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What does a TV Writers' Production Assistant do?

Updated: Feb 24

A writers' production assistant is one of the first ways up-and-comers get their first taste of the TV writing industry.

TV writers' production assistant duties

In general, production assistant, or PA, jobs are most people's first foray into entertainment no matter what job they hope to pursue.

But for those who want to be TV writers, the writers' production assistant position is the one type of production assistant job that can get you seriously close to the action.

And please note that just because this is the way many people get their start, this is by no means the only way to get your start.

My first entertainment job was being a Page at the old Late Show with David Letterman.

Then I was a runner for a production company that produced part of the ESPY awards.

Eventually I was able to get a writers' production assistant job and make my way into the writers' room. Other people skip assistant jobs altogether. There are no rules in Hollywood.

If you see a way to make a leap, take it.

So, let's take a look at what the writers' production assistant job is and how it can help you in your ascent to TV writer-dom.

A TV writers' production assistant is the low man on the totem pole

In TV writers' rooms, there's the showrunner, a hierarchy of writers that in descending order ends in staff writer, then there are the writers' room assistants, including the writers' assistant and the script coordinator.

There's also the showrunner's assistant, who's like an executive assistant specifically for the showrunner.

And then at the bottom, there's the writers' production assistant. Unfortunately, in TV, these hierarchies are still pretty strict. So, that means the writers' production assistant is doing the work that most don't want to do.

Writers' production assistant duties

As opposed to a PA on set, the writers' production assistant really doesn't have much to do with the production of the show. The job, instead, revolves around catering to the writers.

This means buying them coffee in the morning and afternoon if you're sent out.

It means putting out lunch menus and ordering food.

It means printing scripts.

But it's best to go through a day in the life of a writers' production assistant. This is an example of one of the days I would have on a network comedy when I was a writers' PA...

  • Come in at 9am and check the fridge, make sure everything's stocked up. If we need anything, there may be a trip to Ralph's, the local LA grocery store needed.

  • The writers come in at 10am and fill out their coffee order. The writers' PA places the coffee orders and picks them up.

  • They'll then print out menus for wherever the writers have decided they want for lunch. Once the writers fill those out, the order is placed and the writers' PA goes and gets the food.

  • If the writers are going to stage that day, the writers' PA is printing out scripts for the writers. They may also be shuttling them to the stage on golf carts.

  • If the writers' room stays late, the writers' PA will print out menus and repeat the lunch process for dinner.

  • Occasionally, at the end of a shift, the writers' PA has to deliver scripts to actors of producers if they've requested one.

  • And throughout the day, the PA is cleaning the kitchen, which is always ravaged by writers, and keeping all the supplies fully stocked.

As you can see, most of the job duties revolve around the writers' eating schedule. That's what a lot of being a writers' PA is.

Now, there are smaller shows that only have one PA between the production office and the writers' office and their duties are split between catering to the writers and doing actual production work.

But on bigger productions, there's a more clear delineation between the two.

The good parts of being a writers' PA

This is usually the first time you're in a writers' room. And generally, if the showrunner is nice, you can ask to sit in the writers' room and listen. You may not be able to pitch just yet.

But even taking it in and seeing how a writers' room works can do wonders for your writing ability.

I learned everything I could through reading scripts and books about screenwriting. But it all came together once I saw the process of making episodic TV in action.

Even more importantly, this is a chance to meet a whole room full of writers and hopefully make a good impression.

This is a crucial piece in the journey to being a TV writer.

Entertainment is all about who you know. And now you know anywhere from 8-15 new TV writers who may be able to help you, give you support, or give you advice for your future.

Image Source: Chris Yarzab


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I'm Anton, a TV writer and author of Breaking Into TV Writing, a book about the business of TV writing and how to get your foot in the door.


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