Vol II: Essential Qualities of a Successful Production Assistant

posted in: Production Book | 0
This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series Production Entry-Level Guide

In this article we’re going to expand on the essential qualities and skills you should already have in order to be a successful PA.

“Now wait a minute,” you might be thinking. “Why does an entry-level position require skills?”

Any starting position requires that you have basic skills and qualities in order to succeed. For example, if you are mathematically-inclined, you might find success in finance. Similarly, if you have an eye for color and textures, you could do very well in styling or design. Production is no different and definitely requires a specific type of personality and skill set to succeed.


Ever heard the term “workplace culture”? If not, it essentially describes the values and behaviors that a company cultivates to provide employees with a positive and enriching work environment.

An essential element to the curation of a positive workplace culture is the onboarding of staff that will both positively impact and benefit from it.

The culture on set is just like any other work environment, except it’s for a finite amount of time. Sets are essentially assembly-lines, where creativity and logistics collide. And as a result, the environment is fast-paced, high stress and, at times, overwhelming.

Take this Production Personality Quiz to see how well you’d fit in on set:

You see the Stylist PA struggling to carry several items.

What do you do?

Skill Set

Even early on in your career, you possess skills that set you apart from your peers.

Keep in mind that your skills are not necessarily confined to skills learned in school or with years of professional experience (hard skills). They can also include skills that are linked to your personality and emotional intelligence (soft skills).

Your skill set encapsulates everything you are good at that will benefit your employer!

Here are some key skills that will aid you in your production career:

Hard Skills

  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office and Google Suite
  • Working knowledge of Union rules, if applicable
  • Intermediate math skills and understanding of basic accounting principals
  • Construction training (i.e. wood- or metal-work)
  • Operational knowledge of professional photography and lighting equipment
Soft Skills

  • Interpersonal communication skills
  • Ability to handle pressure
  • Excellent time management
  • Self-starter
  • Leadership mentality
  • Take direction well
  • Be proactive
  • Team player
  • Adaptability
  • Eagle eye for details
  • Resourcefulness


Yes, I know. You’re just starting out in production. How could you possibly have any experience?


Whether you know it or not, you’ve been preparing for this role your whole life! You just need to be able to articulate your life experiences (professional or otherwise) that qualify you for this role.

Remember that time you led that team in college that scored highest in their presentation? Or maybe you have a super amateur photography portfolio that you’re proud of. Perhaps you build birdhouses in your spare time? Whatever you have, use it!

And don’t forget to keep chronicling your experiences even after you’ve started working regularly. As you climb the ranks within the industry, hiring Producers will have higher and higher expectations of you. Keep your resume and portfolio up-to-date and journal any milestones you reach.

And if you’re feeling really ambitious, do what I did and create a website!

Thank you for reading this article on the Essential Qualities of a Successful PA!

As always, I encourage feedback and interaction in the comments section of all my articles. If you need any clarification or have anything to add, I’m all ears!

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Producer | Creative

"The ideal blend of left- and right-brain thinking."

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