The Hierarchy of a Film Set
Like any large, successful organization, a governing system is needed to have the everything process smoothly. So here’s the hierarchy of a film set:
At the top of the hierarchy is the Director. Simple enough, the director is the person that is responsible for directing the actors and action of the production. They are the person who calls “Rolling,” then “Sound” and then “Action!” at the beginning of each scene. The command “Rolling” implies that the cinematographer’s camera already recording before the scene starts and they are ready for the actors to begin. “Sound” is a check with the head of the sound crew to confirm that the audio is being recorded. And then finally, “Action!” is a understanding between the cast and crew that filming is in full swing and the actors can begin their scene. The director is the First Assistant Director (1st AD), whose duties will include: help setting up shots, coordinating production, writing call sheets, and working with the camera-operator and Director. Next is the Second Assistant Director (2nd AD), whose duties are directing and corralling the background extras also referred to as the “Atmosphere.”
A director works along side of their cinematographer or Director of Photography (DP), who is the head of the camera crew. A D.P. may also be the primary camera operator, but some D.P.’s opt for a more hands-off approach and choose to have their First Assistant Camera to shoot the footage. Normally, a First Assistant Camera (1st AC) must keep the camera in focus and must construct and destruct the camera set-up at the beginning and end of filming each day. The Second Assistant Camera (2nd AC) operates the slate (clapper board) and oversees loading the film stock, changing and charging camera batteries as well as transporting the camera gear between locations.
From pre- to post-production, a director works closely with the Producer(s). A producer literally produces the movie. He or she make it happen. They organize the budget, find investors, hires and surpervises crew, collaborate with the director on casting decisions, arrange distribution plans and more. They work on a film from the very first steps to the very last. They are normally known as the business brains of the operation. A Production Assistant to aid the producer’s in production tasks, which ranges from getting coffee to making sure important paperwork is completed. An Executive Producer (EP) plays a key role in ensuring the movie goes into production. Normally, they are involved in the finances of a film, but EP’s can also receive credit for their creative input. A Line Producer collaborates with a Studio, Producer and Production Manager to create and manage the budget. “What’s a Production Manager?” you ask? They supervise all but the creative aspects of a set. A production manager makes sure the entire production runs smoothly, on-time and is within their designated budget. They can have an Assistant Production Manager working by their side to designate tasks to.