I am a 19-year-old college student from Florida. I have been in LA once before this job opportunity for approximately 3 days. To be quite frank, I had no idea what I was in for.
I have been interested in film for as long as I can remember. I loved movies with a deeper sense than most and was totally engrossed in any movie that I liked, ever. It was a way for me to be creative as well as share my emotions and ideas with others on a platform that everyone has access to and everyone enjoys.
Through luck and an amazing family friend connection, I landed a job as a production assistant on the CBS show S.W.A.T for 5 days over my spring break. I had an idea of the hours I was going to be working, who the cast was, and that’s about it. I knew what a PA did through learning the roles of production in my film class, but reading it and living it are two very different things.
I got to work bright an early at 5:30 AM on Monday morning, the time actually wasn’t that bad. I was filled with adrenaline, coffee, and the Floridian time difference that made it feel like 8AM.
I got to base camp and I was so excited. I was greeted by the family friend that got me this job, a stack of paperwork, a radio, and a headset. I had to tune in to channel 1, the production line. I was told to shove 3 call sheets and 3 sides into my jacket pockets so that I had any if a crew member needed some. I was told to always carry a hot brick (a battery for the radio) and was sent on my way down to set.
I arrive on set and meet the PA I was shadowing for the day. I started making breakfast orders for the cast and sending them in a van back to basecamp. Ok, yay easy. I then begin to help lock the set, read the sides, prop extras, hold extras, stand in for lighting, and run any errands necessary.
I kept doing whatever was needed of me for 14 hours. I was the new girl the first day so there wasn’t much trust in big tasks, but I showed up Tuesday proving I could handle whatever they throw at me, I was there to learn and to work.
Every day was the same, yet different. I met new, amazing, helpful people every day and began to realize that this is what I wanted to do. It felt good to be busy, to be needed. I loved every minute of it.
It sounds like easy work, but again, saying and doing are two very different things. They are all tasks necessary to make the action of filming run smoothly. Without PA’s, nothing would get done.
It was amazing to be able to work on a set with real cast and crew and understand the system that is all of the different workers performing in harmony to create movie magic. The hours are long, my first day I was on my feet for 16 hours. But once you see what you’ve helped create and the work that goes into just shooting one scene, it doesn’t matter, it is worth it.
This past week showed me the power of hard work and what it means to be a part of something bigger. Follow your dreams. You’ve got this.