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Gina writes in:

I’ve been looking up production resumes and I was wondering whether it’s best to organize my jobs by type (film, tv, commercial, etc) or position (pa, designer, director, etc)?

Love your website, thanks for being so diligent in updating.

To start, no resume should list both “production assistant” and “director.” If you were really a director, you wouldn’t be applying for a PA job; if you’re an experienced PA, you’d know that directing a student film doesn’t really count for anything.

Almost everyone works in a variety departments while they’re still trying to figure out what to do with themselves, which is totally fine. But if you have three credits in each department, it looks like you’re floundering. It’s okay to have a little variety, but your resume should predominately feature the department you’re applying for.

But what if you’re just starting out? Eh… fudge it. Especially if you’re a production assistant, you can just add “PA” to the end of the department: post PA, camera PA, costume PA, etc.

While we’re skirting the truth, it’s worth noting that there are, broadly, two categories of PA’s: Set PA’s (who answer to the AD) and Office PA’s (who answer to the production coordinator). If your goal is a job that works on set, like camera or grip, make sure your resume has a lot of Set PA credits. If you want to work in the writers’ room or post or art, Office PA is the way to go.

Then, I sort my resume roughly in reverse-chronological order, with the newest stuff at the top. But then I re-sort the credits so more recognizable productions are towards the top. Also, the more relevant positions (set vs. office, tec) go higher, too.

But you can’t go too crazy with this. If you put Breaking Bad at the top of your resume, everyone knows that finished a while ago. It looks like you haven’t worked in three years.

I realize those instructions are kinda vague; you really have to feel it out and see what it looks like on a case-by-case basis. If you’re really unsure, you could try my resume editing service, and I’ll help you out.

When it comes to the type of production, it’s usually okay to mix film and television, since a lot of the expectations for PA’s are similar. I think it’s a good idea to separate commercials from narrative, though, because those are radically different. Plus, you’ll probably have more of those credits if you spent any time in the commercial world.

Student films can also be included, if you don’t have enough credits otherwise, as long as they’re in a different section. As long as it’s clearly labeled as a student film section, you can include your directing and producing credits. Just understand it’s not going to help you get anything better than a PA gig.

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6 Responses

  1. So far, I’ve been able to manage paying my bills as a local PA simply from word of mouth reputation, but I’d really like to expand my network to larger production hubs in the state. Although, I have an up to date resume, I’m uneasy about applying for jobs in other cities or states. I understand that productions will essentially frown upon resumes from out of town applicators (for various reasons), but I still would like to hear the advice from others. In a city like Houston, TX , there so many production opportunities in both the cities and states around me that I just want to reach out.

    1. If you’re willing to make the commute yourself, just don’t tell them where you live. My address isn’t on my resume.

  2. How would you suggest noting staff set PA gigs (i.e., for a whole run or season) vs. day-playing gigs? Do you need to note the difference on a resume? I have a decent number of both day-playing and staff credits, I’m just not sure what looks better or if slating all of them as “Set PA” is dishonest.

  3. All good advice. Since you mentioned situations where PA’s identify themselves by department, (post PA, camera PA, costume PA, etc.) I’d like to point out that while this may be useful for a resume, PA’s should avoid these departmental titles on production paperwork on union productions. The reason for this is that if the union pension, health and welfare funds audit the production, if they see PAs identified by department, they will claim that these personnel should have been union members and charge the production. With penalties and interest, I’ve seem these charges amount to tens of thousands of dollars. Office PA and Set PA are fine, but Camera PA is a no no.

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