BOOK REVIEW – ‘Getting It Done: The Ultimate Production Assistant Guide’ by Joshua A. Friedman.
As a twenty-two-year-old graduate who recently moved to London, the opening lines of this book instantly filled me with relief:
“Twenty-two years old, I moved to New York…” – okay, this makes me feel better.
My most recent production job was as a Production Assistant on a studio-based comedy show, so when this book was waved around in the office I happily volunteered for the chance to review it. Not just because my bus journey is long – but because I wanted to hear practical and accessible advice from someone who managed to rise through the ranks.
This is definitely the most impressive collation of advice and factual information I’ve seen for those at the bottom of the production ladder. The book is complete with role breakdowns, explanations of technical terminology, and a fun mix of personal anecdotes from Friedman’s own experience (my favourite being a story about chasing after some beachgoers who tried to steal prop buckets to build sandcastles). He also includes examples of common PA paperwork to prepare you for being thrown in at the deep-end in your first role, and his own tips, tricks and hacks for various tasks you’ll need to undertake in the role.
As the title suggests, your job as a Production Assistant is to ‘Get it Done’ and, after reading this book, I feel significantly more confident in finding ways to ‘Get it Done’ – whatever ‘it’ may be. This book can’t teach you to be a good Production Assistant, there is definitely a need for preparedness and initiative, but if anything, this guide is a reassurance that as long as you’re getting it done – there really isn’t any ‘right’ way to do anything. Especially if you’re in situations like the author finds himself in on occasion. Sometimes things won’t work when they need to, things will go wrong – but it’s your job to use your imagination and your initiative to problem-solve as quickly and as seamlessly as possible.
The book refrains from over-explanation of the basics, meaning it’s easily readable for those with some existing experience and those wanting to refresh themselves on the job. It is, however, geared towards those looking to gain entry level positions, and is thus accessible to complete beginners. His mix of no-nonsense advice and colloquial tone make this book an easy read and, although fact-heavy, he makes the film industry seem slightly less impenetrable than it appears.
You can order the book via Amazon here: Getting it Done: The Ultimate Production Assistant Guide
Want to brush up on your technical knowledge before you arrive on set? The Technical Foundation Certificate will get your technical capabilities up to scratch for the next time you’re working on a film set.