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What To Bring to Set as a Production Assistant

Production assistants (PAs) play a vital role in keeping film sets moving smoothly. If you just landed your first gig as a production assistant, you might be wondering how to work efficiently while you’re still green.

What To Bring to Set as a Production Assistant

What is a production assistant?

A production assistant (PA) is an entry-level position in the entertainment industry, typically in film, television, or theater production. PAs perform various tasks to support the production team, including administrative duties, set preparation, and general assistance to crew members.

Responsibilities of a production assistant may include:

1. Set preparation: Setting up and organizing equipment, props, and sets before filming.
2. Running errands: Fetching items needed on set, such as food, beverages, or equipment.
3. Assisting crew members: Helping with tasks like lighting setup, camera operation, or sound equipment.
4. Crowd control: Managing extras or audience members during filming.
5. Administrative tasks: Handling paperwork, answering phones, or scheduling appointments.
6. Transport: Driving crew members or equipment to different locations.
7. Assisting with talent: Providing support to actors or performers during rehearsals or filming.
8. Cleanup: Assisting with cleanup and pack-up after filming is complete.

Production assistants are often the backbone of a production, performing essential tasks to ensure that everything runs smoothly on set. It's a demanding and fast-paced role that requires adaptability, attention to detail, and the ability to work well under pressure. Many people start their careers in the entertainment industry as production assistants and then work their way up to more specialized roles within production or other areas of the industry.

Do Production Assistants get any recognition?

According to IMDB:

Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans won one of the biggest awards of the night at the 2023 Golden Globes, scoring best motion picture — drama.

Quentin Tarantino presented the award to Spielberg and his production team, and Spielberg took a moment to recognize the hard work of production assistants on Hollywood sets.

“One thing [Tarantino] said to me when he gave me this award, he said that John Cassavetes would be so proud,” Spielberg said. “He said that because I was John Cassavetes’ Pa on one of his movies. I got him coffee. I got them anything they wanted. I ran around that set, which was like a 16-millimeter camera and a lot of noise and whatever they wanted, I ran off to the delis and got them stuff. And that’s why I treat my PAs so kindly because I know what it feels like.”

What To Bring to Set as a Production Assistant

Let’s look at what to bring to set as a production assistant so you can be prepared for your first production.

Permanent Markers and Pens

Production assistants have a myriad of responsibilities every day. Many of these responsibilities, like taking coffee orders or making notes on sides, require writing utensils like pens and permanent markers. Production assistants are expected to come to set prepared, and you don’t want to end up needing to ask the AD if you can borrow a pen!

A Headset

On larger sets, the most common method of communication is through walkies. As a set PA, you should bring your own headset for use with your walkie.

There are many benefits of using a headset with two-way radios, such as improving your ability to communicate and quickly execute the tasks you are given. If you’ve never used a walkie before, be sure to learn about on-set walkie etiquette before your first day.

Portable Phone Charger

Walkies may be the primary way for crew members to communicate, but that doesn’t mean you won’t use your phone. Production assistants may need to use their phones to check call sheets, get directions while picking up craft services, or send and receive messages.

The last thing you want is to find out your phone is dead when you need it most. Since you’ll be moving around a lot, a portable charger is a great way to keep your battery charged while your phone is still on you.

Landing your first gig as a production assistant is a huge step in your film production career. Now that you know what to bring to set as a production assistant, you can make a positive impression that may lead to more work. Good luck with your first PA job!

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