How do I become a production assistant in TV?
September 1, 2004 8:34 AM   Subscribe

I was reading an article about the career of the television commercial producer, and it mentions how the guy in question paid his dues as a production assistant. So, how does one go about becoming one (production assistant)? Is that the lowest rung of the television food chain? I dont know anything at all about film or television, but I've always been fascinated by commerials (good and bad).
posted by Irontom to Work & Money (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don' t know much about TV commercials, but for new shows, it does't get much lower than PA's. My husband was one and it was awful.

He has a degree in Broadcast Journalism from Syracuse. Don't know if a BJ degree is required. But I know you will have to start in some po-dunk, piss-ant, little town in the middle of nowhere and be willing to work weekends, holidays, nights, for horrible pay and no benefits. Then you will move all over the nation going from market to market...until you may be lucky enough to work in a "big market. " It's pretty awful.

That's one reason why he's now a teacher.
posted by aacheson at 8:39 AM on September 1, 2004

You will probably find commercials less fascinating once you have had the pleasure of standing around a shoot for hours on end, being treated like a gopher.

I don't think a degree is required, but if you're looking for work anywhere near a film school (i.e. downtown New York) the competition will be fierce as every film student is dying to get their foot in the door.
posted by bcwinters at 9:35 AM on September 1, 2004

Yes, PA is as low as it gets. Well, extras are lower on the overall food chain, but PA is bottom for production jobs. It's not a skilled position, and outside of the competitive markets training isn't an essential prereq. A warm body, and willingness to work around the clock, is about all that's required. Think "gofer" as in "go for a cup of coffee", "go for the dry cleaning", "go for the leading lady and drag her down to the set right this instant no matter what she says". aacheson is right about the hours. Long, late, and grueling. Also, the paid positions will be competitive; without experience, plan on working for free (right-to-work states are the best places to find those openings). To get jobs, basically just call around to the production companies. There's always someone with a last-minute problem you can solve.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 9:49 AM on September 1, 2004

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