How to Land a Production Assistant Job in the Film Industry – Actionable Steps and Advice

Actionable Steps to Finding an Entry-Level Job in Hollywood’s Film and Television Industry

I take road trips when I can, but being a Production Assistant currently consumes most of my life. I wrote about what I do as a PA earlier.  Now I’d like to write about how I became one.


EBOOK UPDATE

I’ve turned this article into an ebook on Amazon!   If you like what you read, please consider purchasing a copy.  Full disclosure: It’s very, very similar to what’s in this article (with a few bonus sections at the end). If you’re interested, check it out on Amazon, here:

How to Become a Production Assistant in Hollywood: Actionable Steps and Advice to Land the Job


Finding an entry-level position in Hollywood is harder than you think. But thanks to my struggles and stupid mistakes, I’ve learned a few things to help anyone get started on the right track.

Most blogs that talk about becoming a PA just tell you to “network!” and “be persistent!” And although those two things are important, those blogs usually fail to tell you how or even why.  I wanted to write something that went a little more in depth.  In order to start off on the right foot in Hollywood, you also have to learn how the industry works.  This post has nearly 5000 words, but I hope you find it just as useful and educational as it is long.

WHO THIS ARTICLE IS FOR:
  • Students still in school.
  • Recent grads trying to break into the industry.
  • Any young person looking to switch careers and make it in Hollywood (but any age is possible).
  • Anyone who just wants to read how it all works.

Warner Brothers Studio Tour
Warner Brothers Studio Tour

It’s been over two years since I moved to L.A.  I’d say I officially made it “in” the business in early 2014 when I landed a PA gig on my first real TV show.  I had had a lot of small (and unpaid) PA jobs prior to that, but never in major television.  It took me longer than some to get this coveted entry-level position, but certainly less time than others.

My boss always likes to say, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”  That saying definitely applies to getting into the entertainment business.  There are so many routes someone can take to get to the exact same spot, it’s impossible to cover all of them.  But for purposes of this article, I’m going to focus on a young person trying to get their first production assistant/entry-level job on a major film, TV show, or at a legitimate production company.

I surely did not know what I was doing when I first got here.  I naively thought that because being a production assistant is the lowest position on the totem pole, it’d be an easy job to snag.  I thought that because I was college educated and went to film school and worked on some short indie films back home, I’d be at an advantage in L.A.  I thought that because I knew a few people living and working in the city, I’d be fine.  Nope.  After my fluke one month stint as an apprentice editor, I learned the harsh realities of finding a job in Los Angeles.  I went into debt, got strung along at unpaid internships, and was weeks away from calling it quits and heading back home.

It was frustrating.  I was definitely qualified to be a production assistant.  It’s an entry-level position.  I knew I could be better than many, if not most, of the PAs already working on shows.  Why wasn’t this working out for me?  I spent over a year struggling to find steady work.  As I said in my first blog post, I was sleeping on air mattresses (plural, because they kept popping) for over a year before I could afford a real bed.

But last year, I finally got the phone call I was waiting for: “We’d love to have you on our team.  Can you start Monday?”  And that Monday I started working on a TV show at one of the major studios in Hollywood as a PA.  I got my foot in the door.

Looking back, I made a lot of mistakes.  I wasted so much time on things I shouldn’t have.  I missed opportunities that were staring me in the face.  I turned down a potentially great job because it wasn’t perfect!   But in the end, it all worked out.  I’m in the industry now.  I can’t say with 100% certainty I will be safely employed for the rest of my life.  But I feel confident that I have the know-how to keep afloat during the rough times. So now I’d like to extend my PA knowledge to you.  I want to help the newcomers flocking to Hollywood avoid the rookie mistakes I made.  My advice and my way are not the only routes to landing a job.  But I truly believe they will give you a tremendous head start in understanding how Hollywood works and understanding how you can put yourself in opportune situations to land the job.

Friends set

CHANGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS

The way Hollywood works is not the same as how the rest of the world works.

BEING COLLEGE EDUCATED DOES NOT MEAN YOU DESERVE ANYTHING IN THIS BUSINESS.

Brutal, but true.  In most fields, your college education is a major contributing factor in securing a job.  Your training in school is supposed to give you the skills to competently work at a business right away. Sure, it’s not always that cut and dry, especially in today’s economy, but for the most part, it’s true.  In the entertainment industry, a college education doesn’t guarantee you to a job right away, or even a job at all.  Anyone, educated or not, can become a PA and work their way up to director, producer, editor, etc. Everyone has to start at the bottom.  Everyone has to prove their worth first.  Yes, there are exceptions, but your Director of Photography credit on that student film you made means nothing in Tinseltown.  You can’t expect to land a DP position on anything major when you first arrive here.  The credits just don’t transfer.  It’s like trying to apply to a prestigious art school and saying you were the best finger painter in kindergarten.  It doesn’t fly.

Don’t think having a formal education is completely worthless though.  It can still be a huge benefit in jumpstarting your career.  It’s just not a requirement 0r a guaranteed ticket in.

IT’S ALL ABOUT WHO YOU KNOW.

I used to hate this saying.  I’d argue, “But I’m a hard worker. Doesn’t that matter? Why should ‘who I know’ limit me?”  Sure, you can complain about how unfair it is or you can learn to play the game.  I actually like this saying now because it puts me in control.  Who I know helps get me jobs! I know that if I need to meet a certain person to get the job, it’s up to me to figure out how to meet them.

You don’t have to be friends with A-list actors and directors to get a job here.  The best way, I’ve found, is meeting a friend of a friend.  And everyone has a friend in the area you’re trying to get into.  Build enough relationships with these people, and show that you’re a hard worker, and eventually someone will pass your name along to someone who’s hiring.

Also, once you’re already in the business you’ll love that it’s “all about who you know.”  The people you work with become the people who hire/refer you for your next job.  How great is that?  You’re in total control of your success.  This way of doing things is much easier than sending in a resume blind and hoping for the best.

A LOT IS ABOUT LUCK AND TIMING.

Sometimes getting the job is just about luck and timing.  Some people move to Hollywood and within a week they land an assistant position to a top television producer.  Are they the best person for the job? Not necessarily.  The person happened to move at the right time.  The producer happened to need an assistant at that time.  And their needs just happened to line up.  I’d say a big part of how I landed my network TV gig was luck and timing.  It may not be fair, but there’s a lot you can do to make sure those doors of opportunity are always open.

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ACTION STEPS TO TAKE

START HERE IF YOU’RE STILL IN SCHOOL

So I know I probably depressed you when I said having a college education doesn’t mean anything in this industry.  And that’s true from the standpoint of entitlement and working your way up.  But if you’re still in school, you do have a huge advantage.  You qualify to apply for internships – internships at major, LA-based companies.  Most of the good internships require you to currently be enrolled in school.  And there are a lot of great companies looking for interns! If it’s possible, I highly recommend moving out to LA for a summer (or a semester) and applying to as many internships as you can.  It’s expensive to live out here, but if you find the right internship, it can be absolutely worth it.  These internships have major advantages:

1.  They give you reputable L.A. experience, which is what you want on your resume.  Getting a “Video Intern” credit at your local library back home isn’t quite as impressive as say, “post-production intern” at a LA-based company.

2.  They give you direct contacts and future possibilities of employment in L.A.  If your employers like you, they’ll want to hire you   eventually.  If not, they can still help you find work elsewhere through their contacts.

Here’s an example of just how beneficial L.A. internships can be.  My friend Nick got a job right out of school.  We had very similar skill levels and educations.  The only real difference was that Nick had three solid L.A. internship credits on his resume.  I had one credit from Michigan when I was a media center video intern.  Nick’s internships were at a post house for music videos, a post house for commercials, and a small production company producing reality TV.  All three were well-known names in the industry.

 When Nick graduated, one of the companies offered him a position. And when applying for other jobs, he landed multiple interviews.  Months later, we were talking and I realized we applied for many of the same jobs.  How many interviews did I land? 0.  I didn’t even receive a followup email.  Nick was swimming in choices.

I know, other factors might have been at play.  For example, it could have been good timing and luck, as I mentioned earlier.  Or maybe Nick had a killer resume.  But I’m confident that when companies are looking for an entry-level candidate, and they see you’ve worked for recognizable, established companies, your resume is going to go to the top of the pile.

It’s no surprise that internships help get you a job, but in this business, it’s the L.A. internships that really do the trick.

TAKE ACTION:

Look up your favorite companies and see if they offer summer internships.  Also, don’t be afraid to use some of the more “generic” websites like Craigslist or Indeed to look for companies.  They post many opportunities.  Just make sure you always do your own research before taking any job.  If you’re looking for an entertainment-based website that posts internships, I’ve had success using EntertainmentCareers.net.

chinese theater

START HERE IF YOU’VE ALREADY GRADUATED OR YOU’RE JUST STARTING OUT IN HOLLYWOOD

Hey, you can still get a job here too!  You may not have the connections or a killer resume yet, but you can get them pretty quickly.  Here’s what I suggest:

1.  GET A PART-TIME JOB SOONER RATHER THAN LATER 

If you’re moving out to LA, give yourself a set amount of time you’ll look for industry work, before finding a part-time job. If you don’t find work in that amount of time, take a part-time job, in any industry! Why?  First, you’re giving yourself a set amount of time to focus on one thing and one thing only: landing an entertainment job.  Second, a set time will keep you hungry during the search.  You didn’t move out to LA to work at a grocery store, so you’ll be motivated to look harder as the days fly by.  Third, you need money. Duh.  And if you don’t find a job within your set amount of time, this keeps you from going into debt.  As an added bonus, you’ll meet coworkers who might be in or know people in the industry.  I made the mistake of looking for industry work, getting an unpaid internship (thinking it would turn into paid work) and going way too many months without an income.  In my mind, the paid work was always just around the corner, so there was no reason to get a temporary job at TJ’s.  Big mistake.  Get a job and start making money.  You can always quit when something better comes along.

2.  USE CRAIGSLIST. IT CAN BE YOUR FRIEND

You can find legitimate, full-time work and/or small gigs that will lead to the full-time work right on Craigslist.  Start by looking to fill up your weekends with PA work on small music videos and short films.  Someone is always trying to make the next Star Wars on a $1 budget.  There is a lot of crap out there, and it’s difficult to sort through it all, but I believe it’s worth the effort.  If you have a halfway decent resume and you can convince the job poster that you’re a hard-working and dependable individual, these jobs are pretty easy to snag.  The pay might be $50 a day, free lunch, or even nothing.  But these gigs can lead to real opportunities.  Many people will argue with me on this, but if you’re new to the industry or LA, working for free can still be beneficial.  You may be working for free, but that doesn’t mean everyone else on the crew is.  They may have connections and friends they can introduce you to.  Or they’ll want to hire you for the next job, which will be paid.  Craigslist is a great place to start filling up your resume and make connections quickly.  A craigslist gig is actually what led me to my network TV gig.

A quick note about working for free:  Only work for free if you’re learning something new and/0r it will help you advance.  If you’re not learning anything to help you grow in your field, find something else.

3.  SIGN UP FOR ALL THE FILM JOB SITES, EMAIL LISTS, AND FACEBOOK GROUPS YOU CAN FIND

Make it a daily routine to go through each site, multiple times a day, looking for new jobs you can apply for.  Start here:

JOB SITES

Some of the most popular job-hunting sites in the industry:

  • StaffMeUp.com – This used to be my favorite.  An entertainment job website/network that posts new jobs each day.  Jobs range from PA to Producer and I’ve had good results with this website.
  • Mandy.com – You’ll hear about this one a lot.  New jobs are posted daily in a variety of crew positions.
  • EntertainmentCareers.net – Mentioned earlier, it’s another well-known choice.

FACEBOOK:

Follow your favorite companies and job sites.  Many times they will post ads on their social media pages making it easy for you to see new jobs right on your news feed.

Also look for closed groups you can join such as:

  • “I Need a Production Assistant” –  You’ll have to request to join, but once you’re in, you can connect directly with whoever is hiring.  Anyone can post a job, and since it’s a Facebook group, you can get a notification as soon as they post it.
  • “I Need a Producer” – This group also posts PA positions for some reason.

There are plenty of these types of groups on Facebook.  Spend some time looking through them.

EMAIL JOB LISTS:

This one can be tricky, because you have to find a way to get on the lists.  This is where knowing the right people can help.  Many schools have alumni email lists you can get on that send out regular job postings to a group of people.  People love helping out someone who went to their school.  First, find out if your school has an email list you can get on.  If not, find a friend who can get on one and have them forward you the emails.  Some may frown upon this, but remember, most job posters are sending out job opportunities via email in hopes that their network will bring in a good catch for them.  In other words, they expect their emails to be forwarded.  If not, they’ll say so.

UTA:

Google “UTA Job list”.  It’s one of the most well-known entertainment industry job lists not available to the public.  Although a quick Google search will show you how easy it is to find. It mostly covers assistant and entry-level positions.

4.  ASK THE RIGHT PEOPLE FOR ADVICE

People love to give advice and help others.  Once you start meeting people in the industry, work on building your relationships with them and start asking them questions.  Consider even asking if you can shadow them for a day.  When I was on the hunt for PA work, I met an editor for coffee and asked him a list of questions about the business.  I told him that I eventually want to become an editor and I’m just trying to get my foot in the door.  He gave a lot of great advice: PA knowledge, how to move up, what to expect, etc.  After our meeting, he kept his ears open for me and forwarded any job opportunities he received.  We still keep in touch and he always knows 1. When I’m looking for work and 2. My ultimate goal of becoming an editor.  This is what you ideally want all of your connections to know.  If you have multiple contacts who know these two things about you, you’ll have your own personal job search team working while you sleep.

Also find forums and websites where you can ask general questions about the business.  For example, there are many online communities for active filmmakers and editors.

Here are a few communities you can learn from and reach out to:

Many people who are already established in the industry are active in these kinds of forums.  Spend some time finding ones that apply to you and ask for advice.

I also like anonymousproductionassistant.com.  It’s not really a forum or community, but the author posts common questions and answers for people trying to get started in the business.  It’s always really solid advice.

 5.  BE SMART.  HAVE YOUR NETWORK DO THE WORK FOR YOU

If you already know people in the business, make sure you check in with them regularly and let them know you’re still looking for work.  For example, if you met someone who has connections during one of your weekend Craigslist gigs (and they liked you), follow up with him/her.  You don’t want to bother them, but you want them to keep your name in the back of their mind in case they hear of anything.  Don’t check in more than once every month or two, though.  This is a good strategy when your current gig is about to end too.

6.  COLD CALL 

If you’re interested in working for a company that doesn’t currently have a job posting: cold call.  Go old school.  Find an entertainment biz directory online that lists all the entertainment companies in your area.  Print it out, and highlight all the companies you’re interested in.  Call them up, one by one.  Don’t email. Don’t make it easy for them to ignore you.  Say who you are, what you do, and ask if they have any PA positions available.  Be specific and confident in what you want.  If they say no, ask if there’s someone you can send your resume to for later use.  Again, if you can keep yourself in the back of their mind, when they are looking to hire, you’ll be one of the first people they think of.

This won’t work for every company.  For example, you can’t just call up Warner Brothers and ask for a job. They’ll just direct you to their career website.  However, for many smaller companies and production houses, they’ll be impressed by your boldness.  Some may be annoyed, but who cares. Most won’t. And you need a job! If you impress them on the phone and follow through with your resume, you’re making their hiring process easier, and increasing your chances.

Note: If a job posting says “Please No Calls,” you do not call!

7.  ALWAYS WORK ON GROWING YOUR NETWORK, 24/7

Make friends.  Join meet up groups related to film (and not related).  Be nice to everyone.  Ask someone out to coffee.  Befriend everyone you meet. Do things you wouldn’t normally do to make connections in the business. Everyone is a connection out here. The best way to find a job is to find a friend who’s in the business or knows someone in the business.  The computer can only get you so far.  You’ve probably heard it too many times already: It’s all about who you know.  Networking is extremely important in any career field, but to land a job in the entertainment business, it’s probably the most important thing.  Also, unlike most jobs which last years, if not decades, most entertainment industry jobs last months.  You usually get hired for the duration of the show, film, or commercial, and once it ends, you’re looking for the next job.  That’s why networking is so critical.  If you don’t continue to build your network, you won’t have anyone to help you find a job when your gig ends.  Networking never stops.

When I first moved out here, I had a job as an apprentice editor.  Because I was new, and unsure how the industry worked, I didn’t go out of my way to connect with my coworkers.  I heard horror stories of people getting fired for saying the wrong thing to the editors.  I did my work well but I kept my head down.  I didn’t ask questions.  I didn’t get to know anyone.  When the gig ended, no one even knew I wanted to be an editor.  I just left without making any connections.  I was an idiot.  It was only a month-long gig, but I had plenty of time to plant the seed.  This was such a missed opportunity for me.  Remember when I said I want to be an editor?  This could have been a direct ticket in.

8.  BUILD A TEAM ON THE SIDE

This not only helps you gain experience and build a network, but it’s also critical for you to be ready to go when an opportunity presents itself later in you career.  If you want to be famous director, you should be directing stuff now.  If you want to be an editor, you should be editing stuff now.  You may make your living by being a PA, but you should be crafting your skill, in where you want to be, by making your own stuff.  You never know when a great opportunity will come up.  Be ready.

Get a team together and make your own stuff.  People love to find a group they can regularly work with and rely on.  Plus it’s just smart.  If you need to find a team, consider joining a Meetup group like the LA Film Collective (active as of early 2015). They get together about once a month to shoot a short film.  Every crew position is open for you to gain experience.  There are a handful of Meetups like this one!

We live in a great time when making videos can be relatively cheap.    Good cameras and equipment are affordable.  We have sites like Youtube and Vimeo where you can promote yourself and gain a following.  Take advantage of it all.  The tradition way of moving up the ladder still exists, but so many alternate ways have opened up, too.  If you’re doing things on the side, you’re just increasing your chances for success.

EXTRA: DON’T BE PICKY

Soon after I moved to LA, I landed an interview for a wedding videography company.  I wasn’t very happy about it though, because I didn’t really want to edit wedding videos.  After all, that’s not why I moved to LA.  Using this logic, I decided to not even go to the interview.  WTH, Randy!?  I guess I was worried I’d get stuck there and be in the wrong field for too long.  Never turn down an interview.  You never know what will happen.  Had I taken the interview and landed the job, I would not have gone thousands of dollars into debt, I probably would have learned a plethora of new editing skills, and who knows, maybe I’d have loved it. Things worked out eventually, but don’t be like me.  If you are offered an interview or job, don’t not take it just because it’s not perfect.   There are a thousand ways to skin a cat, remember?  You can still get to where you want to go even if you start somewhere else.

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RESUME TIPS

Even though I said it’s all about who know, resumes are still used in this industry.  It’s important that your resume is top-notch.  I’m always amazed at what my bosses remember about me, months later, from reading my resume.

“Oh you worked on that ABC show right?”

“Hey, honor student, get me some coffee!”

Screw all the resume advice you hear from so-called experts.  The entertainment business is different.  Get rid of that pointless objective.  Margin size doesn’t matter.  Times New Roman font is just fine.  Don’t write that you work well with others.  You’re a functioning member of society.  You better work well with others!

Here’s what’s important:

  • Your resume should tell the reader exactly who you are at first glance.  Don’t make them search.  Get rid of unnecessary detail.  A list of your credits and few personal details is a good resume in this business.
  • List your job title.  You don’t need to describe your duties unless it’s something unique.  Those who hire a PA know what a PA does.
  • List the show name, production company, and the network or type of media it was.  Location and date are optional, especially if you have time gaps and no L.A. experience on your resume.  But neither is a resume killer.
  • If you are applying for a PA position DO NOT say you were a DP, director, or producer, on a student film.  Drop that stuff.  The L.A. film industry does not care.
  • Film degree? Graduated with honors?  Sure, keep it on there! People like to see you’re serious about the industry and know at least something.
  • If you want to list your skills/attributes, keep it short and pertaining to the job you’re applying for.  Heavy phone experience, going on runs, reliable car, personal laptop, and script or binder organization are a few good ones. Show them you already know what they’re looking for.
  • Tailor your resume to the job you’re applying for.  Do not just have one generic resume.
  • Are you from the Midwest? You’re in luck. The stereotype in L.A. is that people from the Midwest are hard working and dependable. They like us here. Fit that info on your resume somewhere ;).  Kidding. Kind of.  But I did land my first major PA gig this way.

FINAL NOTE

If you are lazy or incompetent you will leave this business as fast as you got in.  Show your superiors you want to be there.  Impress them.  Make them happy they hired you.  This is what keeps you employed.  Hollywood is small and word travels fast.  Don’t give anyone a reason to not like you.

There is no single, clear-cut way to break into the industry.  However, I do believe that if you follow the advice given above, you’ll get in much faster – or at the very least, you’ll avoid my stupid mistakes.

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If you have any questions, please go ahead and ask in the comments below.  Or connect with me on social media:

www.instagram.com/roadtriprandy22

www.twitter.com/randyalanmedia

www.facebook.com/roadtriprandy22

 

Check out the ebook on Amazon, here:

How to Become a Production Assistant in Hollywood: Actionable Steps and Advice to Land the Job

 

DISCLAIMER: Road Trip Randy is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

67 thoughts on “How to Land a Production Assistant Job in the Film Industry – Actionable Steps and Advice”

  1. Thanks for writing this detailed guide and all your useful tips although it’s too bad there’s no true secret to breaking into the industry.

    Like

  2. This helped a lot, thanks:) Quick question. how do you get a production assistant job in the film industry when you don’t have the skills required? like not qualifying at all, literally. zero skills on the job.

    (obviously) coming from a person who even though has formal education on some other degree, half way through their studies realised this is the career path that they actually want to follow.. thanks:)

    Like

    1. Hi! This is when I’d say work for free. Work on free gigs to start building skills, your resume, and connections. Look for weekend work on Craigslist or find an internship if possible.

      Also remember that a PA position is an entry level job that really requires no skill. But to get work out here on the big stuff you need to know someone who will bring you on and/or have a resume that shows you have some experience. It’s weird. Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Like

      1. Hi Randy, Thanks for the article! Really great advice in here. I have a similar question related to this one.

        With no film experience how should one tailor their resume? What things can they highlight about their unrelated work experience that might actually help them land that elusive PA position?

        Like

      2. 1. Any type of assistant job would look good. Any type of media-related job would be nice too.
        2. Skills/attributes: binder organization (office pa), heavy phone experience (office pa) , reliable transportation (meaning you have your own car -all PAs), setup and cleanup experience (set), handling large crowds (set), etc.

        But the most important thing to remember is that they really want someone who has PA experience on their resume. So do a couple cheap/free weekend craigslist gigs if possible. Can it be done without that? Sure, but it will be hard.

        I also know some people who got turned down for being “over qualified”
        so remember that when writing your resume.

        It’s ridiculous how hard it is to get an unskilled, entry-level job in this business. But that’s the game we have to play.

        Like

    2. Sorry, let me clarify my comment. I’m not sure actively seeking unpaid work is the best advice. You can find paid work with having little to no experience too. But don’t shut down the unpaid work opportunities. They still have their advantages if you’re just starting out.

      Like

      1. Oh my I’ve been expecting your reply popping in my hotmail inbox since the day I posted my comment and you had already replied xD Thanks for the advice it really helps, I was thinking of starting to work voluntarily in theatres in my country (Cyprus) and building my CV around that for now since I am working to gain money and then move to a different place. I hope it will work even though it may take time ! thanks again for the advice X

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Road Trip, I can’t tell you how awesome you are for posting this. So many people already in the biz just forget about us newbies.

    My question: If I’m in school now looking for some experience this summer, should I try and seek a PA position on something or should I just go for the internship?

    Like

    1. If you can find a PA position I’d definitely look for that. 1, you’d get paid. 2, it’s real word experience that will show future employers that you already know how to do what they need and you don’t need training. Then again, if you find an internship at a company you really want to work for (example: a big editing house), they might offer an internship but not a PA job, which would get you in the door and you could hopefully work your way up. Starting out, the most important thing is gaining experience and making good connections. Choose the job or internship based on that.

      Like

    1. I got it by doing a PA gig on craigslist, where I met a wardrobe crew member who had editor friends. She forwarded my resume to them, they forwarded it to their producers. One of the producers saw I was from Michigan (she was also from Michigan) and called me in for the interview. So, in short: craigslist, built connections, luck and timing, midwest loyalty.

      Are you trying to come to LA? Atlanta is filming a ton of shows out there. You could try to find a PA gig out there and use the connections to find work out here. A lot of people work in Atlanta but live in LA. If you impress them, they’ll gladly hire you when they do their next show in LA, or they’ll gladly send your resume onto a friend there.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for the reply, okay that clears up my confusion. No I am living in Atlanta and I am trying to get work here. They are building tons of studios and filming a lot here but wasn’t sure where to start. Thanks.

        Like

  4. Thanks for writing this guide. It’s really helpful and encouraging. My wife and I made some connections at an Santa Monica production house, and will be moving there later this winter to start trying to to find steady work in the business. Have you noticed that it’s easier to find PA jobs at certain times of the year? Are there dead times (for instance in the summer) where there aren’t as many jobs available?

    Like

    1. Yes and no. February and March is when studios starts shooting pilots and need to hire a lot of crew. But now with all the online, cable, and random productions happening at any time of the year, there’s always someone looking to hire crew. Also, mid summer is usually when the big network shows start filming .

      Like

  5. Thanks Randy. It is a very useful article event if I’m not looking for a job in the US. Great tips that I can apply straight away. Cheers from Australia.

    Like

  6. I majored in business administration/pre law. I just graduated over a year ago and have no experience in the film industry. The majority of the internships I do find are for students still in college. Do I have to go back to school in order to have a shot?

    Like

    1. No. Generally speaking, you don’t need a college degree to work in Hollywood at all. Internships can help you get the connections and jobs quicker, but they’re not guaranteed. I’d focus on finding entry level positions (your 4 year degree will help you here) and look for PA gigs. With l

      Like

  7. Thank you so much for the article. I’m about to graduate with a computer science degree and I have absolutely no experience in this industry so this article was really helpful.

    Like

  8. I got my degree in theatre – stage management, but worked on many student films as a producer/production manager in college and since then (including the LA 48 Hour Film Project this past weekend. I would like to continue in this line of work. However, since I graduated college in December 2013, I have been working as a full time Program Director for the YMCA. I think the skills I have gained in my time as a manager in the Y directly apply to production management work in film. How do you recommend listing this type of work on a resume as I transition back into the industry.

    Thanks for the article! It is very informative.

    Like

    1. I agree that your skills will probably help, but I’m not sure how easily they’ll transfer over. You might have to work your way back up from PA unfortunately. As far as how to put it on your resume, just make sure your duties from YMCA match the general duties of a production manager (budget, keeping schedule, fixing problems, etc). Truthfully though, I think it will be hard to jump right into that unless you know someone personally hiring for the position. :-/ Hope that makes sense. Good luck!

      Like

    1. Film production. You do learn a lot. It just doesn’t help you start above anyone else. But I also know a girl who planned on going into television and got a business degree. Then she worked her way up from PA with no problems.

      Like

  9. Thanks for all the tips, super helpful. Im in college and just realized I want to go into production but the idea of starving in LA and never landing a good job is daunting. Can you safely say that a PA position will in time (hopefully not too long) lead to a comfortable lifestyle? Im thinking a lifestyle where you get to travel a good amount, etc.
    -Also, do PA’s travel much, for instance if a film is shooting overseas?

    Like

    1. It can become comfortable. But I’d say, for most people, it takes a long time. It’s never as consistent as a “normal” job. For traveling, it’s good and bad. You usually can’t just decide you want to take off a few days next month. But, because you work show to show, you can travel from a few days to a few weeks between shows.
      -As far as traveling for work, crews can hire PAs from LA or the local country. It just depends on money and rules, I believe.

      Like

  10. Great and useful tips! It’s amazing how many mistakes seem so obvious to avoid but easy to make. After reading this, I know I’ve almost made a few just on my resume alone. What is your advice for someone who has a film degree but sort of took a different path (freelance copywriting/blogging in particular) after graduation? I’ve been out of school for two years now but I think I have one PA credit on a film that was made back in 2013. I just recently moved to LA and am trying to get my foot back in the door but I feel like it’s a big question mark or bad sign to see that my work history for the past couple of years post-graduation is not film-related at all. I eventually want to be a screenwriter, so I figure the copywriting/blogging is somewhat relevant to that, but I have not been on a professional set in a very long time. How would you recommend I work my way back into the industry?

    Like

    1. Same as everyone else, unfortunately. I’d also organize your resume so your PA gig is at the top. Try to get some Craigslist ones too to strengthen it. Dates aren’t extremely important. If you’ve been a PA, you’ve been a PA. And you don’t want to give them any reason not to count it. Even though you took a “break” from filmmaking after graduation, I don’t think it will really hurt (or help) you. It’s all about who you know. Apply to as many entry-level film positions as you can find.

      Like

    2. Same as everyone else, unfortunately. I’d also organize your resume so your PA gig is at the top. Try to get some Craigslist ones too to strengthen it. Dates aren’t extremely important. If you’ve been a PA, you’ve been a PA. And you don’t want to give them any reason not to count it. Even though you took a “break” from filmmaking after graduation, I don’t think it will really hurt (or help) you. It’s all about who you know. Apply to as many entry-level film positions as you can find.

      Like

  11. I worked on a music video with Carmen Electra I was pa in the industry just keep in contact with executives in Hollywood I suggest to Hollywood reporter look at the classified ads

    Like

  12. I really liked this article along with your other one (Perks of Being a PA). I am a high school student trying to figure out what I wanna do in life and I’m becoming more and more interested in the film industry and PA work. I have no experience with either and only recently started looking into it. As far as what I would want to do after PA work, (ie. your goal of becoming an editor) I have absolutely no idea. How did you come to the conclusion you wanted to do this and eventually become an editor?

    Like

    1. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I was always pretty sure I wanted to be an editor. There are many routes to get there (and I’m still on mine), but PA is a great way to learn the ropes. I’d suggest making your own videos (YouTube?) and figuring out which role you like best. Is it the planning? the filming? the editing? This will help give you a sense of where you want to go professionally. Then you can start researching those individual roles more and figuring out the best way to get there. Hope this helps.

      Like

      1. Hi there, I’m a recent college graduate who has some experience in film.

        So I was able to land an internship here in Ohio (a state in which is apparently going to become a big film location pretty soon from what I understand, have you heard anything about that?) and worked on it for four weeks. Unfortunately I ran into two different circumstances where the actors on the film where near me, talked to me and I engaged in conversations with them. People higher up didn’t like that and I was let go. Thankfully I gained a lot of connections while I was working there on top of gaining some useful experience.

        I’ve been working in broadcasting as a camera operator for the past year now and I feel like the situation I’m currently in is a bit out of the ordinary, as I’ve got some experience but still feel like I’m going to have to start my way back up before I can truly land somewhere in the business. My main goal is to try to find some film work here in Ohio when the time comes or try to get some work in Atlanta. I guess my question is where should I start from here? I have less than four months before I have to start paying off my student loans, so I kind of want to start working as soon as I possibly can. Any suggestions?

        Like

  13. Hi there, I’m a recent college graduate who has some experience in film.

    So I was able to land an internship here in Ohio (a state in which is apparently going to become a big film location pretty soon from what I understand, have you heard anything about that?) and worked on it for four weeks. Unfortunately I ran into two different circumstances where the actors on the film where near me, talked to me and I engaged in conversations with them. People higher up didn’t like that and I was let go. Thankfully I gained a lot of connections while I was working there on top of gaining some useful experience.

    I’ve been working in broadcasting as a camera operator for the past year now and I feel like the situation I’m currently in is a bit out of the ordinary, as I’ve got some experience but still feel like I’m going to have to start my way back up before I can truly land somewhere in the business. My main goal is to try to find some film work here in Ohio when the time comes or try to get some work in Atlanta. I guess my question is where should I start from here? I have less than four months before I have to start paying off my student loans, so I kind of want to start working as soon as I possibly can. Any suggestions?

    Like

    1. Go where there is work. If you can find some PA or camera assistant work in Ohio as more films come in, then stay there (I haven’t heard anything about that, but that’s great). Use all the connections you have to start landing consistent work. See if your contacts are working on any upcoming projects.

      Atlanta has a lot of work, but I’m not sure how easy it will be just to move there and start working. I assume it’s very much a “who you know” environment too.

      Don’t be hesitant to get some other type of job to pay the bills at first either.

      Hope that helps. It’s hard to give specific advice because it’s a different experience for everyone. Hope you find work soon! Good luck.

      Like

  14. I am a filmmaker just out of college and really appreciated this article. So much great advice! I am trying to break into the animation industry as a PA, and am not having much luck. I was really intrigued by your guidelines on resumes – they are quite different than what you find on the usual career websites. Do you have a good example of what you mean as to structure and organization? I think seeing it laid out visually would make it easier for me to understand. Thank you again!

    Like

    1. Hi Chelsea! In your case, I think the standard resume is fine. Since your job is more specific, they will want to see the details of prior jobs and internships to know what you have experience in.
      It wasn’t really clear, but I was referring more to the generic set PA in my post. Once you start PAing a lot, the duties on each gig are so similar that there’s no point in writing them out on your resume. They just want to know you can do the job, and a simple list of your credits is sufficient. I’ve seen it done both ways.
      Again, in your case, the standard resume seems like the route to go. Keep it clear, detailed, and focused on your animation experience and strengths.

      Hope that cleared things up. Good luck!

      Like

  15. hello, im a high school graduate from Youngstown Ohio, and am about to start college and major in theater, I want to be a film director but my school doesn’t offer any film related courses. Ive been seriously considering not going to school and move out to L.A. and just go for it. so my question is should I stay in school and learn about theater and hopefully translate what i learn into film, or skip college and go straight to trying to get into the industry.
    Also, I have experience working at a local television network directing Sunday shows as well as camera and sound board work. Do you think those alone would be enough to help me get work in L.A. since either way im eventually moving there. Apologies for squeezing two questions in and thank you regardless.

    Like

    1. Hi David. I never want to be one to say you shouldn’t go to college. You’ll certainly pick up a few things that will help you relate better to actors, learn how to convey story, emotion, etc. However, once you graduate, you probably (I can’t say for sure) won’t be in a much better place- as far as finding a job- than if you were to come out here right now. No one cares where you went to school. I’m thinking about all my friends and coworkers and how their education helped them. Mostly, it was with networking. Through their school, they were able to meet the right people who could refer them to someone hiring in LA. So that MIGHT be a benefit. The best story I heard was a guy who made a video in college and the right company saw it and offered him an editing job if he moved out here. But with directing, I don’t see it working that way. Anyway, I’m kind of going all over the place with this answer. To get back to your specific questions: your experience is fine, but don’t expect to get hired as a director right away if you come out here. Look for PA or something entry level. Then you could start making stuff on the side with your friends and get good at the creative/technical side of things and create a portfolio of work. Hope that helps.

      Like

  16. Wow, this was a fantastic read! Really so informative, I had to bookmark almost every link you mentioned!

    I’m a computer science graduate (just graduated couple months ago) and I hate this field. I’ve been trying to get a job in CS only because “I have a degree” but for over 15 years, all I’ve ever wanted was to be in the TV industry – specifically a writer or perhaps a showrunner (one can dream).

    Ever since I graduated, all I’ve been doing is look for PA jobs in my area (Philadelphia). One thing’s for sure: I do feel much better about my chances now, especially after reading that you don’t really need to have a degree in film to make it as a PA. Do you think moving to New York would make it easier, though? It’s certainly something I’m considering, but it’s a risky move.

    Thank you for such a lengthy and incredible article! You rock.

    Like

    1. Thanks for the nice words! Yes, I do think it would make it easier. There are more jobs there and more people with the same mindset to create. Success certainly isn’t guaranteed, but if you can make it happen, moving to New York would increase your chances. Good luck!

      Randy

      Like

  17. Wow! This is a massive amount of great information! I, like chrischedrawi above, am fed up with my current line of work. Being a car salesman isn’t what it used to be. Haha! I used to work in the entertainment industry full time for over 5 years doing background acting. Instead of sitting on my butt waiting for them to call us extras in I’d try to help out the PA’s and AD’s with anything. I always thought in the back of my mind that I would love to work as a PA on set and then eventually figure out where I can go from there. It wasn’t until my both step and real mothers passed away from pancreatic cancer, then my fiance was diagnosed with breast cancer before I realized I’ve wasting my life doing things I’m not even remotely passionate about. My question to you is: Should I get back into the background acting to network and meet people already in the industry? Or, are there any film schools that you recommend? I live in West Covina, not too far from LA. Unfortunately I don’t know anybody in the industry right now. I wish I had the balls to go for this back in 2006 when I actually knew people… Hell! I was one of Wes Craven’s favorite background actors on the movie Red Eye! Three months of filming… What a waste! That’s one of my regrets. Anyways, sorry for the long post. Any advice you can give would be Legendary!

    Like

    1. Hi, Adam. I’d look for PA gigs on Craigslist and other sites. Anything can happen in this town, but generally, I think you’ll have more luck making connections there than doing background acting and hoping to meet someone who can hire you as a PA.

      Like

  18. Thanks for the great article! What would you recommend to someone outside the US? I’m planning to come to US for a traineeship with a J1 visa, though most companies in the business offer internships to students, while I graduated last year. I currently work at a commercials production company in Moscow, Russia, but I really want to break into the industry in the US.

    So I’m looking for a traineeship program in either tv/film company or a commercials production house in NY/LA. I enjoy producing commercials, but my end goal is to work in tv drama/comedy development and production.

    If I manage to get into commercials production company in the US, do yu think I’ll be able to make a transition in a year or two into scripted TV or this doesn’t happen too often?

    Also, location-wise, do you think one can work on a tv series while being located in NY or it’s all produced and shot in LA?

    Thanks!

    Like

  19. Thanks for the great article! What would you recommend to someone outside the US? I’m planning to come to US for a traineeship with a J1 visa, though most companies in the business offer internships to students, while I graduated last year. I currently work at a commercials production company in Moscow, Russia, but I really want to break into the industry in the US.

    So I’m looking for a traineeship program in either tv/film company or a commercials production house in NY/LA. I enjoy producing commercials, but my end goal is to work in tv drama/comedy development and production.

    If I manage to get into commercials production company in the US, do yu think I’ll be able to make a transition in a year or two into scripted TV or this doesn’t happen too often?

    Also, location-wise, do you think one can work on a tv series while being located in NY or it’s all produced and shot in LA?

    Thanks!

    Like

    1. Transitioning is the hard part because generally your coworkers know most of their contacts from the same department. But it’s a great start if you can get work in a commercial house or film company. It will just take time to meet the right person to connect you to TV development/production.

      There are a lot of productions happening in NY. It’s true that much of development and production happens in LA, but there are countless shows being shot in different states. NY wouldn’t be a bad place to be if that’s where you want to live.

      Like

  20. Thanks for the awesome article and sound advice! Alot of the questions that have been lingering in my head about the industry have been answered just from reading your article. I definitely feel as if your advice have made things more clearer for me, and the resources you’ve provided have put me on the right path towards being prepared to land that PA job I’ve eagerly desired.

    Thanks Again,

    Like

  21. Hi Randy! This article is very helpful! ^_^ I’m from Philippines and have big dreams to work on this industry too. Though I’m still have to wait 3 years before I could go and move to America with my mother, reading this article you wrote helped me get a grasp on what to expect and what to do.

    To be honest, the field of study I took in college is way to far from entertainment industry. I graduated BS Information Technology. The field of work I used to have was customer service (call center). Really really different and far from entertainment industry. But my heart is always for performing arts, entertainment, blogging. ^_^ That’s what I’ve always wanted to do. Little by little I am trying to do what I really want to do. When I was a kid, I tried theater play in our school. I did declamation speech, dancing. Now, I’m kind of doing a little song covers and posting it on youtube (tho I put it down already because I got shy and felt I still need to practice my singing). Writing blogs with different niche.

    So one question, do you think I have a shot being a PA in Hollywood as a stepping stone? Thank you so much again, this article is a big help!

    Like

    1. Yes, you have a shot. The fact that you’re moving to America really helps too. A lot of people want to work in Hollywood, but they live in another country. That’s really the biggest hurdle. With that out of the way, you’re really increasing your chances.

      Like

      1. Thank you so much, Randy! I have my hopes up. ^_^ but not to high. I have to work hard! Thanks again!!

        Like

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