Program Makes Way for New Wave of Projects to Be Filmed in Arizona

As Arizona continues to attract major film production opportunities to the state, the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) has partnered with the Scottsdale School of Film+Theatre at Scottsdale Community College (SCC) to train local talent to fill openings as production assistants. The inaugural Production Assistant Certification program will run Oct. 3-7, 2022.

Arizona’s film industry has seen an influx of large-scale production inquiries, including the HBO series Duster, which filmed a pilot episode in Tucson. To build on these successes and prepare for future opportunities, the Production Assistant Certification program is expected to train more than 2,000 production assistants over the next five years, creating a talented workforce that will keep Arizona talent – and dollars – in the state.

“This initiative will be a big boost for Arizona,” says Matthew Earl Jones, Director of Arizona Film and Digital Media, a program of the ACA. “We’re excited that SCC, which is home to one of the leading film schools in the state, has not only agreed to participate in our consortium of five community colleges across Arizona, but that they’ve taken a leading partnership role in developing and sponsoring the initiative, and supporting other colleges as they collaborate to develop this new workforce.”

In addition to SCC, the participating colleges include Glendale Community College, Coconino Community College, Yavapai College, and Pima Community College.

The first cohort of the Production Assistant Certification program is expected to have 40 trainees learning under a veteran Hollywood line producer, with support from the faculty and resources of the Scottsdale School of Film+Theatre at SCC. The intensive five-day training and subsequent internship opportunity, provided by the Arizona Production Association, will effectively teach candidates the skills and responsibilities needed to work as a production assistant in all production departments and net them a certificate of completion validated by the ACA, the Arizona Production Association, and the host college. The ACA and the Arizona Production Association developed the training curriculum, and SCC plans to incorporate these educational resources into a future certificate of completion program.

“Arizona has proved we can attract the biggest names in Hollywood. To take our industry to the next level, we need to demonstrate that we not only offer high-capability studios and technical infrastructure, but also a robust, qualified production assistant workforce that is ready to hit the ground running,” says Scottsdale School of Film+Theatre Department Chair Bill True. “This training program is a key component to helping achieve Arizona’s potential as a top international film destination, and we are proud to be spearheading these efforts.”

The new training program adds to Arizona’s statewide efforts, including working with tribal nations, to support the re-emergence of and planned rapid growth of the state’s film industry. In 2021, the Navajo Nation signed an MOU with the ACA to promote the Navajo Nation as a film destination. As part of this training program, community colleges will conduct outreach to tribal community members, helping provide new career opportunities to support future projects on tribal lands.

By creating a talented and ready-to-work pool of production assistant candidates, Arizona will be ready to support a lucrative new industry in the state, benefiting an entire range of careers and economic sectors.

Get more information on the Production Assistant Certification program here.

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