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Office PA

If you want to work in the hub of the production process, then the production office may be for you. Under the supervision of the production coordinator, production office PAs assist in the logistical complexities of getting a film through pre-production and principal photography.

Office PA Image
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Apply for internships during your studies. Improve your IT, Excel and administration skills. Work on short films to build experience.

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Seasoned office PAs are very desirable to productions. Good PAs are never short of work offers, you will need some credits on short films and indies before progressing.

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The next step is production secretary, producer/director/cast assistant. After a minimum 4-6 years you can apply for travel, accommodation or assistant production co-ordinator.

How does the Production Office on a UK feature film work?

The production office is the switchboard of a feature film; all logistics, communications, hires, rentals, deals, and costs are run via the production team. Production staff wades through a tremendous workload over the course of pre-production, pushing the production forward and making sure the producer, director, cast, and crew have everything in place for the shoot.

Pre-production:

During pre-production, which can be anywhere from four months to four weeks, the production office will be responsible for the office hire, studio/stage hire, location hire, and all contractual frameworks for cast and crew. Once inside the office key members of the team (UPM, production supervisor, and coordinator) will arrange for the hire and installation of the office infrastructure, such as the computer network, laptops, production copiers, copier paper, and toner, stationery, printers, and phone lines (with extensions) so departments can call through to each other. Telecommunications extend to hiring, logging, and distributing cell phones for foreign crew and HoDs (Heads of Department).

Depending on the budget, the number of staff in the office can vary. A low-budget independent film can run with two or three key production members; larger budgets create a larger workforce who take over studio complexes and warehouse space.  The UPM and supervisor make arrangements for the following departments to have access to workspace within the office on one of these bigger budget features:

  • The ADs Department. The 2nd AD prepares the call sheets and liaises with the Transport, Costume, and Hair/Makeup Departments to set call times for the next day's shot. They also prepare the sides, which are distributed each morning.  

  • The Location Department prepares contracts and a movement order for each location. They are responsible for the set, unit base electrical & water requirements, and oversee the unit base facilities.

  • The Transport Department is responsible for the dining bus, departmental trucks, unit cars, minibusses, and any additional vehicles required for the location such as 4x4’s, gaiters with trailers, golf carts.

  • Stunt coordinator. The stunt team can be rehearsing with the actors through pre-production, especially if any fight scenes need to be choreographed.  

  • Director of photography. The DoP is involved at different stages of pre-production. This can mean a visit a week to look at sets, locations, etc. Sometimes they are not present at all as they are working on another production. 

  • Unit publicity and the casting director will be assigned a hot desk if they come into the office.

Once the production team is installed in the office, key members of the team will help other departments settle in their studio space, providing phones, keys, kettles, fridges, water coolers & the internet. The other departments working during production that need their own space are:

  • Art Department.

  • Wardrobe, including extra talent changing area.

  • Storyboard artists.

  • Hair and Makeup Department.

  • Editorial. The editing team, not to be confused with TV editorial who perform a very separate role. Some productions opt to have the edit run alongside principal photography in a nearby location. 

  • Production meeting room used for weekly pre-production production meetings with all HoDs and often used for conference calls to the studio.

  • Rehearsal rooms. Space will need to be arranged for cast rehearsal or stunts.

  • Stores for props, set dressing, costume, and production (printer boxes, paper, supplies etc)

  • Camera storeroom for film stock and often for camera boxes that can’t fit on the camera truck. If filming happens nearby, this is also used for charging batteries.

The amount of paperwork the production office generates during pre-production is vast. One of the first jobs is to compile (and update as production advances) the unit list and phone list with the crew's contact information, a supplier list with all the relevant companies involved with the production also needs to be created and maintained. Scripts will need to be watermarked, copied, and distributed along with the schedule, weekly diary, and storyboards. Other paperwork the production office will be sending out and filing upon return are:

  • Distribution and signature of Deal Memos, crew contracts, and daily timesheets.

  • The writing, distribution, and filing of Purchase Orders.

  • Collection and logging of relevant data for accounts including passport and driver's licenses of all crew.

  • Updating the insurers of any relevant notes that concern the production policy.

  • Organizing and providing catering for interdepartmental production and studio meetings.

  • Distribution and collection on the signature of Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDS)

While creating the legal infrastructure for the production, the production office is responsible for sorting out the travel and accommodation for cast and crew while filming on location, if filming overseas logistics can become quite detailed with freight containers housing equipment, costumes, and sundries traveling by air, road and sea. The coordinator will also be booking any required vaccinations for the crew going abroad and medicals for the director, DoP, and lead actors for insurance purposes.

Moving closer to principal photography the coordinator will be penciling (booking in provisional dates) rentals & hire including camera, sound, DIT, grips, and lighting. Penciling in vehicles including tech trucks, private hire cars, unit base vehicles, and departmental runarounds and arranging ID badges and parking for all 'new starters’. Working closely with the location team the production office will also be coordinating the technical recces for the HoDs.

Principle photography:

While all eyes are turned to set during principal photography the production office will be dealing with any changes to the schedule and trying to stay one step ahead of the shooting schedule. The office shows no sign of slowing down once in production, each evening after wrap, paperwork is collated and processed. The AD report, camera report sheets, script supervisors progress report, marked-up scripts, sound reports, DIT (digital reports), and extra chits will be amongst them. The production coordinator will use the above to create the wrap report, which is distributed to relevant parties such as the studio, financial controller, producers, and editors. The production office is the primary source of communication between the studio or production company, which can require daily progress updates at any time. These become especially detailed if the day is packed with stunts, large background scenes, aerial shots or explosions.

Working in conjunction with the ADs and Locations Department, the production office will be generating ongoing information such as the call sheets and movement orders, which are distributed each evening so the cast and crew know where and what they are filming the following day. Included are the weather reports, sunrise/sunset times, and if working by the coast - the tide timetable. Each morning the office PA will be printing copies of the sides, which are either prepared by the assistant directors on wrap the previous day or before the cast arrives at the unit base in the morning. They are never distributed until the day of filming. Any amendments to distributed paperwork are usually printed on paper of another color to avoid confusion. For this reason, the production office will require an ample stock of colored paper that will have a designated sequential order. During production the office will also be looking after:

  • Equipment hire can be necessary at any stage of production due to malfunctions or the nature of a shot changing.  

  • Purchase of film stock or drives. The raw film stock will be monitored daily by the production coordinator, who will liaise with members of the Camera Department to make sure they have enough of what they need. The daily progress report requires a detailed account of the short ends, raw and exposed stock. Often productions donate the short ends to young filmmakers at the end of production.

  • New cast members or ‘daily’ crew are brought onto the production which necessitates new contracts along with travel and sometimes accommodation arrangements. They will be added to the various production lists such as quick dial phone lists, unit lists or cast lists to be included in production distribution.

  • Liaise with the 2nd AD and script supervisor to clarify travel, call time, lunch, and wrap times.

  • Log the hours of the cast, stunts, extras, and crew.

  • Liaise with the Transport Department for collections; drop-offs of the cast, execs, additional equipment, and rushes.

  • Location prep or strike.

  • Risk assessments. The production office is responsible for collecting and distributing risk assessments to the insurance company, studio, cast, and crew. These are sent via email and made available at the unit base.

  • Making specialist appointments such as medical/dental appointments.

  • Claims. Keeping on top of medical insurance claims for example.

  • Distributing, collecting, and collating NDAs from any freelancers or extra talent (Non-Disclosure Agreements which are a feature of most large budget productions).

Once the film has completed shooting, and any pick-up days or reshoots have taken place, the production team has a few weeks to wrap up operations and hand them over to the studio/production company. The post-production supervisor continues to work with editorial, whose team will push the film through the post-production process to completion.

WHAT ARE THE ENTRY LEVEL POSITIONS IF I WANT TO WORK IN THE PRODUCTION OFFICE?

Production Intern

Internships can be found in the production office at the discretion of the production coordinator, but competition for these places is fierce and unlikely to be advertised. Look at MFJF opportunities and ask friends, or friends of friends, if they know any coordinators who are offering placements. If you gain a placement use those valuable days or weeks to promote yourself to members of the production team, work hard but make sure you are getting something out of this too. Shake everyone's hand (post-covid) and make sure you come away with a reference at the end. If you take this type of opportunity, understand the guidelines that surround internships. Most likely you will be helping the office PA with their duties, while they concentrate on the more demanding elements of the job. If you are interning via your school, there are explicit rules that govern the terms of your days, hours and duties to be carried out. A school’s workers compensation policy will cover the student in case of work-related injury or illness. If you are accepting an internship without study, the production can adopt a variety of stances. Some will not accept interns due to liability issues, some will pay minimum wage - which varies from state to state, others with their own worker's compensation insurance and will submit intern details. Make sure you understand and know your rights as an intern.  

If you are working for a production company in their office, internships are more readily available.

Office PA

The office PA can most often be found by the photocopier, distributing scripts on set, ordering stationery, next to the photocopier again for the next day's call sheets, getting the tea's, coffee's and lunches. This is the starting point of your career in the production office. As your experience grows the role expands to updating contact lists, DOODS, purchase orders, bookings, and liaising with the various departments, progress reports, and crew contracts. PA's work slightly closer with the production coordinator. If it's a lower budget production, the PAs will assimilate the tea, coffee, lunch duties into their remit also. 

Green Steward

This is a relatively new position within a production. Part production PA, part eco-warrior, the green steward is a department of one. The green steward will monitor and advise on the production's environmental impact. If they are doing their job fully, they can save production thousands of pounds to boot, making them very popular with producers.

Productions can sign up to make their shoot environmentally sustainable, and it's the green steward's job to implement this. Small things really do add up. A steward could source a water cooler onset, which can save hundreds of pounds and create far less waste than the typical 750 mm bottles. They arrange for the props, costumes, other consumables to be distributed to charities at the end of the job. Nothing goes to waste.

Covid-19 Challenges

After the global lockdown, productions have started their wheels in motion but with a different set of protocols in place. This has meant another set of tasks for the production office to assimilate into your remit. The landscape is constantly changing onset but with Covid showing no signs of disappearing overnight, we have compiled a notion of what that will entail on production and provide resources to make sure you are informed and prepared for working under the latest guidance. To find out more click here ...

WHO WORKS IN THE PRODUCTION OFFICE?

Some producers will remain within the office for the majority of the shoot; others will be on set behind a bank of monitors. The other key players in the production office are:

  • Executive producer. Though they may not be in the office all the time, a desk and phone are always allocated to them for their visits to set.

  • Producer. What happens in the production office is the overall responsibility of the producer. They work closely with the main senior members of the production team to keep the production running smoothly and the books balanced. They can be found working closely with the casting director, sealing the deals, and liaising with the actor's agents.

  • UPM. The unit production manager takes responsibility for the crew, overseeing the budget spend and negotiating contracts with the freelance crew.

  • Production supervisor. Helps the UPM manage the workload and organize the office facilities.  

  • Production office coordinator. Acting as the office manager and taking responsibility for logistics and coordination of cast and crew.

  • Assistant production coordinator. The production coordinators right hand, often taking on the roles of travel and accommodation on smaller productions.

  • Production secretary. Assists the assistant production coordinator by collating the information to create lists such as quick dial telephone list, unit list, and cast list. They also send crew start paperwork and ensure they have an ID card and car pass.

  • Directors assistant. Not to be mistaken as part of the ADs Department, the director’s assistant makes sure the director is always comfortable and happy. This can mean providing tea/coffee/lunch, dealing with their schedule, filing all their production paperwork and running personal errands.

  • Producers assistant. The same as the above for the producer.

  • Cast assistants. The same as the above but for individual members of the cast, who may or may not bring their assistants with them.

  • Accounting staff. Monitoring and amending the budget, creating a cost report, paying suppliers and the cast and crew's wages.

WHAT OTHER AREAS OF THE INDUSTRY CAN I FIND WORK IN AS A PA?

PA’s are in demand all over the industry, and you will never be short of work if you are diligent, take direction, use your initiative and enjoy being a part of the process. As a PA you can find work in:

  • Commercials (in-house)

  • Music videos (in-house)

  • Corporate videos (in-house)

  • TV drama (production office)

  • Television

  • Short films (production office)

  • Animation (production office)

WHAT ARE THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF the office PA?

Rest assured you will be busy in this job, especially if all the departments have been scattered around the surrounding area. Some of the responsibilities of the office PA will be:

Buying food for the kitchen.

There will often be a list where members of the office make requests, so when you go out on ‘runs’ make sure to check for any new additions. Your kitchen duties can also involve taking out the trash and collecting cups and plates for the dishwasher, or if you’re slumming it, the washing up bowl. Make sure the fridges are filled with drinks, and there is milk/cream in the fridge each morning. With craft services no longer being the hang-out it once was, production office staff may prefer to remain in their pods, so you need to cater for them. 

Office supplies.

Make sure the paper and toner for the photocopier never run out.

Answering the phone.

Always find out what the caller wants before passing them on. If they are fishing for information about the production or asking to come on set, take their details and pass them onto the unit publicist straight away. Similarly, if an actor's agent is on the phone, pass them to the 2nd AD as soon as you can, especially if they're enquiring about the schedule. Do not give out information even if it’s on the schedule right in front of you. Often the 2nd AD knows if a revised schedule is on the way, they will also know about sensitive details that might not be shared with junior members of staff and affect the date or time of the cast’s next appearance or appointment. Confidentiality is essential when you are on the phone. 

Collecting and delivering post.

You may be sent out with a bag of mail and called upon to distribute any incoming mail as one of your first tasks of the day.

Check the office answerphone for messages.

Making sure the recipient receives an email detailing call time, name and number.

Reception duties.

If there is a reception area, most probably your desk.

Going on 'runs'.

This can be anything from collecting props (depending on the type of film you are working on) to collecting dry cleaning. 

Photocopying and emailing.

Scripts, call sheets, unit lists, schedules and DOODs (day out of days) to distribute to the crew. Always check with the 2nd AD before distributing anything to the cast. The photocopier is your friend for the duration of the production, make sure you know how it works. 

Making travel arrangements.

Booking cars for HoDs if they are attending meetings. 

Managing petty cash.

If you are making purchases, you will be assigned a float. Keep it separate from your money and make sure you have enough cash on you when you leave the office. Never pay for anything from your own pocket, especially if it's a large purchase. Production will refund you the money, but it may take time to clear, which isn’t always useful when living on PA wages.

Meeting room prep.

If there is a meeting room where senior members of production or HoDs meet, it will be your job to prep the room with water, glasses, any documents required, setting up a speakerphone or AV equipment if necessary. 

ID and passes.

Production runners can be asked to oversee the ID passes and car passes for the crew upon arrival in the morning.

WHAT IS THE PRODUCTION OFFICE LIKE TO WORK IN?

While you’re out in your car for the eighth time that day on deliveries and collections, it would be easy to lose sight of how much your work is valued by the production office. Hard-working PA’s get noticed and go far quickly, try and keep this in mind while you are ferrying around dry cleaning. The hours will be long - the production office is up and running an hour before the first call - and remains at least an hour after wrap so don’t expect too much of a social life whilst you're working.

Traditionally office PAs answer to the production coordinator, who will schedule their duties and workdays. However, there may be an occasion where you are given five separate tasks from five different people, each of whom has prefixed said task with ‘urgent’! It’s not uncommon for others to think they have the right to use the PA, although they do know they need to ask the production coordinator first. Agree to whatever they ask and then always run it quietly past the coordinator. They will be aware of any impending tasks that you're not, which would mean you are not available to do a favor. The coordinator will re-assign the task or suggest another option for the request to be completed.  

If you're allocated a desk it's very important you keep it extremely tidy and in order. When the cast and crew visit the production office, your desk is the first thing they will see, first impressions always count. Treat it like a front-of-house desk and be prepared for various people to open your drawers to look for items that have been left in your possession, such as keys or passes - so don't keep anything too personal in there.

WHAT IS THE CAREER PATH working in the production office?

PAs who are busy working on a variety of projects can gain experience very quickly. Being a great PA can work against you in some circumstances, your skills in the production office will be highly valued so making the jump up when you're swamped with work offers for PA positions takes courage. The next logical move when you have amassed two to three years of experience is to production secretary. From here you can move your way up the career ladder to assistant production coordinator, production coordinator, production supervisor, and UPM.

WHAT ARE THE KEY SKILLS FOR WORKING AS An office PA?

Highlighting skills in your resume is a must when starting out as a PA. If you look at any job advert, you will notice that skills or a list of aptitudes are always present, and can offer candidates a great insight into what the company is looking for.

Film production is no different, except the skills, attitudes and aptitudes are unlikely to be advertised. Use your experience in the industry to determine what skills a good production assistant needs, list them on your resume, and give examples of how you have used them in your previous experience. If you are still following stage 1 of your career plan and your resume is looking thin, think about the other activities you have been engaged in such as part time-work, voluntary or community activities. 

Some of the essential skills to show examples of in your resume are:

  • Prioritizing: You are going to be asked (told) to do a lot of things when you’re a PA by many different people who think you exist to fulfill their tasks alone. Unless someone looks you dead in the eyes and tells you the whole production hinges on this one email being sent, work through the jobs methodically and ask the production coordinator if you are unsure.   

  • Be proactive: If you can see something that needs doing, get it done. Acting on your own initiative shows confidence and resourcefulness.

  • Enthusiasm: It sounds obvious, but you should act as though you want to be there, don't continuously check your phone, or ask when you can go for lunch. If time allows, ask questions, and get to know who is working in the other departments.

  • Be confident: Especially when talking to colleagues or anyone who comes into the office, this is the best time for networking and making contacts. If you're introduced to anyone make sure your handshake is firm and try and remember the person's name, even if that means writing it down.

  • Be friendly and approachable: Having a happy demeanor can take you a long way in this industry, a happy and willing office PA makes a happy office!

  • Adaptability: Situations can change at a moment's notice in the film industry, something may come up that needs all hands to the pump, or you may find yourself in a hire car with a producer traveling to a meeting in another state. Take it all in your stride; this is life in the industry not just as a PA. 

  • Attention to detail is a must. Production coordinators are methodical and rigorous when going through paperwork, they will expect you to do the same, make sure your resume and covering letter are spell-checked and grammatically correct.  

  • A respectful attitude to HoDs and your fellow crew members.

HOW DO I FIND a job as a PA?

Many coordinators will hire a few seasoned PAs and some who are new to the industry. If you want to work in the production office, with designs on working your way through the production route, you're going to be sending out lots of resumes to coordinators. To be a production assistant for the bigger budget features your resume needs to demonstrate relevant work experience, gaining that experience is going to be a mix of short films, micro-budget, and low-budget features over the course of a few years. If you are coming into the film industry as a career change, you need to know your initial experiences are not going to be well paid as a PA

Collaborations

If you're at stage one, ie., right at the beginning of your career, you can look at short films, student productions (such as those made by the film production department at your school), and micro-budget features to gain some well-needed experience. Most likely these positions will not be well paid, which is why working on well-run production with members of the industry helming the project are essential. 

Rest assured you will not be the only one working for very little, you may find experienced broadcast lighting cameraman and sound recordist working for free to add drama experience to their resumes. Many short films are shot over a weekend, at the most a few days, so if you find yourself working full time, short films over a weekend can enable you to build on your resume while taking home a living wage. 

Although we do recommend collaborations, do your research first to find out who is going to be working on the production. Things to consider would be:

  • Student films will be backed by the university so you know a budget has been agreed upon and insurance will be taken care of. 

  • If you're working on a short film with people you don’t know make sure to check the producer's track record and back catalog of work, you want to know they're following best industry practice and will be running the production properly. This means the product will be insured, catering (or at least some form of feeding the crew) has been devised, there is a schedule that is realistic with location, transport, and travel plans considered. 

Once you have amassed some credits in the production office, you want to be looking for work on feature films; these will most likely be the lower budget variety that is shot in a few weeks rather than a few months. You may find there will be gaps between employment; this is where flexible jobs come in handy to supplement your income. It might feel it's a backward step, but it won't always be this way if you're a proactive, diligent production assistant, work offers should come your way. The production office likes having people they know, who are familiar with their systems and ways of working. The production coordinator will no doubt have a list of go-to PAs. 

Resume

When preparing your resume for paid positions check it (or ask someone else to) to see it reads well and is correctly formatted. You can use the advice to help create a resume and covering letter, and you can check your resume against our examples to see it includes all the relevant information. You're going to want to keep it short and to the point, as coordinators will be ‘scanning’ rather than reading, keep it down to one page if you can.

Remember to only add what is needed highlighting:

  • Contact details

  • Industry reference (if you can)

  • Skills in line with the role you are applying for - for the production office make sure its admin heavy

  • Don’t list credits that have no bearing on the role.

  • Make distinctions between student and professional paying work.

Research

What is going to help you at the first stage of your career is having an idea of what your final destination is, do you want to be a producer? Great, then get to know how a film is made from initial concept through to distribution and look at production companies as another avenue of employment. 

Do you want to be a production manager? Then you're going to need to immerse yourself in the production office and watch how they operate while picking up some serious Excel skills. Be honest with yourself about what you want to do, research your options and plot your course accordingly. 

Alongside researching the onset roles and non-production roles, and knowing back to front the work of the production office - you might find it's time to hit the library. Here are a few books to get you started:

You also need to become familiar with all the terms used in the production office, making sure you are computer literate and are familiar with both Mac and PC operating systems. Make sure you can use Excel exceptionally well.

Network

The network you build alongside your developing resume will enable you to branch out to look for work elsewhere in the industry. If you've worked with other PA’s ask them to keep you in mind for when they’re unavailable for jobs. Referrals to members of the production team are an excellent way to get your foot in the door. Keep in contact with everyone you meet, send the odd email, social media is a great way to stay in touch. Use your time to create opportunities, don’t wait for them to come to you!

Being able to work in other areas such as TV drama, or working within a production company or commercial/promo companies (both can take on in-house PA’s on short contracts when they get busy) significantly increases your chance of finding regular employment. You will also need all the experience you can get, the coordinator will have a stack of resumes on his/her desk for crewing up, you need to make sure yours is going to stand out. 

Personality and Attitude

Determination is essential when sending out those resumes. In some cases, you may have to grin and bear it while you are working behind a bar, waiting tables, or pouring coffee. Needs must, and your pay is comparable to that of the production office at the junior level. If you have no additional source of income, you may wish to consider saving up before you embark on your career plan. 

Although you may not think it, the skills you are developing while waiting tables could serve you well and can be the attributes employers are looking for to fill the positions. You will be on your feet, working long hours, need to be adaptable, and always have a smile on your face. Waiting tables and bar work give you the flexibility to take leave when an opportunity arises for a few weeks to work on a feature, being able to return at a later date. Be warned, if you have just finished a degree with visions of stepping straight into a production office on a major feature, you might get a shock. Although this is possible, people who manage this are in the minority or have existing relationships in the industry. Use your holiday time well, be proactive and make sure your school can provide you with internships.

WILL I NEED ANY QUALIFICATIONS TO WORK AS A PA IN THE PRODUCTION OFFICE?

The role of office PA will not require any formal academic qualifications, although a high school qualification or degree in film or any other subject can offer the production coordinator an idea of your aptitude for written work and offer you a solid educational grounding and some life experience. A degree also provides you options later on, especially if you decide to leave the industry. If choosing a film or media degree looks closely at the modules the course is offering, does it offer:

  • Practical modules with industry-recognized equipment.

  • Lecturers (full-time or guest) who are working in the industry.

  • Internships.

  • Affiliations with industry-recognized institutions.

  • A chance to meet alumni or industry members.

It would be advantageous to have a good grasp of IT, especially Excel, administrative skills, and a great deal of common sense. Having a driving license is a must, as individual productions may require you to drive a hire car or van. You will also need passion, drive, and determination to work in the film industry. These qualities are prized throughout the departments and should get you where you want to go.

WHAT PAPERWORK SHOULD I BE FAMILIAR WITH IF I WORK in the production office

The myriad of paperwork you will be exposed to can initially be quite disarming for a new entrant, but you will soon become familiar with the running of the office and the systems that the UPM, supervisor, and coordinator wish to implement. Items of daily paperwork that you will be working with are:

  • Pre-production diary

  • Call sheets

  • Schedules

  • DOODs (Day out of Days) which display each cast member and when they are working

  • Crew & unit lists

  • Movement orders & maps when working on location.

  • Travel movement orders, often filming happens in more than one location/country, this document will give the cast or crew the reference numbers and timing.

  • Scripts/script pages attached to the sides or handed out if any amendments are being made as production advances.

  • Memo’s

  • Strike notices. When filming on a set has finished, and the rushes have been checked, a strike notice is issued so that the Construction and Art Department can dismantle the set.

  • Phone/internet dongle issue memo, which is usually generated by the PA

  • The daily to-do list. Many productions will have a daily sheet of office maintenance tasks that can be ticked off over the course of the day.

  • Sides: A miniature call sheet and a breakdown of the scenes that need to be shot during the day. It will be your job to photocopy the required amount, and the floor runner's to distribute them to the crew first thing in the morning.

  • Purchase orders or POs, which will be generated for every spend, will be expected to file all POs from each department.

  • Invoices. Crew invoices may come your way, make sure to pass them on to the Accounts Department.

10 ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR NEW ENTRANTS WORKING IN A PRODUCTION OFFICE

 
Driving license.

If you don’t have a driving license, make arrangements to get one, as this can provide a real barrier to finding work.  If you have a license and a car invest in a headset as the office will be calling when you are out and about, or better still get into the habit of pulling over when convenient.

 
First Aid Certificate.

Having a first-aid certificate can be very useful for PAs on and off the set.

 
Attire

Don’t be dressed too casually in the office environment, senior members of production may not like it. Choose your clothes carefully and please don’t arrive in flip-flops, you will see the production coordinator roll their eyes and sigh. Even though you're not working on set you have no idea what the day has in store for you, so keep footwear sensible, and don’t become a health and safety hazard.

 
"Well, I'm actually a producer".

Production coordinators are looking for PAs who want to be excellent PAs and use their experience to progress up the ladder. Although it’s good to show ambition, do the job you are employed to do, and don’t quote the cliched lines that veterans of the industry hear time and again.

 
Prioritize.

It can be difficult to balance people’s needs so make sure you are polite and try not to get stressed, especially when dealing with pressurized situations. If in doubt speak to the coordinator.

 
Are you good with computer systems?

If you come from a technical background or have the least bit of technical sense, then display it. This applies when dealing with office equipment, if you have an affinity with computers, and the production is on a smaller scale, your knowledge can be very valuable if there are any office problems.

 
HoDs

Know who all the Heads of Department are on set, and know what they do. If you are asked to deliver something you stand a better chance of finding them amongst the many people who are milling around.

 
2 sugars?

Remember how people take their tea/coffee by keeping a little list hidden in the kitchen, this saves time and makes you look good. 

 
Contacts.

Program relevant crew members' numbers into your phone so you know who’s calling, and if you're out and about you have easy access to the office phone (a program that one to speed dial).

 
Returning to base.

If you’re out delivering or collecting something call the coordinator to let them know you’re heading back, there may be something else they need you to do before you return.

 

PHRASES EVERY ENTRANT SHOULD BE FAMILIAR WITH.

  • Base camp/Unit base. An area near the location where the trucks and trailers are parked. This will be your home.

  • Call sheet. The most important document during principal photography. You will learn their layout quickly enough as you'll be photocopying the call sheet every day, every week.

  • Call time. Different departments and members of the cast have different call times which are all marked on the call sheet.

  • Pre-call time. Some departments, depending on the day they have in store, can have a pre-call time for unloading.

  • Turnaround. A minimum of 11 hours rest period or ‘turnaround’ should be taken between working days. If not possible a penalty should be paid. Note: not all productions adhere to this rule, it depends on the type of production you are working on and whether the overtime is cheaper than another day shooting.  

  • Honey Wagon. Toilet.

  • 3-Way or 2-Way. Artist trailers.

  • Set. Where filming is.

  • Tech. The tech trucks like camera, grip, and lighting.

  • APOC. Assistant production coordinator

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