When I first moved to Nashville nearly 20 years ago, I shared a large 4 bedroom house with roommates who were all aspiring to work in Nashville’s early boom of film and television. Specifically my roommate and friend John already had a decent foot in the door as a Production Manager. He had the beginnings of an impressive resume. The Production Manager, or PM for short, I soon learned was the position that held the keys for everyone else.
The Production Manager of a film set is the person who assembles the crew. He or she hires everyone. The lighting guys. The caterer. The makeup artist. The Production Manager puts the team together. Within a couple of years, John was the most sought after PM in town. The rest of us were just beginning our careers and as much as John would have loved to give us the best positions on set, those went to people with more experience. However, there was one role John always needed new people for, and that is the PA. The Production Assistant.
John hired us as PAs quite a bit. Being a Production Assistant certainly is not glamorous. Basically you do all the little left over things that have to be done. Maybe you are picking up trash. Maybe you are going to get coffee. One day on set I had to polish a line of new cars all day under hot August sun. This is why the PA is in constant demand. It’s a job no one really wants.
A few years later, one of the the other roommates had moved on from PA and become a popular set designer in town. Another one is a full on music video director today. Over the years I have worked on major music video sets with major celebrities.
Most production managers aren’t looking for new makeup artists to hire. When they need to assemble a crew they call the 3 or 4 artists they usually do. Those that they know they can count on. However, you could probably book a Production Assistant gig in the very near future. And once you are on set a few times, people will start to remember you. Suddenly, you have your foot in the highly competitive world of Film and Television.