Production Assistant / Broadcast Assistant

What you do in the job?

Broadcast Assistant
Setting up the production by booking facilities, organising filming trips, outside broadcasts and paying suppliers for these services. Give assistance to the director/ producer by calling shots in the studio, generally assisting on location, and doing timings. The job also involves looking after contributors on location and in studios, clearing copyright and completing the post production paperwork. Sometimes called a production co-ordinator.
Anne Bamber BBC TV.

A television production assistant (PA) is a vital link in the production team. PAs assist the director or producer and are involved in all stages of the production process (from pre-production through to post-production and transmission) to help ensure production runs smoothly.

The role is technical, creative and administrative: PAs supervise setup and operation of production equipment, help plan programme format and research scripts, maintain production records, and hire equipment. Unlike other roles in the industry, PAs are more generalist than specialist. They are given responsibility for a wide variety of tasks, which may be both menial and complex.

Typical work activities
Typical work activities include some or all of the following tasks:

working closely with the producer, director and production team;
liaising with writers, artists' agents, members of the public, and publicity staff;
co-ordinating and communicating production resources and facility arrangements in tandem with the production managers;
attending and timing production rehearsals;
attending and co-ordinating planning meetings;
checking copyright and permission issues;
ensuring royalties are paid for additional images, music or footage used;
dealing with artists' payments and expenses;
producing budgets, monitoring costs and controlling expenses;
cueing pre-recorded material;
overseeing the timing during a shoot or show;
ensuring continuity, both on location and in the studio;
dealing with production enquiries from members of the public;
keeping accurate shot lists, especially for drama productions;
typing up camera scripts and shot cards;
producing timing schedules, shot lists and logs for post-production;
calling shots;
liaising with the camera and sound crew during studio recordings;
booking artists and performers;
organising the production and distribution of scripts;
booking catering, accommodation, equipment and flights for performers and crew;
managing contracts with external organisations;
conducting research;
completing all necessary paperwork in relation to the above tasks.

What qualities are required?

Excellent organisational and interpersonal skills. Good IT skills and ability to remain calm under pressure.

Key Skills and Interests
To be a production assistant you need:
excellent communication and 'people' skills
good organisational skills and attention to detail
good administrative and computer skills
the ability to work without supervision and use your own initiative
creativity when dealing with problems
stamina, focus and determination
some mathematical skills, for working with budgets and accounts
flexibility and adaptability
the ability to work under pressure and to strict deadlines.

How you start and where you can go with it?

You often start as a Production Secretary but can come in via other routes. It is possible to move into other areas, such as directing or producer but the more normal route is onto Production Manager.

There are no standard qualifications for becoming a production assistant. Employers are usually more interested in your personal qualities such as enthusiasm, common sense and initiative. The key is to gain practical experience and develop a network of contacts in the industry.

You can gain relevant experience through:
student film or TV productions
getting paid or unpaid work experience
building a portfolio of productions you have been involved in.

You may find it helpful to take a course in film, video or media production. The most useful ones include practical skills and work placements. Several universities and colleges offer relevant BTEC HNDs, degrees and postgraduate courses ? check with course providers for entry requirements.

You will often start as a runner, junior assistant or secretary in the production office, and work your way up the production ladder as you gain experience. You will need good typing speeds and computer skills. Shorthand skills are also useful.

You will usually learn on the job from more experienced production staff.

As an experienced production assistant, you could also take short courses in various business and production skills, which are run by film schools and some specialist colleges and private training companies.

A rate of perhaps 80GBP a day for a location Production Assistant with some tv experience is something to aim for .

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