PRODUCTION CREW BREAK DOWN
Production is generally not considered a department as such, but rather as a series of functional groups. These include the front office staff such as the Production Manager, the Production Coordinator, and their assistants; the accounting staff; the various Assistant Directors; and sometimes the Locations Manager and their assistants. The Director is considered to be a separate entity, not within the departmental structure.
- A Film Producer creates the conditions for making movies. The Producer initiates, coordinates, supervises, and controls matters such as raising funding, hiring key personnel, and arranging for distributors. The producer is involved throughout all phases of the film making process from development to completion of a project.
- Executive Producer
- An Executive Producer (EP) is a producer who is not involved in the technical aspects of the filmmaking process, but has played a crucial financial or creative role in ensuring that the project goes into production. There may be several Executive Producers on a film who may take the lead role in a number of areas, such as development, financing or production. Executive Producers must be excellent negotiators. They need a keen business sense, and an intimate knowledge of all aspects of film production, financing, marketing and distribution. Executive Producers are responsible for the overall quality control of productions. On some productions the Executive Producer role may be combined with other roles, so that as well as raising the finance they may also be responsible for managing the budget during production. Executive Producers must be able to identify commercial, marketable projects. Executive Producers have overall responsibility for the successful financing and marketing of these projects. During production Executive Producers may be involved in some aspects of scripting, casting, and crewing. Executive Producers often work on a number of projects simultaneously. They are experienced industry practitioners, who have usually worked previously for a number of years in any one of a variety of roles, such as producer, writer, director or script editor. Most have some hands on experience of producing.
- Line Producer
- The Line Producer is the liaison between the Studio or Producer and the Production Manager.
- Production Manager
- The Production Manager supervises the physical aspects of the production (not the creative aspects) including personnel, technology, budget, and scheduling. It is the Production Manager’s responsibility to make sure the filming stays on schedule and within its budget. The PM also helps manage the day-to-day budget by managing operating costs such as salaries, production costs, and everyday equipment rental costs. The PM often works under the supervision of a Line Producer and directly supervises the Production Coordinator.
- Unit Manager
- The Unit Manager fulfills the same role as the production manager but for secondary “unit” shooting. In some functional structures, the Unit Manager subsumes the role of the Transport Coordinator.
- Production Coordinator
- The Production Coordinator is the information nexus of the production, responsible for organizing all the logistics from hiring crew, renting equipment, and booking talent. The PC is an integral part of film production.
- Post-production Supervisor
- Post-production Supervisors are responsible for the post-production process, during which they maintain clarity of information and good channels of communication between the Producer, Editor, Supervising Sound Editor, the Facilities Companies (such as film labs, CGI studios and Negative Cutters) and the Production Accountant. Although this is not a creative role, it is pivotal in ensuring that the film’s post-production budget is manageable and achievable, and that all deadlines are met. Because large amounts of money are involved, and most of a film’s budget is spent during production, the post-production period can often be difficult and challenging.
- Production Assistant
- Production Assistants, referred to as PAs, assist in the production office or in various departments with general tasks, such as assisting the First Assistant Director with set operations.
- The Screenwriter, or Scriptwriter, may pitch a finished script to potential Producers, or may write a script under contract to a Producer. A Writer may be involved, to varied degrees, with creative aspects of production.
- Script Supervisor
- Also known as the continuity person, the Script Supervisor 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. They make notes on every shot, and keep track of props, blocking, and other details to ensure continuity from shot to shot and scene to scene. The Script Supervisor’s notes are given to the Editor to expedite the editing process. The Script Supervisor works very closely with the Director on set.
- Stunt Coordinator
- Where the film requires a stunt, and involves the use of stunt performers, the Stunt Coordinator will arrange the casting and performance of the stunt, working closely with the Director.
- Casting Director
- The Casting Director chooses the Actors for the characters of the film. This usually involves by inviting potential Actors to read an excerpt from the script for an audition.
- The Director is responsible for overseeing the creative aspects of a film, including controlling the content and flow of the film’s plot, directing the performances of Actors, organizing and selecting the locations in which the film will be shot, and managing technical details such as the positioning of cameras, the use of lighting, and the timing and content of the film’s soundtrack. Though directors wield a great deal of power, they are ultimately subordinate to the film’s Producer or Producers. Some Directors, especially more established ones, take on many of the roles of a Producer, and the distinction between the two roles is sometimes blurred.
- First Assistant Director
- The First Assistant Director (1st AD) assists the Production Manager and Director. The ultimate aim of any 1st AD is to ensure the film comes in on schedule while maintaining a working environment in which the Director, principal artists (Actors) and crew can be focused on their work. They oversee day-to-day management of the cast and crew scheduling, equipment, script, and set. A 1st AD may also be responsible for directing background action for major shots or the entirety of relatively minor shots, at the Director’s discretion.
- Second Assistant Director
- The Second Assistant Director (2nd AD) is the chief assistant of the 1st AD and helps carry out those tasks delegated to the 1st AD. The 2nd AD may also direct background action and extras in addition to helping the 1st AD with scheduling, booking, etc. The 2nd AD is responsible for creating Call Sheets that let the crew know the schedule and important details about the shooting day. In Canadian and British functional structures there are 3rd ADs and even Trainee ADs; in the American system there are 2nd 2nd ADs.
- Location Manager
- Oversees the Locations Department and its staff, typically reporting directly to the Production Manager and/or Assistant Director (or even Director and/or Executive Producer). Location Manager is responsible for final clearing (or guaranteeing permission to use) a location for filming and must often assist Production/Finance Dept(s) in maintaining budget management regarding actual location/permit fees as well as labor costs to production for himself and the Locations Department at large.
- Assistant Location Manager
- Works with the Location Manager and the various departments in arranging technical scouts for the essential staff (grips, electric, camera, etc.) to see options which the Location Manager has selected for filming. The Assistant Location Manager will be onset during the filming process to oversee the operation, whereas the Location Manager continues preproduction from elsewhere (generally an office) on the upcoming locations. (Note: On most location-based television shows, there will be two Assistant Location Managers that alternate episodes, allowing one to prep an upcoming episode while the other is on-set with the current one.)
- Location Scout
- Does much of the actual research, footwork and photography to document location possibilities. Often the Location Manager will do some scouting himself, as well as the Assistant Location Manager.
- Location Assistant
- Hired by the Location Manager to be on-set before, during, and after the filming process. General responsibilities include arriving first at the location to allow the Set Dressers into the set for preparation; maintaining the cleanliness of the location areas during filming; fielding complaints from neighbors; and ultimately, at the end of the filming, making sure it seems as though the film crew was never there. There is generally one to three assistants on a shoot at any given time.
- Location Production Assistant
- This position exists generally on larger budget productions. The Locations PA is the assistant who is almost never on-set, but instead is always prepping a location or wrapping a location. That is, when a location requires several days of set up and breakdown prior and following the day(s) of filming. A Location Production Assistant is what a Set Production Assistant is in Canada.
Additional production credits
Since the turn of the 21st century, several additional professionals are now routinely listed in the production credits on most major motion pictures.
- Legal Counsel
- Entertainment Lawyers negotiate contracts, clear licensing rights for any intellectual property used in the film, obtain tax credits from local governments, and take care of immigration paperwork when cast and/or crew cross international borders to shoot on location.
- Production Accountants manage the money and ensure the production comes in on budget and everyone gets paid. The industry is notorious for unusual accounting methods which are collectively labeled Hollywood accounting.
- Insurance Broker
- Due to the rising cost of computer-generated special effects, shooting on location, and A-list talent, major motion picture budgets continue to set new records each decade. As a result, most investors will not commit to financing a film unless an insurer can be found to protect them against the risk that the film ultimately cannot be released as a result of a total catastrophe such as total loss of film negatives (or digital media), death of the Director or Stars during production, natural disasters destroying the sets, and so on. Insurance brokers help arrange for the insurance coverage that in turn makes a production financially feasible.
- System administrator
- A System Administrator or sysadmin, is a person employed to maintain and operate a computer system or network. This role is increasingly important for digital monitors on set, digital intermediate editing and post production, digital effects, digital sound, and sometimes for full digital production.
The Art Department in a major feature film can often number hundreds of people. Usually it is considered to include several sub-departments: the Art Department proper, with its Art Director, Set Designers and Draughtsmen; Set Decoration, under the Set Decorator; Props, under the Propmaster; Construction, headed by the Construction Coordinator; Scenic, headed by the Key Scenic Artist; and Special Effects.
- Production Designer
- Also known as the Creative Director, the Production Designer is responsible for creating the physical, visual appearance of the film – settings, costumes, character makeup, all taken as a unit. The Production Designer works closely with the Director and the Cinematographer to achieve the look of the film.
Within the overall Art Department is a sub-department, called the Art Department, which can be confusing. This consists of the people who design the sets and create the graphic art.
- Art Director
- The Art Director reports to the Production Designer, and more directly oversees artists and craftspeople, such as the Set Designers, Graphic Artists, and Illustrators who give form to the production design as it develops. The Art Director works closely with the Construction Coordinator to oversee the aesthetic and textural details of sets as they are realized.
- Assistant Art Director
- The First, Second and Third Assistant Art Directors carry out the instructions of the Art Director. Their work often involves measuring locations, creating graphics and paper props, collecting information for the Production Designer and drawing sets. Sometimes a Set Designer is also the First Assistant Art Director. In this capacity, they manage the work flow and act as the foreman of the drawing office.
- The Illustrator draws or paints visual representations of the designs to communicate the ideas imagined by the Production Designer.
- Set Designer
- The Set Designer is the Draftsman, often an Architect, who realizes the structures or interior spaces called for by the Production Designer.
- Set Decorator
- The Set Decorator is in charge of the decorating of a film set, which includes the furnishings and all the other objects that will be seen in the film. They work closely with the Production Designer and coordinate with the Art Director. In recognition of the Set Decorator’s importance, the Academy Award for Art Direction is given jointly to both the Production Designer and the Set Decorator.
- The Buyer works with the Set Decorator. The Buyer locates, and then purchases or rents the set dressing.
- Lead Man
- The Lead Man is the foreman of the sets crew, often referred to as the swing gang. He or she also assists the Set Decorator.
- Set Dresser
- The Set Dressers apply and remove the “dressing”, i.e., furniture, drapery, carpets—everything one would find in a location, even doorknobs and wall sockets. Most of the swing gang’s work occurs before and after the shooting crew arrives but one set dresser remains with the shooting crew and is known as the On-set Dresser. In some countries, such as Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland, the Set Dressing Department is referred to as Dressing Props Department.
- The Greensman is a specialised Set Dresser dealing with the artistic arrangement or landscape design of plant material, sometimes real and sometimes artificial, and usually a combination of both. Depending on the scope of the greens work in a film, the Greensman may report to the Art Director or may report directly to the Production Designer. If a significant amount of greens work is required in a film, then the Greens may be an identifiable sub-department, with its own team – often of a size numbering double figures – and hierarchy (eg. Greensmaster, Greens Supervisor, Foreperson, Leading Hand, Laborers). Specialists from other areas of the Art Dept. (eg. Fabricators, Sculptors, Painters/Scenics) may also be drafted to work exclusively on Greens.
- Construction Coordinator
- The Construction Coordinator oversees the construction of all the sets. The Coordinator orders materials, schedules the work, and supervises the often sizeable construction crew of Carpenters, Painters and Labourers. In some jurisdictions the Construction Coordinator is called the Construction Manager.
- Head Carpenter
- The Head Carpenter is the foreman of a gang of Carpenters and Laborers.
- Key Scenic
- The Key Scenic Artist is responsible for the surface treatments of the sets. This includes special paint treatments such as aging and gilding, as well as simulating the appearance of wood, stone, brick, metal, stained glass–anything called for by the Production Designer. The Key Scenic Artist supervises the crew of Painters, and is often a master craftsperson. In the UK, the above responsibilities would normally be those of the Head Painter, and the Scenic Artist is responsible for producing artist painted backings.
- Props Master
- The Property Master is in charge of finding and managing all the props that appear in the film. The Props Master usually has several assistants.
- The Propmaker, as the name implies, builds the props that are used for the film. Props Builders are often Technicians skilled in construction, plastics casting, machining, and electronics.
- Weapons master
- The Weapons Master, or Armorer is a specialized Prop Technician who deals with firearms. In most jurisdictions this requires special training and licenses.
- Costume designer
- The Costume Designer is responsible for all the clothing and costumes worn by all the actors that appear on 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.
- Costume Supervisor
- The Costume Supervisor works closely with the Designer. In addition to helping with the design of the costumes, they manage the wardrobe workspace. They supervise construction or sourcing of garments, hiring and firing of support staff, budget, paperwork, and department logistics. Also called the Wardrobe Supervisor, although this term is used less and less.
- Key Costumer
- The Key Costumer is employed on larger productions to manage the set costumers, and to handle the Star’s wardrobe needs.
- Costume Standby
- The Costume Standby is present on set at all times. It is his/her responsibility to monitor the quality and continuity of the Actors and Actresses costumes before and during takes. (S)he will also assist the Actors and Actresses with dressing.
- Art Finisher
- An Art Finisher, or Breakdown Artist, may be employed during the pre-production setup to break down garments. This specialized job includes making new clothing appear dirty, faded and worn.
- Costume Buyer
- On large productions a Buyer may be employed to source and purchase fabrics and garments. A Buyer might also be referred to as a Shopper. This distinction is often made when the Lead Actor in a production has control over their wardrobe, and they may personally hire this person.
- A Costume Technician who fits or tailors costumes, usually on-set. They might also be called Fitter, Seamstress or Tailor. Some celebrity Actors have favorite Cutters, and larger productions may hire several and have them on set at the same time, particularly in period film projects that might have complicated or expensive extras wardrobe.
Hair and make-up
Some Actors or Actresses have personal Makeup Artists or Hair Stylists.
- Make-up Artist
- Make-up Artists work with makeup, hair and special effects to create the characters look for anyone appearing on screen. Their role is to manipulate an Actor’s on-screen appearance whether it makes them look more youthful, larger, older, or in some cases monstrous. There are also Body Makeup Artists who concentrate their abilities on the body rather than the head.
- The Hairdresser, or Hair Stylist, is responsible for maintaining and styling the hair of anyone appearing on screen. They work in conjunction with the Makeup Artist.
This department oversees the mechanical effects—also called practical or physical effects—that create optical illusions during live-action shooting. It is not to be confused with the Visual effects Department, which adds photographic effects during filming to be altered later during video editing in the post-production process.
- Special Effects Supervisor
- The Special Effects Supervisor instructs the Special effects crew on how to design moving set elements and props that will safely break, explode, burn, collapse and implode without destroying the film set. S/he is also responsible for reproducing weather conditions and other on-camera magic.
- Special Effects Assistant
- The SFX Assistants carry out the instructions of the Special Effects Supervisor, building set pieces like breakaway furniture and cities in miniature, lighting pyrotechnics, and setting up rigging equipment for stunts. They also assist in prosthetic makeup.
- The term Cinematographer has been a point of contention for some time now. It is usually synonymous with Director of Photography, though some professionals insist this only applies when the Director of Photography and Camera Operator are the same person.
- Director of Photography
- The Director of Photography, DoP or DP, is the chief of the camera and lighting crew of the film. The DoP makes decisions on lighting and framing of scenes in conjunction with the film’s director. Typically, the Director tells the DoP how he or she wants a shot to look, and the DoP chooses the correct aperture, filter, and lighting to achieve the desired effect as per the Director’s requirements.
- Camera Operator
- The Camera Operator uses the camera at the direction of the Cinematographer, Director of Photography, or the film Director to capture the scenes on film. Generally, a Cinematographer or Director of Photography does not operate the camera, but sometimes these jobs may be combined.
- First Assistant Camera
- The First Assistant Camera, 1st AC or Focus Puller, is responsible for keeping the camera in focus as it is shooting, as well as building the camera at the beginning of the day and taking it apart at the end. They also thread the film when a new magazine is loaded.
- Second Assistant Camera
- The Second Assistant Camera, 2nd AC or Clapper/Loader, operates the clapperboard at the beginning of each take and loads the raw film stock into the camera magazines between takes, if there is no additional specifically designated Film Loader. The 2nd AC is also in charge of overseeing the meticulously kept notebooks that record when the film stock is received, used, and sent to the lab for processing. Additionally, the 2nd AC oversees organization of camera equipment and transport of the equipment from one shooting location to another.
- Film Loader
- The Loader transfers motion picture film from the manufacturer’s light-tight canisters to the camera magazines for attachment to the camera by the 2nd AC. After exposure during filming, the Loader then removes the film from the magazines and places it back into the light-tight cans for transport to the laboratory. It is the responsibility of the Loader to manage the inventory of film and communicate with the 1st AC on the film usage and remaining stock throughout the day. On small production crews, this job is often combined with the 2nd AC. With the prevalence of digital photography, this role is taken on by the Digital Imaging Technician.
- Camera Production Assistant
- The Camera PA, Camera Intern or Camera Trainee, assists the crew while learning the trade of the Camera Assistant, Operator or Cinematographer.
- Digital Imaging Technician
- On digital photography productions the Digital Imaging Technician, or DIT, is responsible for the coordination of the internal workings of the digital camera. Under the direction of the Cinematographer or Director of Photography, the DIT will make adjustments to the multitude of variables available in most professional digital cameras to creatively or technically manipulate the resulting image. It may also be the responsibility of the DIT to archive and manage the digital data, create compressed dailies from raw footage and prepare all digital images for post-production.
- Steadicam Operator
- A Steadicam Operator is someone who is skilled at operating a Steadicam (trademark for a camera stabilization rig). This person is usually one of the Camera Operators on the production.
- Motion Control Technician/Operator
- This Technician operates a motion control rig, which essentially is a ‘camera robot’ able to consistently repeat camera moves for special effects uses.”Motion Control Frequently Asked Questions”. Mark Robert’s Motion Control. Retrieved 2010-09-19. Motion control rigs are typically rented with an experienced operator.
- Production Sound Mixer
- The Production Sound Mixer is head of the sound department on set, responsible for recording all sound during filming. This involves the choice and deployment of microphones, operation of a sound recording device, and sometimes the mixing of audio signals in real time.
- Boom Operator
- The Boom Operator 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.
- Utility Sound Technician
- The utility Sound Technician has a dynamic role in the Sound Department, most typically pulling cables, but often acting as an additional Boom Operator or Mixer when required by complex filming circumstances. Not all films employ a Utility Sound Technician, but the increasing complexities of location sound recording in modern film have made the job more prevalent. This role is sometimes credited as Cable Puller or Python Wrangler.
Grips are trained Lighting and Rigging Technicians. Their main responsibility is to work closely with the Electrical Department to put in the non-electrical components of lighting set-ups required for a shot, such as flags, overheads, and bounces. On the sound stage, they move and adjust major set pieces when something needs to be moved to get a camera into position. They may belong to the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.
- Key grip
- The Key Grip is the chief Grip on a set, and is the head of the Set Operations Department. The Key Grip works with the Director of Photography to help set up the set and to achieve correct lighting and blocking.
- Best boy (Grip)
- The Best Boy is chief assistant to the Key Grip. They are also responsible for organizing the grip truck throughout the day.
- Dolly grip
- The Grip in charge of operating the camera dollies and camera cranes is called the Dolly Grip. They place, level, and move the dolly track, then push and pull the dolly, and usually a Camera Operator and Camera Assistant as riders.
- Grips report to the Key Grip and are responsible for lifting heavy things and setting rigging points for lights.
- The gaffer is the head of the Electrical Department, responsible for the design and execution of the electrical distribution and lighting plan for a production. Sometimes the Gaffer is credited as Chief Lighting Technician.
- Best boy (Electrical)
- The Best Boy is the chief assistant to the Gaffer. He or she is not usually on set, but dealing with the electric truck, rentals, manpower, and other logistics.
- Lighting Technician
- Lighting Technicians are involved with setting up and controlling lighting equipment.
- Film Editor
- The 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.
- Negative Cutter
- The Negative Cutter cuts and splices the negatives as directed by the Film Editor, and then provides the assembled negative reels to the lab in order for prints (positives for projection) to be made.
- 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.
- Telecine Colorist
- A Telecine Colorist is responsible for a grade – that is a look that has been created with a grading system, which adjusts brightness, contrast and color.
Visual effects commonly refers to post-production alterations of the film’s images, although the VFX crew works alongside the Special effects Department for any on-set optical effects that need physical representation during filming (on camera.)
- Visual Effects Producer
- The Visual Effects Producer works with the Visual Effects Supervisor to break down the script into storyboards, and advises the Director as to how s/he should approach the scenes. Together they determine which sequences are to be shot as live action elements, which would work well in miniature, and which (if any) should be computer generated.
- Visual Effects Creative Director
- VFX Creative Directors are very much like Production Designers, except they direct and supervise the creative side of the film’s visual effects. The position is particularly in demand for films with massive amounts of computer generated imagery and scenes.
- Visual Effects Supervisor
- The Visual Effects Supervisor is in charge of the VFX crew, working with production and the film’s Director to achieve the desired in-camera optical effects of the film.
- Visual Effects Editor
- The Visual Effects Editor incorporates visual effects into the current cuts of live action sequences, producing multiple versions of each shot. Altered scenes are then evaluated by the Visual Effects Supervisor and Creative Director for aesthetic and technical direction, and by the Producers for review and final editing.
- A Compositor is a Visual Effects Artist responsible for compositing images from different sources such as video, film, computer generated 3-D imagery, 2-D animations, matte paintings, photographs, and text.
- Roto Painters
- Rotoscope Painters may rotoscope the footage, manually creating mattes for use in compositing. They may also paint visual information into or out of a scene, such removing wires and rigs, logos, dust busting, scratch removal, etc.
- Matte Painter
- Matte Painters draw/paint entire sets or extend portions of an existing set.
- Sound Designer
- The Sound Designer, or Supervising Sound Editor, is in charge of the post-production sound of a movie. Sometimes this may involve great creative license, and other times it may simply mean working with the Director and Editor to balance the sound to their liking.
- Dialogue Editor
- The Dialogue Editor is responsible for assembling and editing all the dialog in the soundtrack.
- Sound Editor
- The Sound Editor is responsible for assembling and editing all the sound effects in the soundtrack.
- Re-recording Mixer
- The Re-recording Mixer balances all of the sounds prepared by the dialogue, music and effects editors, and finalizes the films audio track.
- Music Supervisor
- The Music Supervisor, or Music Director, works with the Composer, Mixers and Editors to create and integrate the film’s music. In Hollywood a Music Supervisor’s primary responsibility is to act as liaison between the film production and the recording industry, negotiating the use rights for all source music used in a film.
- The Composer is responsible for writing the musical score for a film.
- Foley Artist
- The Foley Artist is the person who creates many of the ambient or routine sound effects for a film.