How To Be A Good Office Production Assistant

I decided to write this, because I am seeing a lot of the same problems over and over again with people who come in to to work as Office PA's on shows. I am focusing on office PA's since that is what I deal with, and Set PA's have a different life and different things they need to do.

First, you need three things to work as an Office PA:

1. A working, clean car.
2. A working, up to date laptop.
3. A smart phone.

You are going to be doing lots of runs as an Office PA. You will be picking up gear and dropping it off. You will be taking stuff to and from set. You will be picking up people from the airport. You will be driving around Cast and Directors and Producers. All of these people are going to be in your car at some point, so your car needs to be clean and needs to run.

You are in the Production Office. You are going to have to use a computer, and no office gives you one to work with. You are going to be asked to look stuff up constantly. You are going to have to create documents. The more you are trusted and the more experience you get, the more paperwork is going to be handed to you to work on.

Working in the office means you are going to receive emails constantly. You will receive them from the office staff and the distribution list. Your phone needs to be on at all times to receive calls and changes on runs. You will be asked to look things up while driving people around. Your phone should be with you and near you, even when you are off of work.

When you come to work in the office the first time, make sure you bring your own pens and something to write on. I don't trust PA's who say they will remember whatever is told them. I want to see it is written down. And bringing your own supplies shows me you are serious about your work. Production is under no obligation to buy you supplies.

You need to be a self starter. Don't wait to be told what to do. you see something in the office that needs to be done, then get to it whether it is making sure coffee is made or grabbing trash or filing away paperwork. We aren't here to hang out all day on our computer. If you are on a task, think about what you are doing. Also, know how to look busy. There can be big periods of downtime in the office. That doesn't mean you need to be playing games or watching Netflix. I have known producers to cut back an office because they didn't see a reason to have people around when PA's were watching stuff online.

You also have to grow up and mature. A lot of office PA's are green to working in Film and TV. They are fresh out of college. But now you are working, so you need to act like a grown up. You have to be on time. In fact, you should be early for anything you are doing related to work. You need to learn to dress. The production office isn't like being on set. You don't have to be in full dress attire, but you need to drop the shorts and t-shirts and put on jeans and a polo or a button down at least. You are going to be dealing with people of all levels, so look like you are making an effort.

Understand you are a PA. No one cares what you did in college or what you have worked on outside of this show. We only care about your work here and now. Know that the director is a very busy person as are the producers. Know that the actors are not your friends, and they are not going to date you. If you are driving someone around, that is not your time to pitch them your script or try and get gossip from them. If you are driving a director or producer to set or somewhere else, let them initiate conversation.

Office PA work can be boring. I won't lie. But it also allows you to get to know everyone on the crew. You will get to meet everyone, and they are are going to get to know you. If you want to move into another department, being an Office PA is a way for you to get to know the department heads and others who can teach you as well as help you move into whatever department you want to be in. But you still need to show that you want to be there. You need to show you are motivated to work in production. A Production Coordinator or an APOC (Assistant Production Coordinator), can help you out a lot by recommending you or giving you time to go work in another department. But they aren't going to do that for people who they see as unmotivated and don't want to be there and do the job they signed up for.

All of this applies to any kind of show you work on, from no budget indies to major TV shows and big budget studio features.

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