What is a Production Assistant?

With video production on the rise, there is an increased need for people to assist in behind-the scenes work. The role has grown alongside this significant growth and it’s not just about being someone who takes notes or makes coffee anymore – assistants are crucial members of any crew!

What does a production assistant do?
production assistant

It is difficult these days to define what a video producer does. There are so many companies that produce videos, and each may have their own idea of the role’s responsibilities!

The production assistant’s role has grown exponentially in recent years. They are involved with every aspect of the film-making process, from managing day-to-day operations to helping out on set when needed!

Of course, most production assistants would rather be at the coal face, so to speak, than back at base making coffee. Luckily for them, the production assistant role does require the key on-set skills more than it used to.

What Else?

And not just on-set. Editing, sound post, graphics work, they can all fall Into the job description.  The ethos behind this is, you can only develop fully into a producer, director, creative director et al, if you know every aspect of video production or film production first hand.

Irritatingly for many producers, this means making their own coffee as their PA is usually busy on other key tasks.

The term production assistant has gone the same way as “DOP” did a few years ago.  In olden days, a DOP was the person with scientific knowledge of how light worked and how it was going to perform with the camera on set. It took years of study and in-the-job experience to reach the title. These days the DOP is the person with the DSLR.

Who can become a production assistant?

If you have transferable skills, ie. you are client facing, good with words, interested in the creative industry and prepared to work, you are good material for the role of production assistant. Sure, it helps to have a qualification such as media or film based studios. But the job is learnable by most able people.

The production assistant is the glue that holds a video or film company together. They work with clients, manage projects and timeline’s for their employers as well as deal in all things media related such has editing footage into storyboards if needed; they also keep track on who can’t do what so there are no overlapping duties! You’ll need some qualifications though – ideally based around having experience working within creative industries like advertising agencies where this type job would be useful knowledge to have…but not essential because anyone willing enough will learn how quickly you master these skills.

A degree in Film Studies will just provide a short cut. The important thing to remember is you won’t become a producer or director over night.  My estimate is at least two years as a production assistant would be sufficient hands on experience before you can consider comfortably moving on to your goal position.

It’s not too long ago that two years was the standard amount of time it took to prepare yourself for a successful career in production. And now, many PA’s are finding themselves at prestigious events celebrating their work!
It seems like just yesterday I was interviewing and getting ready with my family before walking down those same red carpets so you can see how much has changed–and what wonders await us all along this journey called “life.”

Here’s an interesting take on the role of production assistant. I even agree with some of it.

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