July 22, 2012

Film Crew Positions and Their Responsibilities

We talk a lot about specific crew positions at times, but if you're just starting out, it's hard to get a sense of what many of these people do unless you can see them in action. Thanks to Evan Luzi at The Black and Blue, you can check out this video he posted showing the major departments and some of their crew positions. These positions can vary slightly depending on the country you're in, but for the most part, this is what you'll encounter on pretty much any organized set.

I think there are a lot of positions that filmmakers try to do themselves to save money, but in my experience, the Assistant Director and the Unit Production Manager/Line Producer are the ones where it really helps to have experienced people. If you're working in low budget, I've found that having these people can really help you think on your feet and move quickly. Often with low budget it's a race against time to get everything shot in the short time allotted, but with experienced people at these specific positions, you might have a better chance of getting everything you need done on time and on budget.

As I always say, if you haven't checked out Evan's site before, it is absolutely a gold mine for information related to being a camera assistant, as well as little nuggets like this that he finds every once in a while.

[via The Black and Blue]

Your Comment

16 Comments

Great video! The sound recordist with the fur coat made me laugh.

July 22, 2012

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Hey Joe,

Great and useful bts video, (and plug for Evan's site). It was No Film School that turned me on to the Black and Blue first, and steered me toward my goal of DP via AC and grip work. You don't have to care about the camera department per se, because Evan knows production, set etiquette, and a whole lot of links to get you closer (i.e. mandy.com).
The more indie you are, the more you need to know how the pros do it, if you ever want to work at that level. From production assistant (PA) to 1st AD to UPM, these positions exist to organize and coordinate, saving time and money (which is redundant). You may not be able to include them in your nano-budget first productions (like me), but knowing what they do so someone can wear that hat, makes your ideas actually possible on set. And when you can pay for those jobs, you'll begin to understand (and enjoy) "production values".

Seek to know what you don't know, it's the biggest reason I come to this site.
Thanks Joe.

July 22, 2012

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Michael Locke

I understand that the sound recordist is one of the most under rated positions on set, however, one they failed to talk about is the use of a good PD (Production Designer). Though the DP creates the stunning images and the actors bring out the character in the narrative through the nurturing of the Director, it's the work of the Production Designer who gives the environment the necessary aesthetic to pull the audience into the world of the film.

July 22, 2012

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Thanks for the video. It's actually pretty logical to see how all the different (and necessary) elements of filmmaking translate into separate jobs. This is what I currently find the most challenging in filmmaking, because I am still learning and do not yet have a crew, I have to make sure to get all those jobs done, which makes it difficult to get high quality results.

But we keep on trying! :-)

July 22, 2012

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I love seeing behind the scenes footage. But that film they were making looked really generic, or maybe it was the actors.

July 22, 2012

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john jeffreys

I hope the crew members operating the doorway dolly and carrying the c-stand/diffusion frame at least get proper screen credit at the end of the short film they're working on in this BTS video.

July 22, 2012

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what I don't understand is how you can raise that much money for a short film???

July 22, 2012

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Will

nepotism mostly

July 22, 2012

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john jeffreys

For years, decades, actually, since the beginning, this is how the industry is built. Via nepotism...Always. Sadly so...!!!

July 27, 2012

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Craig Michaels

A great post, thanks!

July 23, 2012

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Jonathan Malko

Great video!

I would welcome a behind the scenes video from a nano-budget perspective. Edward Burns made "Nice Guy Johnny" on a budget of $25K with a crew of three. It would be interesting to see how different jobs are managed and/or consolidated.

July 24, 2012

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Billz

He's slightly exaggerating, but not much - craft services is a big deal. You don't realize it until there's no food provided for an 18 hour day - or you're given a "vending machine" dinner.

I've seen it only a few times, and I'll tell you one thing... I'll never wear a life jacket again.

July 24, 2012

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alex

Craft services can also be a huge morale boost. Once you start getting into hour 14, 15, etc, having that quick meal or snack can be a psychological boost that you otherwise might not have had.

July 24, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

1000% agree. I never really knew how important moral was until I did a few gigs where it was a serious problem - especially for something that's a relativity easy thing to avoid, it can totally derail a production. A "hell-gig" is something every professional will experience, and subsequently tell stories about on internet forums haha.

July 24, 2012

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alex

Hah, I went to highschool with The Nerdwriter, (hes the guy speaking to camera/made the video).

July 26, 2012

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MDA

Great video. If they are doing it for free feeding the crew is the most important thing on set. Missed out the Grips though. Food and Grips.

July 26, 2012

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Jiiiiiim Leaburn