Film Crew – Who Does What on Set

By ,May 11, 2018

So you’re about to come into contact with a film set.

There will be countless men and women running around, performing their jobs on set and it may become a little daunting for you as you try to settle yourself in and work out where you fit.

A better way to understand who does what is to think of the jobs in terms of categories.

1. Those who look after THE ACTOR

2. Those who look after THE CAMERA

3. Those who look after THE SET

4. Those who work across ALL DEPARTMENTS

Note: The main goal of this article is to familiarise emerging actors with the most common Film Crew jobs that they will come into contact with on a film set. This summary will therefore not outline the efforts of the creatives, screenwriters, editors, producers or other departments who may not be there on the film sets. This will be reserved for a future article.

1. Those who look after THE ACTOR

This is you. The main Film Crew that are assigned to look after you are:

>The Director

They set the vision for the script and direct the performances of actors. It is their vision that a film shoot realises.

> The Costume Designer

They take care of the actor’s costume and ensure it’s in keeping with their character bios.

> The Hair and Make-up Artist

They work closely with Costume to finish off the actor’s look.

2. Those who look after THE CAMERA

The camera can almost be thought of as another member of the crew. It is the epicentre of the film shoot and as such, there are countless people assigned to ensure that it does what it needs to do. These people are:

> The Director of Photography (DOP)/Cinematographer

They choose the frames/lenses that will achieve the visual look of the film.

> The Camera Operator

They physically handle and operate the camera.

> 1st Assistant Camera Operator (often the Focus Puller)

They measure and mark the focus needed for each shot.

> 2nd Assistant Camera Operator (often the Slate Operator)

They replace the film, batteries and operate the slate/clapper.

> The Grip

They help to lay the cables, mount the tripods, dollies and other camera equipments.

3. Those who look after THE SET

The set is a force unto itself. It is where all the action takes place and so these people are employed to make sure it is ready for action:

> The Set Designer

They design and dress the set in keeping with the Directors’ vision of the world of the film.

> The Lighting Technician/Gaffer

They choose what lighting is needed to achieve the visual look and set it all up.

> The Sound Recordist/Boom Operator

They record the sound and hold the boom mic ready to capture the sound.

4. Those who work across ALL DEPARTMENTS:

Film shoots are collaborative environments and as such, there are those Film Crew jobs that may overlap into various departments. These are:

> The Assistant Director

They essentially run the whole set and ensure that the Director is on schedule.

> The Runner

They run errands and tasks for the crew from gathering equipment and looking after actors.

> The Script/Continuity Supervisor

They ensure that all the things in a frame are consistent so that believability can be maintained.

> The Stills Photographer

They take photos of the behind-the-scenes of the shoot.

> Assistants

They help each of the departments mentioned above with their specific tasks.

Now that you have a rough overview of who is looking after what on set, you can now focus on looking after yourself and making sure that your voice, mind and body are ready. Being aware of the Crew and their various positions means that you won’t feel so overwhelmed and bear the weight of the whole shoot – it will help you see that you are part of a team and as such, you all have each other’s backs and together, you can create magic!

Need to some advice on what to actually do when you get to set? Read this:

Author Nisrine Amine

Nisrine Amine is an AWGIE and AACTA-award nominated writer and a Sydney Theatre award nominated actor. She is also the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Parramatta Actors Centre. Learn about Nisrine's vision for PAC here.

More posts by Nisrine Amine
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