Anyone in the entertainment industry knows that production assistants are the people who make the real magic of film and television happen.
A group of high school and college students from the Los Angeles area saw that firsthand when they completed Production Assistant Bootcamp earlier this summer. The nine-week program organized by Los Angeles Valley College covered topics ranging from writing and storyboarding to scheduling and budgets.
“It is a crash course in how to survive the ups and downs of a career in show biz,” said program coordinator and LA Region ICT-DM Deputy Sector Navigator, Dan Watanabe. “By the end of nine sessions, participants had working knowledge of how a production operates: in the office, on the set, and during post-production and delivery.”
That information was delivered by a variety of panelists from various segments of the entertainment industry. Each four-hour session included a mixture of group discussion with the panel and a hands-on activity related to that week’s topic. The goal was to give students a broad overview of careers in the entertainment industry so they could determine which area suited them best.
Students also completed two group projects and ended the bootcamp with a networking event that included all of the panelists from the previous eight weeks, plus representatives from the ICT-DM sector.
Twenty-one students participated the program and two have already been hired on projects since graduation. The emphasis on soft skills will prove beneficial to students even if they never work in the entertainment industry, Watanabe said.
Participant Rafael Zaldana said his primary interest is in directing, but the bootcamp opened his eyes to other aspects of the production process.
“What I took from this program was the hands-on getting a feel for the camera and what everyone’s part of production and post-production is,” Zaldana said. “Each person’s opinion is very valuable to me and I understand how difficult it is to be someone within the industry.”
Participant Dax Ranger said he’s not sure what area of the entertainment industry he wants to go into, but the bootcamp gave him the tools needed to do some additional research on his own.
“This bootcamp has really sparked some passions that I didn’t know I had,” Ranger said. “You can tell the mentors really care about all the kids because they are giving us really valuable information and they’re a really good resource for us.”
Instructor Sara Anne Fox said she learned from the program’s students at the same time they were learning from her.
“In sitting in on different classes and panels I’ve learned so much even though I’ve been in this business a very long time,” Fox said.
For more information about PA Bootcamp, contact Dan Watanabe at firstname.lastname@example.org.