5 ways to be a Great PA
On my first few jobs as a PA I learned a lot about how to prepare for going to set, what to wear, how to act, and how to learn a lot.
Here are a few helpful things I learned from my first few days as a production assistant:
1) Wear comfortable shoes (and generally clothes you can move easily in).
Probably you’re going to be running around a lot. You don’t want to have to stop and rub your feet every other step because you chose to wear your cute shoes that give you blisters.
2) Know that you are there to help.
Your personal primary objective as a production assistant may not be to cater to everyone else’s needs, but that’s what you’re there for. Hopefully, you’ll learn in the process, but the crew isn’t there to explain every step of the process to you. You may want to stand around and watch how the camera crew sets up, but if someone else needs you to run and get coffee, don’t begrudge them. You’ll learn eventually. Right now your job is to go get coffee.
3) That being said, ask questions.
In reality you are there to learn, so if you’re confused or don’t understand why things are being done the way they are, ask. During down time, while you wait for talent to arrive or during lunch the crew will be happy to answer your pestering questions so you do learn.
4) Be prepared for anything.
Everything goes smoother if you’re ready to do and to deliver what ever is wanted from you. I was given a checklist for my first shoot.
I put everything on this list in a medium size duffle bag that is easy to transport to and from set. It can be kept close at hand so the moment the director needs a pen; you’re there with one in hand. It keeps the process moving, so your day gets done faster and you look capable and prepared. Make sure to keep the list updated and put in extra items that are geared toward the specific site and shoot you’re going to.
E.g. add sunscreen if you know the shoot is going to be outside.
5) Finally, this is probably the most important: SMILE
Everything in the world is easier if you smile. People think you’re more amiable; it puts them in a better mood, and makes your trials and tribulations much easier. The hardest part of this is when, it’s near the end of the day and you’ve already been working for ten hours and a new, freshly rested talent appears. All you want to do is wrap up the day, but they want to chat and make jokes. Smile. It immediately puts you a better mood and the client doesn’t know that behind that pearly white grin you’re imagining all of the different ways you could kill them with camera equipment. Everyone gets along better when you smile. Since most of the crew will see you running around tirelessly performing every task that is asked of you they will be impressed by your great attitude and want to work with you again.
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