Being a Production Assistant is often the first step you take in the film industry. It can take you far, but it can also be hard. Here’s what you should avoid at all costs:
1. Showing up late
PAs are supposed to be the first ones on set, ready to get help (or breakfast) for whoever is in need. Moreover, this is your chance to show that you are a hard worker and slowing down the whole working day because you slept through your alarm is a really bad first impression. However, accidents can happen and if you have a good reason for being late and cannot possibly avoid it, then call and let them know.
2. Disappearing on set
Whether you need a smoke break or a quick run to the loo, the ADs and the rest of the crew is counting on your presence and help on set, so if you need to leave for a couple of minutes it is absolutely necessary to communicate it. Just make sure it’s not a time where you are needed and say you are going on a quick break on the walkie. Carry the walkie with you at all times and always let others know you got their message.
3. Being a downer
Yeah, the job can be hard and demanding. It’s long hours most of the time and the pay is not exactly the one you always dreamt of. But everyone on set is working hard – complaining about it will not make it easier, nor it will put you in a good light. Try to keep a can-do attitude and just make sure you always do your best to be helpful: that is how you get called back for another job.
4. Being annoyed about getting coffee
Like it or not, it’s part of your job. You don’t have to see it as something disrespectful or demeaning: it’s just another way to help the crew out so, if you can, do it with a smile on your face.
5. Asking too many questions
You are there to save the AD’s time, so before asking him/her about something you can actually figure out yourself, think twice. Always try to come across as a problem solver, rather than someone who is insecure about every task.
6. Not asking enough questions
Don’t forget, however, that you are always better off safe than sorry: you don’t want to be remembered as the one that made the cameras stop rolling. If you really don’t know what you are doing or how you should be doing it, most of the time it’s not your fault. It’s OK to ask for help, especially if you haven’t been on many film sets. Asking for help is also a way to grow and improve as a professional.
7. Not networking
It’s no secret that in the film industry it’s “who you know” that gets you jobs, so don’t be shy, make friends, show how much you are worth and make sure you stay in touch with the ADs and the rest of the crew. Of course, don’t be the one that tries to hard to be appreciated, just be there when others need you even when you are not on set.