Film Production Assistant Job Facts

A film production assistant job varies a lot in terms of its tasks. The position really is a job assisting with everything involved in film production, from setting up a film shoot to dealing with getting lunch for the crew and organizing the producer's administrative work.

The work environment

This job includes travel, living on location, and adapting to such highly variable working conditions. Many film production assistants work freelance. The film jobs last as long as the film is in production, although technically qualified production assistants can also work in post production roles, administration, and business-related areas. 

The film production assistant's ultimate boss is the producer. The film production assistant is both a set of hands for the producer and the producer's person on the ground.

The job requires good organizational, interpersonal, technical, and administrative skills. This really is a job for fast learners, and people who function well in a team environment.

The basic non-technical tasks of a film production assistant on a typical day include:

  • Liaising with technical staff and actors
  • Working with logistics and support crews
  • Catering issues
  • Scheduling
  • Administration work (includes inventory, clerical, computer and other roles)
  • Driving transport
  • Miscellaneous duties

The technical, production work includes:

  • Setting up production equipment
  • Maintenance and operation of equipment (qualified production staff)
  • Scheduling of production functions

Film production assistants do much of the important basic work. They're highly valued for their ability to get things done properly and on time. Delays in shooting and other production work are extremely expensive. It's important to have experienced production assistants on site to solve problems, disentangle situations, and keep things operational. Film production assistants who also have technical know-how are particularly valuable as fixers, people who can handle issues on the spot, knowing what's required and how to deal with them.

The average salary for a film production assistant is about $100-150 a day.

Working hours can be literally anything. There are no standard hours in this job. The work may involve getting up before everyone else to set up the shoot, and going to bed after everyone else having packed up.

The career environment

Film production assistants start at the bottom, but their chances of getting to the top are excellent. This is also one of the primary training jobs for production work at much higher levels. A good, practical knowledge base and experience are much in demand in film production, and some production assistants may find themselves in steady employment through industry contacts for those reasons.

The practical experience provides good support for those who also get formal qualifications in media production. A good reputation, networking, and solid technical skills are the prerequisites for a career in film production. A good track record with producers is a real career asset. This is a fussy industry, and producers know who they need for their work. Like all professionals, they far prefer to hire reliable people with good references and credentials within the industry.

Many major film producers started as production assistants, learning their way around film sets, film production and learning how to succeed in the film industry in the process.