Just back from Create Make Learn 2015


Just back from visiting our most excellent faculty member, Lucie deLaBruere’s Create, Make, Learn week long workshop. She had 30+ K12 teachers, 19 of which are getting Marlboro optional credit, studying all day, all week, up a Champlain College and The Generator. Champlain College folks were doing Creating with Chrome when I was there. Here’s some photos of what was going on at the two strands at The Generator.

Labor Memories

Baby Shaw's Lessons Learning

April 30th, Caleb
It was definitely a life changing event for us. And a life creating one for Shaw. For me, witnessing that much pain, physical intensity (to the breaking point and beyond) blood, gore and exhaustion, while at the very same time knowing it was welcomed, purposeful, and as natural as can be, was one of the more humanizing events of my life. Shaw is sleeping and not crying much. So far he’s pooping, which is key because it means he’s nursing effectively (even if we can’t tell at the time). Laura made it to the porch today for 2 minutes before back to bed. We’re feeling very supported by family and friends.

May 1st: Laura two days later, worried about a burp, but worried that she’s too worried:  “I don’t want you to choke on your own spit up, is that so wrong?
You laugh, but I’m trying to find in this damn book where it says how to keep him alive at night. Are all my fears unfounded since I can’t find them here?”

April 28th, Caleb: Pre labor snuck up on me, but Laura knew at morning Yoga “something was happening”. Laura: Those lower ab cramps were back with a vengeance by mid-afternoon. Kam stopped into the porch and witnessed me “having a moment.” I still wasn’t ready to get psyched because I knew from Anji that they could go on for another week. I don’t remember the sequence of events well, but I felt like I wasn’t able to get anything done, including make lasagna. I finally gave up after cooking the pasta halfway. Then I went to bed and waited for Caleb to finish making it and bring it to me. But…She felt more strong pushes every hour, then more often, until about 11pm when she was in bed moaning every 5 or 6 minutes with contractions around a minute. I felt during the afternoon that she was just getting ready to maybe go into labor. Then it hit me when she started long, loud hummms and moans and chants of “I’m relaxed, I can do this, I want this, I’m relaxed, i’m open, open, it’s Okay, the baby will come, hummmmm, hummmmmmmm, hummmmmmmmmm”.  We called the Doula, Libby who was here about 11pm.

By 3 am the moaning and loud with contractions that were a minute or two long, every 2 to 3 minutes, for half an hour. I had taken an hour nap 1am-2pm. Libby sat with Laura who liked all fours and then finally in bed on her side. Laura would go limp between contractions and sleep sometimes for 5 minutes. Laura says: “I had heard that the laboring mom should “rest” or even SLEEP between contractions, but thought, “I’ll believe that when I see it.” Well, it truly does happen. I felt like I would put my head down and no sooner would be up again omming. No idea that five whole minutes would have passed.” We were nervous that Libby wasn’t in charge of calling of midwife and instead asking us if we wanted to call her. How would we know? But she was on it when it was time and said to call.

Anji and Lucina arrived at 3am. Laura was full in the ommmmmm zone.

They checked in on my smart phone contraction timer logs. They checked in with Laura, watching her and asking her questions. They disappeared and let Libby and I continue to help Laura. We set up the tub. The shower thing didn’t fit, and I cursed myself for not testing it early, despite being told it would fit the shower. I used the sink, which we had tested, and prayed silently that it would have enough pressure to push water up the stairs. It did! We filled the tub. Laura got in and for 1.5hrs slipped in and out of the world. She ate a little Yogurt, continued her sipping water with a straw, had some honey, and Ensure we had lying about, even though it was strawberry cream flavor and sucked.  Great to have the Ensure! Used it for days after for calories with no chewing, something Laura was insistent on.

Then the bathroom and pushing labor. Lunging in the door frame. Screaming in my face. Crying. No drugs though, not even a peep from her to have any meds or make it stop. She was in a “bring it on” mood mostly. Anji had a mirror and was watching every contraction. Then it was obviously getting long after two hours of all fours on our thick wrestling style stretching mat. We moved into the bedroom. She couldn’t make it on the bed and had a lot of pushes on the edge of the bed, forcing Anji with a mirror almost under the bed. I could see the mirror. It was intense. The head and hair were there, then gone, then there, then gone, then a little more then gone. On the bed, back down, the midwives insisted. Laura had hated this position from the get go, or the idea of it with no leverage and being “squishy” and would not do it, but it worked for a while.  But it seemed to fade then. Then the midwives got noticeably agitated and Anji said “OK Laura, you’ve got to push and get this baby out. I’m going to tell you what to do, and you’re going to do it.” and she would flip Laura on all fours, and then back on her back, and see what worked. The Olive oil came out. The fingers reached inside and pulled. Then a moment and Anji said “episiotomy” to Lucinda. A little sewing scissors came out and snipped. Blood.

The Production Assistant’s Pocket Handbook page

Well reviewed

Widely used

Proudly self-published!

By Caleb Clark, 2008. 3rd Edition, updated and expanded. Written by Caleb while he was a Hollywood P.A. Caleb’s personal site.

Learn how to:

  1. Get your first job in the film and TV industry.
  2. Survive your first week.
  3. Get promoted as soon as possible.

Get the PA Handbook


Download the first

10 pages


Print quality 63 page file.

Such a deal! Support self-publishing.

Feel good all day.

Cover, The Production Assistant's Pocket Handbook by Caleb Clark


20% off at the source – LuLu.com

$9.56. Pocket-sized, perfect-bound.

Oyi, the value!

Chapters                                                                                Back Cover

back cover, the production assistant's pocket handbook
  • Introduction
  • The Basic Idea in Lots of Words
  • The Basics in 4 Words
  • Set Etiquette 101
  • Set Etiquette 102
  • Radio Etiquette
  • Lock-Downs
  • Talking to the Public
  • Grips and Gaffers
  • Mistakes
  • Driving
  • Getting a Job
  • Film School
  • I Really Want to Direct
  • What to Have
  • Gear Check List
  • Tools of the Future
  • Conclusion
  • About the Author
  • Set Lingo

front cover the production assistant's pocket handbook

From the Introduction

Think of it, to try and make movie. What a crazy idea! This popular handbook has been freshly revised and designed to give new Production Assistants (P.A.s) an edge in the insane world of movie making. Topics include how to get your first job, the basics, lock-downs, radio communication, running talent, what to bring to a set, driving, etc. Written by a P.A. while working on major studio and independent features, commercials, TV shows, and low-budget films, this handbook is full of advice and stories from the trenches. This 3rd edition has been expanded and checked by industry professionals and instructors at film schools. P.A.s do everything nobody else wants to do. It is an entry-level job, in other words, you’re in the proverbial mailroom, digging ditches, washing dishes, making copies, and entering data. So don’t kid yourself, you’re at the bottom, baby! But the good thing about the bottom is that there’s only one way to go from there: UP! Like all entry-level jobs, the object of being a P.A. is to work yourself out of the job by making yourself too valuable to be kept in the entry-level position. Being a P.A. is also a weird test with only one question; Are you willing to become the best P.A. you can, even though you know that you won’t be a P.A. for long? The logic behind this is that the people above you have paid their dues and proved their passion (to themselves, not just to others) and they expect you to do the same. The other side of the coin is that a good P.A. is very valuable because there is nobody else to do the job. Therefore, take pride in all the little demeaning tasks you will have to do. Take the job seriously. Be honored and happy to get coffee, and remember who prefers three sugars. If you are an exceptional P.A., you will get promoted very quickly, and the coffee will come to you.

PA Pocket Handbook Endorsements and Reader Reviews

The University of Central Florida bought 500 copies for their film program. Used at a workshop by the Association of Independent Commercial Producers.


Line Producer Alton Walpole recommends it. It is required reading for Lisa Cook ‘s classes at University of Central Florida’s film program. Michael Fischer uses it in his advanced film production classes at Burlington College. The Texas Film Commission also likes the P.A. pocket handbook.

Unsolicited Quotes Sent to Author:

  • “My name is Charlee Collins, I am from Northland, New Zealand and am a big fan. Just writing to say thank you. Your ‘The Production Assistant’s Pocket Handbook’ is great. I know when I move over to LA in a few months your book will be with me as I embark on the journey that is hassling every darn production in the country until I get a job. Kind Regards, Charlee.”
  • “I have been working in Production for many years and had a blast reading this handbook, could relate myself to so many stories. I also find it extremely useful for those who will be working in my team, I wish I had had this book when I started! Thanks for writing it!” – Belen G., Spain
  • “I produce photo shoots and have had many production jobs over the past 17 years. How I wish every PA was required to read this. I love this booklet! I loved it in 1992 when it first came out. Nice job!” – Helen, Los Angeles
  • Thank you Caleb for this wonderful piece of PA art! I mean it!
    It sums up the whole process wonderfully and prepares you be a proud shit-kicker (as they say in Australia). I worked my way up as a runner to production coordinator to UPM in Australia after I finished film school.” – Sameer, Australia.
  • “I read the free pages and I will purchase the handbook. I want to say thank you, because I am getting started. I have been a production assistant for 3 productions and completed some internships. My situation is unique, I am not a twenty something individual; I will be turning 40 in May; however I don’t look my age. Your handbook gives me hope that I can be successful in this field.” – Dawn.
  • “I found out about this booklet shortly after getting hired for my first set PA job in New Mexico. I didn’t have much experience and was a bit nervous, but after reading this great booklet I felt confident that I could do the job without worrying about my shortcomings.”- Miguel, Albuquerque, NM
  • “I’ve ordered your book from the writers store and have found it very helpful. I was a production assistant duing my last year in college. That was back in 1996. I have taken a long brake from the business because I needed steady income. After getting this handbook about 3 weeks ago, it has motivated me to get back into the film industry. I have gotten a P.A. gig with BET’s “Sundays Best Season 3″ in N.O. Louisiana. This will be a month long production but I feel very comfortable with your book to refresh my memory. Thanks, that was a good thing to provide.”- Trey Williams.
  • “I just bought your book! I was observing a workshop Justin Muller did in the Dominican Republic this week. He made reference to the book. I just got hired as a P.A. I devoured your book before I went into set. Every single piece of information in it is useful and every detail you should keep in mind. I kept repeating to myself STAR. Swift, Tactful, Aware and Resourceful. That is ALL you need. They love it in a set when you are quick and get things done before anyone else does. It someone needs something make sure you bring it first. IF someone else has done it first, then its useless. The levels of stress and concentration managed on a set NEED us PAs to be discreet. Know when you are not interrupting or bothering. No chit chat in the morning transportation while riding with the AD, Director or any cast member. You must always have 20 eyes on everything that moves around set. You must never let a pedestrian walk into set. If you are asked to block a street you BLOCK it. Get to know everybody, specially drivers, gaffers, set medic, and those people that are always out of the SPOTLIGHT but in a second could be needed in case of any emergency on set. It always looks good when you know who is who and where they went while everybody else was paying attention to the scene and the star. That is being aware of everything. Sometimes production forgets certain details. Or maybe there just isn’t time for you to run over and get things. Be resourceful. Make a tool out of everything you can. Who said being a PA isn’t being creative? No scissors? Try cutting in half that pile of dailies with a knife. It won’t look great. But if you’re shooting in the middle of the jungle and production forgot those scissors, something must be done. Always bring ALL production phone directories with you. Every paper yo get your hands on. Save it. You never know. There should be a whole part on radios. Some PAs get to do the radio coordination. Giving out radios and keeping the set full on fresh hot batteries. Always carry some of those around.” – Marivivita Sin Mar

Submit your review or comment to the Author at “calebjc (at) well (dot) com” or post a review on Amazon.com

Production Assistant resources


Getting a PA Job

icon for external link
List of US State Film Commission Sites. State film commissions alphabetically.
icon for external linkList of world wide Film and TV Commission Sites. From the Producers Master guide, in publication since 1979.
icon for external linkFilm Commission List By Country. By the web site New Zealand Films.
icon for external linkMedia-match.com. Entertainment job site for freelancer and employers.
icon for external linkFilmStaff.com
. Crew placement service site for entertainment jobs.
icon for external linkProductionHub.com
. Film, TV, video and digital media job site.
icon for external linkEntertainmentJobs.com. Entertainment job site.
icon for external linkHow to get a production internship. From about.com. Internship sites at NBC, Time Warner HBO, ABC
icon for external linkInsideHollywood.info. A site by 25+ year industry vet Alicia Hirsch. Includes “ask a veteran” service and an e-book.
icon for external linkTheFutonCritic.com. Site that tracks TV productions that have been approved for production.

Production Assistant Training

icon for external linkPA Bootcamp. Two-day intensive training programs taught in Los Angeles.
How I got that first job in Television. A PA’s personal blog. Includes journal from the set, and office PA for a day.
off site page iconWork as a PA article from Monster.com job site.
off site page iconSo You Wanna Work in Movies? General site by successful cinematographer Oliver Stapleton
So you wanna be a TV Production Assistant? General info from soyouwanna.com.
How to get a job as a TV and/or film extra? From essortment.com.
off site page iconFilm Production IQ Test. Online test by Brian Heath, IFP Chicago member photographer.
off site page iconFilm Crew 101. Lighting tech. Peter Clarson’s manual on set etiquette from 30 years in the business.
off site page iconShort video of a PA talking about what they do. From howstuffworks.com


off site page iconWikipedia PA entry.
off site page iconWikipedia History of Film. Know from whence we came…
off site page iconProduction Lingo. Old school film talk, but still relevant.
off site page iconAssociation of Independent Commercial Producers
off site page iconThe Anonymous Production Assistant blog.

Movies About Making Movies

off site page iconHearts of Darkness a filmmakers apocalypse (1991): This is my favorite movie about movie making. It is about one of the most famous location shoots of all time, the making of Apocalypse Now by Francis Ford Coppola in the Phillipines in the late 1970s. It is an extreme example of what it can be like on a set to be sure, but all movies have a bit of what you’ll see happening here. Movie making is always an adventure and story unto itself with interesting characters, drama, comedy and intrigue. There’s not much about PAs directly, but you can see the PAs in the background if you pay attention.
off site page iconBurden of Dreams (1982). From IMDB.com, “A documentary on the chaotic production of Werner Herzog’s epic Fitzcarraldo (1982), showing how the film managed to get made despite problems that would have floored a less obsessively driven director. Not only does he have major casting problems, losing both Jason Robards (health) and Mick Jagger (other commitments) halfway through shooting, but the crew gets caught up in a war between Peru and Ecuador, there are problems with the weather and the morale of cast and crew is falling rapidly. Written by Michael Brooke.”
off site page iconState and Main (2000). Nice little comedy about a film crew that goes to Vermont to shoot a movie. Directed by David Mamet.
off site page iconHijacking Hollywood (1997): I haven’t seen it, but I hear it’s about a PA.
off site page iconThe Production Assistant (1994): A funny 1 minute short featuring a PA.

Copyright Caleb Clark 2015

Back from co-facilitating E-Textile and Laser Workshops at Dynamic Landscapes 2015


Many thanks to Champlain College’s Emergent Media Center (EMC) for significantly helping me facilitate two workshops at this year’s Dynamic Landscapes conference. Specifically, thanks to the EMC’s Tyler Feralio, Ken Howell, and the student lab techs.

And to Jenn Karson for help and inspiration in e-textiles from her tutorial here.

Description of workshops

E-Textile Photos

Laser Cutting Photos

E-Textile Resources

In Workshop:

  1. Jenn’s VT Makers activity & PDF: http://vermontmakers.org/steam-modules/e-textiles/
  2. Take Home Kit: ProtoSnap – LilyPad E-Sewing Kit, with helpful pattern to sew on, no hoop or sensors, not programmable: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/11032


Photos of Sewing:

Next Steps

  1. Make a switch: https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/ldk-experiment-5-make-your-own-switch
  2. Basic circuit: https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/ldk-experiment-1-lighting-up-a-basic-circuit
  3. Fabric kits on Etsy by Plusea: https://www.etsy.com/people/Plusea
  4. Site for designs: http://www.kobakant.at/DIY/
  5. Adafruit Gemma Starter Pack, programmable, but not sensors. Documentation http://www.adafruit.com/products/1657
  6. Adafruit Gemma Sensor Pack. Nice! rechargeable batt, programmable. Needs hoop, and fabric template, and a printed project book.
  7. ProtoSnap Dev board. Kit, programmable, sensors, no fabric or hoop: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/11262
  8. Book, projects, Sparkfun cart of stuff: http://sewelectric.org/
    Book: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/12019
    Beginner kit: https://www.sparkfun.com/wish_lists/74576

Heading to Egypt on a World Learning, USAID, Ministry of Education project – NOT!


screen shot of ecase project web page

UPDATE: This trip, but not the contract, got canceled at the last minute by the Government. I blaming spies…The contract is virtual now, and going great!

Wow! I’m heading out early this week that I’ll be doing instructional design and training in Cairo, Egypt May 12th-19th! I’m working for World Learning on a USAID program, in partnership with the Egyptian Ministry of Education, (MOE).

The project is called The Education Consortium for the Advancement of STEM in Egypt or (ECASE).

This contract is to assist in a small part of the much larger porject. I’ll be collaborating with World Learning, the STEM school teachers, and the MOE to design and create three MOOC-type online courses in Schoology.com for 10th and 11th graders, and help train content developers.

I’ll blog as I go when I can!

Virtual Contract in Egypt through World Learning, USAID, Ministry of Education ECASE project


screen shot of ecase project web page

UPDATE: This trip, but not the contract, got canceled at the last minute. The English for STEM course we’re developing is virtual now, and going great!  I’m working for World Learning on a USAID program, in partnership with the Egyptian Ministry of Education, (MOE).

The umbrella project is called The Education Consortium for the Advancement of STEM in Egypt or (ECASE).

This contract is to assist in a small part of the much larger project. I’ll be collaborating with World Learning, the STEM school teachers, and the MOE to design and create three MOOC-type online courses in Schoology.com for 10th and 11th graders, and help train content developers.

USAID, World Learning, project


I’ve just finished an exciting consulting gig for World Learning on a USAID project with the Ministry of Education in Cairo, Egypt!

The project is called The Education Consortium for the Advancement of STEM in Egypt or (ECASE)

unit 1 reading the newsThis contract was a small part of the overall ECASE project. I helped find a suitable online platform to host three MOOC-type self-guided courses for 10th and 11th graders in the STEM high schools. These courses are to be completed with guidance from their teachers.

After conducting a needs assessment and choosing Schoology.com as the best, and really only, platform that could handle very unique requirements,  I collaborated with World Learning’s excellent Egypt team, the MOE, and teachers to build and test a demo course.

Inspiration via the simplicity of cleaning, organizing, teaching, supporting others, and being effecient via chef Thomas Keller


Chef Keller short bio. Short, inspiring, especially about cleaning, efficiency, and organization. I was inspired in my own house to continue to clean up after dinner, as a way of controlling the chaos, but also as a way of respecting our space, especially with Baby #2 on the way! Keller claims to have no special gifts in the kitchen, except those and a love of teaching and supporting his staff to excel and exceed him and his standards, and being a hard worker, efficient and organized. He also believes a bite or three is enough…A few minutes in, they actually let the reporter take a tiny camera into the French Laundry for lunch. Yumm.

Start at 5:52 minutes if you want to get to the main course of the piece.

Teaching Kids to Fly Micro Quadracopters, (and Perhaps a Life Lesson) at the Champlain Mini Maker Faire in Vermont on Lake Champlain.

documentation, General, How-Tos, Make & Fablab, Product Reviews, Video

As an experiment I gave micro quadcopter flight lessons to kids this weekend at the Champlain Mini Maker Faire. I learned a lot. My back is sore from picking up crashed drones ever 10 seconds for two days because it was a very popular booth! The lesson I learned (perhaps a life lesson) was, “When in trouble, turn off the motor; and fall gently to the grass, then get back up and try again.” In other words, resilience, persistence, and the practiced discipline to avoid uncontrolled crashes that prevent trying again, in favor of controlled crashes your craft can survive unscathed. 


Photo Slideshow
Link to Slideshow

On breaks, I managed to get some video to test the craft’s camera. With a lot of crashes, I ended up with shots of a rocket launch, lake views, inside flights, and in-tent flights of the Northern New England Drone User Group next to my table.  

The micro quad I used for this test is about the size of my hand. It’s safe since its blades spin in place if they hit skin, leaving only a sting. And it had prop guards and I stood right next to the kids with my hand near the throttle. They cost about $70 (including an HD camera now, which amazes me). Here’s a great unboxing and review of the model I usedUnboxing the Hubsan X4 H107C v2 HD. Considering it’s cost and size, and that is it designed for mostly indoor use, I think the video is remarkable. But the site is remarkable too!

The experiment worked. Kids lined up both days. It was very exhausting, since I was the only one manning the table both days (note to self). I’m still sore from running around finding the crashed copters in the grass every few minutes. It took me a day and half to realize the kids loved finding the crashed copters…duh…

The kernel I found to the teaching was helping these young new pilots turn off the motors and have a controlled crash before they had an uncontrolled crash. Controlled crashes are when you stop all the motors and the craft tumbles out of the air. This little copter doesn’t usually get hurt if it lands from any height on grass. It’s spars have break away parts that clip back together and it’s very light. It does get hurt in high speed crashes with the motors grinding the props into the ground. 

It takes a lot of practice to fight the human instinct to power up when the craft starts to get in trouble. I saw almost 100% of kids and adults power up whenever the craft got out of control or near obstacles! And everyone, even ace pilots, get in trouble. Human nature though is to save the craft and keep it flying. But, powering up almost always leads to higher speed crashes, often with the motor on causing the props to try to spin the grass, on fingers, rocks, dirt, etc. Even worse, after a crash, our instinct is to rush over to the downed craft. Rushing over to a downed craft often makes one’s hand slip on the controller causing the motors keep on struggling. This then was our challenge, to practice fighting on initial instincts. 

We only broke one craft in two days of flying, and that was because it hit a metal bar on the tent roof at just the wrong angle at full speed and I wasn’t quick enough to stop the power that one time.

Most people quickly break small RC copters and miss out on the joy of flying. I hope now there are a few more folks you there who can control their crashes, try again, and slowly near to fly in interesting places and ever higher.

My advice on moving to Vermont. The short answer from a liberal-ish democratic perspective.

General, How-Tos, Travel Reports

My Short Answer After Moving To The Town of Brattleboro in Southern VT in 2008.

Generally – A great state! I find myself amidst the voluntarily lower middle class. My friends and colleagues are mostly relatively happy hippie-ish democratic liberals who are into protecting the environment, education, local community support, and healthy living. There are also lots of retired folks, republicans, a few rich, a more poor. There’s the few homeless (more in summer) and those suffering visibly from psychological issues and drug and alcohol abuse.

The tone I experience here is somewhere between New Hampshire’s “Live Free, Or Die” independent, self-sufficiency, and the West Coast’s hippie-dippie liberalism and innovation.

Under that, I sense a deep commitment to community, family and education that crosses political lines. Most Vermonters I know seem to be able to agree on being there for one’s neighbors, supporting good public schools, farming, effective social programs, healthy local food, being outdoors, and spending time with family and friends.

Finally, it’s a very small state, less then 700,000! So scale back the numbers in all your factoring.

My Advice

  • Have quick plans for food you can make for pot-luck dinner socials. So many pot lucks! And you’ll waste money if you always buy prepared food or bring booze. Sometimes I wish someone would just host a dinner, just once…
  • Even one job with low salary, but full benefits, is very valuable here. Then the other person can freelance, farm, finagle, etc.
  • Lock you car during zucchini season if you have out of state plates. If you don’t it will be full of folk’s surplus zucchinis that they are trying to get rid of.
  • Join the COOP
  • Find a CSA for local veggies and/or meat
  • Get a big freezer for blueberries and homemade pesto all year!
  • Join a board *but not too many.
  • Vote and go to town meetings and public hearings.
  • Trim your expenses and dept.
  • Get some tools
  • Plant a garden
  • Get really good snow tires in the winter (Michelin X-Ice for example).
  • Draft proof and insulate your house (consider a heat pump with Efficiency Vermont help).
  • Find the swimming holes.
  • Okay, on the snow tires…With an AWD cars, some say you don’t need ’em, but I got kids now and they make a huge difference. If you don’t have AWD, get ’em for sure.
  • Get wool socks, sweaters, hats, and wear layers. But wait for a sale if you can, at the end of winter.
  • Keep a blanket, water, and a flashlight in your car in winter.
  • Keep a swim suit, towel, blanket, sun screen and water in the car in summer.
  • Leave time to drive on the little back roads when you can, there’s so many cool little discoveries.