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What gear should a Set PA have when s/he first steps on set?

PA Set Production Assistant Gear

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#1 Shaeden Gallegos

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Posted 04 May 2015 - 03:52 PM

So I am currently going into my senior year at film school, and am trying to work as a PA in LA this summer. I have some money saved up, and am trying to buy some essential gear to have on set. I just don't have enough money right now to buy all the essentials I have been compiling. Do any of you have any suggestions on which are the most important up front? Any suggestions are welcome. Thanks guys.


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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 04 May 2015 - 08:41 PM

I'd start with your own surveillance headset, good clothes, comfortable shoes,  a wide brimmed hat, sharpies, pens, pencils, and some paper. Then a really good attitude. It can help to have some simple work gloves (like the mechanic gloves you can get cheaply at home depot) and I recommend bandannas as well if you're out in the desert a lot, or dusty environments. You may consider a little camping stool of some kind (fold up) as you might be put on a lockup somewhere for prolonged periods of time. Also reusable water bottle.

But truth be told, PA really doesn't need "gear" so much as a good attitude, attentiveness, the ability to smile even when getting shit on, and anticipation. If you can start anticipating what needs to be done before you're asked, well in my book, you're golden.

 

Also don't tell anyone about what you're doing unless asked-- i mean outside of the shoot-- you're not a director or anything when you're a PA, ya know?

Personally I always try to talk to the PAs on sets, ask them what they want to do, what they have done, what interests them. And I always try to say thank you. Works out pretty well too as often times, they'll pick up when they know I need a coffee or something similar (and though it's not their job) it'll appear magically, often with a smiley face on it.


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#3 Shaeden Gallegos

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Posted 04 May 2015 - 08:46 PM

I'd start with your own surveillance headset, good clothes, comfortable shoes,  a wide brimmed hat, sharpies, pens, pencils, and some paper. Then a really good attitude. It can help to have some simple work gloves (like the mechanic gloves you can get cheaply at home depot) and I recommend bandannas as well if you're out in the desert a lot, or dusty environments. You may consider a little camping stool of some kind (fold up) as you might be put on a lockup somewhere for prolonged periods of time. Also reusable water bottle.

But truth be told, PA really doesn't need "gear" so much as a good attitude, attentiveness, the ability to smile even when getting poop on, and anticipation. If you can start anticipating what needs to be done before you're asked, well in my book, you're golden.

 

Also don't tell anyone about what you're doing unless asked-- i mean outside of the shoot-- you're not a director or anything when you're a PA, ya know?

Personally I always try to talk to the PAs on sets, ask them what they want to do, what they have done, what interests them. And I always try to say thank you. Works out pretty well too as often times, they'll pick up when they know I need a coffee or something similar (and though it's not their job) it'll appear magically, often with a smiley face on it.

Thank you so much for your input. I will definitely follow your advice and continue to get better. I think I have the attitude part down, because I feel lucky to be getting a chance at doing something I am passionate about. Hope you have a great day. 


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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 04 May 2015 - 08:53 PM

My pleasure. Hope it's helpful.


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#5 Shaeden Gallegos

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Posted 04 May 2015 - 08:55 PM

My pleasure. Hope it's helpful.

Absolutely! Thank you so much.


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#6 Justin Hayward

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Posted 04 May 2015 - 09:45 PM

I read this earlier today, before Adrian answered, and my first thought was this; the "good attitude" is there or he wouldn't be asking this question.

 

Good attitude with a good work ethic will get you very far.  So much of production is problem solving.  If you are often the first to try to solve the problem, or even better, happen to be a good problem solver, as well as the first to try, you'll do well.


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#7 Shaeden Gallegos

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Posted 04 May 2015 - 11:11 PM

I read this earlier today, before Adrian answered, and my first thought was this; the "good attitude" is there or he wouldn't be asking this question.

 

Good attitude with a good work ethic will get you very far.  So much of production is problem solving.  If you are often the first to try to solve the problem, or even better, happen to be a good problem solver, as well as the first to try, you'll do well.

I really appreciate that Justin. Thanks for the great advice. I just want to be prepared, and as a film student, not look like a "noob" (for lack of a better term). I don't think I am though, because I have been studying a lot and preparing to look as professional as I can. Thanks for your time.


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#8 JD Hartman

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 09:10 AM

What Adrian said.   

 

First thing: good pair gloves.  See many new PA's will show up with no gloves, 'cause they don't need 'em.  They're real men!  By the afternoon their hands hurt or are scratched up, they want to borrow gloves or are hunting for a dollar store to buy some cheap ones.  Doesn't have to be expensive Setware brand, just a good pair of flexible, well fitting cowhide or calfskin gloves.  Pigskin gets stiff from rain and sweat, goatskin is okay, I find that doeskin are the best.


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#9 Shaeden Gallegos

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 10:26 AM

What Adrian said.   

 

First thing: good pair gloves.  See many new PA's will show up with no gloves, 'cause they don't need 'em.  They're real men!  By the afternoon their hands hurt or are scratched up, they want to borrow gloves or are hunting for a dollar store to buy some cheap ones.  Doesn't have to be expensive Setware brand, just a good pair of flexible, well fitting cowhide or calfskin gloves.  Pigskin gets stiff from rain and sweat, goatskin is okay, I find that doeskin are the best.

Thank you JD. This really helps me prepare! I really do appreciate your help.


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#10 Christopher Santucci

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Posted 07 May 2015 - 05:57 AM

This and a functional smart phone with a good battery.

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#11 JD Hartman

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Posted 07 May 2015 - 09:02 AM

Don't be seen in the company of, or admit to owning a (reliable) car.  Some shoots will run you ragged, you'll always be the gofer and learn little, except that you can't fit 8' sections of dolly track in a sedan trunk.


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#12 Shaeden Gallegos

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 11:53 AM

This and a functional smart phone with a good battery.

Sorry for the late response, I have been studying for my finals. I appreciate your help, this is great advice. Thank you!


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#13 Shaeden Gallegos

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 11:54 AM

Don't be seen in the company of, or admit to owning a (reliable) car.  Some shoots will run you ragged, you'll always be the gofer and learn little, except that you can't fit 8' sections of dolly track in a sedan trunk.

Thanks for the precaution! I will keep this in mind for the  future. I really appreciate your input!


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#14 Rakesh Malik

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 02:08 PM

I wish I'd joined this forum before I did my first PA gig on a big production (for Kia). It was quite a learning experience.


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#15 Shaeden Gallegos

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 02:12 PM

I wish I'd joined this forum before I did my first PA gig on a big production (for Kia). It was quite a learning experience.

Yea...it is awesome that I am getting feedback. Thanks.


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#16 Rakesh Malik

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 02:19 PM

The discussions here have been very informative, something I realized early on once I discovered it. It's just that I found it after that PA gig. :)


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#17 Shaeden Gallegos

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 02:34 PM

Ahh that sucks :(. Now we with both be better on the next ones!!


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#18 Rakesh Malik

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 02:40 PM

It only slightly sucks. Some of the other experienced PAs took a few minutes out to tell me the protocols and all before production began, so it wasn't like I was being thrown to the sharks. :)


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#19 Shaeden Gallegos

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 02:58 PM

It only slightly sucks. Some of the other experienced PAs took a few minutes out to tell me the protocols and all before production began, so it wasn't like I was being thrown to the sharks. :)

Awesome man!! That is a cool thing. I am just happy people are willing to help and provide assistance.


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#20 Robert Costello

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 05:05 PM

Depending on what kind of shoots you're doing, knowing how to
wrap cable is essential.
https://www.youtube....h?v=-74OEVUOKOw

 

Also having a good knife or multi-tool might be handy.
Also having a basic health kit for yourself (asprine, vitamins, pepto, etc) might help you get through long days.

 

If possible ask the production director what gear will be used in the production (cameras, tripods, audio, etc). Most of the time the
manuals are available online. Sometimes basic gear can be more complicated as it seems.

 

Always use every shoot as a learning experience and ask as many questions
as you can, but pay it forward and help the new kid when they come along.


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Visual Products

Abel Cine

Tai Audio

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Ritter Battery

The Slider

Willys Widgets

Glidecam

Paralinx LLC

rebotnix Technologies

Pro 8mm

Technodolly

Aerial Filmworks

CineTape

CineLab

Rig Wheels Passport

Zylight