A Breakdown Of Who Does What On Set
One of the most important aspects of film production is being able to align a bunch of random professionals into an inspired singular vision. As is true with all heroic journeys, the people that you meet a long the way can either slow you down or become the greatest allies to your success. With that said, FilmPatch is here to match you with the right people for the right job (kind of like a dating app except the matches actually fit and the drama stays between “action” and “cut.” Anyways, we thought it’d be useful if we all got on the same page about expectations. Here’s a simple breakdown of who exactly does what on set. Meet your tribe, fellow filmmakers…
The producer is the chief of the tribe; all things trickle down from him. Most producers will be involved in all aspects of the production process. They often help in the creative aspects, financing, and administrative duties.
This is your “moneyman” and the primary investor on the project. Although financially focused (depending on their personality) they can also influence the creative process because of their powerful position on the totem pole.
This is basically the producers other arm. His job is to makes sure that all requirements of the production are streamlined into the daily plan. They prepare the budget, oversee the assembly of the production team, and carry out any necessary production decisions that come up throughout the day.
Besides potentially having to negotiate with the expectations of the Executive Producer, the director is “head honcho” when it comes to all creative aspects of the film. They are the primary person responsible for the storytelling, all creative decisions, including intimately guiding the actors’ process, and many and most of the creative aspects that come along with the production. They, traditionally, have the final say (and hopefully final cut) on the ultimate creative vision of the film.
1st Assistant Director (1st AD)
Responsible for making sure everything on set is flowing as expected on the day of the shoot. This is the director’s overseeing eye. They organize the entire crew, prepare shooting schedules, and guarantee that all production activity is executed as planned.
2nd Assistant Director (2nd AD)
Responsible for distributing and organizing all production paperwork, such as scripts and call sheets, to the correlating cast and crew. They also help supervise the set with the 1st AD.
The script supervisor is the eyes of the script: they keep track of what has actually been shot in relation to the script, and what differences manifest during each take– such as changes in dialogue. His main purpose is to guard and maintain the precious continuity between shots.
Cinematographer/ Director Of Photography (DP)
The director will communicates to the cinematographer the vision for how they would like the shot to look and feel. The DP is responsible for providing the technical execution of this vision by designing the shots. On smaller sets, it is typical for a DP to perform the function of the camera operator as well.
This is the person responsible for actually capturing the cinematographer’s shot design by running all technical aspects of the camera.
1st Assistant Camera
Their job is to make sure the shot is always in focus, working side by side with the Camera Operator. This is primarily a position found on larger productions.
2nd Assistant Camera
This is the person that you see writing detailed shot information on the slate and holding it in front of the camera before each shot. The slate (or clapboard) is where you keep track of the take number as well as providing a clapper to help sync sound.
Production Sound Mixer
The sound mixer tracks the audio levels for the entire production. They listen acutely to the monitor the sound with a pair of headphones, and, if needed, report any flaws, feedback, or unwanted background noise in the scene.
This is the person that holds the boom microphone, closest to the action, in order to best absorb quality sound. On smaller sets this will also be the role of the production sound mixer.
The technical eye in the sky: Oversees and maintains camera cranes, dollies, lights, platforms, and all other production equipment on set.
This person will design and execute the lighting plan on set. They collaborate closely with the DP to make sure everything is lit appropriately from scene to scene.
Special Effects Supervisor
Responsible for all creative and technical executions of the special effects. Think in terms of anything dangerous or exciting: if it can break, explode, burn, collapse, spill, drip, or make mess or harm of any kind, it’s their job to handle it safely. Helps to block the actors when they begin implementing the effects.
Designs the visual landscape of the film. Collaborating creatively with the DP and Director, they are responsible for the look of all sets, costumes, character makeup, and most other aesthetic decisions.
Creates, coordinates, and oversees all the design aspects of the production, basically everything that you will see on screen. On a smaller crew, this can also be the Set Designer.
Need a prop? This is your man or woman. Responsible for finding all props listed in the script and managing their storage and their delivery to and from set.
Props Builder (Props maker)
If props cannot be found…he will make them. If they break…he will fix them.
Make-up Artist / Hair
Responsible for creating the specific “look” of each character. Designs and sets the actors’ hair and make-up, and is responsible for maintaining the continuity of that look between takes.
Responsible for pulling and/or designing the wardrobe for all the characters, while keeping in mind the needs of the story, the director’s preferred aesthetic, and the sensibility of the actors.
Responsible for keeping everyone well fed and hydrated. A craft service table provides an assortment of on demand snacks and drinks to accommodate the crew. It may also be equipped to address minor needs, like sunscreen, Kleenex, wet wipes, basically anything that promotes the spirit of being “at your service.”