Tag: production assistant

What a Difference a Year (and Some Effort) Can Make

What a Difference a Year (and Some Effort) Can Make

One message I’m receiving over and over: What a difference a year (and some effort, and a scooch of bravery) can make. Last September (in 2018), I attended the Norman Film Fest as a volunteer. It was my very first film career related event and […]

When In Doubt, Do It Anyway

When In Doubt, Do It Anyway

Here’s a lesson I keep learning over and over: if there’s something you really want to do but you have doubts, ignore those doubts and do it anyway. This past weekend I worked as a production assistant on a short film about three hours from […]

How Being a Production Assistant Can Lead to Awesome Things

How Being a Production Assistant Can Lead to Awesome Things

This past Monday I got to work as a production assistant on the same film I worked on a couple weeks ago.

We were in the same location but this day was much different than the first day I was there. The first day was mostly spent dressing and undressing the set. This time, there wasn’t really much to dress, so I mostly just set up the craft services table and ran errands as needed.

I did, however, have three big things that happened for me that day:

  1. Halfway through the day, one of the main actors arrived. He spotted me and came right up and said, “Hi, I’m Marshall.” He asked my name and my position and if he had met me yet. It was not until hours later, when I heard other people talking about the movies he had been in (“Twins”, “Starship Troopers”) that I realized this was a much bigger star than I thought. Finally, someone mentioned his last name (Bell) and I looked him up on imdb. He’s done a ton of stuff! I apparently need to start watching more movies so I recognize stars when I meet them, lol. He was the nicest guy. We got to chat a little bit (he has actually heard of the town I live in!) and, because I had no idea who he was, I was not nervous to talk to him.
  2. One of the crew members and I got to talking about our film goals. He told me he would try to help me get on sets as a PA when he hears of openings, so I gave him one of my business cards. Now I have a great contact in the business! 🙂
  3. I got to act in the film!! The first time I was on set, the director asked me what my film goals are, and I told him I’d like to be and actor and a script supervisor. He said he could probably put me in the film. So, at the end of the day Monday, he gave me a part as a waitress and on the spot wrote a couple lines for me to say. I even got paid for it. 🙂 It was small but super exciting!

What I have learned from working on this film:

  1. Be vocal about your goals and aspirations. I sometimes feel silly telling people I’m an actor. I worry I’m not good enough to say that yet. What if they give me a role and I suck at it? But because I ignored those fears and told him (and everyone who asked) that yes, I am an actor, I got a role I otherwise would not have gotten.
  2. Being patient and nice (but also persistent) really pays off. I was worried I would annoy the director by messaging him so much about working on the set, but at the same time he had so much on his plate that I had to be in touch regularly to figure out when and where he needed me. At the end he thanked me for all my help and for my patience throughout the two months we spent talking about the film. And now I have another awesome contact. 🙂
  3. I have no problem working 12+ hour days when it’s something I’m passionate about. I was worried about how I would fare when I learned most days on set last that long, but I think because I feel like I’m moving forward with my goals they are no problem at all.

Pick one thing you’ve been wanting to try and go for it. That’s what I did with acting. I’d been wanting to try it for years before I actually did, and ever since I finally got brave enough to do my first audition it has taken me on such an amazing journey.


My First Production Assistant Gig and What I Learned

My First Production Assistant Gig and What I Learned

This last Sunday, I had my first gig as a PA. (A production assistant is basically a person who helps run errands or help set up/break down sets or whatever production needs help with.) What was supposed to be a 12 hour day (9 a.m. […]

My First Film Gigs (Or, Stubbornness Pays Off)

My First Film Gigs (Or, Stubbornness Pays Off)

I walked out of Whataburger, notebook and script in hand, with a renewed sense of hope. It was finally happening. Six months into my new career path journey, I finally had my first behind-the-scenes film gig.  The Friends in Film program is all about getting […]

Friends in Film Review

Friends in Film Review

I’m not an affiliate. I just wanted to help people who, like me, were on the fence about this program. 

Last July, I signed up for the Friends in Film program.

Around that time, I was feeling really frustrated. I had entered two screenwriting competitions with no results (except a loss of $130 in entry fees :/ ). I was having a hard time finding background work (and when I did, I didn’t hear back as often as I would have liked). I knew there had to be a better way. I just didn’t know how to break in as an actor and screenwriter from Southwest Oklahoma.

I actually found the program on Facebook years ago. It would pop up on my news feed every so often, but I didn’t really give it much thought until this last July. I don’t remember exactly what the ad said, but it was something along the lines of helping actors and writers get in the film business. Whatever it was, it was exactly what I was looking for.

The initial course (Career on Fire) is free, so I signed up. In the free live training, the creator of the course, Janet Urban, showed an overview of how to find work on film sets (from anywhere!) and how to move up in the film world to the job you’ve been dreaming of. To learn the exact steps, however, I would have to enroll in the Friends in Film program.

Now, I have done many an online course in my day. Some are okay. I did a fantastic screenwriting course back in 2015 and learned a lot from it. But most of them (especially the ones I took in early 2018) are garbage. They don’t teach anymore than what I had already learned on my own from Google searches. So I was skeptical. If I was going to drop this much money, I had to make sure it would be worth it.

I watched and read all the success stories Janet has on her website. They, of course, made me want to take the course even more. If what they were saying was true, this program was exactly the thing I needed to get out of my job and on an actual path towards my goals. But I wanted some stories or reviews that were not on the Friends in Film website.

I only found one other review (it gives a great overview of the program; I recommend it if you’re considering signing up). Basically, the author said the program seemed to work, but she had to drop out before she could finish it.

Despite my reservations, something kept telling me I needed to go for it. So I did. And it is definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made for my career so far.

First of all, from what I’ve experienced and read from fellow Friends in Films course-mates, the methods do work. Janet has worked in the industry for many years (and is very successful herself). She knows where to find jobs, the steps it takes to get those jobs, how to act on set and what to say to potential contacts. Her methods work even in Oklahoma, where I thought there was little filming going on (I was wrong). If they work here I imagine they’ll work wherever you live.

I think my favorite part of the program, however, is how she not only on helps you advance your career, but also helps you become your best self in every aspect of your life. She is encouraging and uplifting and also teaches you how to develop a mindset that will set you up for life-long success.

As with any kind of training you do, what you put into it is what you’ll get out of it. It took me about 6 months to find my first gig. But part of that was because I took two months off to prepare for “Evil Dead the Musical,” because I let my shy nature hold me back a bit, and because two of the gigs I had found in September fell through.

When you sign up for the course, you also get access to the program’s Yammer page. This allows you to talk to other people going through the course, people who have finished the course, and Janet herself. It is great for getting feedback (on things like your resume or cover letters) and encouragement from people who have once been where you are.

This program has given me a newfound hope for my future. It has laid out a path for me (that has very practical, doable steps) that I probably would have never found on my own. I feel like my goals are in reach instead of a pie-in-the-sky thing that I would never achieve.

So if you are a writer, actor, director, or anyone who wants a career in film, I highly recommend this program. Yes, it is pricey, but it is a worthwhile investment in your future. And it is definitely a faster route towards my dreams than if I had just kept trying (poorly) on my own.

For more information, go to friendsinfilm.com.