1. Come Equipped
Good PAs have everything they would ever need to do their job on hand at all times. You need a lot more than you would think to do the job well, and running around set trying to find a pencil when you have a million things to get done does not bode well for your image.
Sure, you could come into work without anything and probably do okay. However, running around with a burger king headset on your head always makes you look amateurish. Plus, you don’t want to be the only one wearing a garbage bag when it starts to pour on set.
For a more complete list on all the necessary gear for production assistants, as well as our recommendations for what products/brands are the best, head on over to our comprehensive guide!
2. Be Proactive
The ability to be proactive and a self-directed worker are the biggest factors in determining whether you’re a veteran or a rookie. It definitely comes with experience, but if you go in to a job with the mindset of being as proactive as possible, you will definitely get there faster.
What needs to be done varies from set to set, but rarely varies day to day. When each day starts you should know what is being shot, what actors are being used and other important things like location changes. You may just be a tiny cog in the machine, but if you are able to immerse yourself and invest deeper in the production, you will be infinitely more useful.
Learn the important people and keep eyes on them at all time. Memorize the coffee orders you’re getting every day so that you can fetch them without even being asked. Start getting ready to load up the tents when you hear that you’re on the martini. The more you can do without being asked, the more that the AD team is going to love you.
3. Learn Social Skills
The film industry is built around social connections more than almost any other industry. Your career trajectory will be made or broken by your ability to network efficiently and leave a good impression on the people that you meet – and that’s about more than just hard work.
Having good social skills will ensure that you have the highest priority when people are looking for a PA, and that people will want to help you grow as fast as possible. When you’re super duper charming, the director could like your vibe so much he hires you as his personal assistant. Literally anything is possible.
Just don’t have any expectations – but that’s a part of social skills itself.
Here’s a list of useful books on social interaction that will take your people skills to the next level:
- How To Win Friends And Influence People By Dale Carnegie
- The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People By Stephen R. Covey
- Influence: The Psychology Of Persuasion By Robert B Cialdini
- Crucial Conversations By Kerry Patterson, Josephy Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler
4. Destroy The Ego
It could be argued that all of the problems plaguing the earth stem from the ego, but we’ll save that debate for another day.
Fact is, having an ego or identity is likely the main cause if you’re dealing with drama on set.
If you don’t think you have en ego problem, you probably do. Everyone has ego problems of varying sizes, and being aware of that is the first step you can take towards managing it.
This might be getting a little woo-woo spiritual for you, so we’ll break it down into some actionable advice here.
- Take responsibility for your mistakes.
- Let go of the need to be “right”.
- Don’t make any excuses.
- Be open to learning. Everybody has something to teach you and all opinions are valid.
- Realize you are not above any sort of work and you are not superior or inferior to anyone else on set.
- Remember that there is never a valid reason to be angry or hateful. Respond with empathy instead.