When I started film school, I couldn’t tell you the difference between a producer and a director. Many of my fellow classmates were in the same boat and they did not know all Atlanta film jobs on set. Actually, one of the best things film school did for me was clarify the responsibilities of each role. If you haven’t gone to film school it can be embarrassing to ask what each job does, so here’s my list of important jobs on set and what they do.
The producer is the be all end all of the project. They are there from day one until the project wraps. They are in charge of securing money, hiring the crew, and making sure the project goes smoothly. Almost all of the producers work is before production. Once the shooting starts the producer should be able to take a step back and let the film happen. Ultimately, however, the producer has the final say on everything with the project because they are the ones who control the money, and if they don’t want to pay for something or want to cut something out, it is completely their call. The producer and director should have a close relationship or at least an understanding for each other because they both want the same thing, a good movie.
The director is in charge of making the movie. They are in charge of the story and creative aspects of filmmaking. In pre-production, they create the shot list, storyboard, overheads, and script breakdown. Then, they meet with the first A.D. to create the shooting schedule based on all of the paperwork. The director’s vision is what drives the movie forward. Whether they wrote the script or worked with a writer, they are there to make their own movie with their own vision. On set, they work with the actors to shape their performance, cinematographer to create a stunning shot, and the first A.D. to make sure they are on schedule.
The only person that is above the director is the producer because the producer controls the money. Once filming has wrapped, the director works with an editor to create the final project. The director, much like the producer, sees the project through to the very end.
Set First A.D.
The First Assistant Director is the right hand to the director, if the director says something needs to get done, the first A.D. will get it done. They are in charge of making sure the production is on schedule, they have a list of every shot that needs to be filmed that includes the actors, props, and locations of each. They film everything in the most logistical way possible because time is money, especially on set. While the director is meeting with the actors or talking to the cinematographer about the next shot, the first A.D. has everyone already moving equipment there so that when they’re ready to shoot, everything should be set up.
First things first, the cinematographer does not touch the camera. They create the shots and control the lighting and make it look how they want but the camera operator is the one that executes the shot. The cinematographer is in charge of the entire camera department, whatever they say goes, but if you want to work with the cameras and actually do the shots, then camera op is right up your alley. On smaller sets of course the cinematographer is also the camera op. Near the end of pre-production, the cinematographer will meet with the director and go over the shot list to collaborate on what they think each shot should look like.
Set Production Assistant
Some of you are probably very familiar with this job but for those who are just getting started, a P.A. does whatever they’re asked whenever they’re asked to. If someone needs coffee you’re going to grab their coffee. If something needs to get picked up for later, you’re driving to pick something up. You are the workforce that the first A.D. will call upon to make sure everything gets done. When I first started doing P.A. work, I worked on very small sets. I was the only P.A. which meant I did everything that needed to get done, but this also meant I was able to work closely with everyone on set like the director and D.P. This was extremely valuable to me because I was able to learn about every job on set. If you can find a job like that I would recommend taking it.
Atlanta Film Jobs on Set
In the film industry there are many titles and slang terms. They can all be very confusing, especially if you never ask what they mean. I hope this list has been helpful in clarifying some of the important job titles on set. If you you learned something new from this make sure to check out my other articles on Atlanta film!