6 Game-Changing Set Production Assistant Books Giving you The Advantage You Need!
Becoming a Set Production Assistant is hard. It’s hard to break in, it’s hard to keep getting hired, it’s just hard all the way around. These Set Production Assistant books are written by authors that worked, and some still working, in the film industry to help the generations that come after them. These books will most definitely help you. They will give you the advantage you need to be a great Set PA, to keep getting those gigs, and to have a flourishing career in the film industry.
I have in fact read all these books, and with being an Assistant Director looking back at starting out as a Set Production Assistant I wish I had these books when I was first starting out. I definitely wasn’t even smart enough to even search for Set PA books out there! I might’ve just believed they couldn’t possibly exist. There are a couple out there that I could have gotten that’s for sure, and I will recommend those to you in this post because all of the information in those books still stands today.
“The Production Assistant Pocket Handbook” By Caleb Clark
This book is seriously the O’G of Set Production Assistant books. Caleb Clark got the jump on everyone and was the first to write about the insanity that is the job of a Set PA.
- Published 1st edition in 1992! The latest edition (3rd) was published in 2008.
- 59 Pages – Talk about learning it quick.
- Super easy to digest and gets straight to the point of what you need to know to survive and thrive as a Set PA.
- It’s actually a pocket size book.
- Has a “Notes” section included to actually have with you on set in case you need to jot anything down and not forget.
- His experience is based in the Los Angeles Film Market.
- Very cheap (I paid $8, but also this book price weirdly fluctuates) on Amazon.
“The Production Assistant Passport” By Alvin Williams
This is a very solid book. I love so many things about it, one being that is written from someone based in Atlanta! All the film regions around the US are not the same, there are a ton of similarities, but you always get the nuances that come with different places.
- Published in 2017
- 117 Pages
- Based in the Atlanta Film Market.
- Has a “What to Wear” Section. I find this very underrated!
- It has my favorite line of all the books mentioned – “Don’t be lazy.” Best thing you can write as far as I’m concerned.
- Resume examples – which surprisingly is the exact resume format I use. I was shocked and pleasantly surprised.
- It was out of print for a bit, but is now back on Amazon for about $36
“How to Survive On Set: The Set Production Assistant’s Guidebook” By Jessica Dean Rose (2nd Edition)
This book by Jessica Dean Rose, is one of the newest to hit the shelves for Aspiring Set PAs. Also, this was the ONLY Set Production Assistant book out there when she wrote her 1st edition that is written by a woman up until 2021.
- Published in July 2022
- 160 Pages
- More conversational style, makes you feel like she’s talking to you, not at you.
- Starts her book with a section on walkies, which stood out so much to me because that is the first thing you need to conquer as a Set Production Assistant
- Explains the Assistant Director track/career path.
- Jessica is not writing from the NYC or LA Film Market, more Chicago and Atlanta- ish areas. We call it the 3rd area. There is a lot of work in that area and writing from that perspective is great for people not trying to relocate.
- Available for $17 on Amazon
“The Ultimate Production Assistant Guide – Getting it Done” By Joshua A. Friedman
I honestly love this book so much! Maybe I’m biased since it’s based on the NYC Film Market, but it was everything I wish I had when I first started as a Set Production Assistant. And it was in fact available when I first started. I just didn’t know, sadly.
- Published in 2011 (All information still reigns true in NYC)
- 188 Pages
- It has everything! Lingo, Assistant Director career Path and timeline! (The how long it will take you type thing you really want to know.)
- Very well organized and structured – Almost like it was made by A NYC Assistant Director, because it was!!!
- Joshua adds his sectioned out anecdotes on how things went wrong for him, and how he learned from them.
- Resume formatting, hiring process, and interviewing.
- It’s a great manual with so much detail.
- Just under $20 on Amazon.
“Gofers: On the Front Lines of Film and Television” By Daniel Scarpati
If I were to suggest a package deal it would be this book and Joshua Friedman’s book from above. These two books compliment each other so well and really give you the full picture of what it will be like to work as a Set Production Assistant in NYC. I actually added this book to my Top 5, and took out a book I mentioned in the video below. That one didn’t make the cut for my new Top 5 Set Production Assistant Books!
- Published 2020
- 221 Pages
- Daniel is writing from a NYC Film Market Experience.
- Has a novel vibe while reading it. I know it’s non-fiction, but Daniel is telling me a story. Giving me great golden nuggets of information, but keeping me entertained too. I wasn’t expecting that in a Set Production Assistant Book.
- It has a warm feeling while reading it. You can tell Daniel cares about who he’s trying to help, and thats always a great feeling while trying to learn something.
- There is book smarts, knowing the certain information and knowing protocols, but then there is street smarts, how to navigate yourself through some tough situations and getting what you want. This book gives you a lot of that street smarts experience that moved him forward.
- This book is about $16 on Amazon.
“Walkie Check, Good Check: The Complete Guide To Being A Production Assistant In The Television & Film Industry” By Jennifer Jedon Hatcher, and Monique Shaw
I really like this book because it addresses the struggle a Set Production Assistant goes through. Also I love how it’s told in script format throughout the book with the lessons sewn between our Set PAs story. I also have added this book after the initial list because these ladies came up on my radar after I made the video below, very much worth mentioning!
- Published 2021
- Written from the Atlanta Film Market Experience
- The story told through the script that you see at the beginning of each chapter connects you more to what PA life really is, I know for me it hit close to home.
- It has a no Bullsh*t vibe to it, if you want someone to tell to you straight these ladies have!
- It is the only Set PA book where it’s written by women of color!
- This book runs on the more expensive end coming in around $50 on Amazon
All of these Set Production Assistant Books are definitely worth reading. And depending on where you are based, or where you want to work in the future they’re going to help you so much, save you some time, and make the growing pangs less … painful. There are links to all of these books to Amazon to buy them, but this post is not sponsored by any of these authors. If you click those links I get a small commission with no extra cost to you.
If you want to check out my video about my Top 5 Set Production Assistant Books to go a little deeper in my review, and I talk about the cons in each book mentioned in the video.
Post Updated August 20, 2022