Speaking to a friend from the Oil and Gas industry last week, who has been out of a job for 6 months due to the Oil price problems Canada is currently facing he was looking into getting a Job as a Production Assistant by taking Motion Picture Industry Orientation – its $165 for the 2 day course.
Due to big tax credits Vancouver is a hot spot for filming , and hosts shows like Lucifer, Supergirl etc & Films. Commercials/music videos/reality shows are all non-union but often work 10-24hour at a time.
Many shows stop filming at the end of the year leaving a few tv shows continuing on to the new year.
- January – March is considered the slow seasons
- March-April is when pilot season starts and usually when mainstream media picks a time to highlight how busy the film industry is; until it dies down again after a month everyone working.
- Work a minimum 15 hour day and get paid $210 for a full day or $105 for a half day, 8 hours ( No overtime )
- Hired Daily no guarantee or work and short notice you will get told the day before if you are needed for the next day
- 9 hours turnaround. 9 hours from the time you leave to the time you get back to work.
- Do not expect this to be a bridge into an actiing career or meeting actors
- You will learn this on your course however do not expect autographs or selfies (nobody wants to babysit you if you try this)
- There is no dinner, there is a 3rd meal if filming continues after 12 hours. It is usually pizza.
- During the rainy season get proper rain gear and shoes for working 15 hours out in the rain ( no shelter )
- A car is not necessary but often helpful when you get 4AM call times to areas where Transit doesn’t cover.
Download this Production Assistant Helper Manual to help you get started.
Food and Work
You will get breakfast from the catering truck and be handed a walkie talkie and a traffic vest (this is your uniform and only way to distinguish you from the public and film crew). If you do not know how to properly use a walkie talkie please ask someone now before being moved to your lock up position.
After 3 hours after breakfast is sandwich time, craft service will arrive on set with a cart with sandwiches for the crew, grab only 1-2 sandwiches.
After 6 hours from breakfast you will get lunch. Often at times you will be allowed to get teamster lunch which is 30 minutes before scheduled lunch on the call sheet.
The time between breakfast and lunch and lunch and wrap, craft service is there to help you make your sandwiches, snacks to help you through the day. If you are in crew park, ask for a box to get a care package for you and the other security guard (if there is one) which you are in crew park.
If you see a film crew and don’t have ANY experience or any foot in the door with anyone, your best foot in the door is to chat up a PA about getting work. Give them your name and number and maybe on a really busy day when everyone is looking for a PA you will be called.