There are so many key people involved in making a film, and this series really only scratches the surface! Here are a few other important people that you’ll see on a set (among other places):
The Assistant Director
The Assistant Director (or AD) is one of the most important gears in the film machine. This person is the producer and director’s right hand in breaking down scripts, scheduling shoots and cast, directing background characters, and managing the set crew. On set, they’re the loudest – you’ll hear them yelling at everyone to maintain order and make sure that everything is staying on schedule. They also make sure that everything is safe and secure.
This person has to have a good idea of how long each scene will need to be shot effectively, which means that an understanding of how the director works with actors is imperative, not to mention an understanding of the technical logistics of actually completing each scene – from setup, to breakdown.
The AD usually has a 2nd and even sometimes a 3rd, who will take are of tasks like keeping the background characters on track, and preparing the daily call sheet – which informs everyone on the crew as to who and what is needed when, and what scenes will be shot where on the upcoming day.
Gaffers and Grips
The Gaffer is the big cheese of the electrical team – this person, along with his/her right-hand-human, the Best Boy, is responsible for managing anything to do with lighting, be it equipment or labor. They’ll ensure that the lights are working safely and correctly, keep additional bulbs on hand, and rewire things when necessary.
Film lights traditionally can take quite a bit of power, so knowing ahead of time what your power needs are are essential to making sure that the set is not only not going to overload on you, but also prevent electrical fires!
The Grips offer a small hand to the Gaffer team, except they don’t actually touch anything electrical. They will however manipulate the lights with bounce cards, flags, and things of that nature. Their main responsibility is to support to the camera department. They will maintain, build, and sometimes operate things like cranes, dollies, and mounts on which the camera will be placed.
The Camera Team
These guys are at the whim of the DOP. This team usually includes a camera operator, which is exactly what it sounds like, as well as a focus puller and one or two assistant cameras (ACs). The focus puller’s job is to ensure that everything that the DOP wants to be in focus within the frame at a given time is indeed in focus – which sounds easy but trust me it’s trickier and more attention consuming than you’d think. The ACs will generally be on hand to help swap out lenses, make sure that the film reel, tape, or data card has enough space to actually shoot the shot, and generally just makes sure that the camera itself is ready to go when the director calls action!
In the world of digital filmmaking, there is also a role called DIT – or Data Imaging Technician. This person is responsible for taking all the footage that was shot that day and making sure that it’s ready for post production. This means checking for corruptions, creating backups, and even doing a little bit of color correction with the DOP present so that his or her vision is accurately brought over to the editing room.