Production assistants are an essential part of every shoot. When you are a PA on set, recognize the value you have to the shoot and be both physically and mentally present. That’s the baseline: being the asset film professionals expect.
We don’t just want to show up, we want to STAND OUT. We want you to go beyond being passably good and become SO good that coordinators and department heads want to see you on every set. Be thinking of little things you can do for them no matter how small you may think those actions are. Remembering the way they like their drink, coming up with a list of places to go for people in from another area. PAs tend to undervalue themselves, even thinking that doing extra tasks like that will brand them as a peon and they’ll get stuck as a PA. Nothing could be further from the truth.
When in demand professionals were getting started, they did the same thing. It really means a lot to them. As you get to know people, you’ll easily come up with little things you can do for them. Sometimes it’s just making them feel good, remembering personal details and recognizing when you can do something extra to make their job a bit easier or the shoot go more smoothly.
When you are an outstanding PA, you’ll get called back again and again. You’ll become a face people want to see. When they’re looking for new department PAs, to give any kind of higher level opportunity to eager people, do you think they’re going to pick someone who is consistently acceptable, or the person that did the most?
In our work study program, we walk everyone through creating a Magic List. Essentially, it’s an encyclopedia of all the professionals working in your area doing the type of things you want to work on. It will cover a whole range of shoots from low budget to the biggest industry people nearby and you’ll be digging up as much info about their work as you can. The types of shoots they work on, the people they work with, their past work and biggest successes, anything you can come up with about their style and passions in the industry. You want to know who the players are that you might run into so that if you do, you have something to talk about, increasing your profile even more. (A little note: They know you looked them up. It just shows that you to be prepared, are aware of what’s going on in the industry, and respect the work that professionals have done.)
I bring this up because just like you’ll be making a list of people in the interest of moving up, professionals have lists of people they’ll go to when they’re looking to fill positions under them.
I cannot stress this enough: You want to be on those lists.
The simplicity of this shouldn’t surprise you. Just be the best version of yourself at all times when you’re on set. If you’re feeling stressed, tired, or uncomfortable, remember that you are part of a big team of people working toward the same goals. Be the one bringing everyone up, and professionals will want to see you again.