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Jobs Glossary

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There are hundreds of jobs in film and television, each one with its own specific roles and objectives. What does a gaffer, a key grip or a best boy do? Find out here:

Jobs D–L

Creature Designer

These artists create masks, body parts and sometimes entire creatures.

Development Executive

Producers have the final responsibility for all aspects of a film’s production. They are frequently the first person to become involved in a project. The Development Producers’ role is to turn ideas into profitable entertainment and to persuade others to share in their vision.

Development Producers are often responsible for coming up with the underlying premise of a production, or for selecting the screenplay. They are often responsible for securing the necessary rights, selecting the screenwriter and story editing team, raising the development financing and supervising the development process.

Dialect Coach

A person who helps train an actor in diction and/or the use of inflections, so that his or her speech fits the character and situation.

Digital Imaging Technician

Digital Imaging Technicians (a.k.a. HD Technicians) A person who provides on set quality control, image manipulation and color correction, production continuity, troubleshooting and consultation to assist in fullfilling the requirements and vision of the cinematographer in film style digital production.

Director

The Director is the driving creative force in a film’s production and acts as the crucial link between the production, technical and creative teams. Directors are responsible for creatively translating the film’s written script into actual images and sounds on the screen – he or she must visualize and define the style and structure of the film, then act as both a storyteller and team leader to bring this vision to reality. Directors’ main duties include casting, script editing, shot composition, shot selection and editing. While the practical aspects of filmmaking, such as finance and marketing, are left to the producer, Directors must also always be aware of the constraints of the film’s budget and schedule. In some cases, Directors assume multiple roles such as director/producer or director/writer. Being a Director requires great creative vision, dedication and commitment. Directors are ultimately responsible for a film’s artistic and commercial success or failure.

Responsibilities:
Directors may write the film’s script or commission it to be written; or they may be hired after an early draft of the script is complete. Directors must then develop a vision for the finished film and define a practical route for achieving it. During pre–production, Directors make crucial decisions, such as selecting the right cast, crew and locations for the film. They then direct rehearsals and the performances of the actors once the film is in production. Directors also manage the technical aspects of filming, including the camera, sound, lighting, design and special effects departments.

During post production, Directors work closely with editors through the many technical processes of editing, to reach the final cut or version of the film. At all stages, Directors are responsible for motivating the team to produce the best possible results. Directors must also appreciate the needs and expectations of the film’s financiers.

Skills:
Directors must have exceptional artistic vision and creative skills to develop an engaging and original film. Unerring commitment and a deep passion for filmmaking are essential, along with the ability to act as a strong and confident leader. Directors must constantly make decisions, but must also be able to delegate and to collaborate with others. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are vital to get the best from the filmmaking team.

Directors must inspire and motivate the team to produce the film they have envisioned. They need an extensive understanding of the entire filmmaking process, from both technical and creative points of view. A capacity for long hours of intensive work, attention to detail and the ability to remain calm and think clearly under great pressure, are key skills for this role. Directors also need great self belief and the determination to succeed.

Director of Photography

The Director of Photography is usually referred to as the DoP and is responsible for selecting all camera equipment for the production and liaising with the technical director. The Director of Photography decides what lights and related camera equipment are needed and procures these. The Director of Photography is ultimately in charge of the photographic quality of the show and heads up a crew. They are responsible to the director.

Director’s Assistant

The Director’s Assistant is an administrator who works closely with the director throughout the production process. They are involved at the pre–production stage through to post production marketing and distribution. They must be well organized, flexible and have a good overview of the production process. The director will determine their responsibilities throughout the production on a day to day basis.

Their tasks may include writing coverage on scripts, drafting letters, making phone calls, running an office, interviewing personnel, coordinating the fundraising process, assisting with duties on and off set, liaising between the producer and the post production team and helping to prepare publicity materials. They may also be asked to help with copyright, arranging meetings and events and managing money.

Director, Commercials

A Commercial Director is a film director who specializes in creating audio visual advertising. These are called commercials and are then used as promotional tools for a client’s product(s).

Director, Feature Film

The Director is the driving creative force in a film’s production and acts as the crucial link between the production, technical and creative teams. Directors are responsible for creatively translating the film’s written script into actual images and sounds on the screen – he or she must visualize and define the style and structure of the film, then act as both a storyteller and team leader to bring this vision to reality.

Directors’ main duties include casting, script editing, shot composition, shot selection and editing. While the practical aspects of filmmaking, such as finance and marketing, are left to the producer, Directors must also always be aware of the constraints of the film’s budget and schedule. In some cases, Directors assume multiple roles such as director/producer or director/writer. Being a Director requires great creative vision, dedication and commitment. Directors are ultimately responsible for a film’s artistic and commercial success or failure.

Responsibilities:
Directors may write the film’s script or commission it to be written; or they may be hired after an early draft of the script is complete. Directors must then develop a vision for the finished film and define a practical route for achieving it. During pre–production, Directors make crucial decisions, such as selecting the right cast, crew and locations for the film. They then direct rehearsals and the performances of the actors once the film is in production. Directors also manage the technical aspects of filming, including the camera, sound, lighting, design and special effects departments.

During post production, Directors work closely with editors through the many technical processes of editing, to reach the final cut or version of the film. At all stages, Directors are responsible for motivating the team to produce the best possible results. Directors must also appreciate the needs and expectations of the film’s financiers.

Skills:
Directors must have exceptional artistic vision and creative skills to develop an engaging and original film. Unerring commitment and a deep passion for filmmaking are essential, along with the ability to act as a strong and confident leader. Directors must constantly make decisions, but must also be able to delegate and to collaborate with others. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are vital to get the best from the filmmaking team.

Directors must inspire and motivate the team to produce the film they have envisioned. They need an extensive understanding of the entire filmmaking process, from both technical and creative points of view. A capacity for long hours of intensive work, attention to detail and the ability to remain calm and think clearly under great pressure, are key skills for this role. Directors also need great self belief and the determination to succeed.

Director, Music Video

A Music Video Director is a film director that specializes in creating short films driven by a given music track. These are called music videos and are then used as promotional tools for popular music singles. The earliest music videos were directed by television and film directors; by the 1990s music video directing had become a specialised field.

Dolly Grip

A Grip that moves a dolly (the wheeled platform which carries the camera and the camera operator) and must create smooth movements that do not distract from the onscreen action.

Dubbing Mixer

Re–Recording Mixers, formerly known as Dubbing Mixers, work with all the sound elements (dialogue, automated dialogue replacement, foley, sound effects, atmospheres and music) and mix them together to create the final soundtrack. They are primarily responsible for ensuring that film sound is correct both technically and stylistically.

Setting the relative volume levels and positioning these sounds is an art form in its own right, requiring the skill and aesthetic judgment provided by experienced Re–Recording Mixers. Because of changes in technology, many jobs in sound post production are less easily defined, e.g., on some small to medium budget films, Re–Recording Mixers may also work as sound designers.

Although they are usually employed by audio post production houses, Re–Recording Mixers may also work on a freelance basis. They work extremely long hours under considerable pressure and usually work on both film and television drama productions.

What is the job?
Re–Recording Mixers’ first task on films is usually mixing the soundtrack for audience previews. Typically, this involves an intense period of time (up to three days) spent in the dubbing studio, where they work at large mixing consoles, mixing and smoothing out (cross fading) the sound, often adding a temporary music soundtrack prepared by the music editor. Re–Recording Mixers must work quickly, to extremely high standards.

After audience previews, the producer(s) and financiers usually require films to be recut and further mixes to be undertaken by Re–Recording Mixers. When picture lock has been achieved (the director and/or executive producer have given final approval of the picture edit), Re–Recording Mixers premix the sound, reducing the number of tracks, so that the final mix can be accomplished with fewer technical complications.

In the final mix, the soundtrack is further refined in consultation with the director and mixed to a 5.1 Surround Sound industry standard. This process can take between 2 and 12 weeks depending on each film’s scale and budget. Re–Recording Mixers finish work on films on the last day of the final mix.

Editor

Film Editors assemble footage of feature films, television shows, documentaries and industrials into a seamless end product. They manipulate plot, score, sound and graphics to refine the overall story into a continuous and enjoyable whole. On some films, the film Editor is chosen before cast members and script doctors; people in Hollywood recognize that the skills of a good film Editor can save a middling film. In the same way directors use certain actors they appreciate over and over again, they also use film Editors they know and are comfortable with. Martin Scorcese, Spike Lee and Robert Wise are a few of the directors who work with the same Editors over and over again. Such relationships lend stability to a film Editor’s life; otherwise, they must be prepared to submit video resume after video resume, in the struggle to get work.

Editors can express themselves through their unique styles; Spike Lee’s Editor, for example, is well known for his editing style. The hours are long and the few Editors who had the time to write comments to us tended to abbreviate their thoughts. "Dawn/Dusk. Rush jobs. After test audiences, do it again. Lots of frustration. Lots of control, though," wrote one.

Just as directors do, film Editors spend a long time perfecting and honing their craft. Like most industries, the film industry has embraced new technology. Assistant Editors must now have strong computer skills to work in the industry. While some Editors stay removed from the project during the filming process so as not to steer the director away from his or her concept of the film, many of them do visit the director on set while production is underway. Nevertheless, the majority of a film Editor’s work is done alone. Despite that solitude, interpersonal skills are just as important as endurance is in an Editor’s career.

Film Editors work closely with sound editors and musical directors as the film nears completion. Long hours and significant isolation while actually editing can make even the most positive minded film Editor question their career choice. But an interesting, well edited film can restore faith in the profession. Most aspiring film Editors work as interns, production assistants, or animation editing assistants while in graduate school. Once out of school, Editors usually work in the production field or for an established film Editor for little money.

People who want to pay their dues and become independent, self supporting film Editors take note: 4–10 years of on the job training before making enough connections, building up a significant body of work and being able to start your own editing service is more than common. For the most part, it’s the only way to succeed in this profession.

Editor, Assistant

Film and television Assistant Editors aid the editor and director in collecting and organizing all the elements needed to edit the film. When editing is finished, they oversee the various lists and instructions necessary to put the film into its final form. Editors of large budget feature films will usually have a team of Assistants working for them. The First Assistant Editor is in charge of this team and may do a small bit of picture editing as well, if necessary. The other Assistants will have set tasks, usually helping each other when necessary to complete the many time sensitive tasks at hand. In addition, an Apprentice Editor may be on hand to help the Assistants. An Apprentice is usually someone who is learning the ropes of assisting.

Television shows typically have one Assistant per Editor. This Assistant is responsible for every task required to bring the show to final form. Lower budget features and documentaries will also commonly have only one Assistant.

The organizational aspects of a film or television Assistant Editing job could best be compared to database management. When a film is shot, every piece of picture or sound is coded with numbers and time codes. It is the Assistant’s job to keep track of these numbers in a database, which, in non–linear editing, is linked to the computer program. The editor and director cut the film using digital copies of the original film and sound, commonly referred to as an "offline" edit. When the cut is finished, it is the Assistant’s job to bring the film or television show "online." They create lists and instructions that tell the picture and sound finishers how to put the edit back together with the high quality original elements. Assistant Editing can be seen as a career path to eventually becoming an editor. Many Assistants, however, do not choose to pursue advancement to editor and are very happy at the Assistant level, working long and rewarding careers on many films and television shows.

Electrician

The person or grip in charge of and familiar with the electrical equipment on the set.

Executive Assistant

The Executive Assistant (sometimes called Administrative Assistant or Associate) has a myriad of administrative duties. Traditionally, these duties were mostly related to correspondence, such as the typing out of letters. The advent of word processing has significantly reduced the time that such duties require, with the result that many new tasks have come under the oversee of the Executive Assistant.

These might include managing budgets and doing bookkeeping, maintaining websites and making travel arrangements. Executive Assistant might manage all the administrative details of running a high level conference or arrange the catering for a typical lunch meeting. Often executives will ask their Assistant to write original documents for review and also to collaborate with others. They may also do personnel paperwork which used to be thought of as a human relations function; this might also include understanding the complex rules regarding Visa and Immigration.

Executive Producer

The role of the Executive Producer is to oversee the work of the producer on behalf of the studio, the financiers or the distributors. They will ensure the film is completed on time, within budget and to agreed artistic and technical standards. An Executive Producer may be a producer who has raised a significant proportion of a film’s finance, or who has secured the underlying rights to the project. In major productions, the Executive Producer may be a representative or CEO of the film studio. In smaller companies or independent projects they may be the creator or writer.Typically, Executive Producers are not involved in the technical aspects of the filmmaking process, but have played a crucial financial or creative role in ensuring that the project goes into production. There may be several Executive Producers on a film who may take the lead role in a number of areas, such as development, financing or production.

Executive Producers must be excellent negotiators. They need a keen business sense and an intimate knowledge of all aspects of film production, financing, marketing and distribution.

Executive Producer (TV)

Executive Producers are responsible for the overall quality control of productions. They are part of the team who are responsible for selecting marketable projects. They lead the production of a range of television programs, including dramas, serial dramas, documentaries and drama documentaries. On some productions the Executive Producer role may be combined with other roles, so that as well as raising the finance they may also be responsible for managing the budget during production.

On serial dramas and some entertainment programs, experienced and well known writers may also be credited as Executive Producers. On current affairs and news programming, the Executive Producer role is often combined with that of the program editor.

Executive Producers must be able to identify commercial, marketable projects. Executive Producers have overall responsibility for the successful financing and marketing of these projects. They play a key role in ensuring that projects eventually become broadcast programs.

During production Executive Producers may be involved in some aspects of scripting, casting and crewing. Executive Producers often work on a number of projects simultaneously.

They are experienced industry practitioners, who have usually worked previously for a number of years in any one of a variety of roles, such as producer, writer, director or script editor. Most have some hands on experience of producing.

Field Producer

The Field Producer is a coordinator for a story while the crew is in the field. This person generally oversees the production of a story, working with a reporter and photographer to set up interviews, gather video and collect information. The Field Producer is also the liaison between the crew and the newsroom. In many cases, the Field Producer will conduct the research, log the video and write the story for the reporter. Sometimes the Field Producer will conduct interviews for the reporter.

Fixer

A Fixer provides logistical support, facilitates permit, custom, location, talent, crews, equipment, accommodation and transportation for filmmakers who wish to conduct filming abroad.

Foley Artist

Foley is the reproduction of everyday sounds for use in filmmaking. These reproduced sounds can be anything from the swishing of clothing and footsteps to squeaky doors and breaking glass. The best Foley art is so well integrated into a film that it goes unnoticed by the audience. It helps to create a sense of reality within a scene. Without these crucial background noises, movies feel unnaturally quiet and uncomfortable.

Foley artists look to recreate the realistic ambient sounds that the film portrays. The props and sets of a film do not react the same way acoustically as their real life counterparts. Foley sounds are used to enhance the auditory experience of the movie. Foley can also be used to cover up unwanted sounds captured on the set of a movie during filming that might take away from the scene at hand.

Food Stylist

Food Stylists (sometimes called Food Dressers) make food look attractive in photographs and videos for advertisements and menus.

Gaffer

A Gaffer in the motion picture industry is the head of the electrical department, responsible for the execution (and sometimes the design) of the lighting plan for a production. In British English the term Gaffer is long established as meaning an old man, or the foreman of a squad of workmen. The term was also used to describe men who adjusted lighting in English theater and men who tended street lamps, after the "gaff" they used, a pole with a hook on its end.

Sometimes the Gaffer is credited as chief lighting technician (CLT). In television the term Lighting Director is often used, but sometimes the Technical Director (T.D.) will light the studio set. Experienced Gaffers can coordinate the entire job of lighting, given knowledge of the time of day and conditions to be portrayed, managing resources as broad as electrical generators, lights, cable and manpower. Gaffers are responsible for knowing the appropriate color of gel (plastic sheeting) to put on the lights or windows to achieve a variety of effects, such as transforming midday into a beautiful sunset. They can recreate the flicker of lights in a subway car, the motion of light inside a turning airplane, or the passage of night into day.

Usually, the Gaffer works for and reports to the director of photography (the DP or DOP). The DP is responsible for the overall lighting design, but he or she may give a little or a lot of latitude to the Gaffer on these matters, depending on their working relationship. The Gaffer works with the key grip, who is in charge of some of the equipment related to the lighting. The Gaffer will usually have an assistant called a best boy and, depending on the size of the job, crew members who are called "electricians," although not all of them are trained as electricians in the usual sense of the term. Many Gaffers are expected to own a truck complete with most basic lighting equipment and then rent extra lighting equipment as needed.

Graphics/Titles Designer

Title Designers design the opening titles, captions and credits for film and TV productions. They may spend a great deal of time researching or creating specific fonts which accurately reflect the film’s genre or period. They also contribute to creative decisions such as the choice of color and whether to include animation or special effects. They may be freelance and pitch for work using their show reels, or they may be employed by digital, special effects and design companies. Title Designers are often required to work long hours with strict deadlines.

They usually start work near the end of the editing process, when they meet with the director and editor to discuss the themes and ideas in the film that will influence the creation of the opening titles, graphic captions within the film, the end cards and end roller. They will then produce a range of ideas according to the brief. They may include the use of specially designed fonts, animated segments or live–action sequences. If they work for a company they will usually draw on the expertise of their colleagues. For example if animated sequences are required they will usually work with digital compositors. They will continue to work up and refine their ideas until they are approved and the digital artwork files can be composited with the film background.

The majority of Title Designers come from a graphic design background. Some start out in advertising agencies or design consultancies while others may begin as juniors in digital special effects houses and gain immediate experience of working on films. A strong portfolio of work is a prerequisite to gaining entry into film and television design even at a junior level. Titles Designers must have a good knowledge of graphics and typography plus a good working understanding of computer and graphics software packages. Knowledge of animation techniques, film cameras and digital editing, is also required.

Grip

Grips’ responsibility is to build and maintain all the equipment that supports cameras. This equipment, which includes tripods, dollies, tracks, jibs, cranes and static rigs, is constructed of delicate yet heavy duty parts requiring a high level of experience to operate and move. Every scene in a feature film is shot using one or more cameras, each mounted on highly complex, extremely expensive, heavy duty equipment. Grips assemble this equipment according to meticulous specifications and push, pull, mount or hang it from a variety of settings. The equipment can be as basic as a tripod standing on a studio floor, to hazardous operations such as mounting a camera on a 100 ft crane, or hanging it from a helicopter swooping above a mountain range.

Good Grips perform a crucial role in ensuring that the artifice of film is maintained and that camera moves are as seamless as possible. Grips are usually requested by the DoP or the camera operator. Although the work is physically demanding and the hours are long, the work can be very rewarding. Many Grips work on both commercials and features.

What is the job?
Grips work closely with the director, director of photography (DoP) and the camera operator to ensure that all positioning or movement of cameras is achievable. Grips are usually responsible for pushing the dolly (the wheeled platform which carries the camera and the camera operator) and must create smooth movements that do not distract from the onscreen action. On large projects with multiple cameras, the key Grip is responsible for the main camera (camera A), with other Grips providing additional camera support.

Grips begin work in the later stages of pre–production, when they join all other heads of department to carry out a technical recess. If particular challenges are identified, Grips work with specialized companies to devise tailor made pieces of equipment to facilitate difficult camera maneuvers which are sometimes performed on location in extreme terrain and/or severe weather. During shooting days, Grips and their team (which may include other Grips, a remote head technician, a crane operator, tracking car drivers and all construction standbys) arrive on set early, unload all the equipment and ensure that everything is prepared for the day’s filming.

After the Director has rehearsed the actors, all the shots are choreographed, using stand–ins (the line–up) and Grips subsequently set up any required equipment. Whenever a crane is used, a minimum of two Grips are always employed, collaborating closely with the crane operator about mounting and moving the camera. Grips should be ready as soon as the camera starts to roll and they must anticipate all the camera moves, while also keeping in mind the preparations required for the next camera setup. At the end of each day’s shooting, Grips oversee the packing up of all camera support equipment.

Hair Stylist

Hairdressers work on feature films and on some commercials and pop promos. They liaise closely with colleagues in the hair, makeup and costume departments, as well as with directors, actors and extras. They prepare performers’ scalp and skin and create hairstyles to suit production requirements. They also work with wigs, hairpieces and hair extensions and may be required to use chemical solutions and to administer hair and scalp treatments as necessary. They oversee hair continuity during shoots and remove products as required. Hairdressers are recruited onto films during pre–production and work throughout production, usually on a freelance basis. The hours are long and the job can involve long periods working away from home.

What is the job?
Hairdressers are briefed by heads of department (either the makeup and hair designer, or the chief hairdresser) who provide them with detailed continuity notes for the characters they create. They work on principal and supporting actors and, depending on the schedule, usually look after several actors throughout the shoot. Personal Hairdressers are specifically requested by one of the principal actors to work exclusively on their hair and they have autonomy within the department. They liaise closely with the chief dresser and are responsible for breaking down the script, all hairdressing requirements and monitoring the continuity of hair for their own actor, throughout each production. They attend any wig and/or hairpiece fittings with their artists.

Dailies work on productions on a day to day basis, usually on large crowd scenes. In all cases, Hairdressers prepare performers’ hair and scalp in advance, note any allergies or sensitivities and report them to appropriately qualified personnel. They wash, cut, blow dry and style hair, apply hair products and use techniques to create specific designs. They repair, alter and dress wigs and hairpieces. Hairdressers usually accompany their performers onto set and standby during their scenes, touching up hair and redressing wigs between takes and ensuring that continuity notes are maintained by taking length measurements and Polaroid photographs. When the scenes have been shot, Hairdressers wash out products from and condition, performers’ hair. They remove wigs and ensure that they are cleaned and prepared for further use. Hairdressers may be required to assist with any subsequent publicity shots.

Key Grip

The chief of a group of Grips, often doubling for a construction coordinator and a backup for the camera crew, that also moves a dolly. Key Grips work closely with the gaffer.

Lighting Supervisor

Lighting Director/Supervisor is the most senior role in television lighting departments. Using the script or brief from the production team they design the specific look required for each shot. They use their advanced technical skills to realize the design and, with the help of the rest of the lighting department, to set up and operate specialized lights and accessories. As lighting is an essential part of a programs’ overall design and style, this is a key creative and technical role. Lighting Directors work closely with the lighting console operator, senior electrician (gaffer) and several electricians (sparks). On single camera shoots, the Lighting Camera person often takes responsibility for the lighting, although a gaffer, working alone or with a spark, may be brought in to assist on large projects or special setups.

Lighting Directors usually work on a freelance basis; work offers are unpredictable and planning ahead can be difficult. Early starts and long hours are often involved and the work is intensive and can be physically exhausting. Although it may take many years to progress to this role, once established, it can be financially rewarding.

What is the job?
Lighting Directors make extensive preparations before recording days, including script reading and taking part in discussions about the style required. Planning meetings are usually held, involving the director and heads of department including the production designer, costume designer, makeup designer, sound supervisor and camera supervisor. They discuss in detail the logistics of the production and resolve any conflicts. Lighting is influenced by a wide range of factors, including the script, the director’s requirements, set design, location, camera shots, costumes, sound and the available equipment. Following the planning meeting, Lighting Directors may prepare a lighting plan (or plot) which provides information about the position, type and color of all the lights to be used. They work closely with the gaffer, who organizes any required extra equipment and power supplies. Lighting Directors oversee the set up and operation of the lights, by instructing a team of sparks on the studio floor and the lighting console operator who controls studio lighting effects, using equipment in the gallery (technical area). During recordings or live transmissions, any final adjustments are made as and when required.

Lighting Technical Director

A Lighting Director designs the lighting for multi camera television productions. He or she instructs the electricians’ crew in their work in addition to guiding the team of operators who usually sit with the LD in the lighting gallery. All this while working closely with the director and the rest of the production team to deliver the pictures they are hoping to see.

Line Producer

The Line Producer is one of the first people to be employed on a film’s production by the producer and executive producers. A Line Producer is a key member of the production team for a motion picture. Typically, a Line Producer manages the budget of a motion picture. Alternatively, or in addition, they may manage the day to day physical aspects of the film production, serving a role similar to the unit production manager. Line Producers usually do not act as part of the creative team for a picture. Because Line Producers work on location, they don’t work on more than one film at a time (unlike other producer roles). A Line Producer may also hire key members of the crew, negotiate deals with vendors and is considered the head of production. Line Producers are rarely involved in the development of the project, but often play a crucial role in costing the production in order to provide investors with the confidence to invest in the project. As soon as the finance has been raised, the Line Producer supervises the preparation of the film’s budget and the day to day planning and running of the production. Line Producers are usually employed on a freelance basis. They must expect to work long hours, though the role can be financially very rewarding. Career advancement is based on their experience and reputation. Where a Line Producer has a creative input to the production, he or she is often credited as a coproducer.

Responsibilities:
Line Producers are in charge of all the business aspects of the physical production of films. They are called Line Producers because they cannot start work until they know what the ’line’ is between the ‘above–the–line’ costs, which relate to writers, producers, directors and cast and the ’below–the–line’ costs which include everything else, e.g., crew salaries, equipment rentals, development costs, locations, set design and construction, insurance, etc. Line Producers are usually recruited onto the production team during the later stages of development. They are given the script and asked to assess the likely ’below the line’ cost of the production which involves breaking down the screenplay into a schedule – a timetable for the film shoot that shows how long it will take to shoot each scene. From this schedule the Line Producer can accurately estimate the cost of each day’s shooting and produce a provisional budget estimating the total amount of funding required. Once the producer and executive producers have raised the required finance, the film can go into pre–production.

During pre–production, Line Producers work closely with the director, production manager, first assistant director, art director and other heads of department to prepare the production schedule and budget and to set the shoot date. Line Producers oversee all other pre–production activities, including hiring the production team, setting up the production office, location scouting, ensuring compliance with regulations and codes of practice, sourcing equipment and suppliers, selecting crew, engaging supporting artists and contributors and monitoring the progress of the art department and other production departments.

During production, Line Producers hand over control of the final budget to the production accountant and delegate the day to day operation of the production office to the production manager and production coordinator. However, Line Producers are ultimately responsible for overseeing all activities and for ensuring that the production is completed on time and within budget. This requires setting up and implementing financial monitoring systems, controlling production expenditure, controlling production materials and monitoring and controlling the progress of productions. Line Producers usually allow a 10% contingency in the budget to cater for unforeseen circumstances and spend much of their time juggling figures and resources. Line Producers are responsible for certain health and safety procedures and for sorting out any insurance claims. At the end of the shoot, the Line Producer oversees the ’wrap’, or winding down, of the production.

Skills:
Line Producers must possess an in–depth knowledge of scheduling and budgeting and of all the physical and technical processes of filmmaking. They need excellent industry contacts and must command the respect of the production crew. Exceptional communication skills are required, as well as the diplomacy to balance the creative expectations of the director, artists and creative personnel with the financial resources available. They always need to plan for the worst, while simultaneously being able to inspire others to excel in their work. Unlike producers, Line Producers are not responsible under health and safety legislation for setting up health and safety procedures; however, they are required to carry out risk assessments according to regulatory requirements. They must therefore know how to identify the hazards in the production environment, to assess the level of risk, to recommend action and to carry out a review of their assessment.

Qualifications/Experience:
No qualifications can prepare anyone completely for this hugely demanding role. Line Producers must have considerable industry experience, which can only be acquired by working for a number of years in film, television and/or commercial production. Individuals usually progress to the role of Line Producer by working their way through a variety of roles in assistant direction, location management and/or the production office. Many start their careers as runners or production assistants. Line Producers must also attend the required health and safety courses.

Loader/Clapper

The person who operates the clapboard at the beginning of a shot, also responsible for loading film stock into film magazines. The action of slapping the clapper was invented as a way of synchronizing the visual and audio components of a shot. Recent innovations in audio–visual synchronization have made this unnecessary, but it still occurs extensively.

Location Manager

The Location Manager is the person who will be liaising directly with the film production company or advertising agency and may be working closely with the film’s director, taking decisions not only about the right location, but also the logistics of making that location work. The Location Manager will be closely involved with the rest of the production team dealing with many such logistical problems and their solutions—perhaps none of which may have been known to the Location Scout when first they started scouting.

During pre–production the locations department (specifically, most likely the Location Manager himself in situations requiring the most responsibility) will have already established contact with and begun negotiation with any number of internal and external parties as may have bearing on production’s ability to film at the location, otherwise known as "clearing the location", i.e. investigating and confirming availability and agreed upon fees to be paid to a location property owner or agent, obtaining a certificate of insurance, obtaining any needed film permits (may involve fees as per local requirements), distributing "resident letters" or "filming notifications" – written advice to neighbors in the area, advising same of intent to film in the immediate area (often necessary per local requirements as well as morally advisable if production’s presence will impact local normal day to day activities in any appreciable way) – in general "locking down" or making sure that all details and existing or potential issues are addressed.

While it is the locations department’s job to anticipate and minimize any potential problems associated with a location, it is also the locations department’s duty to advise other production department heads of any unresolvable problems or inherent issues that need consideration so contingencies can be planned or a decision can be made as to whether an alternate location might actually be better suited. In such case plans might be made and budget allocated for further research and location scouting.

Location Scout

The Location Scouts and other location department staff work under the location manager. Their function is to provide as many potentially useful/viable ideas and/or options as possible for review by production; often the assistant director, production manager and subsequently, the director or even the executive producer in the case of narrative filmmaking. They are responsible for heading out to various areas that could serve as possible production locations.

The Location Scout may be convinced that he or she has found the perfect spot, but it’s not always the perfect spot that is the most practical: when there’s an entire unit to be moved into position, decisions are made about the distances involved, the availability within the schedule on that day of the stars, key personnel, special equipment, etc., etc. Each time a Scout is asked to find something, it’s invariably something new and quite different to the previous assignment. Commonplace locations, let’s say kitchens or public parks, are very well covered by location libraries, so if the needs are simple, why not keep the solution simple? However the world of filming (and photography) is the world of imagination, so for each new script, each new concept, there’s a new question needing an answer. For example, the kitchen might need a view through the window to a swimming pool, or the script might demand that the public park has a south facing slope overlooking a lake. No matter how good library photographs may be, there will always be occasions when a location needs to be re–photographed to demonstrate its suitability.

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