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Free Job Training for Production Assistants

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Motivated New Yorkers who want to start a career in TV and film production, but have never had the opportunity, now have a proven way to get into the business.

[Richard Kiley (David Jordon) and dancers in No Strings], Digital ID 1813969, New York Public LibraryThe "Made in NY" Production Assistant Training Program is a collaboration between Brooklyn Workforce Innovations and the New York City Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting. BWI's mission is to give unemployed and low-income New Yorkers the chance to work on New York sets and build careers in this dynamic field.

Since the program's launch in February 2006, BWI has trained more than 300 New Yorkers and placed highly-quailified PAs on more than 2,000 productions. Graduates have moved into advanced positions including Assistant Production Office Coordinator, Camera Assistant, Assistant Locations Manager, Grip, Field Producer, Set Decorator, Technical Operator and Unit PAs in sound, wardrobe and more.

"Made in NY" PAs are selected through a competitive admissions process and complete an intensive five-week skills training program taught by NY industry professionals. Hands-on training includes workshops at top vendors and studios, as well as the permitting office of the MOFTB. Before certification, trainees prove their skills by working on actual productions. After certification, BWI provides two years of job placement and career advancement support.

The “Made in NY” Production Assistant Training Program is a free five week nonprofit training program, taught by industry professionals, and followed by two years of job placement. No previous production experience is required.

A production assistant (PA) provides support to the rest of the crew on a production. PAs work on movies, commercials, music videos and other productions. As a PA you may

  • Drive crew to and from set
  • Pick up equipment and purchase production supplies
  • Perform ‘lockup’ so that pedestrians don’t walk onto the film set

PA is the entry level position for the TV and film production industry — almost everyone starts out as a PA. After working as a PA for one to two years to gain experience and connections, you can move up into more skilled positions in specific crew departments. BWI works with “Made in NY” PAs for at least two years to help you find production work, define your interests and advance your career.

As a PA you can expect

  • Long hours — 12–16 hour workdays; early morning, evening and weekend work
  • Physical labor — you will be on your feet all day and must be able to lift and bend at least 50 pounds
  • Outdoor work in all weather
  • Freelance work — you will be hired day to day, and project to project; most jobs will not include benefits and you will usually not know your work schedule in advance
  • Pay rates of about $100-$200/day

Please consider whether these working conditions are right for you before applying.

BWI is looking for applicants who come from a very low-income background, who are currently out of work or earning a very low part-time wage, and who do not already have experience and connections in the TV and film industry. BWI is looking for people who have overcome obstacles and are motivated to start a new career. No previous production experience or knowledge is required. There is no educational requirement. BWI strongly encourage women and veterans to apply.

There is no fee for BWI’s training. However you must be able to cover your personal expenses during the training and job search. BWI does not provide a stipend. The training is full-time Monday-Friday, with homework and occasional evening and / or weekend sessions, followed by a two year career development program which consists of job placement assistance, career counseling and support as you work your way up the entertainment ladder. Please do not apply if you are employed full-time or enrolled in school, or plan to enroll in school in the next two years.

To be eligible to apply you must meet all of the following criteria:

  • 21 years or older & legally eligible to work in the U.S.
  • Currently reside in New York City and able to demonstrate residency within the five boroughs for at least 6 months.
  • Have a valid driver’s license (no exceptions — you will be asked to drive during job placement. All applicants must have a valid driver’s license at the time of their application. Out of state licenses are accepted. If you do not have a driver’s license, you may be eligible for New York Drives, BWI’s driver’s education career development program.)
  • Available full-time and able to attend training Monday–Friday 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Able to make a two-year commitment to working in the industry
  • Be unemployed, have a low income or receive public assistance, and come from a low-income background.

If you do not meet the program eligibility requirements, visit BWI’s Production Resource List to learn more about other opportunities for free or low-cost training in Television and Film production.

How to apply

Attend an information session to fill out an application and meet with program staff to learn more about the program. A limited number of training spots are available. Apply ASAP to guarantee consideration. Applications are accepted year round. Training classes are held at least four times a year.

Information Sessions are held Mondays* 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. at the BWI Main Office. Please bring your driver’s license and a resume. No RSVP Needed. Latecomers will not be admitted.

*Dates may vary, call 718-237-2017 x145 to confirm information session dates prior to coming to our location.

Information Sessions are ONLY open to individuals who meet ALL the above program eligibility requirements.

BWI’s Main Office is located at 621 DeGraw Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues in Brooklyn, NY. Take the R train to Union Street, walk two blocks North on 4th Ave. and make a left on DeGraw Street, or take 2, 3, 4, 5, D, N, B, Q to Atlantic Avenue-Pacific Street, transfer to the R train and follow the directions above.

For more information, email pa@bwiny.org or call the program voicemail box at 718-237-2017 x145.

If you want to learn more about free job training programs and other kinds of occupations please visit the Job Search Central, Science, Industry and Business Library online or in person at 188 Madison Avenue and 34th Street.

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