Production assistant jobs are a great way to break into the film and entertainment industry, but they can be hard to find and even harder to book. Afterall, they’re highly sought after entry-level jobs. We’re going to help you find a movie PA job, teach you how to put together a production assistant resume, and answer the most important question of all: “How much does a PA make?” With this knowledge, you can find the best film production jobs and be able to negotiate a fair production assistant salary.
- Production Assistant Resume
- Production Assistant Job Boards
- Production Assistant Salary Info
Production Assistant Resume
Create your film crew resume
You need to find PA jobs, like now. And you don't have a big contact book full of production coordinators champing at the bit to hire you, right?
So, how do you become a production assistant?
The first thing you need to do is build a film production assistant resume and quite possibly a very brief and straightforward cover letter. Film resumes, in general, are a little weird. Most people work a couple jobs for years and stretch every duty into a line item on their resume. In film production, your jobs and job titles are the bulk of the resume.
Anyone hiring a PA knows what the job is, so writing, "tactful disposal of refuse in appropriately labeled receptacles" is not going to get you employed.
Here's a simple example of a production assistant resume below. I've used pink to make it stand out, but you should probably avoid using ostentatious font colors.
Production Assistant Resume Example:
Example of a Production Assistant Resume - Don't Use Pink Font
What this shows is the title of the production, the production company, and the year you worked on the production. If Ridley Scott directed something you've worked on, go ahead and include that. The director can also be added to help people find the production on IMDB. If you've worked as a 2nd AD on student projects, add that as well.
I would suggest placing the most professional work at the top, and I would omit anything that is too personal and skews creative. You may have directed a short film, but that won't help you get hired as a PA unless you've sent the actual short film to a producer. Your PA resume will be stronger if you show you're able to be a team player, so a 'PA' credit is far more valuable than a 'Director' credit.
What if you've got nothing to put on a production assistant resume other than the summer you worked at the GAP?
Well… put that on there for sure, because there is probably more crossover than you might think, but this is where you can write a very brief and straightforward cover letter that expresses your desire to PA.
FREE DOWNLOADABLE BONUS
FREE TV Show Bible Template
Pitch your TV series more effectively with our FREE TV Show Bible template. Enter your email address and receive it instantly.
Production Assistant Cover Letter/Email Example:
“Hello, my name is BILL, and I’m very interested in becoming a production assistant. My experience is limited, but I’m actively building a film and entertainment career. I would even be willing to shadow for a few days to bring myself up to speed. My availability is open, I own a personal vehicle with a clean driving record, and I’m eager to learn.
Thank you for your consideration. I’m excited to find an opportunity to work on a professional set and hope you have a lovely day.”
If they bring you on to shadow or work a free day, you can put that on your production assistant resume later. You will learn enough from just those few days on set to be able to reach out confidently.
If you show up, help out the crew, and are a pleasure to work with, they will likely invite you back for a paid PA job. But, if you’re super annoying, talk about your favorite movies and how you want to become a director and get in the way… no PA job for you.
- Production Assistant Handbook →
- Video Production Process Explained →
- Pre-Production Hacks for 2nd Assistant Directors →
How To Become A Production Assistant
Find production assistant jobs on entertainment career websites
Entertainment-based job listing sites have PA jobs. They have student PA jobs, professional PA jobs, all kinds of work — both paid and unpaid.
Here are some of the best websites for finding film crew:
Where to Find PA Jobs
ProductionBeastis a one-stop shop to post jobs and discover vetted video professionals on a user-friendly and polished interface.
Employers can post jobs for free, message and hire the best industry pros, shortlist people and manage their database of contacts.
Sites like ProductionBeast make it simple for producer’s to find and hire production assistants (as well as other positions).
Find & Post PA Jobs on ProductionBeast
Sites like ProductionBeast provide production assistant resumes, so you can upload and build your resume right on their platform.
FIND PRODUCTION ASSISTANT JOBS ONLINE
EntertainmentCareers is less for set work, and more for office PAs and post-production PAs looking for long term gigs. You normally need experience and a nice PA resume to snag one of these jobs, so if this is your first production job, this may not be the right platform.
They have entry level positions, so it’s not like you can’t find something on there, but ProductionBeast will have more jobs available from day to day rather than from month to month.
HOW TO FIND PRODUCTION ASSISTANT JOBS
The Anonymous Production Assistant
The Anonymous Production Assistant is a nice website with tons of tips, production job postings of all kinds, and some fun articles.
You can find a lot of helpful material on this website, so give it a look when you get a chance, and maybe you’ll find a nice PA job as well.
HOW TO WORK ON A FILM SET
Mandy Job Networks
Mandy is a production job board similar to ProductionBeast. They have a lot of paid and unpaid jobs so you can break into the film industry or get yourself a nice long term production assistant job to keep the lights on.
How to Get PA Jobs - Nadia Fedchin
There are also production alert boards and some Facebook groups (depending on where you live) that can be really helpful for finding PA work, especially for jobs that need them fast.
You can cold-email and cold-call production offices, but you have to be brief, succinct, professional, and okay with hearing various reasons why someone might not hire you as a PA, so take it in stride.
Film Production Assistant Jobs
Film production jobs on college boards
Students film programs are always looking for PAs for their productions, and while the vast majority of these will be unpaid, you’ll actually find a few nice little paid jobs from students doing their thesis films.
For example, USC’s Cinematic job boardhas listings where you can find production assistant jobs fast, but USC is just one of many film schools in the country, so don’t stop with a single school.
FIND PA FILM JOBS
PA Jobs by word-of-mouth
A lot of work comes from word of mouth, because PA jobs come up, need to be filled quickly, and you need to be able to trust the crew. The quickest way is to hit up a production assistant who you trust, and ask if they have anyone theytrust, and they will suggest… who?
Hopefully, you! You want to be that trustworthy PA they can call upon, and once you’ve shown you’re a good PA, they’ll call on you again, and again, until suddenly you’re callingyourtrustworthy PA buddies.
PAs often hire other PAs, or the producer asks ‘if they know anyone trustworthy’ to come on and PA for the week. Word of mouth is the best way to get work in production, and you don’t even need a PA resume.
How do you find people who can suggest you for PA jobs? Find PA jobs on student films, PA jobs on low budget projects, and do some free jobs here and there, just meet some crew people in your area.
PRODUCTION ASSISTANT SALARY
How much does a PA make?
So, you’ve gotten your first PA gig, or you’re ready to go out and get some paid production assistant jobs, but you’re not sure about the money part.
How much does a PA make?
The vast majority of production assistant work is based on individual jobs that can run anywhere from a few days to a few months, so while there very rarely is an annual salary, there are still standard rates.
More often than not, the hiring producer will let you know the salary rate over the phone, in person, or in an email. They will say:
“So for this job the rate is ____ for the day. Sound good?”
Here is the average production assistant salary:
AVErage PRODUCTION ASSISTANT SALARY
HOW MUCH DOES A PA MAKE?
- Feature Films | $200 - $250/day (12 hours)
- Television Show | $200 - $250/day (12 hours)
- Commercials | $200 - $250/day (12 hours)
- Indie Films | $150 - $200/day (12 hours)
- Music Videos | $150 - $200/day (12 hours)
You’ll notice how the rates are for 12 hour days, and that’s the standard length of a professional film shoo. Your rate is based around 8 hours at ‘standard time’, with 4 hours at ‘time and a half’.
This means you make 100% of your rate for 8 hours, 150% for 4 hours, and then 200% of the rate for any time after that — called ‘double time’.
The standard production assistant salary breaks down like this:
Your rate per hour will come in slightly above $14, but for this example we're going to use round numbers to illustrate the point.
- $14 per hour
- $14 x 8 hours = $112
- $21 x 4 hours = $84
So when you add them together:
- 12 hours = $196 (Rate $200)
If the production goes into actual overtime (after 12 hours), your rate will bump to double time, meaning it will be $28 per hour ($14 x 2).
Each hour after that will add $28 until you’ve reached 16 hours on set.
- 12 Hours = $200
- 13 hours = $228
- 14 hours = $256
- 15 hours = $284
- 16 hours = $312
These are standard federal employment rules. Now, if you’ve accepted a deal where you’re paid a flat rate, the amount of time on set can go as long as needed, and you will be paid $200 regardless if you wrap 7 hours into the shoot, or stayed for 16 hours.
There are still rules for:
- How long you can be kept on set
- When you need to break for meals
- The amount of time between the end of Day 1 and the beginning of Day 2
Read over you agreement papers, always get your deal in writing, always have a copy or photograph, and try to get something in an email.
Did You Know?
Kathleen Kennedy began her career as a production assistant and worked for filmmakers John Milius and Steven Spielberg. She went on to become one of the most successful Producers in Hollywood and now is the President of Lucasfilm!
Now, let’s say it’s your first PA job, maybe on an indie film with an 'okay' budget and it might go straight to DVD or end up in some festivals. The producer asks you if $150 for 12 hoursis an acceptable salary.
What do you do here?
It’s your first movie PA job, and it’s not like this is a Pepsi commercial or Marvel movie where money is no object, so you shouldn’t feel offended. You should feel okayto accept the rate.
Production is tricky, but a movie PA job should be 'one-of-many' rather than a single job that pays for everything, so take the money, get the experience, and then make connections and get a better paying production assistant job the next time and continue to build on that momentum.
Once you’ve done ten or so film production assistant jobs, you’ll have learned the ropes mostly from personal experience, and you will be confident to ask for better rates, or be able to find high-budget jobs.
HOW MUCH DO PRODUCTION ASSISTANTS MAKE
What to do if you’re working for free?
If you’ve signed on to be a PA for a student film or some ultra-low budget production you’ve probably done this for one of two reasons:
- You personally know the filmmakers
- You’re trying to get some experience
If you know the filmmakers, that probably means you’ll have a pretty reasonable relationship with everyone and the shoot will be relatively relaxed and you will be treated with respect by your friends.
When you’re trying to get some experience, then you’ll probably have to use your better judgement from time to time. In our other post on Production Assistant Job Descriptions and Duties, we said you shouldn’t pay for supply runs (or anything) out of your own pocket?
This goes double for unpaid work.
When you’re an unpaid PA, you’re still at work, and you should still treat it as such, but you shouldn’t jeopardize yourself in any way when doing someone a favor… because ultimately that’s what you’re doing.
Now, if you accept the position, don’t come in with unreasonable expectations or delusions of grandeur, but you should guard yourself from low budget productions and filmmakers who may try to take advantage of your kindness and eagerness to learn. You still have the same responsibilities like safety, and that includes your safety as well.
- Production Assistant Handbook →
- Video Production Process Explained →
- Pre-Production Hacks for 2nd Assistant Directors →
Production assistant handbook
If you're looking to book your first movie PA job, or you’ve had a few production assistant jobs but left wondering why you haven’t been able to get steady production work. This post takes you through everything a production assistant needs to know during their time on set, in the office, and in the editing suite, including a downloadable handbook with everything the job requires.
Up Next: Production assistant handbook →
Caption goes here...
The average salary in the U.S. for a production assistant is $32,149 per year. Salaries in this role can vary widely, depending on experience, education, additional skills, and certifications. Those who are paid at an hourly rate typically earn between $15 and $16 per hour.What does a production assistant earn UK? ›
Average £10.41 per hour.Is a production assistant a good job? ›
Yes, being a production assistant is a good job.
While demanding and sometimes thankless a job, it's also a crucial launching pad for anyone serious about working in the industry, providing an up-close and personal view of how a production runs.
A Production Assistant's tasks can and often vary from day to day. Generally, they are responsible for printing and distributing scripts, running errands for Directors and Producers and relaying messages between other members to ensure everything runs smoothly from start to finish.Can you make a living as a production assistant? ›
Production assistants make an average of around $34,000 annually, but pay varies on a project-to-project basis. It's common for PAs on feature films and TV shows to make between $200 and $250 per 12-hour day. Those working on independent films or music videos might expect between $150 and $200 per 12-hour day.What's after production assistant? ›
Being a production assistant is an entry-level position with great potential for advancement. PAs can be promoted to being production coordinators and directors. They can also take a new position in the industry, such as assistant producer, crew manager or set designer.What skills are needed for production assistant? ›
- Excellent communication skills.
- Ability to work well under pressure.
- Organisational skills.
- Administrative skills.
Travel – P.A.s are almost always hired as “locals” and production companies do not pay hotel/living expenses for locals. However, if you have a friend or relative who will house you in another city, you can always apply for a P.A.What do I need to be a production assistant? ›
- Get a film degree. While not required, an associate's or bachelor's degree in film, acting, writing, communications and similar fields can give you an advantage when applying for production assistant jobs.
- Sign up for training. ...
- Complete an internship. ...
- Search for employment.
The average age of an employed production assistant is 38 years old. The most common ethnicity of production assistants is White (63.8%), followed by Hispanic or Latino (14.5%), Black or African American (10.5%) and Asian (6.8%).
Even though it's an entry-level role, getting a job as a production assistant is extremely difficult. This means that hiring committees get to choose the best and brightest applicants, which normally means that production assistants have a college degree, preferably from a film department.Do you need a degree to be a production assistant? ›
Most film production assistant jobs require on-the-job experience or at least an associate's degree. Knowledge of media production and techniques is needed. Production assistants typically make a below-average salary and work very long and irregular hours.What are top 3 skills for PA position? ›
- Communication skills. ...
- Interpersonal skills. ...
- Time management skills. ...
- Strong organizational skills. ...
- Ability to multitask. ...
- Attention to detail.
They'll like you for it. For most sets, it's important you look casual but professional. Wearing a nice black t-shirt or a casual button down, dark pants or jeans, and closed-toed shoes is usually a safe bet. Always wear closed-toed shoes because there's a lot of heavy equipment and things moving around.Who hires production assistants in film? ›
Set PAs in commercials are more commonly hired by the production coordinator and/or production manager as opposed to an AD or key set PA. However, many commercial ADs will also perform this responsibility. Standard rate for a commercial PA in the Los Angeles area is a flat rate of $200 per day.How many hours a week does a production assistant work? ›
Production assistants based on film sets usually work the longest and most inconsistent hours because their schedules correspond to the shooting schedule. However, even production assistants based in film offices often work between 10 and 12 hours each day.
As of Oct 18, 2022, the average hourly pay for a Production Worker in the United States is $14.40 an hour.Is a production assistant the same as a runner? ›
Runners provide vital administrative assistance within a film, TV or video production company, 'running' around and undertaking all sorts of tasks to make sure everything runs smoothly. Runners are also known as production assistants.What is a production assistant in a factory? ›
Production Assistants are responsible for assisting the production supervisors and monitoring program schedules. They are also required to load and unload material from conveyors and machines and perform simple assembly tasks.How do you describe a production assistant on a resume? ›
Valued as a competent behind-the-scenes leader ensuring production events are executed smoothly and efficiently. Manage technical and administrative tasks, from running errands to distributing scripts, coordinating craft services and assisting with lighting and sound for studio and on-location shoots.
Don't Have a Car and/or Driver's License
For smaller shoots without transpo departments, production assistants are often required to go on runs. PAs pick up lunch, return gear, run to the store for a last minute prop, etc. If you're over 25, you'll have to drive a 15 pass van, U-Haul, or other rental vehicle.
The job description of a production assistant is probably the simplest on the set. PAs do all sorts of things, such as escorting talent, getting water and snacks to crew members, running errands, making coffee, or anything else that would pull a dedicated member of the crew away from their tasks.What is a PA on a movie set? ›
A Production Assistant (PA) is an entry-level position that assists with general tasks on a film, television, commercial or digital media production. Some PAs work in the production department with the First or Second Assistant Director to provide support and communication to multiple departments.How do you become a PA in the film industry? ›
- a university course.
- a college course.
- an apprenticeship.
- working towards this role.
- applying directly.
- specialist courses run by private training providers.
- administration skills.
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail.
- the ability to work well with others.
- to be flexible and open to change.
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations.
- knowledge of English language.
- business management skills.
- excellent verbal communication skills.
PAs manage and source resources and conduct research so they need to be well informed about many things. They also need to keep up-to-date with the latest apps and gadgets, and with professional best practice.How do I become a good PA? ›
- Set priorities. As a personal assistant, a large part of your job will be to keep someone else organised and on schedule. ...
- Don't procrastinate. ...
- Keep your boss informed. ...
- Ask for input. ...
- Stay informed. ...
- Learn about your boss' likes and dislikes.
When you're working on the set, the main thing, as VancouverPA pointed out, is to be comfortable. Don't wear heels, don't wear open-toed shoes. Wear loose-fitting tops and pants or shorts you can move around in.Can I wear shorts on a film set? ›
You will be fine wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and whatever shoes are most comfortable. In really active scenarios shorts are okay too.What should a production manager wear? ›
Interview Dress Guidelines
- A collared shirt, either button-down or a polo, is a must. ...
- No jeans. ...
- A jacket or blazer can signal that you are ready for work.
How much does a First Assistant Director make? The national average salary for a First Assistant Director is £35,952 in United Kingdom. Filter by location to see First Assistant Director salaries in your area.What is production based pay? ›
Companies in the manufacturing industry may choose compensation a compensation policy that assigns different rates of pay based on products or widgets produced. This type of policy is often called a piece rate, or production rate.How much do freelance production coordinators make? ›
|Annual Salary||Hourly Wage|
Focus puller salary
The low end of what a professional focus puller can expect as salary is around $70,000 with the high-end maxing out around $250,000 for a hard-working 1st AC who takes on many large-scale projects.
The national average salary for a Second Second Assistant Director is £30,583 in United Kingdom.How much does a 2nd assistant director earn? ›
The salary range for 2nd Assistant Directors runs from $64,000 to $121,000. Again, life as a 2nd Assistant Director may not be consistent.What are top 3 skills for assistant director? ›
Assistant Director Requirements:
Good leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills. Computer literacy. Good organizational and management skills.
As of Oct 18, 2022, the average hourly pay for a Production Worker in the United States is $14.40 an hour.Do employees work harder for higher pay? ›
Research from Harvard Business Review shows that when a company gives an unexpected pay raise, workers tend to work harder than is required. This is true even if these workers aren't afraid of getting fired. In fact, according to the research, gifts are roughly as efficient as hiring more workers.Why do companies pay more to new employees? ›
We tend to start families, or have larger bills to pay, and want to take on less risk as a result. Risk that is inherent in switching jobs without a fallback plan in place. Companies know this. They'll pay more for new hires because it is unlikely that longstanding employees will ruffle feathers.
Wrap, which means the production has finished filming, usually follows with a wrap party. If you worked on the production, you're invited to the party with all the cast and crew. Unfortunately, when you're a Post PA, and they film in another state, you can't go.
A production coordinator is a great position for those looking to start their career in the film industry. Even though it's considered an entry-level film job, you can learn a lot from the role and eventually work your way up the ladder.How much do production coordinators make at Disney? ›
How much does a Production Coordinator make at The Walt Disney Company in the United States? Average The Walt Disney Company Production Coordinator yearly pay in the United States is approximately $50,000, which is 7% above the national average.How much is a cameraman paid? ›
How much does a Camera Operator make? The national average salary for a Camera Operator is £46,540 in United Kingdom. Filter by location to see Camera Operator salaries in your area. Salary estimates are based on 24 salaries submitted anonymously to Glassdoor by Camera Operator employees.How much does a first AC make? ›
The average annual salary for a working First AC is approximately $100,000. The salary range for a First AC runs from $70,000 to $250,000. First ACs are represented by their union, which will determine hourly or weekly minimum rates and set rules regarding overtime.What does a 1st AC do on set? ›
The first assistant camera (also called the 1st assistant camera, 1st AC, first AC, or focus puller) has one main job: they sit next to the camera during filming and operate the lens's focusing ring. The role of the focus puller is to keep the right subject in focus throughout each scene.