Photography and Videography: PA’s First Day

by | Nov 6, 2018

Being a production assistant or a PA on a photography and videography set is something that plenty of great filmmakers and photographers have gone through at some point. Some people hate the idea of starting from the bottom, but the truth is, it’s a great experience that helps you get some hands-on exposure.

There’s no shame in starting out as a PA, it gives you the opportunity to learn as you go, plus you don’t have the expectation of experience on you, so you’re allowed to ask as many questions as possible. If you’re working on a photography and videography set for the first time as a PA, here are some tips to help you make the most out of the experience.

Checklist of things you’re going to need

As a PA, you’re going to have to stay on top of everything, so make sure that you have everything that you need. First and foremost, study the call sheet for the production, and make sure that you know it by heart.

The call sheet tells you what’s going to happen for that day. Understand that you’re going to be on your feet a lot, so wear comfortable shoes and clothing. Remember, you’re there to do a job, not go on the runway.

Always be on time

In PA lingo, being on time means showing up at least 15 minutes before the indicated time on the call sheet. Make sure that you’ve eaten something beforehand since production usually starts around breakfast time.

The production industry is a very fast-paced one, so make sure that you always arrive earlier than indicated. Never, ever be late, especially if it’s your first day as a PA. One small mistake like this can result in you losing the job.

Understand the scope of your role

Simply put, as a PA, you’re going to be at the mercy of everyone. If the director needs you to go out and pick up some supplies, then that’s well within the scope of your job.

Basically, your role is to help out all over the production set. It sounds exhausting, and it is but it also gives you an amazing opportunity to learn about every aspect of the production.

Stay safe

While your job is definitely to help out where you can, one thing to remember is to help only when your help is needed. There are some things on set that you’re not equipped to handle at all, and doing so can put you in danger. Something like a coffee run is fine, but helping move equipment that you’re not qualified to handle may end up in some serious consequences.

Fuel up

The role of a PA on a photography and videography set is a long and sometimes tiring one. As the lowest rung on the ladder, nobody is going to be looking after you and checking if you’ve eaten. Look out for yourself and make sure that you eat well and drink plenty of water, especially if you’re going to be going on a production errand.