A film crew is a group of people hired by a production company for the purpose of producing a film or motion picture.
A film crew is divided into different departments, each of which specializes in a specific aspect of the production.
Film crew positions have evolved over the years, spurred by technological change, but many traditional jobs are common in the film making process.
Within the production stage many film crew positions are associated with the below-the-line “technical” crew involvement.
POSITIONS AVAILABLE IN THE FILM MAKING PROCESS
A film producer creates the conditions for film-making. 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. There may be several producers on a film who may take a role in a number of areas, such as development, financing or production. Producers must be able to identify commercial, marketable projects. They need a keen business sense, and an intimate knowledge of all aspects of film production, financing, marketing and distribution. Producers are responsible for the overall quality control of productions.
1st Assistant Director
The first assistant director 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, 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.
The assistant producer provide administrative support to the Producer. They are involved in all stages from pre-production through to post production. The Producer assigns them responsibilities almost on a daily basis, throughout the production of the film.
1st Assistant Camera
The first assistant camera 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.
Production Sound Mixer
The 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 the mixing of audio signals in real time.
Best Boy (Lighting)
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.
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.
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 and key scenic artist to oversee the aesthetic and textural details of sets as they are realized. Typically, the art director oversees the budget and schedule of the overall art department.
Assist the property master in finding and managing all the props that appear in the film. These include any item handled by an actor that is not part of the scenery or costumes, and all consumable food items that appear on screen.
They assist and report to the make-up artist.
The key costumer is employed on larger productions to manage the set costumers, and to handle the star’s wardrobe needs.
There are two types of camera trucks. One that hauls camera equipment and one that actually has cameras, stabilizers, cranes and booms attached to the vehicle for certain film shots.
Film crews work long hours and need to eat well. On sets or locations, the standard daily meals are breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus coffee or snacks if the crew are required to work late into the evening. Catering is provided by specialized companies who drive catering trucks packed with food and a range of equipment including ovens, extraction fans, fridges, gas and water, to each unit base.
The sound editor is responsible for assembling and editing all the sound effects in the soundtrack.
Unit Production Manager
A UPM is responsible for managing the production and regulating the costs of delivering the expected film or television show on budget at the end of principal photography. Based on a shooting script, the UPM will create a working budget during pre-production, prior to the start of principal photography, thereby charting a recommended budgetary course. The UPM often negotiates deals (for location, equipment, etc.) and hires the remaining crew, typically on the recommendation of the keys and/or based on prior experience with trusted individuals. UPMs bring great value to a project for their strategic and creative problem-solving skills. These individuals will positively affect the film’s budget as well as the final outcome and quality of the film on multiple levels.
2nd Assistant Director
The second assistant director 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.
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 and finance departments in maintaining budget management regarding actual location/permit fees as well as labor costs to production for himself and the locations department at large.
2nd Assistant Camera
The second assistant camera operates the clapperboard at the beginning of each take and loads the raw film stock or blank videocassette 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.
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.
An electrician handles the placement, service and operation of the lighting instruments and accessories—as well as running and managing the power sources and electrical distribution systems for the lighting and all other electrical needs on a film set.
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.
The set designer is the draftsman, often an architect, who realizes the structures or interior spaces called for by the production designer.
The greensman is a specialized 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.
A special effects make-up artist works with live models or structures in the entertainment industry, applying make-up effects and/or prosthetics. May be own department that answers directly to the director and production designer or report to Key make-up artist.
The costume supervisor works closely with the designer. In addition to helping with the design of the costumes, they manage the wardrobe work-space. They supervise construction or sourcing of garments, hiring and firing of support staff, budget, paperwork, and department logistics.
Pickups are use throughout film production for various uses but mainly for hauling and transporting equipment.
Craft services is truly the hub of the film set. It’s where producers hob-knob with the talent, where extras flock when not featured on screen, and where everyone can come together for a nice bagel and coffee in the morning.
The assistant editor is the person who assists in and assembles the various shots into a coherent film, with the help of the director and film editor.
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.
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. An important part of a script supervisor’s job is to make sure that actors’ movements, the directions they are looking in a shot, particularly when speaking to or responding to another actor, plus the positions of props they are using and every thing else in the shot matches from scene to scene.
Director of Photography
The director of photography is the chief of the camera and lighting crew of the film. The DP makes decisions on lighting and framing of shots in conjunction with the film’s director. Typically, the director tells the DP how he or she wants a shot to look, and the DP chooses the correct lens, filter, lighting and composition to achieve the desired aesthetic effect. The DP is the senior creative crew member after the director.
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.
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.
The generator operator works on set to install electricity generators to supply additional power where existing circuits are insufficient, or on location where electricity is otherwise unavailable.
Grips report to the key grip and are responsible for lifting heavy things and setting rigging points for lights.
The set dressers apply and remove the “dressing”; i.e., furniture, drapery, carpets, wall signs, vinyl decals—everything one would find in a location, (even doorknobs and wall sockets, when such items do not fall under the purview of construction.) 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.
Make-up artists work with makeup, hair and special effects to create the characters look for anyone appearing on screen.
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.
The costumer assistant 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.
Crew vans are for transporting various equipment for filming projects.
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.
Every screenplay and teleplay begins with a thought or idea, and screenwriters use those ideas to write scripts, with the intention of selling them and having them produced. The script is based on an original idea or an existing property, such as a book or person’s life story, which is adapted by the screenwriter.
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.
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 or video.
The still photographer is a person who creates film stills, still photographic images specifically intended for use in the marketing and publicity of feature films in the motion picture industry and network television productions. Besides creating photographs for the promotion of a film, the still photographer contributes daily to the filming process by creating set stills. With these, the photographer is careful to record all details of cast wardrobe, set appearance and background. The director and assistants review these images frequently for continuity and matching of all stage aspects.
The gaffer is the head of the lighting department, responsible for the design of the lighting plan for a production.
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.
The production designer is responsible for creating the visual appearance of the film – settings, costumes, character makeup, all taken as a unit. The production designer works closely with the director and the director of photography to achieve the look of the film.
The property master is in charge of finding and managing all the props that appear in the film. These include any item handled by an actor that is not part of the scenery or costumes, and all consumable food items that appear on screen. In period works, it is the property master’s job to ensure that all the props provided are accurate to the time period. The props master usually has several assistants.
The hair stylist, is responsible for maintaining and styling the hair, including wigs and extensions, of anyone appearing on screen.
A grip truck is a well-organized and well-stocked vehicle containing all of the essential electrical and lighting equipment and tools of film-making, as well as all of the bits and pieces that you would ever need to tackle the variety of technical problems that arise on any set.
Generators are used where film projects need more power for lighting and for locations that has no access to electricity.
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.