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10 Most Thankless Jobs in Film


8
Production Assistant
Two production assistants clear snow from the red carpet during arrivals of the London judges for 'Britain's Got Talent' in 2013. Danny Martindale/Getty Images
Two production assistants clear snow from the red carpet during arrivals of the London judges for 'Britain's Got Talent' in 2013. Danny Martindale/Getty Images

Widely regarded to be one of the most thankless of film industry careers, production assistant (PA) positions are nonetheless regarded as an important stepping stone for many aspiring film industry worker bees. This proverbial "foot in the door" position features responsibilities that often have little, if anything at all to do with filming itself but are nevertheless important. For example, fetching coffee, handling time cards, coordinating script pages and even scheduling the boss-man's vasectomy appointment, as one hapless PA had to do.

"It's a mistake to dismiss these tasks because they are also mini-tests," says Mike, a film industry insider who has worked on many major motion pictures throughout his career. "If, as a PA you are handed a menial task and that task gets screwed up, how can you be trusted with something more important?"

The PA position is the perfect example of film industry salary disparity. For their trouble (of which there is plenty) the average production assistant in Los Angeles nets a paltry $27,000 per year [source: Indeed]. Still, work hard enough and you'll make connections to propel you from the depths of PA Hell into a more reasonably paid position.