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The Right Gear for Your First Production Assistant Job

Logan Baker

Having the right gear for your first production assistant gig will not only benefit your reputation on set, but also guarantee work in the future.

Top image via Shutterstock

No matter where your media-related career begins, at some point filling the role of production assistant is almost inevitable. The good news is that these jobs eventually lead to more gigs where you’ll have ample opportunities to demonstrate your knowledge and skills.

Being adequately prepared for your first role as production assistant and having the necessary gear is vital to satisfying the production’s goals and your own future career opportunities. Here are some suggested items to consider purchasing beforehand. 

Gaffer Tape: $18

gaffer

Gaffer tape is truly an indispensable tool. No matter the type of production you’re working on, gaffer tape will be needed. With all the cords and markers that go into big shoots, tape is a necessity that isn’t always readily available in the moment. Having the means to help the key grip or your fellow production assistant on the spot is beneficial for you and everyone working.

Tool Pouch: $16

Production heatImage via Shutterstock

A standard small tool pouch that can be worn on your belt is not only cheap, but tells others on set that you’re prepared for the job. What goes in the pouch? I recommend keeping a flashlight, vice grips, and a small pocket knife. You can even buy an all-purpose tool and tool pouch on Amazon for less than $20.

Dress for the Weather: $30-$100

Shooting in the RainImage via Shutterstock

Always keep a rain jacket on standby. Being outside for twelve hours a day, six days a week, you’re bound to run into foul weather at some point. The rain will pass, and production will pick back up — and you can’t beat being dry for the rest of the shoot.

Hiking/Waterproof Shoes: $50-$100

Hiking BootsImage via Shutterstock

Not only is the landscape unpredictable, but as a production assistant you’ll need to be able to go anywhere, at any point. All-purpose hiking boots simply are perfect when it’s time to trudge through mud. And you will be trudging through mud.

Work Gloves: $20

Due to the unpredictability and vague nature of being a production assistant, you never really know what you’ll be asked to do on set. Having a pair of all-purpose work gloves can help you maintain a solid grip and protect your hands when heavy lifting is required.

Ear Piece: $13

WALKIE GUYImage via Shutterstock

Most productions will provide the necessary communication tools like walkies and earpieces. However, if certain equipment fails to work, having a backup (or an extra set for a fellow PA in need) will only help the production — and your reputation.

Sun Protection: $25

sun hatImage via Contractor Supply Magazine

Having personally experienced being on set in mid-July in the middle of Louisiana for fifteen hours straight, I can assure you — the sun is your enemy. On top of making sure you’re covered in sunscreen, a hat is strongly recommended to keep the rays at bay. 

Bonus: Helpful Hint

Never sit down. Directors and producers are always watching. Demonstrating why they hired you can only benefit you in the long run.

Being a production assistant is a great way to start on your path to success in the film industry. Hopefully some of these options will help you down the line on an intense shoot. The hours are rough, the pay is little, but being on set and contributing in any way possible is worth the pain.

Have any crazy PA stories? Let us know in the comments below!