We surveyed different production assistant jobs to better understand the current state of the industry for career seekers.
So if you’ve been looking for how to get a film production assistant job and profit from the movie industry, this article is for you.
In this report you’ll learn:
- How much production assistants earn.
- Duties and responsibilities of a production assistant.
- Basic skills, education, and certification required to become a production assistant.
- Why people decide to become production assistants.
- Lots more.
So without further ado, let’s get right in.
Who is a Production Assistant (PA)?
A production assistant is a member of a film crew usually attached to individual actors or filmmakers to carry out odd jobs and support tasks in the process of production.
Production assistant jobs are basically entry-level jobs within the film production industry. It is the first step to a long career in Hollywood and movie production in general.
PAs do the jobs that no one else wants to do in a movie production set!
Here’s a shortlist of some odd jobs a production assistant could be assigned to do:
- Organizing food or catering
- Making copies of movie scripts
- Managing paperwork (contracts, scripts, timesheets, etc.)
- Controlling crowds and fans
- Answering important phone calls
- Moving equipment around
- Transporting casts and crews between locations
- Many more…
Why Do People Decide to Become Production Assistants?
From our recent survey, we were able to discover the following as major reasons why people decide to become production assistants:
1. The Love of Media
Most people aim at getting a production assistant job just because they are passionate about a particular medium (movie, TV or radio).
Randolph Bookman once stated in his article titled: Being a Production Assistant that:
Randy is now a producer/production manager known for his works on Forced Alliance (2007), Poseidon (2006) and Terminator 3 (2003).
2. Connecting with Talents
Becoming a production assistant creates an opportunity to connect with top celebrities in the film production industry.
And it doesn’t have to be all about connecting with celebrities!
Production assistants also have the chance to work with leading film producers and directors.
3. Learning the Craft
This is one of the major reasons why people decide to take-up production assistant jobs.
The willingness to view the job as a hand-on education is a huge advantage for every production assistant.
4. Union Benefits
Randy also pointed out that the job of a production assistant is part of a union with strong benefits attached, and protection against termination without cause.
Also, a production assistant may earn some residual income especially on movies or shows that earn a significant income.
Working as a production assistant is a great way to get to know all the various departments on a movie set and figure out what a person wants to do. It’s also an excellent way to finally getting hired in those departments.
No matter what you think, there’s little glory attached for being a production assistant.
But, is it really that easy to get a production assistant job?
Basic Skills and Requirements to Become a Production Assistant
The good news about production assistant jobs is that they are all entry-level positions and require the least number of years of experience.
Education, Certification, and Training
Production assistant jobs don’t necessarily require a particular educational background or qualification.
But in order to be a bit ahead of your other job applicants, you may require an associate’s or bachelor’s degree with classes like theater, television and film production, communications, or an artistic field such as graphic design or costume would be helpful.
But basically, the minimal level of education you may require is a high school diploma or GED.
While working as a production assistant, you can work to prepare yourself for a better position. You can take up other side-gigs like working for your college radio station, local television stations or signup for internship programs.
You can also learn more about the movie industry business by participating in production assistant boot camps.
All these will help to expand your knowledge of filmmaking and learn how to handle different positions in the industry.
Although your level of education isn’t a major criterion when applying for a production assistant job, recruiters still lookout for certain skills to qualify an applicant.
These skills include:
1. A good listener
Normally speaking, no employer likes to have to repeat themselves. So, for you to become a production assistant you must be a really good listener at all times, listening to the directions you are given.
Production assistants are really easy to replace.
So for you to retain your production assistant job, you must be really hardworking and try as much as possible not to be late and lazy at work.
3. Social skills
Surprisingly, this is one of the most important parts of a production assistant’s job description.
Anyone working in the entertainment or film industry will at some point of his career comes to deal with some eccentric personalities. And for production assistant jobs, you need to be extra kind, polite and hospitable.
You also need to have confidence in yourself not to back down just because a director tries to bully you.
Your social skills will also be helpful in getting new jobs and moving your career up the ladder.
The movie industry is more about who you know to help you move forward. So, you will need to really put yourself out there, attend networking events, join as many Facebook groups as possible just to create a reliable network for your future gigs.
4. Always willing to learn
Production assistants are there to help and not become an obstacle to the completion of a film production process. Do as much as you can to learn more about every job on the set without getting in the way.
You are there as a production assistant both to help and to learn. Be open-minded to whatever you’re asked to do on the set.
You must understand that it takes time to grow. And once you’re the best at what you do, someone will definitely notice you.
N.B: A driver’s license and clean driving record may be required of you because production assistant jobs often require you to make deliveries and run errands.
Production Assistant Jobs Economic & Career Outlook
Most production assistant jobs are typically short-term and lack any benefit or raise.
According to Salary.com:
“The average salary production assistants earn as of May 31, 2019, is $31,404. The job may last a few days or extend several months, all depending on the type of production.”
Production assistants are usually paid by the week, with daily pay between $150 – $250, all depending on the job and your level of experience.
TV series and other returning shows may have the most potential for a longer-term of employment and promotion from within.
Production assistants can expect to work long hours, nights and even weekends. Set-based production assistants tied to a production schedule usually work hours that are typically more erratic.
The average work-time for a production assistant job is 10-12 hours daily.
How to Apply for Production Assistant Jobs?
Production assistant jobs are available anywhere in the country, but most opportunities can be found in Los Angeles and New York City.
You can get updated on production assistant job openings from sites like:
The same questions often come up during a production assistant job interview. You can prepare by reading these questions and getting acquainted with the best answers for them.
Film Production Assistant Job Alternatives?
Some production assistant career alternatives include the following:
Producer & Director
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics:
The average salary of producers and directors is $71,680, though some producers and directors may earn portions from ticket sales.
Producers and directors working in advertising and public relations usually earn top wages than those just performing the arts.
Announcers are in charge of presenting news, music, and sports updates. They also interview guests and help to provide commentary.
Another report by the BLS shows that:
The average salary announcers earn is $31,990.
Being a production assistant, there are countless other job opportunities available for you. You may ultimately land into other jobs like a costume attendant which pays an average salary of $41,190.
I hope this survey helped you get a better understanding of how the production assistant job industry feels like in 2019.
And now I’d love to hear from you:
What did you really learn from today’s survey?
Or maybe you have a question that has been bothering you from what you just read. Either way, feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts and I’d be happy to get back to you.