Maybe you’re new to filmmaking. Maybe you don’t know which aspect to explore first. Maybe you’re dying to get involved, but are embarrassed because you don’t know the first thing about making a movie.
Can you walk and talk? If the answer is yes, we’re not only willing to have you on our crew, we need you.
From the crew’s point of view, Production Assistants are the main source of information on a film set. It’s an entry-level job, but an important one. Each day, good PA’s arm themselves with as much information as they can get their hands on – call sheets and shooting schedules, the moment-to-moment whereabouts of every key crew member and the cast, where the bathrooms are, and where and at what time the crew will be eating lunch – and each day they are relied upon to convey that information to everyone who asks. Despite being at the bottom of the film industry food chain, they are expected to know everything and if you do, it can pay off in all kinds of opportunities to learn and network your way to a better job.
Read on to see the PA Checklist…
The PA checklist
At the beginning of each shoot day, arm yourself with the following items:
- 4 ballpoint pens, 3 of which you will likely loan out
- 1 red sharpie for changing call sheets on the fly
- 3 copies of the day’s call sheet, 2 of which you’ll probably give away
- 1 copy of the shooting schedule
- a wristwatch (NOT your cell phone)
- C47’s for the crew– as many clothes pins as you can clip to your clothing
- 2 extra walkie-talkie batteries
How to spend your day
- Show up 10 minutes before your call time and be on walkie-talkie before the Assistant Directors
- Know where key personnel are at all times so you can find them when needed
- Loudly (quietly, if you don’t have shooting permits) call out the commands you hear over the walkie from the AD’s to the rest of the crew, i.e. “Picture’s up!” “Rolling!” “Cut!”
- Keep the crew quiet while the camera is rolling or when the director is speaking on set
- Review your call sheet often so you always know what’s happening next
- Pay attention and learn to anticipate what or who will be needed on set
- Go to the camera for every new set up so that you know what the shot is and can help the crew understand where to stand or stage equipment during filming
- As assigned by your AD, guard doors, driveways and sidewalks from passersby who may ruin a take; politely stop them until you hear “Cut!”
- Run everywhere
See? You’re qualified! That’s it. It’s a simple job, but an exhausting one. Then again, 12-hour shooting days are exhausting for everyone, aren’t they? Don’t worry, you’ll catch up on sleep on your day off.