Shawna Lynn Cox

Getting called to work for a day as a Production Assistant on a film or television series isn’t as hard to land as you may think. Especially right now in Vancouver during the heart of pilot season.

With or without previous film experience you could be steps away from your first day!

Are you…

  • Curious if the circus (film life) is right for you, or…
  • Have no prior film experience, or…
  • Have Film School under your belt but don’t know how to beak into the big leagues, or…
  • have experience in another industry or department of film, or…
  • just want to see how things are done behind the scenes and earn some $ doing it?

You could book your first ‘day call’ as early as tomorrow! Do you have…

  1. a bit of time
  2. internet access
  3. a good attitude

The steps, links and advice in this post and put will prime you to land your first day with a film crew as a Production Assistant and could launch you on a really awesome adventure in film! I will help you…

  1. Be ready with the right attitude.
  2. Be ready with the right expectations.
  3. Be ready with the right tools.
  4. Get your name out there!

The PA Survival Guide

Give this awesome Production Assistant (PA) Guide that was created by the Directors Guild of BC a quick read:

The DGC BC PA Survival Guide

Now, with just a little work invested right now, you could be working your first ‘day call’ as soon as tomorrow!

The Production List

Get ready to do the work to land you your first gig sooner than you can imagine:

  1. OPEN your web browser (laptop or desktop is best)
  2. CLICK on this link to access the Current Production List PDF (DGC BC public access).

On the list, you now can see every show currently in production in Vancouver and here’s what you are looking for to get your first gig.

As you can see there is a lot of stuff going on and they are looking for good people to work right now!

PA film work cheat sheet

What’s shooting now and Who to contact

Here’s where there is a bit of work but it totally pays off with big rewards fast.

For each production:

  1. Note the shooting dates (1) (listed after the productions name and address).
  2. Highlight all productions currently shooting or ones about to start in a week or two.

Next, for each production that you’ve highlighted:

  1.  scan across to the column labeled Key PA’s (more on ALM’s later)…
  2. highlight the Key PA’s names.

Find the Contact Info

CLICK on this link to access the DGC BC Member Search (public access) and then:

  1. ENTER the last and first name of the first Key PA of each production you have highlighted.
  2. IF a member is found, with a resume to view, click on the link to view their resume and go to step 5.
  3. IF NO member match is found using the member search, go to the next Key PA listed with that production and try the member search again.
  4. IF you’ve tried all the Key PA’s and there is no member, resume or contact (mobile or email) then and only then, do a member search for the ALM of the production – they are very busy and only contact them as a last resort…but remember, if they need people they will be happy you’ve reached out to them, but do not try to contact them again if you don’t hear back.
  5. Take a note of both email and mobile contacts.

How to Connect Professionally via email/text message

So for each of those you’ve highlighted and found an email or mobile for. You will send them a very brief and personalized message something like this (and include your mobile number if emailing):

Film Experience:

Hi Jason, I’m Shawna, an available, experienced PA with a car looking for day calls or longer. I can send you my resume if you like more info. I look fwd to working with you.

No Film Experience:

Hi Jason, I’m Shawna. I am available and looking for PA work. I am reliable, take instructions well and am just getting started in film. I have reviewed the DGC BC PA guide. I have a car and can send you my resume. I look forward to working with you.

IMPORTANT:  Key PA’s are very busy and will only contact you or reply to your message if they need people right away. They will be happy you’ve reached out to them, but do not try to re-contact them if you don’t hear back. Move along to sending out messages to the next production and wait to hear back from them.

Patience right now is your biggest and best virtue.

Format and Share your Resume

Then, make or update your resume using Google Docs. This way you can readily share it via text message or email if they ask to see it.

Don’t worry if you have no film experience.

Try to list any relevant cross skills or any employment that shows customer service, ability to work independently or any small jobs you may have had. Remember, we all start somewhere!!

Here is my old resume for the film format to follow. DO NOT get all creative. KEEP IT SIMPLE. KEEP IT LIKE THIS:

SAMPLE PA RESUME FORMAT

Waiting for Your First Call

Invest in yourself and spend 1-2 hours doing the work above, and in about 4hrs, there is a very good chance you will have texts and calls coming in to book you for work!

Have a pen and paper ready for when you get that first call and make sure you know the following before hanging up:

  1. What day(s) you are booked for.
  2. What your call time is (plan to show up 15mins early incase you get lost or traffic).
  3. The address of where you are to park (could be crew park or another site).
  4. Who you are to report to when you arrive.
  5. Ask for any special details or specific info you may need to know for your work day.

Then all you have to do is…

  • Show up on time.
  • Do your best work.
  • Ask questions.

…and you may never have to reach out for the rest of pilot season!

A little preparedness goes along way in this industry.

If you have any questions or you have tried the steps above and need some support, please do not hesitate to message me through my Facebook page, here at Shawna Lynn Cox, and let’s see what we may need to tweak to get you that first gig.

See you on set! xoxox

Shawna

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