Top 10 Empowering and Effective Film Career Set Production Assistant Tips
So, you’re embarking on the path of starting a Film Career, and you probably heard about how being a Set Production Assistant helps, but you may not be sure where to start, what to do, or what you’re about to experience starting a film career as a Set Production Assistant. Here are my Top 10 Set Production Assistant Tips that will most definitely empower you and be 100% effective in helping you advance in your Film Career.
A Good Attitude
I started with the foundation of your career – Your attitude. Your attitude will make or honestly break your career!
No one, anywhere, wants to work with someone that has a horrible attitude – and that includes the film industry. Remember when you work on set it’s going to be upwards of 12+ hours and that’s a lot of time to spend with your co-workers.
There’s no 9-5 hours around these parts my friend. So, when your attitude starts going south, and you start being a complainer, a negative Nancy, or the person that didn’t come to set to work, you start building the wrong reputation for yourself. People will start to avoid you, not hire you anymore, and ultimately make it harder for you to grow in the film industry.
Step on set ready to work. Be happy to do what is asked of you, and have a good positive attitude.
…and smiling definitely doesn’t hurt.
Throughout my life I had those film dreams that a lot of my friends had too. Well, I have a film career and they don’t. Why? They lost focus. They didn’t have a plan to stick to, and they let the life things distract them from their goals.
Staying focused when it comes to your life goals is not easy. I know that. I am victim to being distracted from life things, bad decisions, and not putting my energy in the right direction. And it really slowed my film dreams down.
Two major times in my life I had a plan to “Make it in Film” and both times there were some MASSIVE delays.
One of my high school teachers use to say “Where Energy Flows Attention Goes.” And I swear there is nothing more true than that. If you’re trying to become a Set Production Assistant on a union set to, let’s say become a Director of Photography one day, you should be doing something everyday to get you closer to your goal.
Even if it’s just a 5 minute visualizing exercise where you see yourself on set as a Set PA, or Director of photography. NO – I am not kidding.
Becoming a Set Production Assistant is definitely one of the first stepping stones. Do whatever it takes to get those Set Production Assistant jobs. Email people, contact people, work on Indie Film shoots, volunteer to shoot your friends little short film. STAY FOCUSED.
Wherever you put your brain power is what comes to fruition. Never underestimate the power of manifestation, and persistence.
Know Your Bosses
This may seem weird tip out of all the Set Production Assistant Tips, but when you start as a Set Production Assistant you are going to have a lot of bosses, and you should know them. The Set PA spot is the entry level position and there is a big hierarchy of bosses above you.
You will most likely start as a Day Player Additional Set Production Assistant. Day player meaning they hire you by day when they need more Set PAs.
When you step on set figure out who is who – ASAP.
Identify the 1st AD (1st Assistant Director), the 2nd 2nd AD, and Key PA. Those 3 people are on set and you’ll work with them the most and hear them the most on the walkie. Know their names, faces, and their voices. There’s noting worse than realizing you tried to stop the 1st AD from stepping into set when he or she has to be there when you were on that door lock-up. The 1st AD will look at you crazy, and then ask the Key PA who you are, and tell the Key PA not to hire you anymore.
I have seen this happen!
So, make sure you know who your bosses are.
You can learn more about one of your bosses here where I discuss what the 1st Assistant Director does.
This Set Production Tip will prevent you from being fired. I swear it will. If you’re not paying attention what are you doing on set?
When you are on set – observe, take everything in, you’ll learn a lot. Not only that, but you will become a better Set Production Assistant as well. Your job on set as a Set PA is to know what is going on at all times. Know what goes on, and then you share that with all the crew members around you. Now they know what’s going on too. If everyone knows whats going on it makes for no confusion and a smoother day on set!
As a Set Production Assistant you are an extension of the 1st AD, the person running the set. Every person that is working on set has to know what the 1st AD is saying. And a lot of the time you are telling them for the 1st AD because you are in places the 1st AD can’t be. The crew will come up to you with questions and if you paid attention to what is being said on the walkie, and what is happening on set you’ll be able to answer that crew member’s question. If you have the answers it means you’re doing your job, your paying attention, and the crew members will start to trust you.
This makes you look good, and ultimately you’ll get hired more because of it.
This is hard for a lot of people. A good rule of thumb to follow on set while communicating is to make it short and sweet. Get to the point in as few words as possible. Whether it’s in person, on the walkie, on the phone, in text, email – ANYTHING!
This can also apply to when you’re applying to jobs with the emails you send. Be concise! Trim the fat. No one wants your whole life story if they didn’t ask for it. And this 100% applies to your resume as well.
Make it easy on the person reading your emails. That person doesn’t want an essay of an email to read through only for you to ask one question at the end of it. Hey, I get it there could be some details the person should know, but give them the bullet points.
When it comes to any stage, and any form of communication in your career when it comes to the film industry – Be clear, concise and efficient.
Just Say “Copy”
There are moments on set where things get stressful. You will get frustrated. Things get tough. Your bosses could be critiquing something you did, or correct you on Channel 1 of the walkie for all to hear. JUST SAY “COPY!”
Saying “Copy” means you understand what was just said to you.
Sometimes every fiber of your being just wants to defend yourself. Don’t. JUST SAY “COPY.” Don’t start to argue on the walkie, in text, or on the phone with your boss. You will get fired.
When a Key PA, or an AD tells you do something, whatever it is, JUST SAY “COPY.”
This can be very hard for new folks that are just entering the film industry. But this Set Production Assistant Tip will help you on the making connections front. Making connections and building relationships is what gets you further in your career.
If you’re not yourself you tend to be a less happier person on set, and in life. Not only that, but you tend to attract the wrong people you shouldn’t be around. If you truly are yourself while working in film you attract all the right people to you and whatever cause, and goals you have. Your career will advance a lot further, and faster.
People that are comfortable in their own skin do better in the film industry. The video below gets deeper on how to be yourself and applying it working in film.
Confidence is Key!
Out of all the Set Production Assistant Tips this one is close to my heart because it’s the reason why I’ve gotten so far in my film career. When you have confidence a lot is possible. And it’s not always about the “fake it till you make it” thing either.
Confidence is about having confidence in yourself that you can figure things out. You might not have the answer of solution, but you know you can find it, or figure it out!
Confidence is going forward, maybe you’re fearful of the unknown outcome, but you’re going ahead with whatever your plan is anyway. It’s also knowing that you will make mistakes. No one is perfect. You’re going to make mistakes especially when starting out as a Set PA. The key is to admit those mistakes, and learn from them. There’s so much power in that.
In the video below I discuss ways to be more confident, and look more confident. Sometimes how you’re doing/saying things may be making the people around you feel less confident in you. And on set you don’t want that. You want people to trust you, and have confidence in you. If you feel confident in yourself you want others to feel that way about you too.
Connect with Your Peers
This is a no brainer that so many people starting out just doesn’t realize. When you start as a Set PA, make friends with your fellow Set PAs! Make friends, exchange info and help each other out in the industry. This is one of the first ways you’re name gets to other Key PAs looking to hire Day Player Set PAs. The More Key PAs you know the more jobs you get. The more jobs you get the faster you move up in the industry.
Hey, I always said I’d rather have a day on set than not be on set. When I’m on set I can build relationships, make more connections, and through that more opportunities come.
Make Film Friends
Now, this is similar to the last tip, but this applies to more than just your fellow Set PAs. If you’re a person that has goals to go into other departments, or maybe you want to write, or be a script supervisor. When you get on set start talking to the people that you one day hope to be. Pick their brain, make friends with them. They will help you in your pursuit to get where you want to be. Trust me on this!
I truly mean make friends. I hate “networking” because its a very “means to an end” kind of way of looking at this. Make genuine connections, real friendships. Your film career with all the film friends you made on set will exponentially make your film goals easier to achieve.
All of the Set Production Assistant Tips will help you in your film career wherever you want to go, whatever position you want to elevate to. All of them will make your life a lot easier on set thats for sure. The videos added include a lot more information about each tip, and go a little deeper if you want to know more.
Which Set Production Assistant Tips were your favorite? Tell me in the comments!