1st Assistant Director 

(Female, Age 49) from National City, CA

This is a REAL-LIFE job profile written by a Female aged 49 who works as a 1st Assistant Director in National City, CA. We have removed all names and personal information in order to protect privacy. This professional kindly spent a bit of their time to complete one of our job profile surveys so that prospective job seekers like you could read their insights. Please excuse any punctuation or grammatical errors in this profile.

At a Glance

Current Job

Basic data on your current job

Job Title 1st Assistant Director
Salary $75,000
Other Compensation None Set
Company Size (not answered)
Location National City, CA
Years Experience 29 years

Career Ratings

Opinions on your CAREER overall (i.e. not just your current job)

Years in Career 0
Education (not answered)
Income Rating 0 / 10
Interest Rating 0 / 10
Work-Life Rating 0 / 10
Fulfilment Rating 0 / 10

Current job Q&A

Describe the type of organization you work for.
My work is freelance. I work with production companies as projects are developed and shot. I start with the company in pre-production and my job ends on the last day of shooting.

Describe your job role and responsibilities.
I break down and schedule the script into shooting days. In pre-production I oversee the crew to make sure they will have what is necessary for the production according to the script. On set during the shoot I coordinate and manage the actual shooting crew to make sure the production runs on schedule and on budget.

Please list an additional benefits (beyond compensation) that you receive.
I work 6 to 9 months in most years.

Do you feel you are under/over or well/fairly compensated at your current position?
I feel the entire film business is over compensated. Particularly since most of it’s workers would do it for free.

Does your job entail you working with others on a daily basis? Is this something you like/dislike about your job? Please explain.
Production crews consist of 30 to 100 people. I enjoy working with a crew for the time it lasts.

Do you work collaboratively with supervisors/managers?

Do you work collaboratively with your co-workers?

Describe your work location (e.g., office, home, theatre, in the field) and what you like/dislike about working in it.

Please rate each of the following aspects of your current job on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest/best):
Income: 6
Benefits: 8
Hours: 4
Co-Workers: 5
Supervisors: 1
Job Title: 7
Level of Responsibility: 2
The Actual Work: 3

Table of Contents

How you got your job

How did you get your current job?
I began with the Director’s Guild Assistant Directors Training Program as a trainee.

What was the application process?
To get into the program I had to score high on an aptitude test similiar to a graduate school GRE. There are usually 2000 people across the country who take the test. The top 100 who took the test were interviewed by members of the DGA. Twenty are chosen each year to be trainees.

Did you have to interview for your current job? If yes, what did the interview process entail?
The interview delved into my life, my ability to lead, and problem solve.

If you can remember, what questions were you asked during the interview?
That happened almost 30 years ago. I can’t remember the questions.

Do you feel your employer properly prepared you for your job? Explain.
I had several employers in the course of those 400 days. I am trained by the 1st and 2nd assistant directors I worked with. Some were good and detailed and interested in my learning. Others were not.

Was there training for your current position? If yes, what did it entail?
The DGA Training Program assigns you to 400 days of paid training on current projects filming. Once that is complete you are qualified to join the Director’s Guild and must get jobs on your own based on the contacts you have made during the Training Program.

Do you feel your educational background prepared you for your job? Explain.
No, educational background is not as important in this area as life experience and how you’ve benefited from it is.

If applicable, do you feel your internship experience helped you prepare for your job?
Yes, definitely. I knew nothing about film production when I began. At the end of the 400 days I knew quite a lot. But I’m still learning something new on every show I do up until my very last show recently.

If someone wanted to go about getting a job similar to yours, what would you recommend for him or her to do?
I would recommend they attempt to get into the Director’s Guild Assistant Directors Training Program. If they are unable to do that then they should try to work with a crew as a Production Assistant.

What skills do you think a person should have if they want to pursue a position like yours?
They should be gregarious, organized to a fault, very good problem solvers and able to think quickly on their feet. They should also be leaders with humility and have a good sense of humor.

Do you feel that you need a certain level of education or training to be successful in your job?
You need to be very knowledgeable about film production, but that doesn’t include textbook training. On the job training is the only way to “get it”.

What advice would you give to someone who was about to start work in your position/ line of work?
If they’re about to start as a 1st assistant director they must go in ready to take charge. If they’re starting as a trainee or production assistant they must be very observant, trainable, and eager to work.

Long-term career plans

Is your current employment part of your overall career plan? Why or why not?
I am at the end of my career, doing fewer films each year.

What are your current career goals?
My life plans are to buy a piece of country and raise horses and other animals.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your career?
It’s a very glamorous, fulfilling career that can be very grueling on the mind and body. That’s because the hours are long and the stress is high. But it is great to have jobs that last a finite period of time and allow you the time and money to do other things in your life.

Prior work history

Please list your most recent jobs prior to this current job:

Title Length Salary Description
Prior Job 1 1st Assistant Director 4 weeks 10000 Coordination of filming
Prior Job 2 1st Assistant Director 8 weeks 22000 Coordination of filming

Educational background

Please list your educational background:

High School GPA:3.5

GPA School Degree
College (Undergraduate)
or Technical/Vocational
3.5 Cal State University, Dominguez Hills Communication Bachelor of Arts
Graduate or Professional
(Masters or Doctorate)

Ask a Question of this Mentor

This mentor has opted to receive questions from people interested in this career or job position. Please be respectful of their time and willingness to help. Include some basic relevant background so they can intelligently answer your question.