Film Industry Job Descriptions
With so many varying jobs within Film and Television, it’s sometimes hard to know exactly what each job consists of. Below are a few of the key jobs within the film industry and an overview of what exactly that job entails.
- Supervise the producer on behalf of the studio, financiers or distributors
- Raising finances for a film and securing rights
Often there are more than one Executive Producers on a film all with varying responsibilities. They are not involved with the technical aspects of production and usually take a creative for financial role ensuring the project goes to production. An Executive Producer will oversee the packaging of the film from securing rights and finances to seeing it through to distribution.
- Taking ideas for stories and turning them into profitable films.
- Pulling together a brilliant cast and crew.
- Overseeing and responsible for all aspects of the films production.
The producer is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the films production. Usually a producer is the first person to become involved with a project. They will take a script or idea and bring it to life seeing it through from the very beginning to the very end. In the Development stage, a Producer will come up with an idea or select a screenplay and secure the rights. They will supervise the development process, choose a screenwriter or script editing team while obtaining finances for the film.
In pre-production, they will bring together the key crew including the Director, Director of Photography, Production Designer and either a Casting Director to arrange the casting of the actors or will already have the key cast members in mind. When finances have been secured, a Producer will then bring on board the rest of the Heads of Department or allow the key crew members to bring on the team they usually work with. They will approve all aspects of the production from locations to budget.
While the film is in production, Producers will stay in close contact with the Director and Heads of Department to ensure everything on set is running smoothly.
During post-production Producers tend to leave the editors and director to it, however will continue to oversee the whole process. Meanwhile, they will liaise with distribution companies and help to plan marketing strategies ready for the films completion and release.
Producers will often work with a production team consisting of a Production Manager, Production Coordinator and Line Producer, however often on small budgeted films the Producer will take on these roles too.
- The creating driving force of the film, defining the visual style and structure of the film.
- Selects the actors and works closely with them on their performance.
- Director visualises and works with all creative elements of the film from casting, script revisions to shot composition and editing.
A Director will bring the story to life from page to screen. They will visualise the film and be responsible for it’s artistic translation onto screen. It is the Director’s unique interpretation of the story and characters that shape a film. All Directors have their own way of working however ultimately the style, pace and impact of the film is dictated by the director. During post-production the Director works closely with the editor to ensure their vision is seen through to the final film.
Director of Photography
- Responsible for creating the overall visual look of the film.
- Works closely with the Director, camera crew and lighting department to achieve the vision.
- Managing all aspects of filming: from ordering and overseeing equipment to recces to reviewing footage
The Director of Photography are one of the key creative roles. The DoP’s physically create the desired look using lighting, framing, camera movement, etc. DoP’s are in charge of and work very closely with their camera department and the lighting department, particularly the gaffer. They decide which cameras and lenses they want to use for the production of the film and working closely with the Director on designing the shots. The DoP and Director will discuss the visual style of the film in pre-production and test lenses, filters or film stock to check they fit with the Director’s vision. During post production, DoPs attend the digital grading of the film, which may involve up to three weeks of intensive work.
Department: Art Dept.
- Establishing every visual aspect of a film
- Creating a production design budget and schedule
- Managing the team responsible for producing the physical visual elements of the film
The Production Designer is responsible for the entire Art Department. They assist the Director in defining and creating the physical style and design of the film. They calculate what budget is needed for the Art Department. Production Designers give their designs to the Art Director who then oversees the overall production.
- Edit the shots together into a coherent film
- Work with the Director to make sure their vision is realised
The Editor will obtain the daily rushes of the film and put them into chronological order to create a rough cut. They choose each shot carefully to make sure the story flows from beginning to end. They work closely with the Director to make sure they are happy with each shot and how the film has been cut together. They assemble a Director’s Cut which will then be taken to the Producers to be approved before achieving Picture Lock.
- Creating sounds effects within the film (e.g. explosions)
- Creating sounds to generate mood and feeling (Diegetic sounds)
- Manage the overall sound post production process
Sound Designers create the sound concept for the film. They create on screen action sound and identify what other kinds of sound effects are needed. Sound Designers sometimes also supervise the whole sound post production process.
- Running the daily operation of the production office
- Producing new versions of the script
- Organising or overseeing logistics of the film
The Production Coordinator reports to the Line Producer and the Production Manager. They set up the production office and resume control of it when the Production Manager is on set. They co-ordinate all the logistics of a film from transport and new scripts to production paperwork and insurance.
- In charge of all the electrical work on a production
- Leading a team of lighting technicians
- Working closely with the Director of Photography
Also known as the chief lighting technician, the Gaffer is the person primarily responsible for creating a lighting plan aligned with the Director of Photography’s design. The Gaffer will oversee the practical and technical aspects of the electrics and lighting to create the desired effects and the best lighting scenario according to the camera framing. They control the lighting budget and ensure the best equipment and power supplies are arranged. With the Best Boy, the Gaffer will check through list of lighting to make sure the correct equipment is ordered. They position the lighting equipment on set and control it during shoot.
- Being the Director’s right-hand person, taking responsibility for a number of important practicalities so that the Director is free to concentrate on the creative process.
- Breaking down the script into a shot-by-shot storyboard, working with the Director to determine the shoot order, and how long each scene will take to film.
- Drawing up the shooting schedule (a timetable for the filming) and making sure it’s kept to
The 1st Assistant Director will work with the Producer or Production Manager and the Director to create a shooting schedule. The 1st AD breaks down the script in pre-production and assists in managing the schedules of the crew, talent and equipment. Occasionally the 1st AD might direct the background extras. They will take control of the logistic sides to allow the Director to concentrate solely on the creative aspect. The 1st AD usually has a team of AD’s working under them. On set they keep the film on schedule and ensure that everyone is ready for the Director’s cue. They are also responsible for health and safety on set.
- Being the First Assistant Director’s right-hand person
- Preparing and drawing up the ‘call sheet’ (a document with daily filming logistics, distributed to cast and crew)
- Overseeing the cast, ensuring that the principal Actors are in make-up, in wardrobe, or standing by on the set at the correct times
The Second Assistant Director’s main role is to make sure that the First ADs orders are carried out on set. The Second AD will create the call sheet for the next day and distribute them to the cast and crew. On set, the Second AD must make sure that all the Actors are ready for filming and have gone through hair and makeup.
Script Supervisor (Continuity)
- Ensuring that the shots will work together when edited
- Making sure there are no continuity issues
Often films are shot completely out of script sequence and therefore need someone to ensure each scene is able to be edited into a visually and verbally logical order. The Script Supervisor’s job is to make sure this happens. During pre-production a Script Supervisor breaks down the script to check for any inconsistencies or issues and establish estimated running times. They check the shooting schedule to make sure that each scene has been covered from all necessary shots, angles and distances needed to ensure that when the film is being edited they are not missing anything. Often Script Supervisors will try to make sure there is as much coverage as possible. They attend all pre-production meetings, recces and rehearsals.
On set the Script Supervisor will work with the Director to solve any potential continuity or coverage issues. They keep a detailed log of all elements of continuity and technical details for the editor. They also keep detailed photographic records of the set and cast for continuity. They complete detailed Daily Log Sheets, Production Reports and Continuity Reports which are sent off to the required departments.
- Finding the perfect locations for the film
- Negotiating fees and acquiring permissions
- Managing the location during the shoot
The Location Manager’s’ main job is to find the perfect locations for a film shoot and acquire the rights to film there. They have to take into account the locations accessibility, the shooting schedule and budget of the film. In pre-production the Location Manager has to work out the logistics of filming at the chosen location including vehicle access, parking, power sources and catering. During the shoot they ensure that everyone knows how to get to the location and it is clearly signposted. They oversee the health and safety of everyone on location and the maintenance of the location. Location Managers are usually the first to arrive on set and the last to leave.
- Preparing the camera equipment and operating the camera during shoot.
- Working with the Director and Director of Photography to achieve the visual style of the film.
Camera Operators assemble and set up the camera equipment. They then frame and capture the action of the film. Camera Operators follow the DoP and Directors direction for shot composition.
First Assistant Camera (1st AC, Focus Puller)
- Adjusting the camera lens or ‘pulling focus’ to follow the action on set
- Managing and maintaining camera equipment and accessories
- Following instructions from the Director or Director of Photography (DoP)
1st AC’s are highly skilled individuals. It is there job to pull focus on the actors as they move through the shot. They are also responsible for all the camera lenses, filters and matt boxes or anything directly connected to the camera itself.
Second Assistant Director (2nd AC, Clapper Loader)
- Preparing the camera, loading new batteries and film, and changing lenses
- Operating the clapperboard and managing the camera paperwork
- Working closely with the 1st AC rest of the Camera team
2nd AC’s are an integral part of the camera crew. Part of their job is to ensure that the entire camera department runs smoothly on set. They also assist the Camera Op to position the camera and are responsible for loading and unloading film magazines, charging and changing batteries and lenses. One of their key jobs is to operate the clapperboard and fill out all the camera sheets.
Production Sound Mixer
- Ensuring that all the dialogue or important sounds recorded during filming are clear
- Recording pick ups and wild-tracks
They liaise closely with the Director, fine-tuning the exact details of each shot, suggesting creative improvements or alternatives. They supervise the logistics of moving the camera, and oversee the Camera maintenance work carried out by the Focus Puller and the 2nd AC.
- Organising the casting of Actors for all roles in a film
- Arranging and conducting interviews and auditions with actors
- Negotiating fees for actors
Casting Directors work in pre-production with the Producer and Director to create the perfect cast for their film. They must match the perfect actor to each role. Depending on the size of the production there can be a number of considerations, for example actors experience, previous work, availability and how much to pay. Often there is a casting budget that they need to stick to and this can determine what actors they can get. Casting Directors will organise meetings or auditions with actors and then negotiate contracts with agents.
Department: Art Dept.
- Bringing to life the Production Designer’s creative vision for the film
- Managing the work of the art department
The Art Director brings to life the Production Designers designs and vision. They break down the script to identify all props required for the film and source them or oversee their assistants in this task. It is their job to practically achieve the creative vision of the sets. They work as a project manager for those working in the art department. They oversee the creation, dressing and striking of the set while trying to source props economically.
- Positioning microphones during filming
- Ensuring that microphones don’t get in the way of cameras or actors
- Looking after sound equipment
Boom Operators work with the Production Sound Mixer by operating the boom microphone. When radio microphones are needed the Boom Op positions them correctly around the set, location or on the actor’s costume. Boom Ops must position microphones correctly to ensure the best quality of dialogue and sound effects are captured. They are also responsible for all the sound equipment, ensuring it is in good condition. They carry out repairs if necessary.
- Oversee or run the designing, creating and acquiring of all costumes for Actors and extras
- Running a team of costume assistants for big productions
- In charge of the costume budget
The Costume Designer is in charge of designing, creating or acquiring all the costumes for the Actors and extras. They will organise the running of the wardrobes and the costume continuity over the shoot. They work with the Production Designer to ensure their visions match and will work. In pre-production the Costume Designer will break down the script and identify all costumes needed. At the end of the shoot they will ensure that all costumes are returned.
- Estimating what the production should cost for investors
- Supervising the preparation of the budget
The Line Producer is in charge off the business aspect of a film production. They assess what the below-the-line costs are. The Line Producer will break down the script and come up with an overall timetable for the whole film shoot from pre-production to production through to post-production. They work out how long it will take to shoot each scene and then estimate how much each day of shooting should cost. They will develop a provisional budget to show the total amount of funding needed. The Line Producer then oversees all pre-production elements and set up the production office. During production, the Line Producer will hand over the day-to-day business to the Production Manager but are responsible for overseeing everything. At the end of the shoot, they oversee the ‘wrap’ of the production undertaken by the Production Manager.
- Managing the production budget
- Overseeing the day-to-day production to make sure it runs smoothly
Production Managers are in charge of costs involving the crew and general running of the production. These are part of the ‘below-the-line’ budget. In pre-production they work with the Producer, Line Producer and First AD to create a provisional schedule. They help decide on a draft budget and then assist the Producer in hiring crew organising pay. During production, the Production Managers make sure that bills are paid, nothing goes over budget and oversee that everything on set is running smoothly. At the end of the shoot the Production Manager then ensures that all invoices are paid, locations signed off and any rental agreements discontinued.
UMs are responsible for the smooth running of a unit base on a location. They support the Location Manager and Location Assistant in their roles.
Second Unit Director
The second unit director will oversee the photography that is assigned to the second unit. These can be anything from minor shots to large stunt sequences. The second unit director position is frequently filled by a member of the production, most often the editor or stunt coordinator.
Other Assistant Directors
In British and Canadian film systems there might be 3rd ADs who take instruction from the 2nd and 1st ADs. In the American system they are known as 2nd 2nd ADs and usually are assigned the role of controlling big crowds of extras and keeping the public at a distance on location shoots.
Production accountants manage the money, make sure the production comes in on budget and ensures that everyone gets paid. They are usually assisted by assistant accountants, who are responsible for accounts receivable, accounts payable and payroll.
Location Scouts will undertake most of the research, footwork and will document the different possible locations.
The publicist create the films press release in collaboration with the producers. They liaise between the film production and the media. They create press releases, in collaboration with the producers, and work with the stills photographer.
Digital Imaging Technician
The DIT is responsible for the digital handling of footage. They make sure the digital settings on the camera are correct. They DIT is also in charge of backing up the footage across multiple devices. They may create the compressed dailies from the raw footage and prepare all digital images for post-production
Best Boy (lighting)
The best boy is the chief assistant to the gaffer. They are not usually on set, but dealing with the electric truck, rentals, manpower, and other logistics.
The key grip manages all the Grips and is the head of the set operations department. They work with the Director of Photography to help set up and achieve the correct lighting and blocking.
Grips are trained lighting and rigging technicians. They work 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.
The Best Boy is chief assistant to the Key Grip.
The Dolly Grip is in charge of operating the camera dollies and camera cranes . They will place, level, and move the dolly track, then push and pull the dolly, and usually a camera operator and camera assistant as riders.
Also known as a Cable Wrangler or Cable Boy, the 2nd AS is the assistant to the boom operator. They will move and prepare sound equipment when the boom op is watching or practising movements in rehearsals. They may lay down carpeting or sound dampening materials in a location with acoustic issues. Often the 2nd AS is required to operate a second boom in a busy scene or one where actors are far apart.
The set designer is the draftsman, often an architect, who realizes the structures or interior spaces called for by the production designer.
The Graphic Artist designs and creates all graphic elements of the film. They create the signs, billboards, logos and posters to be approved by the Production Designer. They may also be employed by the Props Master to create small printed items for the film story such as fliers and receipts.
The Set Decorator is an important role on a film set and they work closely with the Production Designer and coordinate with the Art Director. The job is in the title and they decorator the entire set – anything that will be seen in the film.
The Set Dressers apply and remove the physical “dressing” of the set. Anything that is used to complete the look the Decorator, Production Designer and Art Director are after. These can range from large props to the small intricate details that make up a set.
The Costume Supervisor manage the wardrobe and assist the costume designer with the design of the costumes. They supervise the creation or sourcing of the costumes as well as dealing with the support staff, budget and paperwork.
The Costume Standby is present on set at all times. They are responsible for monitoring the quality and continuity of the actors and actresses costumes before and during takes. They might assist the actors with changing into their costumes.
Breakdown artists are sometimes employed during pre-production to break down garments. This also includes making clothing appear dirty, faded and worn depending on what is needed for the film.
On large productions a Costume Buyer will source and purchase fabrics and garments.
Key Make-up Artist
The Key Make-up Artist is the dead of the make-up department and deals directly with the Director and Production Designer. They plan the makeup designs for all of the actors and cast including cosmetics, body makeup and special effects if required. They Key Make-up Artist will apply the make up to the key cast and the assistances will do the minor roles makeup. They will liase with the SFX make up team when necessary.
Special Make-up Effects Artist (SFX makeup)
A special effects make-up artist apply make-up effects and prosthetics.
Make-up supervisor’s handle the production side and rarely do any make up on cast. They tend to keep records of makeup continuity, handle the scheduling of the makeup teams and carry out general tasks for the makeup department.
The Make-up artists work under the Key Make-up Artist. They work with makeup, hair and special effects to create the characters look for anyone appearing on screen.
The Key Hair is the department head and answer to the Director and Production Designer. They will design and style the hair of the lead actors.
Hair Stylists report to he Key Hair. They style and maintain the hair of anyone appearing on screen, including wigs and extensions.
The Special Effects Department oversees the mechanical (practical/physical) effect that create optical illusions during live-action shooting.
Special Effects Supervisor
The Special Effects Supervisor are in charge of the Special Effects crew. They will set up all special effects systems and operating rigs or instruct their crew on how to do this. This will include how to design moving set elements and props that will safely break, explode, burn, collapse and implode without destroying the film set. They also find ways of reproducing weather conditions and other on-camera magic. The Special Effects Supervisor is responsible for the safety procedures concerning SFX scenes and will brief all cast and crew members involved in the scene.
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.
When stunts are required in a film, the Stunt Coordinator will arrange the casting and the performance of the stunts. They will work closely with the 1st AD and Director.
Post-Production Supervisors oversee the entire post-production process. They ensure that there is good communication between the producer, editor, supervising sound editor and mixers as well as any post-production facilities companies. They also stay in close communication with the Production Accountant to make sure the budget is kept to and all deadlines are met.
Colourists ensure that all shots in each scene match one another. They balance colour saturation and luminance from shot to shot and look out for any colour differences. They make sure that the images are consistent throughout the film. The Colourist also come up with solutions for any picture related issues.
The Music Supervisor will work with the composer, mixers and editors to create and integrate all the film’s music. Their primary responsibility is to liaise the recording industry and to negotiate the use rights for all source music used in a film.
The Composer will write the musical score for a film.
The Foley Artist will create post-sync sound effects for the film. They create and record sounds in sync with the picture usually in quite creative ways.