THE ROLES IN A FILMMAKING PRODUCTION TEAM
Making a film, whether it’s short or full length, requires multiple team members with different talents and responsibilities of a production team. To understand the roles of a film production team, you can compare the positions of each crew member to the people needed to prepare a complete product. Learn all about the different crew job positions that occur on a film set!
Art Directors – In charge of the “look” and “feel” of the motion picture. The art director works with the production designer and is responsible for the design and construction of a motion picture set.
Costume Designer – is responsible for all the clothing and costumes worn by all the actors that appear on the screen. They are also responsible for designing, planning, and organizing the construction of the garments down to the fabric, colors, and sizes. The Costume Designer works closely with the Director to understand and interpret “character”, and counsels with the Production Designer to achieve an overall tone of the film. In large productions, the Costume Designer will usually have one or more Assistant Costume Designers.
Props – is accountable for finding and dealing all the props that appear in the film. The Props Master usually has several assistants and acquires, organizes, keeps up and represents all the different props required for the creation. This incorporates numerous things like firearms, blades, books, telephones, dishware, nourishment, melodic instruments, pets or some other thing that should be available to satisfy the story.
Set Decorator / Dresser – settles on the choices on what furniture and different enrichments will be utilized on set. This individual works intimately with the art director and production designer to make the ideal visual environment for filming. This may incorporate different things, for example, artworks, textures, and other portable enlivening set pieces.
Set Construction Coordinator / Builder – regulates the development of all the sets. The organizer orders materials plans the work and manages the (regularly sizeable) team of woodworkers, painters, and workers.
Storyboard Artist – The storyboard artist creates a series of illustrations and sketches based on the director’s vision during pre-production. Each sketch speaks to an alternate camera set-up. These drawings typically incorporate camera angles, characters, and set design. The illustrations are then used to assist the other head departments in understanding their tasks.
Camera Assistant (1st AC) – The 1st AC is the chief assistant to the camera operator. The 1st assistant camera person is accountable of measuring and pulling focus during filming. The 1st AC also threads the film through the camera when a new magazine is loaded. This person also helps setup and build the camera, as well as maintain and clean the camera and lenses.
Camera Assistant (2nd AC) – The 2nd AC is also known as the loader. The 2nd assistant camera person is primarily responsible for loading and unloading the new rolls of film into the different magazines, as well as maintaining and filling out all the camera reports for the film lab. This person also runs the slate or clapper to maintain sync and the correct labeling for each and every shot.
Camera Operator – The camera operator physically controls and operates the camera during filming, under the direction of the D.P. (Director of Photography). The camera operator works closely with both A.C.’s as well. The camera operator controls the shot’s framing and the camera movements as instructed by the director of photography.
Camera Operator (Jib Arm / Crane) – This person is responsible for setting up and operating the mechanical camera crane also known as the “jib arm”. The jib arm is primarily used for large establishing shots that require substantial elevation and smooth motion.
Digital Imaging Technician – This is another new job position that was created in response to the popular use of high-end digital video formats. The digital imaging technician uses various image manipulation methods to achieve the highest possible image quality during the production. This person usually manages the transferring and storage of the image data as well.
Data Wrangling – This is a relatively new job position that has been created in response to the popular use of digital video formats. The data wrangler is usually responsible for organizing, labeling, downloading, duplicating and reformatting the digital storage disks for use on set and the editing room.
Director of Photography – The director of photography (D.P.) is in charge of the overall visual look of the film, as seen through the camera. They recommend which cameras and lenses to use for the production. They design the shot’s framing and the camera movements in conjunction with the director. They are also in charge of the camera crew, lighting design and collaborating with the gaffer.
Photographer / Production Stills – This person takes still photographs and essentially documents the behind-the-scenes making of the production. Often, this person photographs images used for marketing purposes such as movie posters and DVD box art.
Steadicam Owner / Operator – The Steadicam is a camera mounting device that utilizes a mechanical arm attached to a body harness to provide extremely smooth hand-held shots. The Steadicam operator is responsible for setting up and operating the Steadicam during production. Most Steadicam operators are very physically fit due to the amount of strength and endurance needed to operate the Steadicam.
Videographer – This person creates the video that essentially documents the behind-the-scenes making of the movie. This video isn’t normally used in the final version of the film. It’s only used for the purposes of documentation.
Best Boy – The best boy is the lead electrician on set and is in charge of all the other electricians, similar to how the key grip is in charge of all the grips. The best boy usually operates, adjusts and balances the electrical load on the generator where required. This person is also responsible for distributing the electrical cabling properly providing the required power to each of the lights.
Electrician – The electricians (or juicers) essentially set up and operate all the lighting instruments and cabling as instructed by the best boy or gaffer. This is a physically demanding job due to a large number of the heavy lights and cabling often required. Electricians must be knowledgeable of tungsten and HMI lighting as well as changing and installing bulbs properly.
Gaffer – The gaffer is also known as the chief lighting technician. This person is primarily responsible for developing a lighting plan according to the desires of the Director of Photography. The gaffer informs the best boy and key grip on where and which lights are to be placed. The gaffer is in charge of creating the best possible lighting scenario according to the camera framing.
Grip – Grips essentially “shape the light” that is provided by the electricians. This includes creating pattern and shadow effects, coloring light, diffusing light or blocking light. While electricians set up the lights and cabling, grips provide everything else that is built around the lights to create the quality of light that the gaffer desires. They also provide a variety of special rigging, securing and safety measures on set.
Key Grip – The key grip is the lead grip on a film set and in charge of all the other grips. The key grip and best boy collaborate with the gaffer and D.P. to formulate the best tactic for accomplishing a given shot. The key grip oversees the proper camera rigging mechanisms as well as manages the light blocking and diffusing techniques.
Dolly grip – operates the camera dollies or camera cranes.
Location Manager – is responsible for making all the practical arrangements necessary for filming on location. Duties include but are not limited to creating and entering into location contract agreements, creating parking plans for working vehicles, identifying and arranging for power and water sources, working with affected residents, property owners, and businesses.
Location Scout – location scouting is a vital process in the pre-production stage of filmmaking and commercial photography. Location scouts work directly with producers and director have decided what general scenery is required to meet the creative needs of the project outside of the studio space the search for compatible locations begins. Locations are selected both in terms of the “look” they offer but also the feasibility and ease of filming at the particular location. Access to a power source, parking, etc. are all important factors the location scout must take into consideration.
Make Up Department
Hair Stylist – This person is responsible for styling and maintaining the talent’s hair throughout filming. The hair stylist is usually equipped with all of the appropriate supplies needed for the hair styling process. The hair dresser works in conjunction with the make-up artist to attain the best possible look for the actors and actresses.
Makeup Artist – The makeup artist’s main task is to apply and create a variety of looks on the actors and actresses skin surfaces with makeup, from current trends to classic or period pieces. The makeup artist creates a look according to the director’s desires, often inspired by the characterizations in a story.
Special FX Makeup – The prosthetics or special effects makeup person uses a variety of techniques for applying and gluing different materials such as latex, gelatin and other colorations which are used on the face or skin of an actor. Gore and blood, burns, creatures and aging special effects are the more commonly used prosthetic makeup techniques.
Wardrobe Stylist – The wardrobe stylist works closely with the costume designer and assists with preparing everything related to the actors clothing, costumes, and wardrobe. Common tasks of the wardrobe assistant are maintaining and styling for all the wardrobes worn by the various actors. They also assist in helping to organize, disperse and account for all the costumes used on set.
Assistant Director / 1st AD – The 1st assistant director works with both the production manager and the director to make the shooting schedule efficient as possible. The 1st A.D. breaks the script down into a shooting schedule and also helps manage the scheduling of talent, crew and equipment needed for each shooting day. This person sometimes helps direct the background extras in a scene.
Assistant Director / 2nd AD – The 2nd A.D. works directly with the 1st A.D. to accomplish their duties. The call sheets for each shooting day are created by the 2nd assistant director. The 2nd A.D. also helps manage the scheduling of talent, crew, and equipment that is needed for each day. This person also assists in directing the background extras in a movie scene.
Director – The director is the leading creative artist on a movie set. The director works directly with the actors on their performances and has final creative control in almost every aspect of the film. The director plays a large role in casting, script revisions, shot composing and even editing. Usually, the director is hired by the producer of the film.
Line Producer – The line producer supervises the entire budget of the movie. Expenses may include celebrity salaries as well as daily costs like location and equipment rentals. The production manager reports to the line producer the current expenses and needs of the production on an ongoing basis.
Producer – The producer helps organize the entire production. This person helps develop the script into a workable project. They assist with the hiring of actors and key crew members while keeping track of finances throughout the production. The producer oversees script progress and often assists in creating final distribution plans for the movie.
Production Coordinator – A production coordinator is responsible for coordinating the “behind the scenes” logistics, which can include renting equipment, hiring crew members, and coordinating talent. In addition, this crew member may handle the paperwork needed to organize the production. For this reason, the production coordinator is an important crew member in ensuring a production’s goals are on the budget and on time.
Production Assistant – Many individuals start their careers in the film industry as a production assistant. A production assistant usually does any general duty or minor task that the production heads may need. Basic duties may include dispersing walkie-talkies, setting up pop-up tents and tables, running basic errands as needed or attaining any other last-minute item that the production might need. It is essential that the P.A. has their own transportation to perform these various errands.
Production Designer – The production designer works with the director and is primarily responsible for the design and overall visual “look” and “feel” of a movie. This includes the use of costumes, landscapes, props and other visual scenery that could reflect the movie script.
Production Manager – The production manager works closely with the production coordinator. This person helps supervise the organization and distribution of the production budget, crew & equipment scheduling, salaries, day rates, and other office related paperwork. This person reports budget needs to the line producer while trying to keep the production under budget on a day to day basis.
Production Secretary – The production secretary is the assistant to the production manager. This person assists with the paperwork for the crew & equipment scheduling, timecards & invoicing, crew deal memo’s and other related office materials. The production secretary usually helps complete most of the paperwork needed to properly finish the production.
Script supervisor – also known as “continuity person” keeps track of what parts of the script have been filmed and makes notes of any deviations between what was actually filmed and what appeared in the script.
Craft Service – Craft service is in charge of keeping the crew fed and for providing snacks and beverages to keep the shoot moving.
Film Editor – is the person who assembles the various shots into a coherent film, with the help of the Director. There are usually several Assistant Editors.
Colorist – With a photochemical process, the color timer adjusts the color of the film via printer lights for greater consistency in the film’s colors. With a digital intermediate process, the Colorist can use digital tools in manipulating the image and has greater creative freedom in changing the aesthetic of a film.
Composer – The Composer is responsible for writing the musical score for a film
Screenwriters or scriptwriters – are responsible for researching the story, developing the narrative, writing the screenplay, and delivering it, in the required format, to the Producers. They are almost always freelancers who either pitch original ideas to Producers in the hope that they will be optioned or sold, or who are commissioned by a Producer to create a screenplay from a concept, true story, existing screenwork or literary work, such as a novel or short story.
Story Producer The story producer has overall responsibility for the story across episodes. In reality TV, the story producer is responsible for creating a story line via editing/producing the show’s source footage. They may also be responsible for writing the host’s dialogue.
Script Editor Provides a critical overview of the screenwriting process, using their analytical skills to help the screenwriter identify problems and thereby help to strengthen and develop the screenplay.
Script Coordinator The script coordinator is responsible for producing each draft of the script and annotating it for ease of use for the production team.
Boom Operator / Utility – is an assistant to the Production Sound Mixer, responsible for microphone placement and movement during filming. The Boom Operator uses a boom pole, a long pole made of light aluminum or carbon fiber that allows precise positioning of the microphone above or below the Actors, just out of the camera’s frame. The Boom Operator may also place radio microphones and hidden set microphones. In France, the Boom Operator is called the Perchman.
Sound Mixer – The sound mixer for the film is head of the sound department and is responsible for leveling, monitoring, and recording of audio during production. The sound mixer decides which microphones to use as well as placements of the microphones. This person can also mix the various soundtracks and audio signals in real time. A film sound mixer supervises the boom operator and/or sound utility person.
Pyro Technician / Explosives – Sometimes also known as the armorer, this person is primarily responsible for the handling, maintenance and care of all firearms, weapons, and pyrotechnics that are used during filming. This includes all live-action explosives and battle scene pyro effects. Pyrotechnicians are usually trained and certified to handle these dangerous props and explosives.
Special Effects Technician – A special effects technician works under the special effects coordinator and assists in physically creating the visual elements needed like weather elements, or assisting with props that break, shatter, collapse, burn, smoke or explode. They also help build the special mechanical rigging that allows you to fly an actor.
Special Effects Coordinator – The special effects coordinator designs and supervises the various effects needed for filming through the use of mechanical and/or optical illusion techniques. The special effects coordinator provides the visual elements needed such as recreating weather elements or assisting with props that break, shatter, collapse, burn, smoke or explode. They also provide the special mechanical rigging that allows you to fly an actor.
Stunt Coordinator – The stunt coordinator manages and coordinates all the dangerous action sequences in a movie that require a stuntman or stunt performer. The stunt coordinator always follows the appropriate safety regulations during filming to ensure the safety of every stunt performer. Types of stunts may include jumping, flipping, diving, free-falling, crashing cars, catching fire, underwater stunts and other dangerous action sequences where stunt doubles are needed.
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