Production assistants are hired by film and video production companies for individual projects. Some assistants are employed full time in the main offices of a production company or as personal assistants to producers or executives. Production assistants can also find full-time employment at television studios.
Look for internships, which may offer course credit if they are unpaid, by reading trade journals and contacting film and television studios. You can also find production opportunities listed on the Internet or through your state's film commission. To gain experience, you may have to work for free on some of your first productions to make contacts within the industry. Since this is an entry-level position, opportunities will open as other assistants advance.
Production assistant positions are usually considered temporary. After one or two years, production assistants have enough experience to move into other jobs, and there are numerous choices, depending on their interests. They may wish to go into editing, camera operation, lighting, sound, writing, directing, producing, or performing. All of these areas have a hierarchy of positions that allow a production assistant to work his or her way up to the top jobs. A production assistant can, for example, become a line producer, who works closely with the producer, signing checks, advising on union rules, and negotiating deals with studio personnel. An associate producer performs similar work. To become a producer or director requires years of experience and hard work.
Tips for Entry
Take film and video courses in high school and learn the skills of production.
Contact your state's film commission and find out about local film productions that may need crew members.
Apply to a college that offers a film production program.