In a previous blog, I explained some of the production roles on a movie. With this post, we will explore a few more. As I stated before, it is important to understand the different roles people are assigned to—not only on a movie set, but also at work. By having defined roles for everyone, it helps the process run more smoothly. And, not only are these roles essential to the success of the task, they also build off of each other to ensure success all around.
Today, let’s focus on some key film production positions you may not know a lot about: Production Assistant (or PA), Assistant Director (or AD), Script Supervisor, and Foley Artist.
Production Assistant or PA: In the film production world, this is often the first position people have. With my film company, Firmament Films, new people working with our group often fill the role of the PA. They do EVERYTHING! While there are some basic tasks, such as getting coffee, running around looking for a piece for the set designer, and making sure actors are ready, they also will need to fill other important roles as needed. They may be needed by the Gaffer to help with the lights, or perhaps they are needed to stand-in for an actor or even be an extra in a scene. While it may seem that this is a very basic position, it is also essential on almost every movie set. They fill in the gap roles—those tasks that seem to not fall on anyone directly, the PA can help out. I know for our movies, the brave PAs are key to our success.
Assistant Director or AD : There is often a 1st AD and a 2nd AD, both of which are distinct roles. Focusing on the 1st AD, their role is assisting the Director. While the Director may be working with the actors or crew, the 1st AD makes sure that everyone is staying on task and on schedule. They also make sure that the working environment is okay so everyone can get their jobs done. The 1st AD will often go between different groups to ensure everyone is on the same page and getting along as best as possible. It is a high stress role, but critical. The 2nd AD is responsible putting together the call sheets—basically the shooting schedule – and communicating it out to all crew and actors. They may also direct background actors or extras.
Script Supervisor: The main purpose for this role is continuity—they make sure that if a table was cleared in one shot, it is set up the same and ready to go for the next. If an actor is wearing a watch on their right arm, they make sure that the watch stays on that right arm. You can see the impact of the Script Supervisor on IMDB.com—just take a look at the goofs! The Script Supervisor also keeps a script in their hands at all times because they make sure that the actors are also saying the same lines in each take as well.
Foley Artist: You know that scene in that movie you love where the happy couple walk in a park on that crisp fall day? You know its fall because you hear the crunch of the leaves under each step they take. Well, that sound typically isn’t recorded at the time of the film, but later on, in a sound studio, where the Foley Artist recreates that sound. The creaking door, the piece of cake falling on the ground, the thunder cracking in the background—all sounds created by the Foley Artist. The first Foley Artists created all of the sound effects for radio shows.
So, what other roles have you seen in the credits that you want to learn more about? Please leave some suggestions in the comments below!