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Coming to Terms

Television and Film credit rolls at the end of a project can sometimes lack real understanding of the actual job. Here are the most important "players" on the set and a job description to help you feel more confident and comfortable. A

glossary of personal we use when Coming to Terms!

Executive Producer – Ideally the executive producer arranges for the film's financing and tries to keep the project on budget. Increasingly the executive producer credit is given as a perk to a powerful actor's agent or spouse, or some other person who made the project possible.

Producer - The producer finds a script and develops it into a film project. He or she oversees the hiring of the director, actors and technical personnel. The producer also oversees script development and tracks the movie's


financial condition during filming.

Director – The director is responsible for all creative aspects of a movie. The director usually helps hire actors, decides on locations and plans the shots before filming begins. During filming the director oversees the actors


and crew, sets up shots and keeps the movie on schedule and on budget. The director is usually hired by a producer, unless he or she is also producing the film.

Writer(s) – The term "Written By" in the credits is a Writers Guild of America designation meaning "Original Story and Screenplay By." The writer creates and shapes an original story, or adapts a book, play or other work for use on the big screen. A script may go through many writers, so the Writer's Guild of America must often determine who gets screen credit as the Writer.

Cinematographer – The cinematographer, or director of photography (D.P.), helps create the look of a movie. The D.P. directs the lighting for each scene, helps frame shots, chooses lenses, selects film stock and ensures that the visual look of the film conforms to the director's vision. The cinematographer usually does not operate the camera on set (this is the duty of the camera operator).

Art Director - The art director, or production design


er, designs and supervises the construction of sets for a movie. This person needs to be well-versed in a variety of art and design styles, including architecture and interior design. He or she works with the cinematographer to achieve the right look for the production.

Editor - The editor works with the director in editing the film. The director has the primary responsibility for editing decisions, but the editor often has significant input in the creative decisions involved in putting together a final cut of a movie. The editor often starts work while the film is still being shot, by assembling preliminary cuts from the daily footage. Increasingly, editors work on computerized editing consoles without touching the actual film.

Associate Producer - In most cases an associate producer is the producer's top assistant, though this job varies from production to production. He or she is often a liaison between the production team (everyone helping to shoot the film) and the postproduction team (those who work on the film after shooting). Sometimes this credit goes to the project's financier, or the person who brought the project to the producer.

Stunt Coordinator - [This person is responsible for the safety of the stunts.] The stunt coordinator lines up professional stunt people to take the risks that make the movies so exciting. The stunt coordinator makes sure that all safety regulations are followed and that all safety equipment is on the set and ready for action.

Production Manager - The production manager (P.M.) m


akes business deals with the crew and arranges for the production's technical needs. This includes everything from obtaining the right technical equipment to renting accommodations for actors and crew.

Line Producer - The line producer supervises the movie's budget. This includes unique expenses like a star's salary as well as daily costs like equipment rentals. The production manager reports his or her expenses and needs to the line producer.

Assistant Director - The assistant director (A.D., or First A.D. in larger productions) works to make the director more efficient. The A.D. plans a shooting schedule by breaking the script into sections that can be filmed in a single day and in the most efficient order. During filming the A.D. manages the set, helps line up shots for the director, calls for quiet on the set and coordinates the extras. The assistant director is often a member of the Directors' Guild of America. paperwork, including call sheets (who needs to be on the set and when), actors' time sheets and production reports. This person also helps the First A.D. place extras and control crowds.

Storyboard Artist – the storyboard artist meets with the director of the film who describes his or her idea of the camera shots, camera angles, camera placement and action of the actors of the film. The artist draws the shots the director described. They are usually in black and white and


drawn with a pencil within a rectangle which represents what the camera actually will see in the viewfinder.

Camera Operator - The camera operator is a member of the camera crew and runs the camera as instructed by the director and the cinematographer. The camera operator is responsible for keeping the action in frame, and responding quickly to the action as it unfolds.

Assistant Cameraman - Often there is a first and second assistant cameraman. The first assistant cameraman is generally responsible for the maintenance of the camera. The first assistant cameraman also changes lenses, maintains focus during shots, marks the spots where actors will stand and measures the distance between the camera and the subject matter. The second assistant cameraman fills out camera reports and is often responsible for loading and unloading camera magazines, which contain the film. (Also see film loader.)

Boom Operator - The boom operator is a sound crew member who handles the microphone boom, a long pole that holds the microphone near the action but out of frame, allowing the microphone to follow the actors as they move.

Gaffer - The gaffer is the chief electrician on the set, and is responsible for lighting the set according to the instructions of the cinematographer.

Key Grip - The key grip is the chief grip on the set. Grips cr


eate shadow effects with lights and operate camera cranes, dollies and platforms as directed by the cinematographer.

Dolly Grip - The dolly grip places and moves the dolly track, then pushes and pulls the dolly along that track. The dolly is a cart that the camera and sometimes its crew sit on. It allows the camera to move smoothly from place to place during a shot.

Best Boy - There are actually two separate best boy positions -- the best boy/electric** and the best boy/grip** -- who are second in command to the gaffer and to the key grip. The best boy/grip is in charge of the rest of the grips and grip equipment. The best boy/electric is in charge of the rest of the electricians and the electrical equipment.

Foley Artist - The foley artist creates sounds that cannot be properly recorded during the shoot. This often includes creating foot steps, thunder, creaking doors and even the sound of punches during a barroom brawl.

ADR Editor - ADR is an acronym for automatic dialogue r


eplacement. In this process the actors are called back during the post-production process to re-record dialogue that wasn't recorded properly during the sho


ot. The editor supervises this process and matches the newly recorded lines to the actor's mouth on film.

Visual Effects Director - The visual effects director's job varies according to the needs of the production. Sometimes the visual effects director helps with effects on the set. But he or she could also be called upon to supervise separate teams of effects technicians working away from the set.



Post-Production Supervisor - The post-production supervisor oversees the finishing of a film once shooting ends. He or she attends editing sessions, maintains quality control, and coordinates audio mixing, com


puter graphics, and all other technical needs.

Matte Artist - The matte artist is a member of the special effects department who helps create locations that never existed. He or she constructs backgrounds (either with traditional artists' tools or, increasingly, with computers) that integrate with the live action filmed on a set. A good example of a matte painting is the yellow brick road in "The Wizard of Oz."

Location Manager - The location manager reads the script, decides what locations are necessary for the film, then scouts for them. The location manager visits possible locations and takes pictures to help the director find the best setting. After locations are chosen, the location manager acquires all the permits and permissions necessary for filming.

Set Designer - The set designer takes direction from the art director about the look of the set, and then plans its technical construction.



Costume Designer - The costume designer creates all the costumes worn by the cast on a production. This person contributes to the overall look of the film, as well as the style and interpretation of the film's characters.

Make-up Artist - The make-up artist is usually a licensed professional who applies any make-up to an actor.

Hairdresser - The hairdresser is licensed to cut, color and style the hair of actors in a production. He or she also styles and cuts wigs when necessary. Usually the hairdresser provides all the necessary equipment and rents it to the production on a weekly basis.

Dialogue Coach - The dialogue coach helps actors learn their lines and master accents and dialects that are necessary for their roles.



Production Assistant - Often called a gofer or a runner on the set, the production assistant (P.A.) performs small but essential tasks for the cast and crew.

Production Caterer - The production caterer provides all the meals for a production, especially for on-location shoots. The caterer m


akes sure that the food provided meets the needs of the cast, often including special items for the star of the movie.

Craft Services - The people responsible for coffee, beverages and snacks on the set. They also perform various small chores.


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