When I started out in TV production, I had no idea how important set etiquette was or even how to speak “walkie.” With that in mind here are a few tips on working production for anyone out there who wants to begin this extremely tough, but rewarding career path.
Getting a foot in the door —
You do not necessarily need a college degree/certification in film to get hired. Apply for jobs on Craigslist. There are jobs listed under Film/TV/Video, Gigs, Crew, Event, etc. There are amazingly helpful sites like “StaffMeUp.com” where they post film production specific jobs and it’s easy to apply.
Go get experience, even if you don’t get paid. Experience will get you in the door to work other shows/films. If you make contacts with people who are impressed with your hard work and dedication, they may suggest you for other projects. Most everyone in the industry started out as a PA, it’s a first step and an important one for making those first impressions.
If you’re hired as a PA on a traveling reality show, things can be a bit more hectic. Even when you feel 110% prepared, someone will ask for something you may not have available. It happens, don’t sweat it. Try to have everything and anything on hand. Since you are practically traveling every day to different locations, be crazy organized and be sure to know where the cast/crew is every moment during the day.
I carried a go-bag everywhere I went. If someone wanted gum, I had it. If someone cut themselves, I had a bandaid. Someone will always forget their headlamp or gloves, so have some extras on hand. I plan on publishing a list of items for your go-bag in a future post. With production, there are always a bunch of moving parts; be prepared, be relaxed and try to enjoy the road life! You are being paid to see the country. How cool is that!?
A few behaviors that will get you CANNED!
You landed the job, now let’s make sure you keep it! Don’t be the PA who is on their phone taking selfies to post on Instagram. Indeed it is important you have your cell on you at all times, it’s not cool to use it for social purposes on set. You’re a professional, so act like it. Keep it tucked away on vibrate mode in your back pocket.
Another really important thing to remember is to keep your walkie/headset turned on all day. Make sure you’re on the correct channel and have plenty of hot bricks (fully charged batteries) on you at all times. People have been fired on the spot for not having their walkie on and/or being on the wrong channel. I will be publishing a post about how to use a walkie and some of the most common codes associated with it in the future.