Welcome to a new section called, “A Day in the Life.” (No not the Beatles song.)
On Fridays we’ve decided to post articles. Roy and I very much want to try and get a guest post from someone in the industry who basically just tells us about what they do, like a typical day. Alex, who’s Classy Vandall on our forums, was nice enough to start us off. (If you or someone you know would like to contribute, we’d very much like to hear from you so contact us or Reel Mail us on the forums.)
Once you finish the article, please feel free to stop by for a bit of Q & A. Alex has also agreed to answer any follow up questions you may have, and this would be a nice place to thank him.
Greetings Write to Reel Community,
So Hank and Roy asked me to whip up a quick article discussing what being a Director’s Assistant entails. I’ll start by saying there are no hard and fast rules, and depending on what kind of director you work for: A-List, Commercial, Indy, Music Video, etc., your job could consists of hundreds of different tasks/responsibilities that I won’t be covering here. Because I work for Commercial Directors (The Sniper Twins), I’ll outline my experience as it relates to being a Commercial Director’s Assistant specifically.
Many of the best Hollywood Directors got their start directing commercials and music videos. Tarsem Singh, Gore Verbinski, and John Singleton are just a few off the top of my head. Tarsem, in particular, has done all three. I was fortunate enough to run into my future boss at a bar here in NYC (it really is WHO you know) I was just wrapping up film school, we started talking about movies and I found out him and his partner were commercial directors so I asked for his card. I saved that card for months, and when I finally finished film school I was cleaning my room out and rediscovered it.
Even though I figured he probably wouldn’t remember me, I said “What the hell”, and emailed to ask if they needed an intern. The rest, as they say, is history. Don’t expect to get a paid position right out of film school unless you’re P.A.’ing. Most competitive production companies and Directors will expect you to intern first. This is your chance to prove yourself.
As a Directors Assistant, I’ve had the opportunity to write treatments, create pitch decks for commercials (a pitch deck is like a powerpoint telling the production company your vision for the commercial… I use a mac program called Keynote to make mine), write Pilots, and even DP music videos. I’ve also mastered ordering pizza, coffee, and doing whatever it takes to keep a shoot running smoothly and keep my bosses happy.
If you plan on working for a director, make sure you know the “lingo”. You should know basic cinematography, know your way around a camera, be a problem solver (the last thing you want to do is tell them “I can’t” or “I don’t know”), be able to do some light editing (I know my way around Adobe Premiere Pro for instance), be creative, be a strong writer, and have a passion for visual media. So basically, you’ve got to be a jack-of-all-trades but a master at none.
I must admit I enjoy the fact that I get to be creative at work, but nothing tops the feeling of continuously trying to hone my screenwriting skills in the hopes that no matter what the day job, I’ll one day be able to unleash my “baby” into the world for all to see. That being said Hank and Roy, I hope you like Transfer (Yes, I just plugged my screenplay in this article. I’m a dirty rotten scoundrel I know.)