Starting off in the film production industry can be the biggest roller-coaster a young adult will face. You know you're good. You believe you're good. All you need is that one big break! Well, guess what, so does everyone else. With the advent of all sorts of new and increasingly more accessible video and photo technology it can be a total rat race trying to find your way. I've by no means been immune to this struggle.
Let me take a step back, though, because this life is also (in between the "what am I doing with my life" breakdowns) incredibly fun! The reason I wanted to pursue media of all forms is because I love seeing new things, experience new things, meeting new people and telling the story, whether that be in photo, writing or video. What I've found is that every experience with every different crew has its own unique identity. As such, you need to be able to adapt to those identities to put out a quality product, especially as a production assistant.
For those of you who don't know, a production assistant is the team fixer. The PA runs all over hell and back to pick up equipment, exchange equipment, grab lunches, transport crew and generally do what it takes to make sure everyone on the crew has what they need to make the shoot go off without problems. This role will also vary drastically based on the type of production, size of crew, number and accessibility of shoot location and a myriad other factors. Basically you have to be a chameleon: good at everything and never in the way.
My most recent job as a PA was in Boulder with a small crew out of LA. It was a fantastic experience (yes I had moments where I wanted to strangle everyone, but that's every shoot). I drove way more miles than any human should in a 5 day stretch, got to know the local equipment rental people and saw what happens when a sleep deprived crew hits the end of their wits. I can't wait to see the final product, though. That's the amazing thing to me. Every crew is different. Every location has its own challenges. Every shoot will make you swear you'll never do it again. But, at the same time, every shoot is an opportunity for you to put your heart and soul into a project to make it the very best thing it can be because, unlike a lot of things, this is a unique product with YOUR NAME ON IT. Even as just a PA, I want every project I work on to be phenomenal because this is my career.
Now, back to what I was saying about being a chameleon and adapting to everything and everyone. This is very true, but also misleading. Don't lose your identity. Another thing that makes storytelling in the production industry so amazing is that it is just that, a story, YOUR story. I won't always be a PA. I have aspirations to create my own stories and if I allow myself to become someone else, my stories will no longer be mine. So, for now, as a PA, I work my butt off, staying invisible, but offering MY ideas when the time is right, making pieces work together, but with MY work ethic and creativity, and appeasing the crew, but with MY personality still fully and truly mine. Because, one day, the story will be mine and I want it to be unmistakably the product of my creativity.