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Monday, August 27, 2012

Careers in filmmaking - Pre Production

"you know what the difference is between you and me? I make this look GOOD" - Jay, Men in black (1997)

Careers in Filmmaking - Pre Production

So your a fresher who has decided or still cant make up your mind of what you want to do, your doing in course in BMM or you already are working in the industry. Well for starters let me tell you that being a Director is not everything, there are other job options that you can consider and become specialists in. Here are some of the options that would give you some idea for you to consider.


Director – Directs the film, is responsible for all the creative elements including choosing of the locations, art, costumes etc. The director has to try and achieve his vision with the help of the entire crew.

Associate Director – Not a permanent role but helps the director especially when you have 2 or more units shooting at the same time.

Directors Assistant (D.A.) – The D.A. helps the director with whatever is required including scheduling of meetings and co-ordinating with the rest of the team. Ideally the D.A. is one that is present from pre to post production.

Assistant Director (A.D. – 1st / 2nd etc) – the 1st A.D. runs the set with the help of his team, the person following the 1st becomes 2nd then 3rd etc. depending on the no of AD's present. In low budget situations the 1st also performs the D.A.’s role. The entire A.D. team have to make sure that everything that is required from all departments get done and on time to ensure a smooth shoot. Job profiles change basis the no of A.D’s hired and team understanding.

Storyboard Artist – Draws frames to depict shot breakdowns or key moments which help while shooting. (click on link to find out more)

Script Superviser / Continuity person – handles the dialogues and details of whats shot and whats not, also at times handles the continuity of props, blocking and scene continuity. Sometimes this role is performed by one of the A.D.'s

Executive Producer (E.P.) – the senior most producer and is usually only concerned with the image of the production and the finances, their main concern is to develop business and gain profit. Essentially all departments are answerable to the E.P.

Producer – running of any shoot is done by the producer, from hiring of the crew to making sure the director gets what he whats and thats kept withen the budget. Sometimes the E.P performs the producers role as well.

Associate Producer – Assistant to the producer and does most of the work that is required of the producer, mainly co-ordinates with the crew and follows the producers orders.

Assistant Producer / Production Assistant – handles most of the smaller jobs, mostly stuff to do with running of the set.

Line Producer (L.P.) – someone who executes the final ground work, handles the payments to the crew. Line producers are also sometimes a group of people hired to execute the shoot, especially when shooting in out of home conditions (unfamiliar conditions)

Production Manager (P.M.) – usually works under the L.P. and is mainly concern is to make sure that all goes smooth, the requirements from the direction departments have been met and the shoot packs up on time, while handling daily budgets on long shoots.

Production Controller – if the budget does permit one then is a assistant to the P.M. and is responsible for mainly for hiring of equipment and crew and make sure all are on time.

Production Accountant – again not a regular feature but is responsible for all the finances across the entire project, if one is hired for it that is. Otherwise this job is done by the P.M. & L.P. usually.

Location Manager / Location Scout – the person responsible for finding locations and handling ground permissions to shoot at these locations, could be divided into 2 roles at times.

Cinematographer / Director of photography (DOP) – plans and supervises the shots, angles and lighting, all in all the look of the film, sometimes also operates the camera.

Camera Operator / 1st Assistant Cameraman (1st A.C.) – physically handles the camera and carries out the instructions from the DOP and director. These are mostly 2 different roles and sometimes the 1st A.C. also doubles up as the focus puller.

Focus Puller – the person who handles the lenses and keeps shots in or out of focus depending on the requirement.

Steadicam Operator – specialized in operating the steadycam rig. Steadicam rigs are mainly used for handheld shots.

Motion Control Operator – specialist in handling the motion control rig. Motion control rig is one which performs repeat camera actions with pin point precision. 

Gaffer – Sets up and handles the lighting on the shoot. Works closely with the D.O.P. and the grips to make sure optimal light has been achieved.

Lighting Technician – the person / team that handles all the light equipment follows instruction from the gaffer.

Best Boy Gaffer – Assistant to the gaffer, most of the times handles the electric connections.

Key Grip – the head of the grips department.

Grips – all kinds of equipment's like crane, dolly, etc main job function is to help for the actual movements of the camera to be smooth ones. Also rigs that help fix the camera onto cars, rotating crane heads, helicopters etc.

Best Boy Grip – Assistant to the key grip.

Production Designer – is responsible for the look and feel of the film, they are in charge of designing sets, oversee the construction, work closely with the Director and DOP to achieve a certain look to the film withen a budget.

Art Director -  Assistant to the production designer, have to work closely with the construction crew and make sure all jobs get done. Sometimes the production designer and the art director are one and the same person.

Set Designer – drafts the blueprints to the set, oversees the construction elements and the minute details. Again this role could be done by either the production designer or the art director.

Set Decorator / Prop Master – could be done by 2 different individuals, involves decoration of the set with the right kind of furniture, drapes, props etc, also includes handling and maintaining of key props like food & drink, money, tools, packs etc.

Pack Shot Specialists – people who specialize in handling and shooting of pack shots by using means of recreating packs ideal for shooting conditions, coming up with new ways of shooting packs. Mainly present only in advertising.

Food Stylists – people who are experts at handeling all kinds of food materials and making it look good on camera. Not necessarily using the original products. Mainly used in advertising.

Actor -  could be Main cast / secondary cast / tertiary cast or background cast. Named in the order of importance to the script.

Casting Director – people who search and find the right cast for the film, also responsible for contracts and budgets of the actors. Usually works with a team of people.

Model co-ordinator / Agent – people who tie up with actors to handle their promotion, contracts and follow up on payments.

Costume Designer / Stylist & team – researches and designs the costumes and accessories for the actors, could be custom made or rented. Team involves assistants, tailors, ironing man etc.

Hair Stylists – handles everything to do with the hair of actors including cutting, styling, wigs etc.

Make up Artist – person in charge of makeup of actors, could include special effects like cuts and bruises. Most of the time Hair and Make up works as one team.

Prosthetic Specialists – people who specialize in prosthetics, like making people look fat or bigger ears, nose etc.

Sound Recordist – the person who handles the entire sound department, mostly they record live sound using a mixer and sometimes also playback equipment.

Boom Operator – asst to the sound recordist, the person who hold the boom mike, in smaller crews the sound recordist performs both jobs.

Choreographer – person or a team that designs movement, dance steps for actors and other dancers, sometimes even the camera movements is decided by them.

Stunt Director / Master – A person or a team responsible for all the action and the stunts in the film, also called in when dangerous shooting styles are required. has a team of people working under him with various specialties like horse riding, jumping off buildings etc.

Weapons Master – works under the stunt director, handles everything to do with weapons on the set, from fake guns to bombs going off on screen.

Stunt Person – the person who usually performs dangerous stunts in the place of the real actor.

Spotboy / Runner – someone who helps in all sorts of production, from being the first on the set to the last to leave, they help craft services, provide all on set with refreshments etc. generally a team of people make up this department.

Equipement Supplier – general used term, someone who supplies the equipment but mostly not the people to operate it, like camera, generator, lights etc.

So now make your choice basis on what you think you are qualified to do and what you think you might be good at. You can still change your career choice whatever age you might be. Still cant decide, feel a bit lazy for these kind of roles, coming up next will be the your career choice in post production.

Auggieism:- What do you call a mechanical Auggie?
Ans:- Coggie..

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