Day in the Life of a Production Assistant

By Lorna Brierly, Production Assistant at Orange Fox Studios

Hi, I’m Lorna and I joined Orange Fox Studios in November 2023 as a Production Assistant. One of my main roles as a Production Assistant is to go and help out on shoots when the team needs a spare pair of hands. I will be taking you through some of my experiences in this blog.

Setup and Arrival

When we first arrive at a location, I help transport the equipment to our base for the day. This can either be where we are shooting or a separate office to store the equipment we don’t need. I remember Lee (Director) and Charlie (Camera) telling me that when I work in this industry I don’t need to go to the gym anymore and let me tell you, they were right! Some of the equipment is a lot heavier than it looks and after walking it to different locations all day your arms do start to ache just a bit!

When we know whereabouts we’re filming, we set up the equipment and dress the set. I often set up a lot of tripods and stands for the lights, helping the team create the best look on camera. This Christmas quiz shoot was particularly fun when we got to hang up fairy lights and baubles, decorate tables with holly and find the perfect position for the Christmas tree. It’s important with every shot to think about what’s in the background, does this lighting work, will there be too much background noise? There are so many things to think about before you even get the cast in.

On Set 

It’s always nice to chat with the cast if you have a spare moment because you can help relax them and tell them a little bit more about the shoot and what will be required of them. If they’re relaxed then they’ll perform better on camera and act more natural, which is exactly what the team wants, but also it’s nice to get to know them and their work a bit more to feel better connected to the client.

You’re constantly meeting different types of people and walking into completely different companies and businesses. The three shoots I did before Christmas went from local businesses to large companies, to a college environment, full of students and different activities. Learning about these different businesses whilst doing your job and seeing how different people enjoy different things is so intriguing. And you never know…you might come across some cute little friends out on shoots (the super fluffy therapy dog being my particular favourite!). We all love taking photos of our furry friends, but it’s not every day you get to feature one in ultra HD in professional content!

BTS and capturing the magic

Other than transporting and setting up equipment, my other responsibility on shoots is to take behind-the-scenes photos of the crew at work and to create reels/TikToks of the shoot day. Behind-the-scenes photos are enjoyable because they show people all the hard work and effort that goes into creating amazing content.

Making the reels and TikToks can consist of a few different things. Sometimes, we use behind-the-scenes photos and quickly compile them to snappy music. But I also take some videos whilst out on shoots and these can be used to create longer reels, documenting some of the highlights of the day. They can show off the location, equipment, set and crew and are a great way to engage followers and show people what a shoot day is like with Orange Fox Studios. Occasionally, we even create a comedic reel to emphasise our company values of ‘laugh often’ and ‘love the work’ as we feel it’s always important to enjoy your work, and luckily, I think we have a few comedians in the crew!

2nd Assistant Camera Roll 

On the most recent shoot for Hitch Marketing and Surrey Police, we were in a professional studio with a big local crew. Seeing everyone in their specific roles, working together to create the most seamless environment for the cast was very inspiring. I helped the team as 2nd Assistant Camera and my primary job was to mark up and use the clapperboard. The clapperboard is an iconic symbol of filmmaking and a lot of people get very excited when they see one. Even though it seems simple to just write some words and numbers down, it’s a big responsibility as everyone must know which take we are on and what kind of shot it is. This is particularly helpful for the editor when matching the images with the sound and knowing what takes went well and which to avoid.

It was a three-camera shoot and seeing the different movements of the cameras was fascinating, as well as watching how they set up the lighting and decided which colours worked best. It was also interesting to see how the cast interpreted the script and the brief. It made the whole thing seem a lot more real, and I felt privileged to be part of making something so topical and important that could help impact people’s lives. In the breaks, I got a chance to speak to the other crew and cast members and hear about their career journeys. This was encouraging as someone just starting in the industry and helped me realise how many different paths you can take. I look forward to seeing what path I’ll take in the future.

Shoot days can be long and tiring sometimes, after getting up very early and being on your feet all day, especially if the shoot is in the pouring rain. But they are also really rewarding and seeing it all come together in the edit is a great feeling. All the work the crew put in to get the perfect shots has paid off! There are also some extra perks on shoot days. I’ve already mentioned the therapy dog but there was also the day when we got free biscuits and a fried Oreo which was insane! Big shout out to The Kitsch Hen and Dhil’s Eats for those.

Being out on shoots with Orange Fox Studios is exciting and I love working with the team to film the best content we can. It’s fun, friendly and there’s always something new!

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