Is PA Bootcamp Worth It?

A few days ago, Sophya asked if I’d heard of PA Bootcamp. I hadn’t, so she directed me to

I looked around their website and, to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure I see the point. It costs $285, but I tell you about most of the information in their course guide for free!  (To which my wife responds, “Now who’s the smart one?”)

Being a PA is fairly simple. It’s more than just getting coffee, as the site says, but not by much.  You can pick up 90% of the job in about an hour.

There’s also something called the PA Handbook, written by Caleb John Clark.  It covers a lot of the same ground as the PA Bootcamp, and it doesn’t take up your whole weekend. I highly recommend reading it.

The one topic that I’m not sure most newbies will have heard of is “sides.”  Maybe I’ll write a post on that next week…

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50 Responses

  1. Thank you for clarifying. Whomever writes this blog, has NOT attended P.A. Bootcamp. Okay, got it. So if no one from this blog has attended, these opinions are not based on FACT, okay got it. Thank you. I was confused there for a few minutes reading all these comments. Your blog is great and helps me all the time, thank you for writing it.

  2. Yes, this wasn’t the person who created the blog. I was just giving my own suggestions of what I think PA boot camp should do down the line instead of awarding everyone a certificate and that “list” they claim they put people on after the completion of it. While it is helpful, it will in no way be helpful in getting work, using it on a resume, et. People have claimed it is helpful. To get PA work you need to know someone, even if you have no credits or never worked in TV/Film before. You can endlessly submit but you might never hear back from anyone. It’s all a matter of who you know, not what you know, and working for free will NOT lead to paid work.

  3. Like I said, you don’t need PA Boot Camp. You need connects. There are people who got PA work by asking others they knew in the biz, or had family/friends in it. Many didn’t even have a resume or worked in the biz in any way. Nobody had to take a class for it. PA Boot Camp stressed there was a list they put people on after they complete the program, I’ve yet to see any review of that by a past student, so I’m agreeing with that other poster on here who said that. The reviews we are seeing are using what one learns on indie sets, free sets, et. Free work leads to more free work in this town. For one, Nobody I knew in my class got on that list, and two, using PA boot camp on a resume is not going to guarantee work or even an interview. There are reviews I’ve seen where people have claimed it will.

  4. I have a feeling I know why “past student” doesn’t get work, regardless of this training program he took. Sounds to me that is has VERY LITTLE to do with this “list” or these “pa boot camp” people.
    If I was you (readers) I would judge for myself how to get into the movie business.

  5. Like I said it’s all about connects and luck. Even if you took the class or not. If you took it, you might… MIGHT be lucky for them to put you on the list. I actually don’t know what it takes to make it on that list, but if you were put on it, then you were lucky and you have a connect, if not, LONG, LONG hard road ahead of submitting and waiting over and over.

    When I took the PA Boot Camp, I knew people in reality TV who were breaking all the rules. They NEVER got fired as PAs, in fact, they got more work and in other areas by “schmoozing” while I struggled to take classes and work for free. At PA Boot Camp, they told us “Any PA who takes photos with the celebs will get fired.” I’ve yet to see that happen to certain people I know who are PA’s on reality TV. All they do is take photos and go online and surf the net looking for entertaining crap. That’s not being a good PA.

    PA Boot Camp DOES INDEED TEACH YOU! That’s what they do! But I don’t know what it takes to be put on a list that is sent out to the productions. I, as others have mentioned, no past students have claimed to have been put on any list, they did MORE FREE PA WORK and they worked on INDIES and stuff off of CRAIGSLIST, that stuff you don’t need PA Bootcamp for. I had worked as a PA on a good handful of them several years or more before taking PA boot camp, all the work I got was from those SAME FILM MAKERS wanting me to work for free, if lucky, I got cast or a small role, but I felt in time it wasn’t worth it, even though I also “act”.

    What I had working for me: I had gone to school for film in a specific area. I had worked at one of the major studios. I had done a lot of free PA work before that I was ready to advance. Plus…I took the PA Boot camp.

    What I had working against me and still do: No connects to help me in. PA boot camp would have been one HAD I GOTTEN ON THAT LIST. That’s why I suggest to make the certificate harder to get. Those who get the certificate, they get on the list. PERIOD. If not that, make it so that past students who took the class or took it more than once can meet with ADs who can get them out to shows, even if it means a fee. Even if it means paying those ADs for a service instead of blindly submitting on their own, then those potential PAs interviewing at productions, if that PA gets the job, every pacheck can be percented to that AD who helped. However, if that PA advances or gets a PA job elsewhere, no pay cut to that AD who helped. That’s just a suggestion I have. One, make the certificates HARDER TO GET and explain why the student didn’t pass or get on the list and a chance to explain themselves to the PA Boot Camp people. Myself, those were the ONLY TWO THINGS that I believe kept me off the list. being early, taking many notes, typing those notes, et. watching as others said “struggling” coutless times…Wow.

  6. thank you “past student” AKA “anonymous production assistant” that is so helpful and I love your blog.

    1. It seems that you’re implying I commented on my own blog under a different, anonymous name. Not only is that obviously silly, if you look at the writing styles, they’re totally different.

  7. Brian, it’s all who you know. You can go and cold apply by calling the production offices but it might never get you anywhere. You can go spend money on production weekly and do that or go on IMDB pro. You can go on and even spend to submit there and have no luck. But what it all comes down to are “connects”. If the people of PA bootcamp saw hard working students, don’t you think the majority who paid would be put on the “List?” Why award us certificates for?

    PA boot camp should change ONE THING. Everyone gets a certificate IF and only IF the Boot camp people think they’re ready to be put on the list. If not, no certificate. And then at the completiton of the class, those students can talk to them and find out why and opt to take the class again, yes, for pay, until they are ready to be put on it. My reason was stupid, because in my defense, all I can say is the walkie they used was different than any walkie I had seen before. Stringing it on should not have hurt me, and I think it did, which, if was the reason I wasn’t put on the list is the worst reason. Day 2 I had NO TROUBLE GETTING MY WALKIE ON. Saying “Struggling” ONCE could take some points away, but, really, I only struggled ONCE when I read from the call sheet. Overall, it was unfair how they said that to me after a year. I really did feel I wasted money taking the class because since then and even before it I’ve waited for the day I actually get to work on set as a PA on anything, be it scripted or reality. Having the boot camp on a resume has not helped me, submitting on my own. Having them as a connect, yes, it would have, that’s where it feels I was cheated.

    Take Extras. They have booking services they PAY to get them out to CDs. If they CD likes them, they hire them. If they do good, they may be awarded back. That’s something we need in LA for PAs, and I have tried suggesting this before to others who have it hard getting PA work on Hollywood sets. A system of where those who have “Polished Resumes” send them in to ADs who have connects in the biz who can actually help work to get them out to shows and not all this B.S. of “You’re not on the list because you were bad on walkie”. As people, those who run the PA boot camp are nice. But that’s just my suggestion, they should start a service like extras casting. THAT WOULD HELP THOSE WHO STRUGGLE IN LA FOR THE LONGEST TIME TO GET OUT TO SETS AS PAS but they’d need to first interview with these ADs who would run this service, explain to them their experience in LA, and then with those they get them out to for their interviews, sort of like the process with extras who have to “audition” for a featured part. In the end, these ADs could make a good profit on the service fee, and who knows, maybe even take a percent of the PAs checks. Even if it’s a pay cut, so what? At least they’d be working PAs!

  8. ATTN to “past student” … it is so nice to hear that an “Anonymous Production Assistant” attended pabootcamp that is great that you went, now I know not to sign up. Thanks again.

  9. Other posters are claiming the course was great, so say many of these posts. However, there is no evidence it will lead to work on anything paid.

    Like I mentioned in my last post, I was in the studios before (Not as a PA, something lower), and I had experience on walkies all the time. The boot camp told me I didn’t do well on them and I am 100% sure it was when I put mine on. The walkies they used were NOT like the ones I used in the studio I was at several years before. So it took me a minute or so to learn how to string the damn thing through my shirt, et.

    Aside from that, I made ONE mistake on the call sheet. ONE. While so many other students those 2 days kept saying “Struggling” over and over. I knew how to read call sheets as I’ve been an extra, and extras were AMAZED when I’d tell them what SWF meant and all that, and some of them were regular stand-ins who worked every day. Then again, I could not be put on a list for PA work because to them, I was bad at the walkie, either stringing it on or that ONE mess up when I did say “Struggling” one time as oposed to so many others who said it constantly.

    When I called PA boot camp and asked them after a year what the problem was, they told me back in 2012 that my walkie experience was not good, I had “trouble on it”. Wow. I am now back in the studios (not as a PA mind you) but something else, and we use walkies ALL THE TIME. Yet I am not on the “List” because I didn’t know how to put “their” walkie on correctly OR made one error reading the call sheet while on the walkie. Their walkie had this big wire and I had no clue how to get it on. If that’s why I was bad with the walkie, all I can say is WOW. I even wrote down how to string the damn thing through so it would stay on. I took a lot of notes and got told I was bad at it.

    Out of all the students in my class, I had experience in the studios, nobody else had much. It was my goal to take the class because someone I worked with at the studios before told me that nobody would hire me as a PA if I didn’t take that class. I took it. It was fun. I learned a lot. But that’s the feedback I got a year later after I called them and asked them if I was on a list or not. I don’t think anyone gets on that list unless they brown nose. I’m not that type. I’ve seen brown nosers get PA jobs and other stuff in LA without a resume or experience.

  10. wait… I am soooooo confused… Did any “anonymous production assistant” who writes these blogs ever attend a pa bootcamp session?

  11. hi tapa. sorry if I was sounding confusing. yes I guess what I am saying is .. maybe the best way of describing is .. your posts are all current, recent rather. but the comments on some of the postings start from old to new. EXAMPLE: we didn’t know if you were offering the resume service anymore until we scrolled down to find a recent remark and then your reply. translating that, the best way I am able… instead of scrolling all the way down on the page why not have the recent remarks first.
    that formatting is also with this page we are chatting on now, and a few others. EXAMPLE: why wouldn’t (speaking on this page) the 2014 comments be viewed first vs the 2009 comments.
    I hope I am making sense.. cause I feel like this got more confusing LOL sorry.

  12. why are your OLD postings listed FIRST?
    if I have interest in viewing something I look for what is more recent or most current FIRST.
    why are all your 2009’s before your 2014’s?

  13. I think the PA Bootcamp is a great idea. If you have no connections and not sure how to begin your career in TV and Movies then PA bootcamp is a great place to start. They’re helping people……….BE KIND. Becoming a PA has always been a great place to start. PA Bootcamp is a great Idea… and worth every penny. Take the course and judge for yourself.

  14. Hi, I have to echo what Helen and Jewell said. I went to the PA Bootcamp in August after having also done film school and some short film productions. After finishing the course my goal was a paid gig that next week. I answered a Craigslist ad for a free PA gig and did so well that by the end of the day I was paid and asked to come back for an additional shoot day. PA Bootcamp gave me a lot of confidence to nail my first PA job and I did. Not many two-day courses can do that but PA Bootcamp did and was worth every penny. And it almost paid for itself in one week. My advice – just do it and see for yourself!

  15. Just felt I had to say how glad I was that I went to PA Bootcamp.I second what Jewel. B said, that after I attended the weekend, I felt like I could go out and be a P.A. They have so much experience between them, and they know what they are talking about. It might seem like a lot of money, but they teach you how to actually be a P.A. Hands on experience is invaluable! The radio part is especially worth it.

  16. isn’t the negative remarks on your site.. considered bullying? or do you not think that anyone can actually be harmed by the clear hatred in print that is available to all.

  17. I am planning on taking the Atlanta bootcamp in October, and if I can learn in a weekend what a university was offering to teach me in a six month period for a lot more money then I will be more than satisfied!

    The key is acquiring skills that will help me get a job on one of the many productions filming here in Atlanta , and if this will open a door then I’m going for it!

  18. I actually attended PA Bootcamp and I left the program feeling much more confident in my skills then the day before I attended. Im not writing this because Im trying to persuade you into going, but I’m writing this to inform you from the point of view of an actual attendee. PA Bootcamp is no joke it is intense and these people have worked in the industry for many many years, and know first hand exactly what your AD would want and expect from you. They give you insight on proper protocol what to expect on your first day as a PA and how to avoid making rookie mistakes that will get you fired and never rehired. They teach you how to properly use the radio and the lingo and terms you are required to know. They even help you find jobs and fix your resume. I go to school for production and I before I went to PA Bootcamp I thought I had enough knowledge to at least go out into the world and find a job. But after attending PA Bootcamp I can honestly say I am now ready for a job I no longer have to question myself I’m confident and I now know exactly what is expected of me.

  19. I took the boot camp a while back. I was always early, took many notes, studied hard for the test, and watched as others in the class had a hard time reading the call sheets and getting stuff wrong or constantly kept saying “struggling” (I only made one mistake, ONE that I recall, when reading the call sheet). Let’s just say the course was very much helpful, but after a year I called them and asked them why I was never contacted by anyone and only had to keep calling and calling Production Weekly to get turned away, and they told me I was bad at a certain area during the boot camp. This area was an area I had previous experience in because I was in the studios before and was trying very hard to get back into them. I felt I got scammed because of this, as I had prior experience. I also asked other fellow students if they were put on any list and contacted and they also were not, students who were good in the class, too. They did tell me to re-take the course for no charge, and to work for free on more stuff, but I had enough working for free as I had worked for free for several years already on short films and indies and all it got me was more free work on the same people’s future projects. You see, it is all about connections, and the connections I have won’t even help. That’s how hard it is. The teachers were very nice there, and yes, they are legit because they are actual ADs on sets in LA. But I did feel I was scammed when they told me what area I was bad in, having had prior experience in it before when working in a studio. There are only two areas, really, one is the walkie, the other is the call sheet, and they both work together. I was familliar with both because I had used the walkie before and had seen call sheets on sets before. So it is good to get useful info, but don’t expect to be put on any list like they claimed would happen after completion of the program. I had prior experience before and they wouldn’t put me on it. Will it be useful if I do get a PA job at some point…probably. Will they put everyone on the list they claim that productions will look at when they search for PAs for their productions…probably not. So in a way, taking the class hurt me.

  20. Most recently the Quixote P.A. Bootcamp has held courses in New Orleans, Charleston and Mousula. These courses were sponsored by the local film commissioners and were FREE to attendees.

    Why Free? Because the local film commissions know that you can not simply pull the next guy off the street to PA. They see the importance of having trained locals to add value to the tax incentives that are bringing run-away production to town.

    Why Quixote P.A. Bootcamp? Our staff works in the business and cares about the success of every motivated camper. We have a reputation for training our PAs to know the job the first day on set and to get called back for work. It’s that simple.

    We would like to invite The Anonymous Production Assistant to the next NYC weekend course (or any one of our courses, for that matter) FREE OF CHARGE. This course will be the weekend of April 6&7th.

    We’re now offering the 6 Essential Superpowers Of A Rockstar PA as a FREE Download on our site:

    Looking forward to more feedback!!!

  21. I actually finished my course today at P.A. Bootcamp and I really enjoyed the class. I learned a lot and did exercises (mock PA stuff). Trust me, it really helped just knowing how the world for P.A.’s work and I’m confident I can do the job while understanding what is going on around me without having to ask questions while performing the job easily.

    I’m glad I took the class. It’s weird seeing people just dismiss it as a scam, is that what acting class is? No. I recommend it to people if they have the money to spare and really want to break into the industry as they’ll teach you what Set P.A.’s do while knowing the terminology and important documents that you’ll have on set and provide you with the information you need for Office P.A. work. Also, you will learn the politics of the business too and how you messing up on set or being “Green” can get you dropped from the call sheet the next day meaning you’re fired.

    I know plenty to almost all of the people learn on the ropes (job) when they jump into the P.A. business, but it’s great to get some kind training/head-start by knowing what is actually going on and what they’re talking about. The teachers are working A.D.’s, etc. An A.D. will be your boss and who you answer too, it’s good to get inside their brains and know what they want out of their P.A.’s

    Happy Customer/Student

  22. I worked in LA for 4 years as a PA without going to PA Bootcamp and have made a good name for myself. If you have a brain in your head and a good work ethic you don’t need training; however, it would be helpful to make a good impression faster.

    I do know a couple people that went to PA Bootcamp and they seemed relatively happy with the results and are working consistently. I will warn you that the company seems to be filled several pompous assholes based on the childish behavior demonstrated on this thread

    The production world is all about connections so if you can’t find a way to get that first few opportunities to shine then you aren’t going anywhere. If you want an alternative to PA Bootcamp then you can always go the route of getting a job at a rental house and chat up all the people that come in and hope that someone will throw you a bone.

  23. I’m interested in the PA Boot Camp program for LA. However their website is down right now and the responses here from their staff did not leave any contact info. Does anyone know how to get in touch with them?

  24. I was recently informed that a lot of production coordinators will look for PA bootcamp on the resume. So whether you know what your doing or not. It might not be a bad way to spend a couple days if your looking to get something shiny on your resume. Especially if you only have a couple big shows on there.

  25. From someone who has PA’d on some big shows. There is definitely a learning curve. If you’ve never worked on a real film then your first gig is going to be quite informational, but only if you force the subject, ask questions, volunteer help, keep your ears and eyes open and get to know all the department heads quickly. You’ll probably be stuck in a deep lock up so far from set that you’ll have very few opportunities to make connections and really learn a lot if you aren’t on top of your game. The other thing is you have to know, or at least, discover your end game. Do you wanna become a DGA 1st, a UPM, a Chief Lighting Tech, a Dolly Grip, a Sound Mixer, a Producer… find what your drawn to and make the effort to be around that world as much as possible. Don’t hang out with the other PAs and chit chat, don’t bring your iPod, don’t pig out a crafty…

    If I had been living in LA and found out about PA Bootcamp I would have given it a shot if I had never been on set before.

  26. Wow, those PA Bootcamp people sound SO desperate.
    Reading their posts here and their awful comments on makes me think they are scamming people.
    Desperate and over aggressive…not a good vibe to put out there

  27. It’s interesting that Nathan is telling the “Anonymous P.A. Blog” that he bothered that he can’t look up the credentials of P.A. Bootcamp. (Here’s a hint…pick up the phone and dial their number.)

    After failing to break down the door on my own, I attended the camp back in November. There were 6 of us suckers. A couple clearly didn’t belong. one just wanted to get on set to get his script read (dangerous) and the other wanted to see movie stars. I could praise the camp just for giving these 2 a heavy dose of reality.

    But I’m here to talk about me. The instructor was tough, but thorough. My head was spinning after Day 1. (Really? You can pick all of this up in an hour on set?)

    After being broken down to the reality of set life on Day 1, we were put on a walkie and sent out to practice what we were taught. We were drilled with real production paperwork. (I was expecting a sample form.)

    At the end of Day 2, we were hit with a list of job resources and all kinds of tips on how to get a job. (Took me about a week.) And when I showed up and plugged in my walkie, I fell right into the rhythm of a set, as if I’d been doing it for months. I was brought in with a group of additionals, and when our 2 days of day-playing were over. I was among the 4 asked to stay on for a couple of weeks. I can only think that Bootcamp gave me an advantage over the more experienced PA’s on set. (Not to mention the completely green PA’s who were quickly banished to the outer edges of lock-ups for both days.)

    I’m now working as a union ACLT. Bootcamp taught me how to make the right contacts and collect my days.

    So, yeah, Bootcamp is worth the money. The course guide only gives you the Chapter Headings to what you will learn. There was so much to learn we actually went OVER our alotted time. (Might have been because we had a Coordinator and a Grip as surprise guest speakers.)

    1. I’m thinking about going to the one in Atlanta. I feel like unlike LA or NY our business isn’t that big yet. They offering the opportunity to work on a feature movie set. I don’t really know ANYONE in TV or film so for me is seems like a big opportunity to meet people and network. I’ve been out of college for about 5 months and been trying to just break down the door.

  28. You folks are all entitled to your opinion, but I find it amusing that you express your skepticism without having attended ,or knowing anyone who has attended PA BOOTCAMP. I run the camp. I just finished producing a TV Movie in Canada. The instructors have vast experience and ALL are currently working on network shows or recent features. We don’t include their last names or the last names of attendees on the website to protect their privacy. Our mission is to provide a useful service and we strive to give attendees more than their money’s worth. Of course you can take a PA job off of Craig’s List and go to set with no training, but what we offer is through training and preparation for the job. Every single PA BOOTCAMP trained person has felt much more prepared for the job, and that is our goal. You bloggers seem very sure that our business is not worth it without having any personal experience on which to base your condemnation. I am more than happy to communicate with your directly through

  29. We would like to share our thoughts, being that this blog has been written and support has been shared. None of you have attended P.a. Bootcamp. We understand your doubt. We would like to state that these are opinions based on no fact however. We welcome all opinions, but we would like to point out that they are just that. You have not based these comments off of attending and finding out for yourself the quality of P.a. Bootcamp.

    1. We fully endorse PA Bootcamp, their program, and their staff. Their response is absolutely correct. The Bootcamp, like our program, address’s duties, protocol, etiquette, and much more that ISN’T apparent within your first day (s) on a film set as a PA. Both companies have a purpose of to ensure an individual has the skills and knowledge to GET HIRED BACK. To be UNFORGETTABLE. As we all know, there are 100’s of people wishing to get into the industry. Your chance shouldn’t be risked. The cost for either program is nominal compared to the value you’ll bring to a show and a potential career in the business.
      Ken Chaplin
      Founder – Production Assistant Training Seminar LLC
      1 (800) 579-1570

  30. PA Bootcamp is a scam. There are plenty of PA gigs on craigslist. There’s no point in paying for something you can get for free.

    Not only are they a crock, but they get aggressive and unprofessional if you even REMOTELY question their legitimacy. All it takes is a look over at the forums talking about PA work, and you’ll see what kind of people work there.

  31. I would avoid. I’ve seen the same bootcamp idea for photo assistants here in Los Angeles (photo assistants kinda of a step up from PA but still covers some of the same areas…although I’ve been on shoots where there’s a PA, a 2st assistant and a 2nd assistant) and although you can learn stuff from classes, I think real world works much better. And like Anonymous says, you can pick it up pretty fast.

  32. I’ve seen these ads on Craigslist before and they always seemed fishy to me. Part of the ad would say something like, “If you’ve worked on films before, don’t bother applying.” Why not?

    Most filmmakers I know continue to take classes and extension courses to keep up with the industry. I would save that money for rent.

  33. My first reaction was that they were showing an awful lot of paperwork to learn in two days. You might learn the rudiments and how to recognize the stuff, but not much behind the paperwork.

    Then, I noticed that not only do they tell you the name of any instructor (past or present), but the “testimonials” only include one person who gives a full name. That person doesn’t seem to have an IMDB listing.

    Not saying they’re a crock, but they certainly aren’t going out of their way to instill confidence.

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