The ManifestWorks Curriculum

Our 12-week curriculum physically follows the flow of production, starting with an agency/idea and moving to a production company, an expendables house to learn about equipment and then to a soundstage. For the post-production segment, we visit a music house, a VFX house and and editorial house. Each step of the way, we practice what we learn, getting on walkie-talkies, completing time sheets and expense forms, and using computers for research, resumes and call sheets. Similarly, the guest speaker schedule is designed to track the sequence of roles before, during and after shooting on set: writer, line producer, Assistant Director, Production Designer, Cinematographer, Editor, composer, etc.

The goal is to teach the core skills of being a successful set PA while exposing participants to the various trades open to them as their careers develop. While our participants’ introduction of these positions will be cursory, graduates of ManifestWorks will understand the different roles played by others on set and around production, from concept to completion.

Real-world examples and hands-on applications are a priority; participants get a chance to practice everything we teach. Immersive learning — struggling and mastering something new—gives our participants the best chance at success. Repeating lessons and then building skills helps our participants understand how learning becomes a posture, building confidence and moving participants away from reliance on anything but self and peers. 

We are always clear why we are teaching something, holding it against a benchmark of transforming our participants’ lives. Participants must validate their learnings, hammering them into a place of easy professional access. Similarly, mentors and participants recognize participants for their earned progress. As much as we want ManifestWorks to reflect the real world, we also want to fortify their personal transformation, and experience shows that reward and support make a huge difference as they go forward.

ManifestWorks is fast-paced and filled with crucial lessons, delivered in a professional context. There will be impatient coordinators on set, terse DP’s interested in results, and a short-tempered producers prone to disrespect. We prepare and fortify participants to thrive in a new world of work. Context helps and we enlist working alumni often to put our instructional approach in perspective.

Our goal is to prepare everyone who is ready for work. But those who fail to commit to being ready, or bringing their best, will often need to return to us when they are ready. At the program’s end, alumni of ManifestWorks must be people who can create opportunity for themselves. They must honor their potential with their excellence. And they must create goodwill so that subsequent classes can earn the same chance. Indeed, the immediate goal of ManifestWorks is to prepare participants to 1) excel on their first day of work, and 2) have the skills to find their next job.