"Made in NY" PA of the Month: Denzil Thomas
Each month we showcase an individual who participated in the "Made in NY" PA Training Program. Click
here for information on the free, month-long program developed in conjunction with Brooklyn Workforce Innovations and designed to create job opportunities for New Yorkers, connect New Yorkers with employers in the industry, and educate production assistants on how to work collaboratively with the communities in which they shoot.
January 3, 2014 - Originally from Trinidad, Denzil Thomas grew up in Brooklyn where he had the chance to spot movie trucks around the City and watch crews at work on the street, a sight that first sparked his desire to work in the entertainment industry. “As years went by, certain shows and movies that I watched caught my attention more and more,” he recalled.
Before the program, Thomas worked two jobs but was determined to find something that would let him “be busy doing something positive.” Seeing a flier for the “Made in NY” Production Assistant Training program caught his attention, but he thought the program sounded too good to be true. After seeing another ad, he went to an open house at Brooklyn Workforce Innovations to learn more about the program.
“I must say it was the best thing that ever happened to me because it was exactly what I was looking for and more,” he said. The training opened his eyes to the rigors of the industry. “I would never have thought that the entertainment industry would be so hard from the outside looking in,” he said, crediting the staff at BWI for teaching him so much during the four weeks of training. “There’s no way I could have walked onto a set and worked a full 12 hour day without the knowledge.”
He credits the program with not only preparing him for life on set. “[The program] makes you find out and understand things about yourself that you probably didn’t even know,” he said. “If you think you are ready for the real world, step into the ‘Made in NY’ classroom and be prepared to see life on a whole entire different level.”
He graduated as a certified “Made in NY” PA in August 2010 and since then has found himself working on dozens of films, TV shows, commercials and events, everything from “Celebrity Apprentice” to The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete. He’s currently working on BET’s music countdown show “106 and Park,” VH1’s “Love and Hip Hop” and The Food Network’s “Chopped,” among others.
Part of the job that he loves the most is meeting new people and seeing new things. But the biggest highpoint for him is the fact that people now look to him as an inspiration. “I try to show and tell people all the time to do what you love no matter how much people will try to bring you down,” he said. “Eventually all the hard work will pay off. It’s just a matter of time.
“I was born in a rough part of my city [in Trinidad] and then came to the US where I grew up in yet another rough city,” he said. It means a lot to his family that he was able to come from all that and now be successful and motivated. “I’m constantly grinding all day every day and trying my best to give back in my community in any way possible.”
His advice for future “Made in NY” PAs is to have a thick skin and good people skills, be aware of time management and always to be professional no matter what. “If you mess up on one job, best believe that it will catch up to you on the next job.”
So far, his experience in the industry has included a lot of ups and downs, and Thomas is excited for what lies ahead.
“For the past three years, working in production has me waking up every day full of excitement.”
Interested in learning more about the “Made in NY” PA Training Program? Click
Read more about previous "Made in NY" PAs of the Month here.