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This site does not really tackled 'roles' other than in the production dept. If you need a list of roles the best site to visit is Skillset. It is an industry site but it works well as a guide. Clearly on a commercial film, the crew list is a long one - check the credits at the end of any movie. It might help to take a closer look at the range of professional roles and what they entail but it is essential to take a look at possible crew structures in a less lavishly funded production. Establish who will be doing what in the production: actors, designers, camera, lighting, sound, editing and direction. In a classroom give children roles they are interested in and predisposed towards.

The roles described below are for a drama production. Documentaries and animation projects are slightly different; generally a documentary crew is a lot smaller while an animation team is similar but with an expanded art department.

The main people in a production department are:

Producer (the boss)

Raises money to make the film. Works with the writer to improve a script, works with a director to choose actors and key crew members like Production Designer, Camera Person, Composer, Editor. This person may not always be around during filming as they could be out raising money for the next project or trying to sell the last project.

Production manager (assistant boss)

In charge of ensuring the film comes in safely, on time and on budget. Will often be given a script well in advance of any filming to make a budget and preliminary schedule so the Producer knows how much money to raise. Is in charge of hiring any crew not already chosen by the Producer or Director. Most big questions (eg money) go to this person first, if they can't solved, they go to the producer. This person is always around during filming, sometimes in the office, sometimes on set.

Production coordinator (boss when the other two are away)

At the heart of the production office. This person is ALWAYS in the office, it is their job to know where everyone else is, what they're doing and when they'll be back. They sort out travel and accommodation, update and distribute all the paperwork, eg various versions of scripts, schedules, call sheets, travel directions and risk assessments. Whatever department you're in, if you need the rest of the crew to know something you tell the Production Coordinator who distributes the information. Most medium sized questions go to this person, if they can't solve it they go to the Production Manager

Production assistant

Assists everyone in the production department, but mostly the Co-ordinator. Often has to answer the phone, photocopying, run errands, order stationery. During the shoot they go to and from the office and location taking various bits of paperwork between the two. They must do what they're told, but need some initiative! three jobs which cross over between the production office and the actual filming set or location are:

First assistant director (1st AD)

This role involves assisting the Director, communicating with the crew (and sometimes cast) on behalf of the Director, if the Director requests this on the shoot.

Along with the Production Manager, this person has to make sure the film runs safely and to schedule. They will make a detailed schedule for the filming days, along with the Director and Producer. They break down the script into elements, like scenes, locations, which actors are needed when, and try to fit it all together to make sure the work gets done in the most efficient way possible.

Once the shoot is up and running, this person is on set at all times to ensure the schedule is adhered to, and the shoot is running safely and happily. This job is not about assisting the director to choose good shots (the camera person does this) or telling actors how to perform (the director and producer will discuss this).

If you ever visit a film set, you might mistake the 1stAD for the director as they control the set and allow the director to get on

Second assistant director

If you have a large cast, or lots of extras, you need one of these. It is this person who must make sure, once the schedule has been set, that the actors know when and where they will be needed, and how to get to the set (picked up? taxi? bus?). They may also have the job of casting extras for a large crowd scene, at a party for example. Film or TV productions with a long schedule may have more than one 2nd AD so that one can continue to do prep for the weeks or months to come while the other looks after the immediate shoot. They often work closely with the Production Coordinator, who will be booking accommodation and transport.

Location manager

is in charge of researching and visiting suitable locations with the Director/Producer and, once chosen, securing permission to film there. They have to make sure (along with the Production Coordinator) that everyone knows how to get there, where the crew should put their stuff, park their cars, find the toilets, set up dressing rooms - etc.

The location manager is also responsible for ensuring that locations are left in the same state - or better - at the end of the shoot as at the start. They should not have to clean up after everyone, but ensure everyone cleans up after themselves, and that the location is locked up at the end of the day.

Organising a production department for educational/community projects

All of the people listed are key in the preparation, planning and carrying out of a shoot. Their jobs have evolved as a logical way of delegating responsibility. Even if you don't have enough people to do all the jobs, note their areas of responsibility and delegate these to the people you do have.

If you have to double up, the following works well:

  • Production Manager/1st AD
  • Production Coordinator/2nd AD
  • Producer/Production Manager (but try to make sure you have a good production assistant as back up)

Location Mangers are hard to double up with any other job since they tend to be out and about a lot, but you only REALLY need one if you have a few different locations to find and take care of. Sometimes your Art Department people can be helpful and open up and lock up a location, as they tend to have to be there first to dress sets and bring props.