"Made in NY" PA of the Month

Estelle Francois

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.

Estelle Francois September 4, 2012 - Estelle Francois was among the first to graduate from the office cycle of the “Made in NY” Production Assistant Training Program, a specialized version of the program’s regular PA training with a focus on the skills needed to work in a production office. After moving to New York City a few years ago, Francois tried to break into the entertainment industry with no success so she began working in retail until she stumbled onto the “Made in NY” PA Program. Since graduating in January 2011, the Bed-Stuy resident has worked on a film, two television pilots and is just starting her second season with “Person of Interest” on CBS as a producer’s assistant.

What made you decide to pursue a career in entertainment production?
I believe good stories leave a lasting legacy, and I want to know that the stories I help bring to life will leave an imprint on our culture.

What was your experience like during training?
I was thrilled to be a part of the first office cycle. I spent so much time trying to find a way to break into the industry, and it was like a dream come true to finally get the chance to achieve some of my career goals.

How has your life changed since the program?
I am in the industry working fulltime, and I get to see firsthand how all the magic really happens. It’s been such a period of growth for me as I get to see the way TV shows are really created.

What’s it been like working in production?
Thus far I’ve had really positive experiences working in the industry. My favorite parts have been going to the various locations around the City, attending casting sessions, and attending script breakdown meetings. I think it’s amazing the amount of teamwork that goes into play, and it’s really fascinating to see how quickly things move. I think not knowing what to expect day to day can be jarring, but film/TV people are problem solvers and so the production must go on.

What are your career goals?
Long term I want to tell great stories; I’m still figuring out in what capacity. In the short term I’m working hard and figuring out where I can best utilize my knowledge and skill sets while learning as much as I can.

Do you have any advice for other “Made in NY” PAs or people who might be interested in the program?
I was ready to work in any department to get my foot in the door. I remember I even interviewed with [program director] Katy [Finch] to do the grip-training program. I am so thankful to the “Made in NY” program for giving me a chance to get my foot in the door. They gave me a break when I was just about ready to give up. The key is to not lose sight of your goals and to learn as much as you can about the role you would like to eventually play in the process. You really can achieve whatever you put your mind to.

Interested in learning more about the “Made in NY” PA Training Program? Click here.

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