Below is a comprehensive list of the typical crew positions highly sought after by production companies in Pinellas County. If after reviewing the list you have questions, please contact the St. Pete-Clearwater Film Commission office at 727-464-7240 or 727-464-7241. You may also email us at [email protected].
The production office is referred to as the “front office” and includes staff such as the production manager, production coordinator, and their assistants; the accounting staff; the assistant directors; sometimes the locations manager and assistants. The following are jobs within the production office:
- Production Manger - 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 production manager also helps manage the day-to-day budget by managing operating costs such as salaries, production costs, and everyday equipment rental costs.
- Production Coordinator – the information nexus of the production. Responsible for organizing all the logistics from hiring crew, renting equipment, and booking talent. The production coordinator is an integral part of film production.
- Assistant Director (1st and 2nd) – The ADs are not considered part of the crew, but serve an important function by moving the set along when shooting and making sure that actor’s are ready when called for. The First AD is responsible for getting the set ready to shoot on each shot and then turning the set over to the director after calling "Roll Cameras." A good first will move production along in a firm, yet positive manner. The Second ADs will work with extras (background artists) to create camera foreground and crosses that do not conflict with primary actors in the scene. On larger productions, ADs are also members of the Directors Guild (DGA). This is significant, as it the DGA requires many hours on productions at lower positions before moving up to first or second AD status. This previous experience usually guarantees a very good quality first AD for larger shows.
- Production Assistant – assists the first assistant director with set operations. Production assistants referred to as “PA’s.” They also help in the production office with general tasks.
- Script supervisor – This position is an important one for the sake of the script and the director. Usually, the script person and the DP do not have a lot of interface. However, a good script person can help the DP or the camera operator especially by noting problems during a take. She/he can also suggest to the director that another take is needed. In today’s world of the "video village," the script person is usually seated next to the director.
Sound is one of the most important departments on any production.
- Sound Mixer – The sound mixer is the person who "mixes" up to 10 microphones at a time to create location sound. Often, 8 or more actors are wearing small radio microphones that transmit to the mixer. Two boom mics are also usually employed to capture additional audio. All of these tracks are recorded as isolated (iso) tracks and also as a mixed track. The better the audio on location, the less ADR (Automatic Dialogue Recording) is required in post-production. A Cable Person and one or two Boom Operators usually support the sound mixer. A good sound mixer will get 95% of usable dialogue on location thus reducing the need for costly ADR.
- Grips – the grips are the lighting and rigging technicians. They function as a cross between a mechanic and a construction worker on the set. A grip’s job responsibilities include working closely with the camera department, especially if the camera is mounted onto a dolly or crane; work closely with the electrical department to put in lighting setups necessary for a shot. Grips do not work on the lighting (they are not technically electricians) but handle all other essential equipment. Grips are responsible for all “rigging” on the set, including lighting equipment rigged over actors and crew, working with pulleys, steel cables, accountable for all safety on the film set as it relates to the material they work with on the production. There are several grip positions:
- Key grip – The key grip and his/her crew perform work on the set that is not related to lights and electricity. Grips set stands, flags, net, overheads, rig, set dolly track and push dollies. If a DP wants to have a dolly track running for 60 feet and have the actors followed with a 12x12 silk, the grips are the ones to do it. The key grip, like the gaffer, tries to be near the DP and director when setting up shots so that they can relay information quickly to their crews. Also, like the gaffer, the key grip has a Best Boy, which is his/her assistant and is usually the 2nd most experienced grip on the set. There can often be between 3-6 grips on a larger set.
- Best boy grip – assists the key grip but assumes more responsibility for the hiring and scheduling of the crew; oversees the rental of the equipment on the set.
- Dolly grip – operates the camera dollies or camera cranes.
- Gaffer – The person who carries out the lighting instructions from the cinematographer. The gaffer usually has years of experience and is supported by a crew of 3-10 Electricians who physically place the lights and cable them up to a generator. The gaffer’s assistant or Best Boy will often precede the gaffer on scouts to photograph and diagram a location so that the Gaffer and DP can plan a lighting scheme for upcoming shots.
- Best boy electric – Assistant to the gaffer. Generally responsible for the daily running of the lighting, hiring, and scheduling of the crew, coordinating the rigging crews (depending upon the size of the production).
The art department is responsible for the overall look of the film. In a notable movie, it can include hundreds of people. Generally, there are several sub-departments, including an art director and set designers; the set decoration; the props master; construction headed by the construction coordinator; scenic directed by the key scenic artist and special effects.
- Production Designer – Works directly with the director and producer to select the settings and style to tell the story visually. Begins work in pre-production, working with the director, producer, and director of photography to establish the visual feel and aesthetic needs of the project. Works with the costume designer, hair and make-up stylists, special effects director, and location manager to develop a unified visual appearance to the film. The following positions work under the production designer:
- Art Director – Directly oversees artists and craftspeople, such as set designers, graphic artists, and illustrators who assist in the development of the production design.
- Set Designer – A Set Designer is a draftsman or architect who realizes the structures or interior spaces called for by the production designer.
- Set Decorator – In charge of decorating the film set, including furnishings and all other objects that will be seen in the film. They work closely with the production designer and coordinates with the art director.
- Buyers – Work for the set decorator. They are responsible for locating and purchasing or renting the set dressing.
- Set Dresser – Apply and remove the “dressing” i.e., furniture, drapery, carpets, lighting – everything one would find on a particular set.
- Props Master – The Prop Master is in charge of finding and managing all of the props required for the shooting of the film.
- Props Builder – Builds the props used for the film. Props builders are often technicians skilled in construction, plastics casting, machining, and electronics.
- Set Dressers – A Set Dresser is responsible for the placement of all furniture, drapery, carpeting, and all accessories you might find on any particular set. Most of the work of the dressers is accomplished before the crew arrives and after filming. Generally, one or more set dressers remain on the set during filming.
- Art Department Production Assistant
- Construction Coordinator - Oversees the construction of all the sets. The coordinator orders materials to schedule the work and supervise the (often sizeable) crew of carpenters, painters, and laborers.
- Head Carpenter - The head carpenter is the foreman of a “gang” of carpenters and laborers.
- Greens - A specialized set dresser is dealing with the artistic arrangement or landscape design of plant material. Sometimes real and sometimes artificial and usually a combination of both. Depending upon the number of greens work in a film, the green man may report to the art director or may report to the production designer.
- Cinematographer – Ranked just below that director in film crew hierarchy, the cinematographer or director of photography (DP), is tasked with bringing the directors vision to life visually and with interfacing with the crew to make this all happen in a timely and creative manner. Usually, the director and DP work together setting shots that maximize the impact of the script. Most importantly, the DP is also responsible for the "look" of the film. It is for a "look" that a good DP is hired on any film production. A good DP must be able to shoot all the "pages" required per production day. This means lighting quickly and effectively for each shot so that the production will not be behind at the end of the day. There is a lot of pressure in the DP position, but a lot of creative freedom as well. The DP interfaces with other department heads to create the "look" of a film. The DP’s camera crew is often structured like this:
- Camera Operator – Sets up shots and acts as the DP’s eyes for setting the shot. She/he works with actor blocking, fine-tunes props and art direction. The Operator physically operates the camera during the take while the DP watches via a monitor at "video village." A good operator will allow a DP to concentrate on lighting the scene and not on the details of the shot.
- First Assistant Camera - The First Assistant is tasked with focusing the camera, loading film, changing lenses, filters, matte boxes and camera accessories. Focus pulling cannot be underestimated in difficulty. If the DP has chosen a 400 T2.8 lens for the shot and shoots wide open, the depth of field when everything is in focus can be less than 6 inches! A good "First" is worth his/her weight in gold as a few out of focus shots and an entire day must be re-shot. This is a difficult position with a huge amount of responsibility and virtually no margin for error.
- Second Assistant Camera - The "2nd" makes sure that all the gear is available to the "First" at all times. Assists with camera setup, slating, camera reports, and makes sure that extra film and batteries are available at the camera position.
- Film Loader - The loader spends a lot of time off the set in the darkroom loading film and keeping track of film stock shot and film stock "on hand." This is often a training position, but hugely important. One magazine exposed to light and a morning’s work can go down the drain. The loader also charges batteries and pulls gear off the camera truck as required by the 2nd.
- Digital Imaging Tech (DIT)- This position in the digital world is extremely important to the camera crew as the DIT oversees the camera setups and matching of digital video cameras. A good DIT makes the DP’s job much easier on an digital shoot as he/she will adjust the digital cameras per setup, adjust gain (higher/lower asa) as necessary an skillfully manipulate the digital image for best result in any given setup so that the digital image is more "film like."
- Make-up Artist – Plays a vital role in the overall appearance of the talent. The goal of the make up artist is to make everyone on-screen look as good as possible. He/she works closely with the director and production team to create the look that is required for the various parts of the movie. The make-up artist also uses their skills to minimize the potential adverse effects of the harsh lighting.
- Hair Stylist – Prepares the performer's scalp and skin and creates hairstyles that suit production requirements.
- 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 ease of filming in a particular area. Access to a power source, parking, etc. are all important factors the location scout must take into consideration.
- 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.
- Property Master – Is responsible for the procurement or production, inventory, care and maintenance of all props associated with productions, ensuring that they are all available on time, and with budgetary requirements. They also ensure that selected accessories suit the film style and overall design and that they reflect the production’s time and culture.