What Is the Job Description of a Production Assistant?

Very few people get their start in show business at the top. Front-line producers, directors, actors, cinematographers, and other professionals usually enter the film or television industry as production assistants. Working as a production assistant can give you the opportunity to earn a living while learning from established professionals. Keep reading if you want to learn about the role of a production assistant. Schools offering Digital Cinematography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Production assistants work with practically everybody involved in the making of TV shows and movies. Your job duties depend on just whom you're assisting, as described below.

Important Facts About Production Assistants

Median Salary (2019) $36,903
Work Environment TV studio or film set
Key Skills Interpersonal communication, multitasking, conflict resolution
Similar Occupations Video producer, senior video editor, advertising broadcast producer

Source: PayScale.com

Job Duties

Production Assistants are required to complete many tasks, often simultaneously. Below are a few examples of duties that a production assistant might need to fulfill:

Assisting the Talent

Actors and other creative workers on a set need people to help them with a number of tasks. As a production assistant for the actors, you can do everything from fetching their coffee to helping them rehearse their lines. You might also be asked to stand in for actors in order to set up camera angles, frame shots for a scene, adjust lighting, and measure sound.

Helping the Cinematographer and Camera Operator

Cinematographers and camera operators enlist the help of production assistants for a number of functions. You might be asked to carry the camera equipment, set it up at a specific location, and set up the lights under the direction of the cinematographer. You will also be used as a runner, taking shot film to the developers and developed film to editors.

Being a Set Assistant

Set designers are responsible for making sure that objects, from chairs and tables to smaller pieces, are placed correctly. Production assistants follow a set designer's instructions to place set pieces, move other pieces, and 'mark' spots where actors will stand and move during a scene.

Working as a Director's Assistant

Because the director is in charge of every production, production assistants are required to help with tasks such as scheduling appointments, taking notes, and running errands. You might also be asked to deliver communications between the directors and other production members.

Education Requirements

Bachelor's degree programs in television and film give you an overview of mass communication methods and the many career paths in the industry. Production courses give you the opportunity to learn camera and sound operation, directing, lighting, and editing. Courses introduce you to the history of cinema and television and the many genres of filmmaking. Management courses explain the business behind show business, where you will learn about production costs and professionalism.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to PayScale.com, the majority of production assistants earn between $28,000 and $50,000 a year as of June 2019. Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) does not provide information specific to the field of production assisting, the BLS did project that employment of camera operators working in the television, video, and motion picture industry will likely grow by no more than seven percent between 2016 and 2026. It should also be noted that because of the nature of the industry, competition is very high, even for the lowliest production assistant positions.

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