February 17, 2017

Watch: Movies Aren't Possible Without These Essential, Under-Appreciated Crew Members

What's a Best Boy/Girl? Without them, your movie wouldn't get made.

It takes a village to make a movie. Without at least dozens—and often many hundreds—of dedicated crew members, no director would ever stand at the podium on Oscar night to accept the Best Director award. 

Every great director knows that he or she is not an island. "When I was a kid, there was no collaboration; it's you with a camera bossing your friends around," Steven Spielberg once told the New York Times. "But as an adult, filmmaking is all about appreciating the talents of the people you surround yourself with and knowing you could never have made any of these films by yourself."

A new video essay from Fandor outlines some of the key crew members on film sets that often go unrecognized. These include, but are not limited to: assistant camera, who sets up the camera, places markers, and maintains focus when the camera operator frames shots; script supervisor, who notes script changes on set and keeps continuity for costumes and prop placement; craft services, who keep crew members alive and well; gaffers, electricians who handle lighting; grips, who help with non-electrical aspects of lighting; and the Best Boy or Girl, who support the lighting department.

The video essay ends with one important statement that no director should ever forget: "Even the most iconoclastic auteur can’t function alone."

Featured image: Emmanuel Lubezski and Emma Stone behind the scenes of 'Birdman,' courtesy of ARRI

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Thanks, a great short that provides insight on how a set really works. A few pedantic corrections... The Craft Service does NOT provide catering, there is a Caterer for that. They provide sustenance food and liquids, most importantly water and coffee, for the crew in order to keep the blood sugar up and to prevent dehydration. They also keep the set clean. The Gaffer is the HEAD Electrician, whereas their crew are referred to as Electricians (also Juicers, Sparks, etc.). The head Grip (also Hammer) is the Key Grip. Their Best Boys are Best Boy Electric and Best Boy Grip. Electricians essentially add light and deal with all electricity and power cabling, Grips take light away, as well as creating many forms of rigging and being all-around problem solvers (often in relation to heavy stuff). Camera Assistants put down Marks for the actors, not Markers. T-marks, usually, mostly with tape. They assemble and maintain cameras, lenses, filters, tripods, follow focus systems, matte boxes, and much more, and Slate the scene. The Digital Imaging Technician (DIT) will often ingest the footage into computers and do basic color correction, etc. The Script Supervisor also represents the script and provides an ear to both the Director and the Actors, prompting them with forgotten lines and helping with other issues. They can, at times, be quite involved in the filmmaking process. And of course there are so many others, including Assistant Directors (they run the set, keep everything moving and on-time), the Unit Production Manager and office Production crew, Sound, Video Playback, Hair, Makeup, Wardrobe, Art Department, Props, Greens (plant wranglers), Painters, Production Assistants, etc., etc.

February 24, 2017 at 4:54PM, Edited February 24, 5:04PM

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Scott Ressler
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