Thirty potential production assistants learned what working on a film set and location was all about at AICP Chicago’s annual PA Training Session, held last Saturday at Essanay Studio & Lighting.
The diverse recruits were brought into “the real world on set” by 17 film professionals – called “the best in the business” by AICP chapter president Mark Androw of STORY – organized by freelance commercial producer Marsie Wallach and Dictionary Films’ EP Meghan Maples.
Wallach said they reached out to potential PAs through emails to the many local film schools, AICP production companies and on Facebook. “They had to submit their resume, a letter of recommendation and an essay on why they want to be a production assistant.”
The curriculum, she noted, was organized by production managers and coordinators to include certain things we want them to know when walk onto a set.”
Special guest Rich Moskal, Chicago Film Office director, talked about how to handle crowd control, the public a production encounters on location shoots. “I impressed upon them the need to be respectful of what’s going around them in the neighborhood,” he said.
Speakers throughout the day, who started their talks with a brief overview of how they got into the industry as PAs, were production managers Tim Young and Tina Moy; Anne Dawson, wardrobe; Matt McGrath, PA; Miguel Jimenez; production coordinator; John Solita, digital imaging tech; Matt Miller, AD; Megan Donnelly, DP; Maria Roxas, location manager; David Obermeyer, sound; Mia Reggi, PA; Tony Henley, lighting/grip; Gilbert Morales, location assistant and Maribel Cania, makeup.
The 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. session included lunch, “the most beneficial time for the attendees to sit and talk with department heads, one-on-one,” Wallach said.
In closing the training, Wallach gave the group a test that involved knowing Chicago geography and problem-solving skills.
The graduates’ resumes will be distributed to AICP’s 17 members. “The summer is always busy and companies are looking for PAs. Now they have this pool to draw from,” Androw said.