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:
Makeup Artists work on feature films and on some commercials and pop promos, working to the chief makeup artist. Makeup and hair are key elements in the overall design of films or television productions, creating a look for the characters in relation to social class and time periods and any other elements required to create the desired illusion. Makeup Artists should be experienced in using a wide variety of professional makeup products. They must be able to work to makeup designs to meet production requirements. They also work with facial hair and may be required to affix any required small prosthetics. They oversee makeup continuity on their performer(s) during the shoot and remove products as required. Makeup Artists 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?
Makeup Artists are briefed by chief makeup artists, who provide them with detailed notes, character and scene breakdowns and if necessary reference pictures about the characters they must create. Occasionally they may only receive a rough brief and must produce their own script breakdown and research and create their own design notes. They work on principal and supporting Actors and depending on the schedule, usually look after several Actors throughout the shoot. They are responsible for maintaining the continuity of their Artists’ "look". They must also carry out full risk assessments and develop procedures to control risks.
On smaller productions Makeup Artists must be able to negotiate terms with appropriate suppliers and prosthetic makers, provide them with design specifications and ensure that they deliver to specific deadlines. They discuss color palettes with Production and Costume Designers. They make appointments for and if necessary, go with actors to facial hair fittings, prosthetic castings, optician and dental appointments. They ensure that actors are comfortable with their look, note any allergies or sensitivities and report them to appropriately qualified personnel.
Personal Makeup Artists are specifically requested by one of the principal Actors to work exclusively on their makeup and they have autonomy within the department. Although they receive a rough brief from the makeup designer, they prepare their own script breakdown and research and create and are ultimately responsible for, their own designs. However, they must work within the overall design of each production. Dailies work on productions on a day to day basis, usually on large crowd scenes.
In all cases, Makeup Artists check whether actors have any skin conditions in advance and make sure that any allergies or sensitivities are taken into consideration and report them to the relevant head of department. They apply makeup, affix prosthetics, apply products and use specialized techniques to create specific designs. They work with facial hair and false pieces, such as beards and moustaches. They may also apply special effects makeup, e.g., grazes, cuts and bruises and bald caps.
Makeup Artists usually accompany their performers onto set and stand by during their scenes, touching up makeup between takes and ensuring that continuity notes are maintained using digital or Polaroid photographs. When the scenes have been shot, Makeup Artists remove performers’ makeup. They remove facial hair and small prosthetics, ensuring that they are cleaned and prepared for further use. Makeup Artists may be required to assist with any subsequent publicity shots.
Most Underwater Directors of Photography (DoPs) are employed in films at the early stages of pre–production, to discuss any water stunts. They usually work closely with visual effects supervisors and stunt coordinators. Underwater stunts and effects are often extremely complicated and potentially dangerous, so all sequences are carefully planned and storyboarded and used as blueprints during filming. Most directors appreciate that this is a highly specialized area and give Underwater DoPs and their crews the autonomy to work alone and to use their experience of filming in water.
Underwater DoPs sometimes direct the 2nd Unit. They collaborate with specialized 1st assistant directors (ADs) or production managers who are responsible for operating the vital communication system above and below water to make sure that underwater filming runs as smoothly as possible. Unlike a standard camera crew, 1st and 2nd assistant camera (ACs) work at a distance from the camera (above the water), pulling focus and checking the camera by remote control. Diving Crews play a vital role in ensuring that all safety procedures are carefully monitored. Diving Supervisors usually stay above water and are responsible for preparing risk assessments for all underwater sequences. Each actor is allocated their own Safety Diver, who remains close by throughout filming. Underwater Gaffers move and set up all underwater lighting.
Marine and Diving Crews are mainly responsible for the safety of the cast and crew while filming in water. The head of department is the Underwater Director of Photography or Underwater Camera Operator. As with a standard DoP their job is to interpret the director’s vision for the underwater scenes or sequences in the screenplay.
Marine and Diving Crews are responsible for creating suspense and drama in such scenes, for bringing the underwater world alive and for maintaining strict health and safety guidelines in the water. Most Underwater DoPs have invested in their own underwater cameras and some even have their own advanced communication systems and specialized equipment. They are employed on commercials, television drama and feature films and usually work with the same camera crew and safety divers. The work is physically demanding and potentially dangerous and involves long periods spent away from home.
There is no typical career route to becoming an Underwater DoP. Some DoPs start out in junior positions on film crews, or as 2nd assistant camera (ACs) on short films or promos. Safety Divers must have wide ranging diving experience gained over many years of working underwater. Excellent knowledge of underwater safety procedures is a prerequisite to working at any level on a Marine and Diving Crew and all underwater specialists must hold a recognized diving certificate. Underwater DoPs and their Camera Crew must have a full working knowledge of all specialized camera equipment, lenses and underwater lighting and diving equipment. Wide knowledge of underwater stunts and special effects is also required.
Master Control Operator
Master Control Operators are responsible for monitoring the quality and accuracy of the on–air product, ensuring the transmission meets government regulations, troubleshooting equipment malfunctions and preparing programing for future playback. Regulations include both technical ones (such as those against over modulation and dead air), as well as content ones (such as indecency and station ID).
A person who creates artwork (usually for the background of a shot) which is included in the movie either via a matte shot or optical printing.
Mechanical Effects (also called Practical or Physical Effects), are usually accomplished during the live–action shooting. This includes the use of mechanized props, scenery and scale models and pyrotechnics. Making a car appear to drive by itself, or blowing up a building are examples of Mechanical Effects. Mechanical Effects are often incorporated into set design and makeup. For example, a set may be built with break–away doors or walls, or prosthetic makeup can be used to make an actor look like a monster.
Motion Design is the art of graphic design within the context of motion graphics such as film, video or computer animation. Examples include the typography and graphics you see as the titles for a film, broadcast design like show opens for television or the spinning, three–dimensional logo at the end of a TV commercial. Although this art form has been around for decades, it has taken quantum leaps forward in recent years. If you watch much TV or see many films, you will have noticed that the graphics, the typography and the visual effects within these mediums have become much more elaborate and sophisticated.
The dramatic elevation of this art form is largely due to technology improvements. Computer programs for the film and video industry have become vastly more powerful and more available. A typical Motion Designer is a person trained in traditional graphic design who has learned to integrate the elements of time, sound and space into his/her existing skillset of design knowledge. Motion Designers can also come from filmmaking or animation backgrounds.
Multi–camera productions are most often sitcoms and soap operas, as well as talk shows, sporting events and newscasts. Multi–camera means multiple cameras. Most multi–camera productions use three cameras that run simultaneously to catch various reactions in the same scene rather than having to run a scene over and over as is typical with most single camera shoots. Additionally, they are invaluable during live events because one camera can be focused on one individual or moment while the other cameras catch the reactions of other participants in that same scene or activity.
Multi–camera productions are shot on both video and film, depending on the parameters of the production itself as well as the budget. The Director of a multi–camera show will either direct the action from the stage floor or from a booth.
Music Editors help directors to achieve their musical ambitions on films and provide a crucial link between the film and the composer. They structure the soundtrack, ensuring that all the components work together. For film music to work successfully it must be beautifully written, well performed and appropriate to the story and setting. In addition, it must be very carefully placed within the film, in order to complement the action, rather than detract from it.
Music Editors’ responsibilities vary according to each film’s musical content and budget. They are usually responsible for all the music featured on film soundtracks, including: performed music (e.g., a band or singer who performs within the narrative of the film), all sourced music (e.g., bought–in pop, jazz, classical music) and the score, written by the composer specifically for the film. On musical films Music Editors are responsible for how the music is visually portrayed, working closely with the picture editor to achieve the perfect fusion of image and movement.
Experienced Music Editors can save productions a considerable amount of money and also contribute significantly to the overall atmosphere and mood of films by helping to create truly memorable soundtracks. As this is one of the most highly competitive areas in the film industry, it can take years for even the most talented, highly qualified individuals to become Music Editors.
What is the job?
On a medium budget film, Music Editors usually start work well into the picture editing process, developing the temp (temporary) score, which is made up of music lifted from other film soundtracks or sourced music and helps the editor to achieve the right pace and emotional tempo; it may also provide a broad template for the composer and help the director to identify the desired feel of the soundtrack.
Music Editors attend a "spotting session" with the director, picture editor, music supervisor, producer and composer, during which they note all music cues (providing the composer with a written template that is used to produce the score and the music supervisor with vital notes concerning all copyright clearances and budgetary issues). Some composers may also require Music Editors to produce a cue breakdown, which involves rewriting the script from a musical point of view, helping the composer to estimate the tempo and meter of the score.
Music Editors also communicate all editing changes to the composer in musical terms, e.g., if a number of frames have been cut, the composer must lose a bar or three beats of the score. Music Editors also design a "click track" for the film which is used during the recording of the score to help the musicians achieve the correct tempo and perfect picture to music synchronization. Music Editors attend all music recording sessions, to help with any last minute revisions or changes which may require additions or subtractions from the "click–track".
Music Editors work with a specialized music mixer to create different mixes of all the music tracks, anticipating potential problems such as a loud cymbal crash occurring at the same time as a line of dialogue. Using a computer software program, Music Editors lay down all the music tracks, fitting them exactly to the picture, ready for the final mix or dub which they must also attend in order to find quick, creative solutions to any last minute problems.
One of the final tasks for Music Editors on films is preparing the cue sheet—a detailed breakdown of all the music featured on soundtracks (including length and function). This is sent to the Performing Rights Society, ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and all exhibitors so that royalties can be paid every time the film is screened.
Music Supervisors act as mediators between production teams and composers and their teams, which may include orchestrators, engineers, copyists, musician’s contractors, etc. They also suggest ideas and research and obtain rights to source music for films. Music Supervisors oversee spotting sessions (deciding on where the director wants music and why), recruit and contract musicians, book recording studios and attend sessions, ensuring that delivery requirements are fulfilled. If the music is to be published, they ensure that it is registered properly and that cue sheets are dispatched. Music Supervisors are usually employed at the post production stage, but they are occasionally required earlier in the production process, e.g., to source tracks for on camera dancing, or to organize an on camera concert, involving musicians and singers miming to pre–recorded tracks. In this case, music must be arranged, pre–recorded versions must be produced for playback during mimed performances and clearances and licenses must be acquired. Music Supervisors organize and arrange the budgets for music requirements, liaise with the set designer, the sound team and the playback operator and ensure that the sound team has the pre–record in the correct format. They also check synchronization issues during on camera performances.
Music Supervisors negotiate deal points and contracts, prepare budgets and attend scheduling meetings and spotting sessions. They oversee the compositional process, ensuring that the required music is being written, listened to and reported upon. They organize music orchestration and copying. When larger sessions are required, e.g., involving an orchestra, they liaise with the musician’s contractor about rates, line up and invoicing. They also check engineer and studio availability and, when necessary, hire a conductor. When organizing source music, Music Supervisors prepare source music schedules and keep everyone informed and updated, e.g., about deviations from allocated budgets. Music Supervisors check licenses and forward them to the production company, highlighting any possible issues and act as the liaison between the record companies, the publishers and the production company. They produce the music cue sheet for final delivery, ensuring that the duration of the music used conforms to the terms of the negotiated contract.
Someone who adapts a musical composition for voices, instruments and/or performance styles other than those for which the music was originally written.
A News Director controls the news gallery during the news output. He/she selects and calls up the different camera angles, incoming video, graphics and guests. He/she oversees the output of the program while it is on air and makes sure of its smooth running and the look of the program.
A News Tape Editor is someone who not only edits tapes for newscasts, but may also be required to monitor and record network feeds, maintain archives and coordinate feeds from bureaus and live trucks.
This person needs a good grasp of editing techniques and should be able to edit video on tape–to–tape systems or non–linear setups. The Editor usually edits according to the style guidelines set by the news director, but often has creative control. The Editor works closely with producers and reporters and must have the ability to edit video according to the script. Excellent editing and timing skills are essential.
A News Producer is the person who takes all the elements that have been gathered throughout the day (packages, vostos, vo’s, copy stories, graphics) and constructs a newscast.
The Producer is generally involved in the morning or afternoon meeting during which the stories are assigned. The news director or executive producer will parcel out stories to the various Producers. The Producer then begins to build a newscast, adding stories and elements that will give "flow" to the program. In some stations the Producers do most of the writing, in others the anchors prefer to write their own copy. Many Producers have to edit video for their own newscast.
The Producer must keep in touch with crews in the field to find out how stories are progressing. In addition, Producers have to keep an eye on the wires and network feeds.
During the newscast, the Producer will sit in the control room next to the director. The Producer must be able to accurately time the newscast while communicating with the studio crew, anchors and crews in the field.
A Producer needs to be a strong and very fast writer and have solid news judgment.
Nurses and Medics
Paramedics and other paramedical staff, such as chiropractors, osteopaths and physiotherapists, are required in the film industry at certain times. Paramedical practitioners work on an occasional basis and must have relevant qualifications and experience in the medical field and ideally some experience within the film or audio visual industries.
Only one Paramedic may be required on some general filming and more specifically on low risk stunt and action scenes, usually using portable equipment and providing his or her own transport. For higher risk stunts, or where filming takes place at some distance from a hospital, two or more Paramedics may be required with fully equipped support units, including comprehensive trauma and resuscitation equipment. Employment is usually gained via companies specializing in location medical services. The work is varied and interesting, but can involve long hours and, occasionally, night work.
Depending on the type of business you run, a Personal Assistant can be responsible for a myriad of tasks. As with any position, Personal Assistants usually excel at particular forms of administrative support, so before you begin the hiring process, look carefully at what you’ll need and expect from your Assistant.
In many cases, the Personal Assistant takes on the role of secretary, handling your correspondence, invoicing and billing. Others work in more of an administrative capacity by taking care of filing, bookkeeping, marketing and data entry. You can also find Personal Assistants who will run errands for you while you work, such as picking up dry cleaning, ordering lunch during a meeting, fulfilling your grocery list and picking up associates at the airport.
Editors are one of the key heads of department on feature films, responsible for first assistant editors and on bigger productions, second assistants and trainees. The way a story unfolds and grabs the attention of the audience is one of the most important elements in filmmaking. To ensure that the story flows effortlessly from beginning to end, each shot is carefully chosen and edited into a series of scenes, which are in turn assembled to create the finished film.
This highly creative, challenging and rewarding job is the work of the Editor, who works closely with the director, crafting the daily rushes into a coherent whole. Editors work long, unsociable hours, often under pressure, in an edit suite or cutting room. They are employed on a freelance basis by the producer (sometimes with the approval of the film’s financiers), based on their reputation and experience. Editors often work on television drama, as well as on feature films.
What is the job?
Editors work closely with the director before shooting begins, deciding how to maximize the potential of the screenplay. On the first day of principal photography, Editors begin work in the cutting room (sometimes on location), looking at the previous day’s rushes which are developed overnight at the film lab and synced–up (synchronized, the alignment of sound and image) by the assistant editor.
Editors check the technical standards, as well as the emerging sense of story and the actors’ performances. Because scenes are shot and edited out of sequence, Editors may work on scenes from the end of the film before those at the beginning and must therefore be able to maintain a good sense of how the story is unfolding. Editors select the best takes and edit them together to create scenes. In some cases, an improvised line or an actor’s interpretation of their role may create some on–screen magic that can be developed into a new and exciting scene. By the time the film wraps (shooting is completed) Editors have spent hours reworking scenes and cutting them together to create a rough assembly.
During the post production period, the Editor and the director work closely together, refining the assembly edit into the director’s cut, which must be approved by the producers, until they achieve picture lock or fine cut (when the director and/or executive producer give final approval of the picture edit). Editors usually work in a supervisory role during the subsequent music and track laying and sound mix.
Post Production Coordinator
A person who works many facets of the post production process, including ensuring the smooth operation of the editorial department, coordinating the production and delivery of final delivery elements, scheduling and coordinating ADR sessions, managing the administration of the department including post production accounting and final delivery paperwork, organizing final post production related documents and coordinating the final wrap and proper storage of final video and audio masters and offline editorial materials.
Post Production Supervisor
Post Production Supervisors are responsible for the post production process, during which they maintain clarity of information and good channels of communication between the producer, editor, supervising sound editor, the facilities companies (such as film labs, CGI studios and negative cutters) and the production accountant. Although this is not a creative role, it is pivotal in ensuring that the film’s post production budget is manageable and achievable and that all deadlines are met. Because large amounts of money are involved and most of a film’s budget is spent during production, the post production period can often be difficult and challenging.
The Post Production Supervisors’ role can be stressful and requires ingenuity, empathy and the ability to make tough decisions under pressure, while working long hours, to tight deadlines. Some Post Production Supervisors may be involved on a number of films at one time, but usually work on 3 or 4 films a year. They are employed on a freelance basis, by the producer, often also with approval from a completion bond guarantee company. They usually work alone, but on larger productions may employ an assistant.
What is the job?
The role of the Post Production Supervisor varies according to the type of film and the budget. On big budget films using complex CGI (Computer Generated Images), they start work during pre–production, liaising with the CGI Company and ensuring that the producer is aware of all the creative and budgetary considerations and how they may impact on the post production period. On smaller budget films they also advise about any limits that may need to be applied to the shoot, as well as providing an overall picture of what can be realistically achieved in post production. Most Post Production Supervisors also liaise with the editor and producer (and sometimes the director), about the hiring of post production personnel (sound editors, titles designers, mixers, etc).
During the post production process, they work closely with the production accountant, supplying accurate information for the cost reports, which are prepared every 3–4 weeks and show how actual expenditure compared to the original budget. Post Production Supervisors work with the editor, supervising sound editor and re–recording sound mixer throughout post production, making sure that each different stage of the process is delivered on time and within budget. They usually continue to work on the production until all the elements needed for the completion of the film are deliver
A Producer sets the situation for the production of a television show or movie.
A film Producer initiates, coordinates, supervises and controls all aspects of a production, from fundraising and hiring key personnel, to arranging for distributors. The Producer sees the project through to the end, from development to completion. Traditionally, the film Producer is considered the chief of staff while the director is in charge of the line. This "staff and line" organization mirrors that of most large corporations and the military. Under this arrangement, the Producer has overall control of the project and can terminate the director, but the director actually makes the film. It’s the Producer who really authors a film. The Producer raises the money that pays for the film to be made and is responsible for anything affecting the budget of the film. The Producer hires the director and the crew, manages the film through production and secures distribution for it when it is finished. In short, most of the time, it’s the Producer who does the work to make a film happen. Good Producers are constantly on the lookout for material. Scripts, books, plays, news items, anything and everything these days can be turned into a movie. For every film they get made, a good Producer will have up to ten other scripts "in development". Some go for a wide spread of projects, others prefer to concentrate on one type of film that they can make their own. The advantages of having a slate of projects is obvious. It means you do not have all your fragile–skinned eggs in one basket. Remember: the development life of most scripts is several years.
A television Producer is usually employed by a television station or network. A network television series usually has an executive producer who does long–term planning for the show. Some television Producers work independently; they may find sponsors and grants to supplement their budgets from the station
Production Accountants are responsible for managing finances and maintaining financial records during film or TV production, working closely with the producer and the production office. Their job includes preparing schedules and budgets for film productions and managing the day to day accounting financial reporting against the budgets.
Production Accountants usually work on a freelance basis. The experience and qualification required will depend on the size and scale of the film or TV production. Film or TV Production Accountants usually have a qualification in accounting, as well as a number of years’ experience in the film industry. Film and TV Production Accountants need to gain the approval of the financiers, guarantors and studios involved in the production, so their qualifications and experience are important.
Specific tasks during production include calculating finances, costing productions, liaising with financiers and managing cash flow. They must ensure that all legal requirements are met. In pre–production, Production Accountants assist the producers and production managers to prepare budgets. They will set up and manage accounting systems and supervise assistant accountants and accounts trainees. Production Accountants may also deal with bank finance and completion guarantors. They will finalize all financial records relating to the production and may also have to arrange an independent audit. Sometimes Production Accountants will work in collaboration with senior accountants, known as financial controllers, who are often permanently employed by production companies, or in collaboration with studio finance executives.
Production Accountants must have a good working knowledge of filmmaking processes as well as bookkeeping and accountancy skills.
Production assistants are usually divided into two categories: "office PAs" or "set PAs"..
Office PAs usually spend most hours in the respective show’s production office handling such tasks as phones, deliveries, script copies, lunch pick–ups and related tasks in coordination with the production manager and production coordinator.
Set PAs work on the physical set of the production, whether on location or on a sound stage. They report to the assistant director (AD) department and key set PA if one is so designated. Duties include echoing (calling out) "rolls" and "cuts", locking up (making sure nothing interferes with a take), wrangling talent and background, facilitating communication between departments, distributing paperwork and radios and related tasks as mandated by the ADs. Set PAs usually work 12– to 16–hour days with the possibility at the end of a shoot to work more than 20 hours a single day and are regularly the "first to arrive and the last to leave".
Production Runners are the foot soldiers of a film or television production team, performing small but important tasks in the office, around the set and on location. Their duties may involve anything from office administration to crowd control and from public relations to cleaning up locations. Production Runners are usually employed on a freelance basis, are not very well paid and their hours are long and irregular. However, the work is usually extremely varied and provides a good entry level role into the film industry.
Production Runners are deployed by the producer and by other film/television production staff, such as the production coordinator, to assist wherever they are needed on productions. Their responsibilities vary considerably depending on where Production Runners are assigned. In the production office duties typically include: assisting with answering telephones, filing paperwork and data entry, arranging lunches, dinners and transportation reservations, photocopying, general office administration and distributing production paperwork.
On set duties typically include: acting as a courier, helping to keep the set clean and tidy and distributing call sheets, health and safety notices and other paperwork. On location shoots, Production Runners may also be required to help to coordinate the extras and to perform crowd control duties, except where this work is dangerous, or performed by police officers or other official personnel.
Production Runners must be flexible and well organized and be able to think on their feet. They should be able to relay messages quickly and accurately, while paying due regard to the need for silence when on set. They should have strong verbal and written communication skills, be able to take orders and to show tact and deference towards those in positions of authority and greater responsibility. They must be punctual and enthusiastic and understand the importance of taking detailed notes and recording expenditure accurately. They should be level headed and able to work calmly and effectively under pressure. Production Runners must be able to contribute to good working relationships and to create a positive atmosphere on the production. They should have good secretarial skills and be computer literate in standard word processor, spreadsheet and email programs. They should also be aware of health and safety issues and ensure that their actions do not constitute a risk to themselves or to others.
Enthusiasm is considered more important than experience. While there are no specific educational requirements, this is a very popular area of work and Production Runner jobs can be very strongly contested despite the low pay. In these circumstances, a good education is a definite advantage. A large number of colleges and other training providers offer media courses that may provide a suitable background. Some experience in drama or broadcasting, whether it is in amateur dramatics, student radio or filmmaking, is also an advantage.
Production Coordinators support the production managers or production supervisors in organizing the business, finance and employment issues in film and television productions. The work is varied and each project may be different. In general a Production Coordinator will help to make sure that everything runs smoothly during filming and that the project stays within budget and on schedule.
Your work may include production tracking the project, office management, coordinating schedules, tracking PR activities, supporting fundraising activities, location scouting, providing casting, crew and facilities information. The role often involves administrative and office management support and sometimes support with marketing and promotion.
To become a Production Coordinator you will need very good organizational and project management skills. You could work your way up through the industry to become a Production Coordinator by starting as a runner or an assistant or secretary in the production office
Production Designers are major heads of department on film crews and are responsible for the entire art department. They play a crucial role in helping directors to achieve the film’s visual requirements and in providing producers with carefully calculated schedules which offer viable ways of making films within agreed budgets and specified periods of time. Filming locations may range from an orderly Victorian parlor, to a late–night café, to the interior of an alien spaceship. The look of a set or location is vital in drawing the audience into the story and is an essential element in making a film convincing and evocative. A great deal of work and imagination goes into constructing an appropriate backdrop to any story and into selecting or constructing appropriate locations and/or sets.
Directors of photography and Production Designers are largely responsible for informing and realizing the director’s vision. Production Designers begin work at the very early stages of pre–production and are requested by the director and/or producer. They work on a freelance basis and may have to prepare detailed drawings and specifications in order to pitch for work on a number of productions before they are offered work on one of them. Although the work can be very demanding and the hours long, this is one of the most highly skilled, creatively fulfilling roles within the film industry.
What is the Production Designer job?
Production Designers may be asked to look at scripts before a director is approached, to provide estimates of the projected art department spend on films. When Production Designers first read a screenplay, they assess the visual qualities that will help to create atmosphere and bring the story to life.
After preparing a careful breakdown of the script, they meet with the director to discuss how best to shoot the film, e.g. to decide: whether to use sets and/or locations; what should be built and what should be adapted; whether there is a visual theme that recurs throughout the film; whether there are certain design elements that may give an emotional or psychological depth to the film; whether CGI (computer generated imagery) should be used. Production Designers must calculate the budgets and decide how the money and effort will be spent. These discussions are followed by an intense period of research during which Production Designers and their specialist researchers source ideas from books, photographs, paintings, the Internet, etc.
Production Designers deliver their design sketches (detailing mood, atmosphere, lighting, composition, color and texture) to art directors who oversee the production of technical drawings and models, which are used by the construction department to build the sets and to adapt locations. Props buyers and set decorators liaise closely, sourcing props and organizing the manufacture of specialized items. As the start of shooting approaches, Production Designers manage a large number of individuals, prioritizing the work schedule and carefully monitoring the budget. When shooting starts, they are usually on set early each morning to view each new setup with the director, director of photography and standby art director, responding to any requests or queries. Subsequently, in the art department office Production Designers check on the construction and dressing of other sets and sign off on sets/locations for the following day’s shoot. Although Production Designers usually finish work on the last day of principal photography, on larger films they may be involved for longer periods.
Production Managers organize the business, finance and employment issues in film and television productions. As a Production Manager, you would be in charge of how the production budget is spent and making sure that everything runs smoothly during filming.
Before production begins, your work would involve:
- meeting the producer and other senior production staff to examine scripts or program ideas
- drawing up a shooting schedule and estimating cost
- hiring crews and contractors and negotiating rates of pay
- negotiating costs and approving the booking of resources, equipment and suppliers
- overseeing location bookings and arranging any necessary permissions and risk assessments
During filming, duties include:
- making sure that the production runs to schedule and reporting to the producer on progress
- managing the production schedule and budget
- managing the production team
- dealing with any problems
- making sure that insurance, health and safety rules, copyright laws and union agreements are followed
To become a Production Manager you will need substantial experience in TV or film, in–depth understanding of the production process and a network of contacts in the industry. Experience and track record is more important than formal qualifications, however, you may find it helpful to take a course that includes practical skills, work placements and the chance to make contacts. You will need a good understanding of budget management, so skills and qualifications in accountancy are useful.
You could work your way up through the industry to become a Production Manager in various ways. For example you could start as a runner or an assistant or secretary in the production office and progress to production coordinator then assistant production manager. You might also start as a trainee production accountant. Alternatively, you could progress from runner to 3rd assistant director then 2nd and 1st assistant director, or to assistant TV floor manager then floor manager or location manager.
Production Sound Mixer
Typical career routes:
The majority of Production Sound Mixers train in sound recording but start working in the industry at junior levels as sound trainees. This period of on the job training lasts approximately two years before sound trainees are ready to become sound assistants. Working with equipment manufacturers or hire companies can also provide the opportunity to learn about sound equipment and to make useful industry contacts. Experience may also be gained by working on commercials, short films and television productions. Once individuals progress to becoming boom operators, they usually work with the same Production Sound Mixers over a number of years, gaining extensive experience, before they in turn are offered the opportunity to head up the sound department as Production Sound Mixers.
Production Sound Mixers are responsible for the difficult job of ensuring that dialogue recorded during filming is suitably clear. Although much of the storytelling and the emotional impact of a script are conveyed through dialogue, most film sets are challenging environments for Mixers because there are often unwanted noises to deal with, or the required camera shots hamper the placing of microphones. It is sometimes easier to re–record actors’ dialogues after shooting (post–syncing), but the majority of directors prefer to use the actual lines of dialogue recorded during filming by Production Sound Mixers, boom operators and sound assistants using multiple microphones and DAT (Digital Audio Tape) or hard disk recorders. Production Sound Mixers work on a freelance basis on features and drama productions. The hours are long and the work often involves long periods working away from home.
Approximately two weeks before the first day of principal photography, Production Sound Mixers meet with the producer and director to discuss their creative intentions, (is the sound naturalistic or stylized, etc.), technical requirements and budgetary issues. They also meet with the costume department and visual effects supervisors to discuss the placement of microphones on or around the actors and visit all locations to check for potential sound problems. When filming begins, sound crews arrive on set half an hour before call time to prepare their equipment. During rehearsals, when the director, director of photography and actors run through all camera moves and lighting, the Production Sound Mixer and boom operator plan where they should place microphones to obtain the best possible sound quality. After each take, Production Sound Mixers (who are situated off set, but close by), check the quality of sound recording and, if necessary, ask for another take.
In the same way as directors endeavor to ensure that they have adequate overall coverage of each scene, Production Sound Mixers work with the boom operator to select suitable types of microphone (e.g., close–ups or extreme angled shots may require clip microphones that do not appear in frame) and carefully reposition these microphones for each setup, to ensure adequate sound coverage. If music is required in a scene, Production Sound Mixers also set up playback equipment and speakers for the actors. At the end of each shooting day, Production Sound Mixers may send the day’s sound recording files to post production via ISDN as well as handing over the meticulously labelled originals to the camera assistant, who packages them up with the camera rushes. Production Sound Mixers finish work when the film wraps (is completed).
Essential knowledge and skills:
Production Sound Mixers must have a good understanding of electronics and an expert knowledge of acoustics and all sound recording, playback and editing equipment (analog and digital). They must understand the requirements of the other departments on feature films, including: camera, rigging, art department, wardrobe, hair and makeup. They should also be aware of and comply with, on set protocols. Production Sound Mixers must be computer literate.
Production Supervisor (AKA Post-production Supervisor)
A person overseeing the entire post production of a project. They report directly to the producer and/or the studio in charge of the feature. Working side by side with the director and editor, the Supervisor has the responsibility of finishing the film on time and on budget while satisfying the wants of the director. Post Production Supervisors have authority over post production coordinators.
Typical duties include:
Controlling all activities with vendors such as optical houses, sound facilities, inserts, ADR, reshooting, CGI, score, delivery requirements to domestic and international distributors, legal clearances, preview screenings, color timing, video mastering and budgeting the movie through the completion and delivery.
The Promotion Producer is responsible for creating, taping and editing news pieces and public service and commercial announcements for the television station. Candidates should have linear and non–linear editing experience with the ability to handle a deadline driven environment. Related experience with a background in writing and producing is needed.
Prop Makers work in the properties departments of feature films, making any props that are not being bought in, or hired. Prop Makers use a wide variety of materials, techniques and tools, to design and create the required props. These represent a huge range of objects, including ’stunt’ props (which are replicas of other props, made of soft or nonhazardous materials) and specialized objects that move or light up. They may also adapt or modify props that have been bought in, or hired. Prop Makers may work alone, or as part of a larger props team in a specially created production workshop.
Prop Makers are given instructions, designs or rough ideas by the production designer, art director or property master, prior to the shoot. From these designs Prop Makers must plan and create the props necessary for production. They may carry out their own research into the style and specifications of the props required. On period films, this may also involve investigating how the objects would have been created during a particular historical period and within a specific culture. Liaising with production buyers, Prop Makers acquire the necessary tools and materials needed to make the props. Prop Makers make the props, working within budget and to strict timescales. They may also adapt hired or bought in props according to the production’s requirements. They normally produce a minimum of two of every item, in case of damage. During the shoot Prop Makers may be responsible for operating any special props, or for instructing actors in their operation.
Prop Makers must be flexible and versatile, able to work with imagination and ingenuity. They need creative problem solving skills and must be open to new ideas and to learning new skills and techniques. The ability to work to external deadlines, under their own initiative, is essential, as is an eye for detail and accuracy. Working as part of the larger properties department and at times as part of a prop making team, Prop Makers must have good communication skills and enjoy interacting with others. As they work with hazardous equipment and materials, an in–depth understanding of the requirements of the relevant health and safety legislation and procedures is vital to the role.
Prop Makers should have a wide knowledge of the basics of prop making: technical drawing, a good knowledge of computer design packages, the ability to work safely with typical industry materials (e.g., fibreglass, latex, foam, polystyrene, wood, cotton and steel) and the ability to work with a variety of different machinery and tools. Prop Makers may also have specialized skills, such as: sign writing, upholstery work, mould work, woodturning, sculpture, casting, furniture making, modelling, electrical engineering and electronics, working with papier–mâché, etc.
Prop Makers need no standard qualifications or specific training. However, they should have a background and/or qualification in art and design, or model making and experience in the basics of prop making. Many Prop Makers train in stage and set design, or stage management, or complete a theater technician’s course in performing arts. They may also have a more specialized background or training, e.g., in graphic design, furniture making, fine art, etc. Alternatively, Prop Makers may have started in junior roles in the art department and learned their skills on the job.
Prop Masters (i.e. Property Masters) control all aspects of property departments. They oversee and are responsible for, the procurement or production, inventory, care and maintenance of all props associated with productions, ensuring that they are available on time and within budgetary requirements. They also ensure that selected props suit the film’s style and overall design and that they accurately reflect the production’s time period and culture. Property Masters oversee the staff and the smooth running, of the property department, working to high standards of accuracy and detail. As much of the work involved is administrative, the role is often office based. Property Masters are responsible to production designers and work as part of the art department. They are the first members of the property department to be recruited onto productions, usually approximately five weeks before principal photography begins.
During pre–production Property Masters liaise with production designers and art directors to break down the script and to determine what props are required. At this stage Property Masters may work with production buyers who carry out research into period props, styles of furniture, etc., by referring to archives, internet files, books and photographs, or by discussing the requirements with specialized advisors. Property Masters subsequently draw up complete properties lists and set up and label the properties tables, which are used during production. From the lists, Property Masters select which properties are to be bought in, or hired and which are to be made.
Liaising with production buyers, Property Masters allocate budgets to purchase, hire or create props and plan and manage these budgets. They prepare the overall production schedule for their department and work with other members of the team to produce the day to day schedules. For purchased or hired props, Property Masters ensure that accurate lists of sources are drawn up and maintained by production buyers and props storemen*. For props that must be made, Property Masters work closely with carpenters, prop makers, or other artists, to oversee and coordinate the construction and completion of these props.
Depending on the craft skills of individual Property Masters, the work may include planning, designing and adapting any special hand or set props required by the production. They attend all rehearsals, in order to note props’ placement and use and any change in action that affects props. Property Masters may also discuss the selection of appropriate hand props with actors and instruct them on the care, maintenance and possible operation of these and other props. Prior to the shoot, Property Masters work closely with set designers, set dressers, props storemen and dressing props, in order to detail the furniture and set dressing requirements.
In the weeks immediately before the shoot and during filming, Property Masters and props storemen coordinate the loading, transport and storage of all props and ensure that dressing props are correctly placed for the use of the dressing props team. During the shoot Property Masters ensure that all hand and hero props are in place for the actors and standby props. They also oversee the continuity of props between takes (via the standby props) and coordinate props storage between shoots or rehearsals. During post production Property Masters oversee the return of all hired props to their sources, in the appropriate condition and organize the sale or safe disposal of any other properties.
Property Masters usually oversee the work of a number of people and must therefore have excellent leadership, management and motivational skills. As heads of department they should be able to cope with pressure and be willing to work long and unorthodox hours to meet tight deadlines. Excellent practical, organizational, planning and time management abilities are vital, as are written and oral communication and presentation skills. Good computer skills (Mac and PC) are important. Property Masters must have solid financial skills and be able to work within budgets. They need confidence in order to negotiate successfully with suppliers and manufacturers. Craft, repair and research skills are useful and a full driving license is essential. The role may involve significant manual labor and can be physically demanding. They must be aware of the requirements of the health and safety legislation and procedures relevant to their role.
The Property Masters’ role is not an entry–level job. They usually have many years’ experience in the props department and have worked as standby props, dressing props, props storeman and assistant property master, on several feature films, in a range of genres. No specific qualifications are required for entry into the art department, but a background in art or design is preferred.
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 for a film or television production. 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 judgement 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.
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 the 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 re–cut 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 pre–mix 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 to 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. No matter how highly qualified they are, the majority of Re–Recording Mixers start their careers at junior levels (usually as runners) working for one of the audio post production houses. Experienced Re–Recording Mixers look out for those who show talent and a cooperative attitude and bring them into the mixing studio to train as assistant Re–Recording Mixers, providing general studio support, recording foleys, etc. After several years, post production houses usually promote the most competent assistants to become Re–Recording Mixers.
Re–Recording Mixers must have an excellent knowledge of acoustics, sound recording and post production processes (analog and digital) and all the relevant technical knowledge of sound mixing for feature films.
Receptionists answer phones, operate the door/entry system, log in visitors and clients and meet and greet clients and other visitors to companies. They may also be responsible for ordering and delivering food to clients and other personnel. They are responsible for some aspects of building security and for office administration, in some cases working as a de facto office manager. They monitor and control stationery and office stock supply, undertake general office duties, mail and paperwork distribution and log in and log out tapes (when the role is combined with a library function).
In some cases they are also responsible for traffic, dispatch and runners. When the Receptionists’ role is combined with library/dispatch functions, they must be able to read, understand and generate, to industry standards, the labels and documentation which accompany tapes and media.
Broadcast Journalism is the collection, verification and analysis of information about events which affect people and the publication of that information in a fair, accurate, impartial and balanced way to fulfill the public’s right to know in a democratic society. This involves a variety of media including television, radio, the internet and wireless devices. Broadcast Journalists working in television work in a variety of genres including news, current affairs, or documentaries. They may be employed by broadcasting companies, or work on a freelance basis.
Broadcast Journalists may be studio or office based, or working in regional, national or international broadcasters’ offices. They may also work from home, utilizing broadband and other technology to interface with broadcasters and other employers. When working on news items, they must be prepared to travel, sometimes long distances, at any hour of the day or night, to gather the relevant information. They are responsible for generating ideas and for assessing the value and accuracy of ideas and information from other sources, researching background data and presenting items for consideration by editors, commissioners, or other decision makers.
They must carry out thorough research into all program ideas, including identifying: suitable interviewees and locations; relevant background and illustrative footage and locations; visual materials, archive picture and sound footage; articles and features. They should know how to access and use all significant information and image sources, including libraries, archives, the internet, academic and other research documents. They must know how and when it is necessary to acquire the pertinent clearances and licenses, including copyright and music clearances and have a thorough understanding of the laws pertaining to libel and contempt.
In collaboration with technical resource personnel, they identify crewing and equipment requirements so that they are properly technically equipped to record all the required interviews and other picture and sound materials. They prepare questions and if possible, brief interviews in advance. They conduct interviews on camera and suggest suitable illustrative and background shots and material to enhance the story, to the director, camera operator, sound recordist, or other relevant personnel. Once the material has been recorded onto the required format, or acquired from other sources, Broadcast Journalists select the relevant sections of interviews and other materials. They then either work closely with the editor, or prepare a detailed editing brief. For quick turnaround items they may edit some materials themselves, using suitable computer editing software packages.
Broadcast Journalists must ensure that they meet the timing and duration requirements of each program or segment and work to precise deadlines. They may also be required to present precisely timed live on–air links into previously edited packages. When working as news readers they must be able to research, write and present news bulletins, working to precise timings and tight deadlines
Researchers work across all genres of television production, including news, sport, current affairs, documentaries and factual programs, light entertainment, children’s, situation comedies, soaps or serial dramas and one–off dramas. They originate or develop program ideas, drawing on their knowledge and understanding of industry requirements and present their findings to decision makers. They are also fact checkers and ’brief’ writers for onscreen presenters. They must understand and work within, relevant legislation and regulations. They may be employed by broadcasters, or work on a freelance basis.
What is the job?
Researchers may be briefed by producers or other decision makers about program ideas and carry out further development. Alternatively, they may produce original program ideas for consideration by producers, broadcasters, production companies, or other decision makers. They identify relevant data, contributors, locations or archive material etc. collate and assess information from various sources and ensure that legal, compliance and copyright requirements are met.
During preliminary telephone and/or face to face interviews, they assess contributors’ potential suitability for inclusion in each program according to its genre and format. They check contributors’ availability and arrange for their appearance within time and budgetary limits. They may also be required to identify location requirements from scripts or program outlines and assess locations for suitability and cost, taking various factors into account including the need for any permissions and licenses. They identify and select suitable sources for archive footage, still pictures or audio materials, within time and cost limits. They must present all their findings to decision makers clearly, concisely and coherently, both in writing and verbally.
Researchers may contribute to the development of scripts or other written content by writing drafts, or briefing others who write so that they can deliver what is required. They may be asked to check final written materials for accuracy and suggest amendments in a helpful and constructive manner. Before production commences, Researchers must identify, negotiate fees for and conclude copyright clearances and legal issues relating to all brought in materials used on shoots, including archive materials, intellectual property or music. They must ensure that all relevant broadcast territories are covered. They monitor usage throughout the production process. Production assistants (PAs) also log usage and timings after transmission. During production, Researchers arrange transport for contributors to and from locations or studios. They greet contributors and brief them before recording commences, support them as necessary and escort them from the studio or location once shooting is completed.
Researchers may also be required to prepare production materials for external use, including fact sheets, pamphlets, books and booklets to accompany productions and publicity material such as production billings, press releases, related websites and text pages.
Rigging Electric, Rigging Grip
Workers responsible for the setting, hanging and focusing of lighting instruments and constructing scaffolding used in making film sets.
Rights & Clearances
The person who gets rights and clearances for music, TV and movie footage, intellectual property rights, managed images and celebrity images.