The people behind the camera

Movies, films and TV programs will never be successful without a certain group of people who plays specific roles to come up with one. They are the film crew or the "crew and cast" of a certain project. From the tiniest detail of the props, up to the most complicated scenes that were choreographed by the director, the team works together and dependently with one another. Here is a list of the people behind the cameras and their specific functions.

Production Unit is the team of the director, camera crew, lighting department, sound crew, electrician and everyone else who works on the shoot.

Director controls the action and dialogue in front of the camera. He translates the written word into visuals and dialogue.

Assistant Director (A.D.) is an assistant to the director, the first A.D. runs the set, plans the cost-efficient scheduling of locations and talent, schedules the days’ shooting and is responsible for carrying out the director’s instructions. The second A.D. signs actors in and out, handles paperwork relating to the number of hours worked, and is usually the person in charge of production assistants.

Production Assistant (P.A.) are the runners, ‘gophers’ on the set. The job can include holding back onlookers, getting coffee, answering phones in the production office, escorting actors to locations, acting as a stand-in while a short is worked out, or performing any other tasks required to make the production run more smoothly.

Art Director designs and constructs sets for the production designer.

Production Designer is responsible for sets, props and costumes. He/she works closely with the director to determine the overall ‘look’ of the film.

Production Manager (P.M.) makes the business deals, including hotel/housing, crew hiring, equipment rental and budget management. The P.M. works with the A.D. on scheduling and review production reports. The P.M. signs checks.

Producer brings a specific production together and chooses the screenplay, arranges financing, hires a director, helps in the casting process, and is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the shoot. He/she is involved with the editing and all post-production and may also consult on marketing and distribution.

Associate Producer is the top assistant to the producer, usually the intermediary between the Producer and the shooting crew.

Executive Producer arranges financing, but may not be directly involved with the day-to-day productions of the film. This is sometimes conferred upon a studio executive who works with several projects simultaneously.

Line Producer is responsible for keeping the film’s costs down. He/she approves expenses, including locations, actors, and crew.

Director of Photography (D.P.) is responsible for the “look” of the film; works with the lighting director to set-up shots and camera moves. The D.P. has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that each scene is properly recorded on film (sometimes called the cinematographer.)

Camera Operator runs the camera during shooting. On low-budget films, the D.P. may also serve as the Operator.

Assistant Camera (A.C.) is responsible for the care and maintenance of the camera and all of its associated pieces and parts. The first A.C. works closely with the camera operator and the director of photography at the cameras, while the second A.C. loads the film and runs the slate.

Slate is a board (usually black and white) placed in front of the cameras at the beginning or end of each take of each scene, identifying the scene and take numbers.

Dolly Grip prepares the camera dolly and associated hardware, and operates the dolly during the shoot.

Video Assist operates a small video system called a video tap that records everything the camera is recording. This allows the director to see what the camera operator sees thus assuring that the shot looks the way it was planned to.

Casting Director is responsible for supplying actors for the film and works with the producer and director.

Editor cuts the film and splices it together. There is usually more than one editor on a large project.

Gaffer works with the D.P. and the lighting director to light the scene and handles the equipment.

Best Boy is the head electrician responsible for getting power to the set. He reports to the gaffer.

Electrician is a member of the electrical department and reports directly to the Best Boy.

Craft Services provides snacks, soft drinks, coffee, etc.

Mixer takes care of all sound levels in a studio, on location and in post-production. Head of the sound department.

Foley Artist is a sound effects artist who works on a special “Foley” stage where sound effects are recorded to match visuals such as doors closing, feet walking, and window breaking.

Special Effects can be either mechanical (breakaway chairs), or optical (in-camera effects like speeding up the film), computer graphics, or a combination.

Grip works with the lighting and camera departments. The backbone of the film shoot, grips are responsible for moving equipment and generally assisting the production team. The key grip is the head of the grip department.

Talent Agent represents actors, models and extras and tries to get them work on film, television, video or still-print projects.

Screenwriter writes a script, either from an original idea or from an existing book or story.

Script Supervisor keeps track of how many takes are made of each shot and scene, how long they ran and who was in them, and makes detailed notes about what took place, such as; was her hat on or off? Was the glass half full or empty? This is important so scenes can be recreated if they need to be re-shot (Also referred to as continuity)

Stand-in is a member of the production team who takes the place of the actor while the director, D.P. and camera operator set up the shot (usually a P.A.)

Stunt Coordinators stages the stunts and works with the stunt players. Responsible for the safety of all involved in the filming of a stunt.

Unit Manager/Unit Production Manager (U.P.M.) assists the production manager or the company’s business manager with the day-to-day financial operations of the shoot. Sometimes also functions as a location scout.

Location Manager scouts locations and negotiates use agreements with property owners. He/she works with the transportation captain to make sure there is enough parking at the location; works with local officials to coordinate shooting schedules, and is responsible for the condition of the locations after shooting is finished.

Location Scout searches for the perfect locations, both in terms of artistic and logistic considerations and often becomes the location manager once production has begun.

Transportation Captain makes sure everyone gets to the location. Responsible for all vehicle movement and parking. All drivers report to the transportation captain.

Not to be confused with the costume designer, the wardrobe department handles the costumes on the set. Usually there is one department for men and one for women.

For big movies, additional crew members are needed but for simple projects, only few people are need. Some may also take the role of the other and some can do multitasking to be able to save money and cost-cut their budget as possible. Movies, tv shows or whatever film they produce, without the help of a crew, the project would be harder to do and the time will only be wasted. The most essential thing here is that no matter what the role of a person is, great or small, in one way or the other, he or she became a great help in the success of the team.

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