If you want to break into the film or television business as a writer, director, producer, or anything, one of the smartest things you can do is become a PA (a production assistant). And I’m hearing a lot of griping from people, like, oh, it’s impossible to get those jobs.

You’re Trying To Become a Production Assistant All Wrong

Listen, it’s not impossible. You just haven’t tried everything because if you had, you’d already be working right now, so you have to lose that impossible mindset. It’s not serving you. You got to think out of the box. A lot of people are going to these websites where, you know, you’re putting your name on these websites. Hey, I want to be a PA. And, of course, everyone’s doing that, which is why you’re not getting work. It’s just too crowded. Or you’re sending out emails through LinkedIn or whatever. That’s not going to work.

How Should You Approach Becoming a Production Assistant?

Let’s think out of the box for a minute. This is what I would do. If I was trying to break into the business as a PA, first of all, there’s a website called Deadline.com, and it’s basically a PR site. So whenever there’s an announcement for a new pilot or a new TV show, there, it goes on that website and generates publicity. But they’ll list who the writer is, who the production company is, and who the studio is.

Reach out to everyone! Not just one person. Reach out to every single name you have on that thing. And you can find Google. You can find contacts right now.

Why Should I Reach Out To Everyone When Applying for a PA Job?

Showrunners don’t really know who does the hiring for PAs. It might be the production coordinator. It might be a producer. We don’t know on each job who is doing the hiring.

You’ve reached out to the showrunner or the writer? They may need their own personal assistant. Okay, fine. Don’t stop there. Send out letters to everyone. That’s the first thing I would do.

Should I Apply To PA on Existing Shows or Pilots?

And I would do the same thing for existing shows that are already on the air. Find out where they’re being produced, where the production offices are, and do the same thing there. The odds of getting on one of those shows might be a little lower because they already have a staff, but somebody leaves. There is always turnover.

On a pilot, you might have higher odds. And the only problem with Deadline.com is a lot of times; the news is a little old. So they’ll announce something, and it’s already been in production.

So it’s a crapshoot, but sometimes it’s going to work.

How Much Effort Should I Put Into Becoming a Production Assistant?

So this is going to require a lot of work by you guys; by the way, Hollywood is a lot of work. Do you want it or not? And I’m telling you how to get it.

What Else Can I Do To Find Work as a Production Assistant?

No one else is doing this second thing. Write this down.

Have you tried sending out a real letter? Like on stationary and putting it in the mail? Like old-school? No. No one’s doing that. And if I got a letter, I’m like, oh, okay. It’s like; it’s so much more work than just firing off an email or sending a contact through LinkedIn. Like it shows something, it shows that you’re trying, and it’s going to get your someone’s attention.

Have you tried that? Of course, you haven’t tried that. Try that.

How Often Should I Follow Up With PA Jobs I’ve Applied For?

Leep a spreadsheet, and I would follow up every with people after you send out this letter; I’d follow up in a week or two or whatever. And then they’ll say, oh, we don’t have anything now. Okay, fine. I’m going to follow up again. If that’s okay with you, I’ll follow up in a month or two.

Be polite about it. You don’t have to be rude. Don’t be too pushy, but you’re being assertive. You’re saying I really want this job. And I’m excited for this job. And if you hire me for this job, I’m going to do a killer job. That’s what the person hiring is going to look for.

Maybe they don’t have an opening today, but they’ll remember that. And they’ll probably have an opening in two or three months. And if you do this to enough people, if you blanket the town and you’re consistent, you make this your job, and your job is to find a job. And every day, every morning, you just spent X amount of time doing your job to find a job. You will get a job.

In Summary

So stop complaining. Okay?

If you want it bad enough, you’ll get it. And by the way, if you think getting a PA job is hard, try getting a writing job. Okay? So if all of this strikes you as too difficult, being a writer is not for you.

But if you really want it, you will get it. And I’m here to encourage you to go after it.

It’s not coming for you.

Go after it.

Take it.

It’s yours.

Good luck.

Oh, follow me on Facebook and on Instagram for more information @MichaelJaminWriter.

Michael Jamin, Showrunner, TV Writer, Author

Michael Jamin

For the past 26 years, Michael Jamin has been a professional television writer/showrunner. His credits include King of the Hill, Beavis & Butthead, Wilfred, Maron, Just Shoot Me, Rules of Engagement, Brickleberry, Tacoma FD and many more.

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