What’s in Your Ditty Bag? (Production Assistant)

Who: Beth (post-production intern, sometimes production assistant)

What: small soft cooler with shoulder strap

Why: “I typically do post-production work, so if I’m on set it’s usually to act as a PA (production assistant).  When working in hot conditions it’s important to keep everyone hydrated or energized while also doing several other tasks.  A soft cooler that can handle more bottles of water or other drinks than I can carry AND allows me to be hands-free is the absolutely essential tool I’ve needed on every job.”

A soft cooler with a shoulder strap makes light work of keeping a production crew hydrated and happy.

An Underrated Tool for the Production Assistant

A cooler as a job aid may not be as mysterious as other tools.  After all, most people outside the film industry know exactly what it is and what it’s used for.  In terms of “most underrated” tool, however, a totable cooler is a valuable asset.  

We need to provide some background into the role of the PA to understand why something that saves a few minutes and a few steps is so important.

A Simple Yet Important Role

There are many moving parts on the simplest shoot. The unsung hero of any production is the production assistant.  This role is perhaps the most physically demanding yet lowest paid position on the crew.  

The PA will arrive early and stay late to assist in any number of jobs across many departments.  Their work may range from escorting talent to/from set, acting as a stand in for lighting set ups, to set deconstruction and clean up.  They may need to carry copies of the day’s script or run errands for the production office. The set PA will also need to be attentive to everything happening on set in order to quickly assist as needed.  

Tools for these sundry jobs should be handy, so a PA may be carrying small hardware, tape, pens and notepads, etc.  They can expect to work odd hours and should plan to work 10 to 12 hour days with only a few minutes to lunch while the rest of the crew can relax for theirs.

Every second counts.  And when you’re on your feet for the entire day, every step counts.  Any tool that can help carry twice as much as you can with your hands or save your already tired feet running to and from a stationary cooler is worth having on set every time.

To learn more about what a PA does, read these other short articles by NFI and Masterclass.  And if you’re thinking about getting into the film industry by working as a PA, check out these two articles by ProductionHUB and redproductions with tips on what every PA should know.

Stay tuned to find out what else we have in our ditty bags at BW!