In the world of filmmaking, you’ll find a wide range of talented individuals working together to create incredible movies and television shows. Each person involved in the production has a specific role and responsibilities to ensure a smooth process from pre-production to post-production.
In this article, we’ll explore the list of film crew positions for you to better understand the various jobs and duties that make up a film production team.
Because there are SO MANY film crew positions, I will be breaking this into 2 main sections – Above The Line and Below The Line. From there, I will further break it down by different departments. Ready? Let’s dive in!
The Above The Line Film Crew
The above the line film crew refers to the creative and administrative personnel who have a direct impact on the creative aspects of a film.
They are called above the line because their salaries are negotiated before the production of the film begins and are typically higher than those of the below the line crew. Let’s start with the Above The Line roles.
1. The Director
As a director, your role is crucial in shaping the story, creating the visual style and tone of the movie. Being a film director a highly rewarding position responsible for translating the written script into a captivating film, keeping the audience hooked from start to end.
2. The Producer
As a producer, your role is crucial in the film production process. You’re responsible for overseeing the entire project from start to finish. This includes taking the initial idea and developing it, securing funding, assembling the perfect crew, and ultimately ensuring that everything runs smoothly.
Producers are often considered the backbone of film production. Your job is multifaceted, and you’ll need to wear many hats to successfully bring a film to life. One of your primary responsibilities is to manage the budget and resources, ensuring that everything is allocated efficiently.
To be a successful producer, you must have excellent communication and negotiation skills. These abilities will come in handy when it comes to securing funding, negotiating contracts, and dealing with distributors.
3. The Executive Producer
As the individual responsible for the financing of a film, you’ll find the Executive Producer in charge of the production. In order to successfully bring a project to life, this key role not only involves funding, but also managing and overseeing the entire filmmaking process. In the business video realm, the Executive Producer is often the CEO of the company.
4. The Principal Cast
These talented individuals bring the characters to life, portray emotions, and create compelling performances that captivate audiences. As a key part of the film crew, the principal cast consists of the leading actors and actresses that play the most essential roles in a film.
As a member of the principal cast, you’ll work closely with the director. The director guides the actors through their scenes, providing them with insight and direction to help achieve the desired performance. Being a part of the principal cast also involves collaborating with other departments, such as makeup and hair, wardrobe, and the camera crew.
5. The Casting Director
As a casting director, your main responsibility is to find the perfect match between talent and the script’s demands. Your role is crucial in bringing the story to life by assembling an extraordinary cast that represents the characters authentically.
To excel in your position, you should be familiar with the script and the director’s vision. Developing a strong understanding of the story will help you identify the specific qualities and attributes needed in the actors.
The Below The Line Film Crew
Below the line film crew positions make up a significant portion of any film production. These roles involve the hands-on physical creation of the film, from pre-production to post-production.
Working in this area of the film industry is essential and rewarding, as you play a considerable part in bringing stories to life. Let’s take a look at some of these departments and their vital roles.
The AD Department
The Assistant Director (AD) Department plays a crucial role in organizing and managing film production. They ensure everything runs smoothly and on schedule. In this section, we’ll discuss the roles and responsibilities of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Assistant Directors as well as Set Production Assistants.
1. The 1st Assistant Director (AD)
As the 1st AD, you are responsible for creating and maintaining the shooting schedule, ensuring that all necessary crew and cast members are available and briefed. You’ll also oversee the creation of the call sheet and distribute it to the entire team. Ensuring safety on set is one of your top priorities, so you must always be aware of potential hazards and address them proactively.
2. The 2nd Assistant Director (AD)
Your role as the 2nd AD is primarily to support the 1st AD. You’ll be involved in preparing call sheets and ensuring that everyone is aware of their responsibilities for the day. You’ll also oversee the day-to-day management of background actors and coordinate their movements on set. This role requires strong organizational skills and the ability to communicate effectively with various departments.
3. The 3rd Assistant Director (AD)
As the 3rd AD, your focus will be on coordinating extras and assisting the 1st and 2nd ADs with their tasks. You may be asked to help with the pre-production process, gathering information and preparing documents for the upcoming shoot. Being flexible and adaptable is crucial in this role as you will often be called upon to handle last-minute changes and challenges.
5. The Set Production Assistants (PA)
Set Production Assistants, or PAs, are the backbone of the AD department. Your job as a PA is to support assistant directors in various tasks, such as setting up equipment, managing crowd control, or running errands. You may also be asked to help with distributing call sheets and ensuring that all crew members have the necessary information to perform their duties.
The Art Department
The art department plays a vital role in the film industry, responsible for the visual aspects of a production. It primarily consists of a hierarchy consisting of the following positions:
The Production Designer
As the head of the art department, the production designer is responsible for conceptualizing and overseeing the overall visual look of the film. They collaborate with the director and cinematographer to establish a film’s style, including sets, locations, camera angles, graphics, props and costumes. A production designer’s job is to ensure the production has a consistent and appealing aesthetic.
1. The Art Director
The art director works closely with the production designer, translating their vision into a practical design for sets and locations. They help supervise the overall artistic design of a film, managing the art department crew and coordinating with other departments like construction, lighting, and camera. An art director should possess strong leadership and communication skills to efficiently execute the production designer’s vision.
2. The Set Dresser
As a set dresser, your role is to create a realistic and engaging environment by arranging furniture, decorations, and background elements according to the script and production designer’s specifications. Your attention to detail is crucial; you ensure that every prop is in its right place and that the set is properly dressed before each scene is shot.
3. The Prop Master
In charge of the prop department, the prop master has the responsibility for acquiring, maintaining, and organizing all the props used during a film production. Props can include anything from everyday items like glasses and utensils to specialized items like weapons or art pieces. The prop master works closely with actors, ensuring that they understand how to use specific props, and collaborates with other departments, including costumes and makeup.
4. The Art Production Assistant (PA)
As an art production assistant (PA), your role is to support the art department in various tasks, such as research, preparation and organization of materials, and coordination with other departments. The art PA is usually an entry-level position, providing a stepping stone to more advanced roles within the art department.
The Camera Department
The Camera Department plays a vital role in the film production process. This team is responsible for capturing the visual essence of the film. In this section, we will explore the key positions in the Camera Department and their responsibilities.
1. The Director of Photography
The Director of Photography (DP) is the person in charge of the camera department. They work closely with the director to establish the visual style and look of the film. Their key responsibilities include selecting the cameras and lenses, planning camera movements, and overseeing the lighting. The DP, also known as the Cinematographer, ensures that the shots are correctly composed and well-lit to tell the story as intended.
2. The Camera Operator
The Camera Operator is responsible for operating the camera during the shoot. They work under the guidance of the DP and are responsible for executing the camera movements planned by the DP and director. It’s your duty as the camera operator to ensure that the shots are framed correctly, and all the action in the scene is captured accurately.
3. The 1st Assistant Cameraperson (AC)
As a 1st Assistant Cameraperson, your primary responsibility is to control the focus of the shot. Working closely with the camera operator, you will ensure that the subject remains in focus throughout each scene. This job is essential for maintaining image sharpness and creating depth in the visuals. Sometimes, you may also be called upon to assist with adjusting camera settings and swapping lenses.
4. The 2nd Assistant Cameraperson (AC)
The 2nd Assistant Cameraperson has several duties, such as managing equipment and assisting with the setup and breakdown of camera rigs. You also keep track of camera metadata, like lens information and shot settings, which are crucial for the post-production process. One of your most recognizable tasks is operating the clapperboard, which helps synchronize sound and visuals during the editing process.
5. The Digital Imaging Technician (DIT)
As a Digital Imaging Technician, you are responsible for managing the digital assets on set. This involves monitoring the quality and integrity of the recorded footage, backing up data, and ensuring proper storage of the digital files. Your expertise in color correction and color grading techniques also comes into play as you collaborate with the DP to make sure the footage aligns with the desired look of the film.
The Electric Department
1. The Gaffer
As the head of the electric department, the gaffer is also known as the chief lighting technician. In this role, you’re responsible for coordinating and designing the lighting plan with the director, director of photography (DP), key grip, and the best boy. Your main tasks include managing the crew, setting up lights, and working with the DP to achieve the desired look for a scene.
2. The Best Boy Electric
The best boy electric is the second-in-command in the electric department, assisting the gaffer in their duties. You’ll be responsible for organizing and managing the crew, including hiring, delegating tasks, and overseeing equipment usage. Your day-to-day tasks include running cables, setting up generators, and carrying out the gaffer’s instructions.
3. The Electrical Lighting Technician (ELT)
As an electrical lighting technician (ELT), your core responsibilities involve setting up, operating, and maintaining lighting equipment on set. You’ll work closely with both the gaffer and the best boy to ensure that each scene is lit according to the director’s vision. Your knowledge of different types of lighting fixtures and techniques will help the production achieve the desired visual effects. Make sure you’re familiar with industry safety standards, as you’ll need to address any potential hazards.
4. The Generator Operator
The generator operator is an essential part of the electric department, as they are responsible for providing and managing power on set. Your duties include setting up and maintaining generators, distributing power to the various equipment used in production, and troubleshooting any issues that may arise.
The Grip Department
1. The Key Grip
As the Key Grip, you’ll primarily be in charge of all rigging and supporting equipment such as dollies, tracks, and other gear necessary for camera and lighting setups. Your main collaboration will be with the Director of Photography (DP) and the Gaffer, as you share responsibilities for the perfect implementation of lighting and camera setups.
2. The Best Boy Grip
The Best Boy Grip is essentially the Key Grip’s right-hand person, serving as the second in command within the Grip Department. Your responsibility in this role would be to manage the grip crew, delegate tasks, oversee equipment maintenance, and troubleshoot any rigging issues on set.
3. The Grip
As a Grip in the Grip Department, you’ll be working under the supervision of the Key Grip and the Best Boy Grip to perform various tasks related to rigging and equipment. This will involve moving, setting up, and adjusting essential equipment like dollies, tripods, and tracks.
4. The Dolly Grip
The Dolly Grip is responsible for operating the camera dolly, which is a wheeled cart that can be mounted with the camera for smooth movement during a shot. Your role as a Dolly Grip will involve working closely with the camera crew and the Key Grip to make sure the dolly is properly set up and runs smoothly during each take.
The Hair & Make-up Departments
1. The Key Make-Up Artist
As a key make-up artist, you are responsible for designing and executing the overall makeup concept for the actors. This includes creating makeup looks that fit the characters and the story, as well as collaborating with the director and costume designer to achieve a cohesive aesthetic.
2. The Key Hair Stylist
In this role, you will design and create hair looks for the actors, in line with the director’s vision and the costume designer’s plans. Your duties include styling, cutting, and coloring hair as needed, and ensuring that the hairstyles maintain continuity throughout the film.
3. The Make-Up Assistants
As a make-up assistant, you work closely with the key make-up artist to ensure that all actors are ready for their scenes. Your tasks include prepping the actors’ skin, applying makeup according to the key artist’s instructions, and helping with touch-ups during the shoot. You may also be responsible for maintaining the makeup station and organizing products, tools, and materials.
4. The Special Effects Make-Up Artist
When working as a special effects make-up artist, you focus on creating prosthetic pieces and special makeup effects needed for the movie. This can include designing intricate wounds, aging effects, and even fantasy or sci-fi elements, depending on the project. To succeed in this position, you’ll need to possess exceptional artistry skills, as well as an understanding of materials and techniques specific to special effects makeup.
The Wardrobe Department
1. The Costume Designer
As a costume designer, your main responsibility is to create visually striking and appropriate outfits for the actors. This involves researching the time period, setting, and character backgrounds to ensure authenticity. Your artistic vision will play a significant role in the overall look and feel of the film.
2. The Wardrobe Supervisor
In your role as the wardrobe supervisor, you’ll manage the wardrobe department and directly oversee the set costumer, costume coordinator, tailor, and shopper. Your tasks include organizing the costumes, ensuring proper documentation and labeling, and maintaining the wardrobe budget.
3. The Set Costumer
As a set costumer, your role is to ensure that the actors are dressed correctly according to the costume designer’s vision. This includes making sure the costumes fit well, are clean and in good condition, and are consistent with the scene’s continuity.
4. The Costume Coordinator
In the role of costume coordinator, you will work closely with the wardrobe supervisor to ensure that all costumes are available when needed, are properly maintained, and conform to production schedules. You’ll manage the daily flow of costumes, track costume changes for actors, and oversee any necessary alterations or repairs.
5. The Tailor
Your skills as a tailor will be put to good use in the film wardrobe department. Your primary role is to make alterations and repairs to the costumes as needed, ensuring they fit the actors perfectly and are ready for their scenes. This might involve adjusting hems, resizing garments, or creating custom pieces to match the costume designer’s vision.
6. The Shopper
As a shopper in the wardrobe department, your responsibility is to source and acquire the clothing, accessories, and materials needed for the costumes. You will work closely with the costume designer, ensuring that their vision is accurately reflected in the items you purchase.
The Sound Department
1. The Production Sound Mixer
As a production sound mixer, your role is essential to create high-quality audio on set. You’re responsible for capturing all the audio from the set, including dialogue and location sounds. To do this, you set up microphones and digital sound recording equipment, making sure they’re working properly. You also collaborate closely with the director and other crew members to ensure the smooth running of the sound department.
2. The Boom Operator
The boom operator’s main task is to hold and manipulate the boom mic, positioning it close enough to capture actors’ voices, but also ensuring it’s not visible in the shot. Additionally, you will need to communicate with the production sound mixer to relay any critical changes or concerns regarding the audio on set.
3. The Sound Assistant
As a sound assistant, you provide support to both the production sound mixer and the boom operator. Your responsibilities may include setting up and maintaining the audio equipment, managing cables, and using additional microphones for specific scenes when needed.
The Craft Service & Catering Departments
When you’re working on a film set, it’s essential to keep the cast and crew fed and happy. That’s where the craft service and catering departments come in. These two departments work together to provide the necessary sustenance for everyone on the film set.
1. Craft Services Department
Often simply called “crafty,” is responsible for providing snacks, drinks, and other amenities throughout the day. This team keeps everyone’s energy levels up by supplying a constant stream of food and drink options.
2. Catering department
The catering is all about the hot, sit-down meals you and your fellow crew members will enjoy during meal breaks. The catering chef prepares these meals, usually serving the first meal about six hours after filming begins and the next one six hours later.
The Stunts Department
1. The Stunt Coordinator
As a part of the stunts department, the Stunt Coordinator plays a crucial role in planning and executing stunts safely. They work closely with the director to make sure the stunts align with the overall vision of the film. Ensuring the safety of the stunt performers and the entire crew is their top priority. The Stunt Coordinator is also responsible for choreographing stunts and hiring the right stunt performers for the project.
2. The Stunt Performer
Stunt Performers, also known as stuntmen and stuntwomen, are the talented individuals who perform those daring and sometimes dangerous stunts in films. They often work under the guidance of the Stunt Coordinator and may also act as doubles for the principal cast. Their main objective is to execute stunts while prioritizing their own safety and the safety of others on set.
Here are some key attributes of a good stunt performer:
- Physically fit and agile
- Highly-skilled in various action disciplines (martial arts, parkour, etc)
- Able to adapt to different situations
- Possess a strong sense of teamwork and communication
Coming from a gymnastics background, I was a stuntman for a variety of films including X2: X-Men United and it was an awesome experience.
3. The Set Medic
While the set medic services are needed in the entire film production, they are particularly vital in the stunts department due to the higher risk of accidents and injuries. They are responsible for providing first aid and emergency medical assistance on set. They also work closely with the Stunt Coordinator to help ensure the safety of all stunt performers.
The VFX Department
1. The VFX Supervisor
The VFX Supervisor is the person who oversees the visual effects team, ensuring that the special effects and visual effects blend seamlessly into the overall film. They collaborate closely with the director, discussing the creative vision of the project and offering ideas to improve it. They are responsible for the creation of storyboards, pre-visualization models, and tracking the progress of any CGI or VFX sequences.
2. The VFX Coordinator
As a VFX Coordinator, your main responsibility is to manage and organize the workflow within the VFX department. You’ll work closely with the VFX Supervisor, keeping track of deadlines, tasks, and resource allocation. You’ll also be responsible for facilitating communication between the VFX team and the other departments, ensuring everyone is on the same page and working towards a unified goal.
The Production Department
1. The Line Producer
As a line producer, your main responsibility is to oversee the budget and day-to-day operations of a film production. You work closely with the director, production manager, and other department heads to ensure that the project stays on schedule and within budget. Your duties may also include hiring crew members, making script breakdowns, and coordinating production logistics.
2. The Unit Production Manager (UPM)
The Unit Production Manager, or UPM, plays a critical role in managing the production process. You are responsible for organizing and controlling all aspects of production, including budget, schedule, and personnel. You collaborate with the line producer to develop a production plan, and you oversee the hiring and management of the film crew.
3. The Production Coordinator
A Production Coordinator helps organize and keep track of the myriad details involved in film production. You assist the production manager and UPM with various tasks, such as scheduling, coordinating travel arrangements, and processing paperwork. Your role as a production coordinator also entails liaising with different departments to make sure they have the necessary resources to complete their work.
4. The Set Accountant
As the Set Accountant, you handle the financial aspects of the film production. Your responsibilities involve processing payroll, managing accounts payable and receivable, and budget tracking. You work closely with the line producer and UPM to monitor costs and provide financial reports to the production team.
5. The Office Production Assistant (PA)
The Office Production Assistant (PA) is an entry-level position within the production department. As an office PA, you provide a wide range of tasks to support the production process. Your duties may include answering phones, organizing paperwork, and running errands. An Office PA is an excellent opportunity for those looking to learn the ins and outs of the film industry, as you can acquire first-hand knowledge about the production pipeline while working alongside experienced professionals.
It Takes a Village to Raise a List of Film Crew Positions
As you can see from the list of film crew positions, there are a plethora of roles needed for a successful film production. The crazy thing is I have only scratched the surface here as there are MANY other important roles that I didn’t mention.
If you are wanting to get started in filmmaking and get a film job, bookmark this page and carefully look over the above roles to see what might fit you for a shiny new job in filmmaking! Good luck!