Monday, September 22, 2014

Production Assisting for Dummies

Hello everyone! It's that time of the week again when you quietly sit at your computer screen, looking for something to do, and somehow stumble upon this blog. It's time for "[insert random film crew position] for Dummies!": the game show where this isn't actually a game and the points totally matter. Welcome! Let's get started shall we? If you haven't figured out what we'll be discussing today by now from the clear title at above, well, you've got bigger problems to worry about...but let's talk about Production Assistants.

Now, most people probably think of a production assistant (P.A.) as a type of "slave" or "under-appreciated, under-paid, over-worked" laborer just trying to make their way in the film industry. That's pretty much exactly what a P.A. is. I'm sorry P.A.s, but it's true and you know it. If you're otherwise convinced, stop lying to yourself. You're not helping anyone. You're just hurting yourself more.

SO! For those of you who didn't already know, there are four main P.A. categories. First up on our list is the Set P.A. This is certainly the most widely known type of P.A. due to the fact that they have the most widely spread list of responsibilities. These P.A.s often work directly for the Assistant Directors, but in reality work for all departments since they take information from the AD's and pass it on to the respective departments. Set P.A.s are key in managing extras, crowd control, or helping company moves. These tasks require as much help as possible, so P.A.s really save the day in this aspect. They also responsible for collecting paperwork and passing out scripts and schedules to those who need them. So basically they help in assuring everyone knows what they're doing and when, which can really make or break a production. Set P.A.s escort actors to and from their trailers, too, which is kind of awesome, as well as deliver film to the airport or the production office. They even get to touch the shiny equipment when loading or unloading from the trucks! How cool is that?!

Next on our list we have the Art Department P.A. This position will probably come off as, well, not that great to most people. Art Department P.A.s essentially do what most people think P.A.s do. They run errands and help out with miscellaneous office duties. It sucks, but someone has to do it. These P.A.s do, however, sometimes get to assist with the construction of props or set dressing. Ignoring the other two parts of the job, they do get at least a little bit of valuable experience in the art department.

Who helps out with the wardrobe?? Great question! It turns out there are actually Wardrobe P.A.s! While these P.A.s also run some miscellaneous errands, they get some hands-on work in the specific department as well. They assist the costumers in whatever it is that they may need including labeling and collecting costumes. They sometimes organize costumes for laundering, too. Nobody likes a dirty costume! At least I don't.

We close today's riveting episode with...wait for it...Location P.A.s! Location P.A.s are extremely valuable to the overall production of a film. Yes, they run errands, but they deal with a whole lot of big-boy stuff, too. They deliver contracts, put up signs to direct workers to set, make and distribute maps to to locations, and even get to clean up locations after filming! I'm jealous just thinking about it! In all seriousness though, without these wonderful people, cast and crew may not make it to set on time (if ever) and, without the proper delivery of the contracts, there wouldn't even be a location to shoot! You go, Glen Coco.

P.A.s are more than often taken advantage of and are far too under-appreciated. Really, they're the ones making sure that everything no one else wants to do gets done. If you would like to break into the film industry and consider yourself thick-skinned, become a P.A.

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