Learn about a Trainee's job duties are and what it's like to be a Trainee...

Under the supervision of the Unit Production Manager (UPM) and Assistant Directors (ADs), the Trainee provides managerial, administrative, communication and facilitation support to the entire cast and crew working on a production.  Essential job functions of the Trainee position includes but are not limited to:

Training Program graduate David Larson (Class of 1989) wore out these shoes during his 400 days of training


Accurately completing detailed paperwork on a daily basis and delivering that paperwork to the production office at the day’s end.



Communicating the on-going status of all elements of production to everyone associated with the production, including constantly advising the ADs of their own location and the location of actors and crew, as well as what tasks they have completed and when they were completed.  Quickly relaying changes in schedule and plans to actors, crew, background, and the production office.  Distributing paperwork, schedules, scripts and script revisions (as prioritized by the ADs) to actors, crew and background.



Organizing the movement of actors and background in and out of the make-up, hair and wardrobe departments and verifying and communicating when actors, background and crew are due to set.  Escorting actors and background to the set, properly prepared and on time, and signing them out when dismissed from set.


Planning Ahead and Problem Solving

Working in advance of each scene, monitoring the progress of the crew’s work to ensure that all needed elements are ready for the on-going shoot.  Anticipating, reporting and helping to solve any problems that may arise.


Set Operations

Assisting the ADs in running the set by helping set background action, coordinating crowd and traffic control, maintaining quiet on the set during rehearsals and shots, loudly and clearly relaying instructions given by ADs on set, addressing large and small groups of people by making announcements, and by helping to solve problems that may interrupt actual shooting.



Facilitating and assisting production continuity by responding to departmental requests; monitoring the safety of the set and communicating safety problems to the ADs; learning union and guild contractual requirements and dealing with compliance issues; taking breakfast, lunch and dinner orders and seeing to their delivery; answering phone, beeper, radio, and walkie-talkie communications; locating people; and taking and delivering messages.

Working Conditions

Trainees must fit within (and usually at the bottom of) a management hierarchy. Trainees interact with, solve problems for, motivate and serve a large group of people. They must handle multiple tasks simultaneously, are constantly prioritizing and are frequently interrupted. Trainees need to be alert, positive and approachable by everyone. They must cope effectively with widely diverse personalities. Trainees may work in close proximity to animals, firearms, special effects and stunts. They may work in or around bodies of water, and other natural hazards.



Work hours are long and often involve protracted periods of near-constant movement.  The typical workday is 12 to 16 hours.  The work schedule within a given project can shift radically.  For example, working Monday through Friday and shifting to a Wednesday through Sunday schedule after several weeks.  Alternatively, starting the week working from 6:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. and ending the week working from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. the following morning.

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