As a production assistant, you would support the producer and be responsible for the administration and organisation involved in producing a film or TV programme. If you like working with people and organising things, and you want to work in film or TV, this job could be ideal for you.
You’ll need to be organised and have excellent attention to detail. Being able to take the initiative and think creatively will help you to solve problems throughout the production process.
You could get into this job with a degree. Alternatively, experience is highly valued by employers, and you could move into this career without a degree if you have a background in jobs like advertising, TV or office management.
• working with the director to break the script down into a shot-by-shot ‘storyboard’ and decide the order of shooting
• planning a filming schedule, taking into account the director’s ideas and the available budget
• overseeing the hire of locations, props and equipment
• recruiting the cast and crew
• making sure that filming stays on schedule
• supervising a team of 2nd and 3rd ADs and runners
• motivating the cast and crew
• responsible for health and safety on set.
You would normally work on freelance contracts for TV drama or film production companies. Competition for work is strong, and when starting out you may need to work for little pay until you have built a reputation and contacts.
Some jobs are advertised in the trade press and industry websites. However, it is more common to get work by contacting companies yourself, by networking, and using a crew database to market yourself.
The key to becoming an assistant director is to get practical experience of the production process, and also to develop a network of contacts in the industry. Employers are usually more interested in your experience and your enthusiasm and initiative than your formal qualifications.
You would often start as runner or production assistant on set, and work your way up to 3rd or 2nd AD and beyond. To get a job as a runner, you will need to show your commitment by finding work experience and being involved in activities like student or community film or TV. It can take several years to move from Runner through to First AD.
It is not essential to have studied film, video or media production before you look for work, although it can be helpful as the most useful courses include practical skills and work placements. Several colleges and universities offer relevant courses, including:
• Degree courses accredited by the
Training and development
You will develop your skills on the job, learning from experienced assistant directors and crew. For example, as a 1st AD you would need to understand how scheduling affects budgets, and you would learn this best on the job. There are several budgeting and scheduling software packages being used by the film and TV industry and you will need to become familiar with the ones being used most today.
You may be able to get training at the start of your career through one of the new entrant training schemes that broadcasters and regional screen agencies sometimes offer. Contact a member of the Creative Skillset Film or TV team to find out what schemes are currently running.
You could also take short courses in production skills for assistant directors, run by film schools, regional screen agencies and private training providers. See FTII, Actor prepares, Whistling Woods website to search for relevant industry approved courses, and for information about how to fund your training as a freelance.
As your experience, skills and reputation grow, you could progress from AD into a production manager or producer role. Working as an assistant director is not usually a stepping stone into directing, because the job is organisational rather than creative.
Freelance assistant directors are usually paid a fee for each individual contract or project. Rates can vary widely, and may be based on the budget available and your track record.
People working on films may agree to work for little or no pay on the understanding that they will share in any profit that the film makes. You should check the exact terms before going ahead with this type of contract or agreement.
Salary : Rs.9300-39100/- p.m as per FTII