TV or film production assistant
Assistant production co-ordinator
Production assistants support producers in making film or TV programmes.
Salary range: £15,000 to £30,000
How to become a TV or film production assistant
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- a college course
- an apprenticeship
- working towards this role
- applying directly
- specialist courses run by private training providers
You could do a degree in:
- creative media production
- film and television production
- film and TV studies
You might find it helpful to choose a course that includes practical skills, work placements and the chance to make industry contacts.
You’ll usually need:
- 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- university courses and entry requirements
You could take a course at college, for example:
- Level 3 Diploma in Media Techniques
- Level 3 Diploma in Creative Media Production
You’ll usually need:
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
You may be able to do an advanced apprenticeship in creative and digital media or as a broadcast production assistant.
The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 also offer apprenticeship opportunities.
To get onto an apprenticeship, you’ll find it useful to have:
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
- equivalent entry requirements
- BBC apprenticeships
- Channel 4 apprenticeships
- ITV apprenticeships
- guide to apprenticeships
Your first paid job will usually be as a runner or junior assistant in the production office. You’ll then work your way up as you get experience.
Volunteering and experience
Get as much practical experience as you can. This will show employers that you’re committed to learning more about the industry. You can build useful experience through activities like:
- student or community film/TV projects
- community or student radio
You’ll also get the opportunity to meet people already working in TV and film. Building a network of contacts could help you when you start looking for work.
The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 offer work experience placements, and ‘insight’ and ‘talent days’. Competition can be tough, but if you’re successful, it will help you get a better understanding of the industry.
ScreenSkills also has information on finding work experience.
Many production assistants are graduates, although a degree is not essential. A lot of employers will be more interested in your skills and experience.
You’ll also find it useful to have experience of working in TV, advertising or office management.
You could also take short courses in production skills run by film schools, regional screen agencies and private training providers.
You’ll need to develop experience in both the creative and business sides of film or programme making. You’ll also need to develop an understanding of the production process, and a good network of contacts in the industry.
Professional and industry bodies
You could join the The Production Guild for professional recognition, training opportunities and to make industry contacts.
You can find out more about entry level opportunities in television from the Royal Television Society
You can find out more about creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- knowledge of media production and communication
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- knowledge of English language
- leadership skills
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- the ability to use your initiative
- to be flexible and open to change
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
What you’ll do
You’ll be involved in a range of tasks including:
- hiring studio facilities and equipment
- booking hotels and making travel arrangements
- attending production meetings
- copying and distributing scripts
- typing and circulating production schedules (‘call sheets’) and daily reports
- getting permission to use copyrighted music or film clips
- dealing with accounts and expenses
In television, you might also carry out production duties, like:
- timing the show in the studio gallery
- calling camera shots
- cueing pre-recorded material
- keeping records or logging of shots taken
- making sure the shots look the same after breaks in filming
You could work at a film studio, in an office, at a TV studio or on a film set.
Your working environment may be outdoors some of the time and you may spend nights away from home.
Career path and progression
With experience, you could progress to production coordinator and production manager, or become a researcher or producer.
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