Bringing films to life takes more than just a script, acting talent and a camera. Here are some of the production roles that bring reality to films we all see. One word of advice, if you really appreciate a film .. stay through the credits. That will give you a sense of the human labor it takes to offer breath into ideas.
- Producer – the chief of a movie production in all logistical matters (i.e., scheduling, budgeting) secures funding and financing, acquires or develops a story, finalizes the script, hires key personnel, and arranges for distributors of the film to theaters; serves as the liaison between the investors and the film-makers, works with agents of key actors, while managing the production from start to finish.
- Director – the creative artist responsible for complete artistic control of the filmmaking day-to-day determinations about sound, lighting, action, casting, and even editing. The director also translates and interprets a script into a film, and guides the performances of the actors in a particular role and/or scene, and supervises the cinematography and film crew. The director is usually the single person held most responsible for the success or failure of the finished product.
- Assistant Director (AD)– This is the department also known as “the machine”– because they are the first to arrive and the last to leave – this department is the center of the operational standpoint of the film. This department keeps every other department in line and on target.
- Cinematographer or Director of Photography (DP)– Responsible for the overall look of the film. Works directly with the director in bringing his/her vision to the screen. In charge of the camera crew and brings the artistic touch on camera angles, film stock, lenses used, framing, and arrangement of lighting. (Many times a DP will work with the same director on numerous projects).
- Gaffer is credited as Chief Lighting Technician. The gaffer works for/and reports to the director of photography. The DP is responsible for the overall lighting design, but he or she may give a little or a lot of latitude to the gaffer on these matters, depending on their working relationship.
- Key Grip – The chief of a group of grips (people who work with constructing equipment for use with the camera), often doubling for a construction coordinator and a backup for the camera crew. (dolly tracks, scaffolds). Key grips work closely with the gaffer.
- Composer – Responsible for developing a musical score to serve as a companion piece to the visual language of the film.
- Editor – The editor pours through hours of footage with the assistance of a shot journal and the director to put the final pieces of the puzzle together. They assemble raw footage into a coherent film. Film editors are often responsible for pulling together all of the elements of story, dialogue, music, sound effects, visual effects, rhythm and pace of a film.
- Script Supervisor – handles the shooting blueprint. He/she works with the shooting script (a detailed version of the screenplay with the scenes arranged in proper sequence, and used by the cast) daily to keep track of all aspects of what has and hasn’t been shot. This person is also responsible on many shoots as the continuity supervisor. When changes happen to the script (which is almost daily, the script supervisor must make sure that everyone is aware of those changes, and the impact that has on the shooting schedule.
- Sound Designer – Responsible for guiding the process of recording and managing sound (dialogue, sound effects, ambient sounds, etc.) to provide a rich audio journey that provides a companion-piece for both the score, and the visuals.
- Foley Artist – Creates/records sound effects for films.
- Casting Director – Essentially the goal of the casting director is to employ people who will fit with the director’s, and possibly the producer’s, artistic ambitions. Usually, actors go through several casting calls.
- The Best Boy – the assistant to the chief electrician of a movie crew.
- Recording engineer – Maintains video/film sound recording equipment. When technical difficulties occur, it is the recording engineer who must come to the rescue and fix the problem. This can be quite stressful, especially when working with quick-tempered celebrities who do not take well to problems on the set and/or delays.
- The Production Designer – Responsible for the overall (visual) look of the film from set design, to locations, to props.
· Unit Production Manager– A UPM is usually hired by a producer of a film and is responsible for managing all the costs of the project with the intention of delivering the film on budget after the end of principle photography (also known as the Line Producer).
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