Ready to break into Hollywood but not sure where to start? Start as a TV show assistant! This can often be a role that can help you get your foot in the door. Screenwriter Michael Jamin has led a successful career in Hollywood as a showrunner and TV writer – but even he has done the role of a TV show assistant.
Check out what Michael Jamin says about the different types of production assistant roles you can find in the TV industry.
1. Assistant to a Creative Executive
You can find executives who work on shows in every studio or network. Development Executives develop shows and, as a part of their role, they buy pilots and give notes on them with the goal of hopefully getting those pilots onto the air. Once a show gets onto the air, it’s turned over to a current executive who gives notes on the shows currently on the air.
Think about it for a second. If you were the assistant to the current executive, how much would you learn? You’d get to see all of the revisions and all of the drafts. You’d even learn what they are looking for when buying pilots, what they’d want to turn it into, and how the show evolves overall. It’s an incredible TV show assistant role – think of it as an education that pays you!
2. Assistant for an Agent
As the assistant to an agent, you’d get to see thousands of TV show scripts that were good enough to get agents. You should definitely read them all, because that’s how you learn what it takes to succeed at this level.
3. Assistant Producer or Showrunner
In this TV show assistant role, you’d get firsthand experience with seeing how producers and showrunners break stories. The more time you spend in this role, the more you’ll be able to see how a show evolves.
4. Set Production Assistant
If you like the idea of working on a set, then this role might be for you! If you’re watching a movie on location, you may have come across individuals wearing headphones directing the public away from the set so that filming can be done – that’s a set production assistant.
5. Office Production Assistant
This is someone who makes copies, gets equipment, runs errands, and helps keep the show on track. In this role, you’d be working directly with the Production Office Coordinator, Assistant Production Office Coordinator, and the Production Office Secretary.
6. Writers’ Production Assistant
Becoming a Writers’ Production Assistant is an awesome TV show assistant role and a great way to start getting connected with professional TV writers currently working in the industry. While you’ll help the writers out with various tasks here and there, one major part of the job is getting the writers lunch.
“Think how nice I am to the Writers’ PA,” says Michael Jamin. “Because that person is bringing me food on a daily basis. I’m like a captive in a room like a veal. When someone brings me food, I’m actually really nice to that person. That’s a great job!”
Want to Learn More About the TV Industry?
When it comes to learning about the TV industry, Mchael Jamin is a great resource! For free advice, you can subscribe to his newsletter The Watchlist to learn more about it.
If you’d like to learn what it takes to write for TV, you’ll definitely want to check out his podcast Screenwriters Need to Hear This either on your favorite podcast platform or you can watch it on his YouTube Channel.
And if you’re interested in becoming a screenwriter or simply want to become a better writer, check out Michael Jamin’s online screenwriting course.