What Everyone Does On a Film Set

Q: What department on a film set is responsible for everything the actors touch (besides costumes, set dressing, hair and makeup and each other?)

A: Props

Q: What does a "grip" do?

A: Watch the helpful video (from Vimeo's staff), check out the text (also from Vimeo) below or read the primer compiled by Brandon Tonner-Connolly with Alicia van Couvering and published by Filmmaker Magazine in 2015.

Here's how Vimeo explains the functions of the various workers on a film set:

"A Producer is a key coordinator for the production. They are involved in many if not all aspects of the production from start to finish. They often have a hand in the production process, creative, financial, and administrative.

An Executive Producer is usually the main investor of the project.

The Production Manager works alongside the executive producer and helps to prepare the budget, oversees the preparation of the production team, and various day to day production decisions.

The Director is in control of all creative aspects of the film. They are the primary person responsible for the storytelling, creative decisions and acting of the film.

The 1st Assistant Director is in charge of basically running the set. As an assistant to the director, they organize the crew, prepare shooting schedules and organize the entire flow of all production activity.

The 2nd Assistant Director distributes documents such as scripts and call sheets to the cast and crew. They also help supervise the set with the 1st AD.

The Script Supervisor's job is to keep track of what has been shot in accordance with the script including what changes has been made and how to prevent any continuity errors going forward.

The person who makes the chief lighting, framing, and composition decisions is the Cinematographer, often referred to as the Director Of Photography (or DP). The director will often tell the DP what they want the shot to look like and then they will work their magic, making sure everything looks great to help achieve the director's vision. On smaller sets, the DP will often double as the camera operator.

The Camera Operator is the person in charge of working the camera to capture the scenes.

The 1st Assistant Camera is often the focus puller. Their job is to make sure the shot is always in focus. On smaller productions, the camera operator will also handle this job.

The 2nd assistant camera is the person who writes all of the shot information on the slate and holds it in front of the camera before each shot. The slate (or clapboard) is the device you write all of the shot information (shot number, take number, etc) as well as the clapper to help sync sound.

It's the Production sound mixer's job to make sure the sound is being properly recorded and mixed on set. They will hold the sound mixer and listen with a pair of headphones to monitor the sound.

A Boom Operator is the person that holds the boom microphone near the action. On smaller sets, the production sound mixer can also take on this roll.

The Key Grip is in charge of supervising camera cranes, dollies, lights, platforms and all on set equipment. [Note: The grips also move the camera on these devices.]

The Gaffer is responsible for the design and execution of the lighting plan on set. They work closely with the DP to make sure everything is lit correctly. Also referred at as the Chief Lighting Technician.

The Special Effects Supervisor is in charge of the creative and technical issues of visual effects on a project. They take care of anything that will break, explode, burn, collapse, etc. and work with the director on blocking the actors' so they don't get in harm's way.

The Production Designer is responsible for creating the visual appearance of the film. Working closely with the DP and Director they are in charge of the look of all settings, costumes, character makeup, and more. Also known as the Creative Director.

The Art Director develops, coordinates, and oversees the overall design of the production and is responsible for everything you see on screen. On a smaller crew, this is also the Set Designer.

The Props Master is in charge of finding and managing all the props that appear on screen.

The Props Builder's job is to construct all custom props that are needed for production. Also referred to as Propsmaker

The Make-up Artist / Hairdresser is the person that dresses and maintains the cast's hair and makeup throughout the shoot.

It's the Costumer Designer / Supervisor's job to design, obtain, assemble, and maintain the costumes for a production."


阿卡 BKL said...

Hi, Mr. Finch. My name is Jim, and I'm a from your class in TNUA.
Out of curiosity, when you said "On a smaller crew, this is also the Set Designer." on the Art Director, did you mean the Production Designer? Cause I couldn't find the Set Designer in your article, and the closest one I could get was Production Designer based on the name of the job "Set Designer."

Randy Finch said...

Thanks for writing Jim. You ask a great question. To answer it (in a few words here, based on my knowledge of how the Hollywood system works), let’s look at some studio filmmaking history. First you should know that the title of “Production Designer” did not always exist in Hollywood. In the early days? If someone received credit for design, they might be listed as “Art Director”. In general, those were the people who designed and supervised the building of sets. As I understand it, the first person to get the “Production Designer” title was William Cameron Menzies (1896–1957) on Gone with the Wind (1939). His special title was apparently invented by producer David O. Selznick (1902–1965) to acknowledge the unique contributions of Menzies. Since then, the responsibilities of a Production Designer have varied from film to film. In general, the Production Designer reads the script and develops a "design concept." That concept can include ideas about the film's appearance (for example, colors, shapes, metaphors, etc.) that are then discussed with the Director. Often these initial conversations happen even before the Production Designer has been hired. If the Director like the design concept, the Production Designer’s deal is negotiated between the Production Designer (or her agent or lawyer) and the Producer. When talking to the Producer, the Production Designer will need to discuss how the design will be achieved, what crew (for example, where should the film shoot, how many carpenters and painters in the art department staff, will there be CGI or practical effects, etc.) and how much will it cost. On big films, Production Designers often hire Set Designers (who make plans) and Art Directors (who make plans, if they are not supplied, and supervise construction). We are fortunate at TNUA to have some great design teachers who are also working in the film business. For example? The Scorsese film, Silence, that was shot in Taiwan had 1 Production Designer and 3 Art Directors (the Art Directors were responsible for different sets). Our faculty member, Michael Yang, was one the Art Directors working on the Scorsese film for Production Designer Dante Spinetti. And right now, Michael Yang is working as a Set Designer (drawing plans for sets that an Art Director will build with a crew in Beijing) for the new Jackie Chan movie, Bleeding Steel! If you want to know more (for example, how a design concept becomes plans, including a schedule and budget) we will have Michael Yang as a guest speaker!

Randy Finch
International Professor - 國際講座教授
Taipei National University of the Arts
No. 1 Hsueh-Yuan Road, Beitou
Taipei City, 112 Taiwan

阿卡 BKL said...

Thank you so much! Now I know the differences.
Looking forward to learning more from your class! I've always wanted to learn about how the works on professional sets are arranged and organized. Filming as a student, the crew I'm in and I are often having a chaotic time on set, especially when there's time pressure. Hope I'll know better and grow with my filming buddies out there and my classmates I'll work with in the future.

Randy Finch's Film Blog:

Thoughts from a film producer about making and distributing films.