How to become Film/TV Production Assistant
What does a Film/TV Production Assistant do?
Production assistants offer administrative and organisational support to a producer and director in a production office for film, TV, radio or corporate productions. Their duties will vary according to the size of production, but may include:
- liaising with the crew and other programme departments
- rehearsal and production timings
- logging tapes and film stock
- booking hotels and making travel arrangements for cast or crew
- hiring studio facilities and equipment
- distributing scripts, call sheets and daily reports
- cueing shots and logging artists’ working time
- obtaining clearances and checking copyright
- attending production meetings
- communicating information about production changes to others
- completing health and safety paperwork.
In feature film or drama productions the role is known as Script Supervisor and they work closely with the script, maintaining continuity and ensuring that the dialogue is covered and is accurately timed. On Production assistants may be employed on documentary films or smaller productions, but will still use continuity skills as part of their role.
Production assistants work closely with the director on a location set, logging the recording or filming, making technical notes, timing and marking up scripts for post-production. In a TV studio, they work with the director in the ‘box’ above the studio floor, calling shots, timing and logging recordings.
In radio, production assistants may have more technical duties which could include supervised editing and dubbing, and using other studio technology.
What's the working environment like working as a Film/TV Production Assistant?
Production assistants should expect to work long, irregular hours, including shifts. Their place of work will vary from offices and meeting rooms, to darkened and enclosed studio areas. During transmission, they may sit in the production gallery, surrounded by banks of monitors.
Location work could be anywhere, and may involve staying away from home for long periods of time. Assistants should also be prepared to stand for long periods in all weathers conditions.
What does it take to become a Film/TV Production Assistant?
To be a production assistant you should:
- have good communication skills, and tact when dealing with a variety of people
- have administrative skills including IT skills and often shorthand
- have good attention to detail
- have knowledge of production and post-production techniques for studio and location filming, and a basic knowledge of production equipment
- be able to work without supervision using your own initiative
- have a creative approach to dealing with problems
- have stamina, focus and determination
- be able to organise people and resources within financial budgets
- have mathematical ability for working out timings and expenditure
- the ability to work well under pressure and to meet deadlines.
Film/TV Production Assistant Career Opportunities
Production assistants may work in television companies, independent production companies, film production companies, radio stations, and theatre companies.
This is a very popular area of work and competition for vacancies is fierce. Promotion to senior PA posts may be possible, and those who have skills in handling budgets could move into production management.
Most production assistants now work freelance; however, since they tend to work across the whole production process, they tend to have longer-term contracts than those in other production roles. The most experienced PAs can pick and choose their jobs.
If you would like to know anything about Film/TV Production Assistant that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.Skillset Careers
Tel: 08080 300 900 for England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Tel: 0808 100 8094 for Scotland
80-110 New Oxford Street
FT2 Film and Television Freelance Training
Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU)
373-377 Clapham Road
Facts and Stats:
- Nearly one in 10 people watch television every day in an average week. The average amount watched remains at 26 hours a week. 59 per cent of those surveyed watching between two and five hours a day.
Filming for an episode of Eastenders normally starts six weeks before its transmission.
60 per cent of people in broadcasting work on a freelance basis.
The UK has some 240 radio services. The average listener can only pick up 15, six belonging to the BBC and nine commercial ones