAs, assistant directors (ADs), and department leaders. The only thing you can count on is that you will be up before dawn, on your legs, managing numerous jobs each day, and using your “walkies” frequently. There is no avoiding a busy schedule filled with hard hours and occasionally difficult situations. However, there is never a quiet moment, and you will be a crucial part of making tales come to life on film.

Job Requirements for Production Assistant

To be a competent production assistant, you must work tremendously hard above all else. Being trustworthy, accessible, and upbeat is crucial, as are having effective communication skills. In the middle of a stressful shooting day, it is crucial to have clear expectations about your job and to be able to ask questions. The physical demands of working as a PA in the field will need you to remain still for long periods and, on occasion, perform the role of a set runner, which involves physically moving around the set for a variety of purposes.

Even though many PAs have film degrees, the set itself serves as the best classroom. Even so, it might be a good idea to think about getting some basic training in movie production, particularly if your objective as a PA is to move up into a specialized area. Many people hone their production abilities by collaborating on their friends’ short films, solo or student films, advertisements, or campus TV stations, as well as during internships.

What credentials are required for employment as a production assistant?

The skills listed below are necessary for production assistants:

  • Organizational skills
  • Understanding a budget and being able to interpret a call sheet
  • Transparent communication
  • Patience is required.
  • Time management
  • Character qualities
  • Adaptability

Production assistants may be required to pick up new abilities depending on whatever department they are assigned to on-site. The other qualifications needed will change based on the division the production assistant is trying to join or work for. There are other possibilities, including making costumes, operating a camera, and computing financial data.

Training and Education

Since no formal training is required, working as a production assistant is intriguing. Despite the way, some people might act, a production assistant is well within her or his rights to ask for assistance. It cannot be expected of them to have experience since this is the beginning of their career. On the other hand, having past production assistant expertise will enable you to get future production assistant positions.

Some people attend film school before working as production assistants, but many of these positions focus more on performing odd support tasks than teaching employees technical skills. The most important thing for an individual to know or learn is the path they desire to take with their profession. Utilize the training possibilities that come with working as a production assistant to gain the knowledge required to work in that particular field.

What is the Career Path of a Production Assistant?

It is typical for production assistants to ascend to the position of key PA, who oversees and leads the group of PAs and reports straight to the deputy directors and creative director. Following that, they could advance within the AD’s division or, if they demonstrate an aptitude for production, they might become a project manager, line director, or artistic producer. They might get more interested in camera work, makeup for special effects, or Foley during the duration of the assignment. PAs that have invested in time and effort often have the option of asking to work in certain areas where they can observe and pick the brains of specialists from the sector.

Being a production assistant can help someone choose their career goals, irrespective of the path they choose.

What Does a Production Assistant Make on Average?

Production assistant salaries range from project to project, but they often hover around $34,000 per year. On major motion pictures and television programs, PAs often earn between $200 and $250 each 12-hour day. A 12-hour day at work on an independent movie or music video may pay between $150 and $200.

The actual remuneration for this job is the practical experience you gain and the connections you create with professionals in the field.

Are production assistants unionized?

Since production assistants are not covered by a union, their duties can differ significantly depending on if production is union or not. A PA would have fewer varied tasks because every job on a union production is tightly controlled by its agreement of collective bargaining with a union(s). A PA may be requested by a non-union production to carry out any quantity of tasks at any level (within bounds).


A job as a production assistant is a good starting point. If you succeed, you’ll be hired time and time again, get more and more work, and have opportunities to test out other roles on set. No matter how little money a production assistant makes, keep in mind that the most beneficial feature of these jobs is the knowledge you get.

A production assistant’s duties might range from relatively minor duties to tasks that could change the outcome of a set. They are everywhere, in contrast to several other jobs in the entertainment sector.

Frequently Asked Questions about Production Assistant

  • I’ve applied to job postings but have received no response.

There may be several causes for this. You should anticipate receiving one job out of every ten that you apply for, so make sure you are applying to enough nearby employment. If you’re submitting numerous applications but receiving no feedback, your application process must be flawed. A resume and cover letter are required to submit an online application for a PA position. A straightforward film set CV may include prior employment experience, but it must clearly state “Production Assistant” at the top (If you live in the UK, you can use Runner instead). Write a brief email indicating your availability for the production dates in your cover letter to let folks know you are available.

  • I’m having trouble finding employment where I am.

The movie industry and video work can be found in any large city. Living in a small town or city may make it tough for you to obtain enough paying work. To maximize your career, you may need to think about moving. Even though there might not be many huge movies shooting nearby, sometimes it is not possible to relocate to another city or nation. If you freelance or move between jobs, you could still be capable of finding work for smaller businesses. Due to the size of the UK, it is simpler to accomplish this; but, if you reside in the United States, you may have to select a state.

  • How can I locate reliable PA work?

Working as a production assistant almost typically entails working under short-term contracts, ranging from a few days to six months. It can be challenging to get continuous full-time employment in this profession because you will only be paid the federal minimum wage.

Frequently, individuals only serve as PAs/Runners for one or two years before switching to another position. You must continuously apply for jobs if you want to find steady employment. Create bookmarks for employment websites and dedicate one day a week to looking for and applying for jobs as one approach to achieve this. One more is to stay in touch with everybody you deal with, even on tiny jobs, and ask them occasionally if they’re able to get you to participate in a production.

  • How do I advance my rank from the PA position?

The lowest position on set is that of a production assistant, so eventually, you’ll want to advance. Maybe you’ve already decided on the department in which you want to work. For instance, in the design department, you can start acquiring professional experience and applying for assistant positions. Only if you are certain of the movie job role you wish to pursue will you be able to advance in rank. You can start changing the job title on your resume and applying for positions in that other position once you have a general notion of the position you want and the process for obtaining it.

Having some introductory PA experience on your CV can make it simpler for you to apply for jobs in additional employment roles.

  • How much money does a PA make?

When you initially start, the PA position will only pay you the minimum salary. This will be based on the annually changing pay laws in your own country. This translates to a wage of £6.15 to £8.21 per hour in the UK in 2020, based on your age. Because of the poor pay, PA positions are frequently held for just one or two years.

  • Can I work in movies without being a PA?

No, it isn’t a required job function. Working in this position can be helpful, though, as it allows you to observe how a professional team functions without bearing a great deal of responsibility. You may have participated in student films or produced short films, but professional film sets are very different from that. You might start by searching for apprenticeships within the department you already know what division and position you would like to work in. Take a camera trainee, for instance.

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