- EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
- ASSOCIATE PRODUCER
- LINE PRODUCER
- PRODUCTION MANAGER
- PRODUCTION COORDINATOR
- PRODUCTION SECRETARY
- PRODUCTION ASSISTANT (PA)
- 1ST ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
- 2ND ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
- SET PRODUCTION ASSISTANT (PA)
The Producer is the businessperson with a dream and more importantly, the business and industry experience, skill and determination to make it a viable, deliverable reality.
The Producer is:
- The person responsible for the film from concept stage to maximization of revenue on release
- The person in authority to take important, financial and where appropriate, artistic decisions
- The entrepreneur who causes the film to be made and released
THE EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
The Executive Producer is someone who is either financing a film, or representing a studio, production company or party that is financing or co-financing a film.
- Films can have multiple backers, and therefore more than one executive producer.
- Executive producers – often referred in the past to as “the Suits” because of their tendency traditionally to wear more formal attire – may not have any movie-making experience at all.
- Today actual `suits’ are very rare indeed.
- When a studio invests in a motion picture and it assigns an executive to oversee the making of the film, this executive is given the title Executive Producer. Alternatively, an owner or director or even a line-producer of a large company co-producing with a studio may fulfill the role of Executive Producer.
- He or she doesn’t have a specific job on the set. Instead her or his responsibility is to make sure that everyone else is doing their job; that the project is on schedule and is not over budget.
- The Executive Producer protects either the production company or studio’s investment (depending on the size and nature of the project), by overseeing the project.
- The Executive Producer will work closely with the Line Producer and Director if any concerns arise. For example, if bad weather holds up filming, or an actor is injured – if anything at all goes wrong that threatens the picture staying on budget or on schedule – the Executive Producer will press the Line Producer who will press the production for solutions.
- Another role of Executive Producer is to make sure that the film is being made as planned; they ensure that ad hoc or on-the-spot changes do not inherently alter the original project the studio approved.
- Often viewed as something of an outsider, it is nevertheless the function of an Executive Producer to work closely with the Line Producer and get the Production Crew on his or her side while looking over peoples’ shoulders.
- Movies cannot be made without financial backers and Executive Producers play a vital role protecting and growing the investments of those investing in film productions.
- Sometimes an Executive Producer is very closely associated with the actual hands-on production as an actor (which is happening more and more nowadays; check out Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Morgan Freeman, Mark Wahlberg, Joaquin Pheonix, Pierce Brosnan, Queen Latifah, Daniel Craig and many, many more). This actor is what the industry calls a `Marquee Name’ or a `brand’ and he or she may invest in the project or is instrumental in influencing a studio to invest in a film he or she has agreed to play the lead in. In these cases, the investor will carry the title of Executive Producer, in addition to their normal credit of actor, director, etc.
- Anyone with enough money to invest or enough brand equity in the marketplace (ie: a Marquee Name), to attract investment, can become an executive producer.
- This title does not necessarily require film experience of any kind, or input into the process – although film experience, being a canny businessperson and being respected in the Industry can help a whole lot and is – we reckon – indispensible,
- An Executive Producer of a long form motion picture is typically a Producer who is somehow involved with a property that has since been optioned into a film, even if there is no direct input into the creative process of the film itself. e.g. a person who has previously owned or currently owns a literary property’s movie rights or someone who has produced or been involved in the production of a past version of the film; a marquee actor grooming her or himself for the lead, with sufficient brand equity in the film industry to attract investment.
- He or she is usually the person who has arranged finance for the film.
- The title of Executive Producer (EP), or Executive in Charge of Production, typically describes a Film Producer who doesn’t participate in the technical operations of the production process, but who is still responsible for the ultimate success of a project.
The generally accepted role of the Executive Producer is to supervise the work of the Producer on behalf of the production company, studio, the financiers or the distributors, and to ensure that the film is completed on time, and within budget, to agreed artistic and technical standards.
The term is often applied to a producer who has raised a significant proportion of a film’s finance, or who has secured the underlying rights to the project. 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.
It is quite difficult to pin down the precise responsibilities of the Executive Producer, as there may be several Executive Producers on any given feature film. In general, they usually fall into one or more of the following categories:
- DEVELOPMENT The Executive Producer secures the rights to a story and develops the screenplay, but then hands over to the lead Producer, and has no direct involvement in the physical production of the film.
- PACKAGING The Executive Producer authorizes and supervises the packaging of the film.
- FINANCING The Executive Producer raises a significant proportion of funding for the film, assists with presales, or helps to secure distribution agreements. On some films, a well-known Producer, Director or marquee star may also be accorded this title because their association with the project helps to facilitate contacts with financiers and distributors.
- PRODUCTION The Executive Producer acts as a mentor to the Producer and supervises production for the financiers. This type of Executive Producer is almost always involved in short film production schemes, where they typically co-ordinate the film’s production from initial financing through to final distribution.
- Must be excellent negotiators.
- Require a keen business sense, and an intimate knowledge of all aspects of film production, financing and distribution.
- Are usually very well connected both within the industry and with investors and investment groups.
- Should have a strong sense and understanding of the market for films and of the developing trends in production and audience tastes.
- Must have a keen understanding of which packages will earn more than they cost when packaging a product.
POTENTIAL PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT PATHS
Executive Producers may be well established Producers, who are able to strengthen a production package and attract money to the project. Alternatively, they may have a more specialized background, as a Distributor, Sales Agent or financier, and possess specific skills or contacts that make them critical to the success of the film.
Some of the best EPs around have worked their way up through the industry in way or another and are intimately acquainted with business financing and the production and the intricacies of the production process.
A Co-producer performs a substantial portion of a creative producing function and is primarily responsible for one or more managerial, producing functions.
- Co-producer could mean what it implies, or it could mean something else.
- It seems to fall between the credit of Line Producer and Producer.
- It may involve shared producer responsibility.
- A Co-producer usually has less responsibility than a producer for the completion of a project.
- A Co-Producer in South Africa may represent a long-form film production company in a co-production with a studio.
- If a Line Producer has a creative input to the production, he or she is also sometimes credited as a Co-producer.
- Note that if a project has more than one producer, it doesn’t mean that these individuals are ‘Co-producers’ in the technical sense of that term.
THE ASSOCIATE PRODUCER
Associate Producer is a title given to a person who has made a major contribution to the production. They could be a financier, production manager, writer, post-production supervisor, actor, etc.
The Line Producer is the person who takes responsibility for the way the budget gets spent during pre production, production and post production periods of the film.
‘Line Producers’ derive their title 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 generally employed just before pre-production and complete their work at the answer print stage.
- The Line Producer is the producer who is in charge of the physical logistics (film stock, lab, camera, crew, etc) during the shoot.
- The Line Producer is one of the first people to be employed on a film’s production by the Producer and Executive Producers.
- 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 very rewarding creatively & financially.
- Career advancement is based on experience and reputation.
- Where a Line Producer has a creative input to the production, he or she is often credited as a Co-producer.
- The Line Producer is 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 and confirmed 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 artistes 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 Co-ordinator.
- 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, legal agreements 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.
Line Producers require:
- An in-depth knowledge of scheduling and budgeting, and of all the physical and technical processes of filmmaking including the post-production process.
- Excellent industry contacts
- That they command the respect of the production crew.
- Exceptional communication skills, as well as the diplomacy to balance the creative expectations of the director, artists and creative personnel with the financial resources available.
- To plan for the worst, whilst simultaneously being able to inspire others to excel in their work.
Unlike Producers, Line Producers are not responsible under Health & 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.
No qualifications can prepare anyone completely for this hugely demanding role.
- Most good Line Producers have a great deal of hands-on industry experience playing different roles, 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 & Safety courses
We asked one of South Africa’s top Line Producers what she considers to be the most important considerations and guiding principles of a Line Producer. Her Personal Philosophy and Code of Ethics:
- Be the Change you Seek in the World: Lead by Example, don’t expect your crew to live or do things that you will not be happy to do yourself (carried over from being a technician herself and being on the receiving end of sloppy production)
- Producers in SA work on a Gentlemen’s Agreement with the crew, they respect it and do not promise what they cannot deliver
- Production is there to serve the project, assist the crew, location owners, equipment suppliers etc, etc. wherever and as much as they can
- Pay what is due, only hold back the funds under dispute
- A production’s successful financial reporting, budget management etc. start with the level of efficiency by which all the departments feed through their information (budgets, analysis sheets and PO’s) to the UPM, Line Producer and Production Accountant. (a carry-over from not getting what she needed as a production accountant)
- To start a production from developing stage is the ultimate as Line Producer, you can present your producers not only with the requirement of the script finally shaped by the budget, but you can present the feel and the taste of the film and that level of involvement and continuity is vitally important.
- Crewing a film is very much like casting the film. She is not a great believer in a favorite crew or permanent crew. It does have its advantages, but unfortunately Line Producers are not privileged enough in this country to work with one director, or become part of a Director’s team.
- Each Director has his/her own personality and looks for different attributes in each person they work with. They want to be energized, inspired and supported by the people around them. This is a definite strength she has, reading her director and the specific film requirements and then casting and crewing the infrastructure and support around what the Director needs.
- As a Line Producer one of the biggest mistakes is to fall into the too-detailed production trap.
- A Line Producer’s responsibilities are overseeing physical production, working creatively with their budget, taking care of legal, casting with their director and reporting financials etc. to producers, getting the post deal in place, the Bond and insuring the overall completion of the film.
- Take full responsibility as the buck stops here.
- Listen to both sides, judge fairly and keep to your word.
- In order to make quick, informed decisions, you need to be fully aware of the movement and financial state of each department. You need to be so aware of the budget and costs to date that at anytime one knows where and when one can spend money in each of the account categories
- Do analysis, break costs down, keep an eye on the schedule and one should not rely on the AD to tell you what scenes you still need to shoot or pick up
- Keep an eye on your film stock, you do not want to be told by your camera department to order stock and then you’re left with it after shoot, know your shooting ratios, give them breathing space and only step in when you need to.
- A budget total is like a huge jug of juice and her job is to determine just whose glass, where, needs to be filled, topped up our even a bit poured out. It is one big pot of joy to use wisely and to get the most out of. It is a bit like the Widow’s Oil jar, except unfortunately sometimes it does run dry.
- The challenge is to use what you’ve been given to satisfy the director and script’s requirements as much as the budget allows, and if there is a savings at the end of production to use for post. That’s a bonus, as long as you can say that the director got everything he wanted. There are few things more embarrassing than when you told your director and producer you do not have money for an additional helicopter day, and then in the end you have enough money left for 3days!
- Stay up to date with the latest camera, lighting and grips equipment
- Stay up to date with post, the processes and being able to offer the most cost effective and highest quality options
- Always have a fully planned and executable plan A, B & C.
- Don’t become so involved with the detail that you forget the bigger picture
- And lastly, but of greatest importance: NEVER FORGET THE BIG PICTURE AND WHATEVER ELSE YOU DO – DON’T FORGET TO HAVE FUN!
UNIT PRODUCTION MANAGER (UPM)
The Unit Production Manager, sometimes called the Production Manager, is the businessperson of the company in terms of ground implementation.
- The UPM hires the crew, leases the equipment, negotiates with suppliers and ensures the production adheres to the budgetary limits within which the different departments must function.
- The Production Manager also monitors the production in progress and ensures that if the production starts going over budget or over schedule, steps are taken to correct the problems before they multiply. He or she is the Producer’s right arm.
- The Production Manager runs the production on behalf of the Producer and Line Producer, by helping to determine the most efficient and economical way to schedule shoots, negotiate business deals for crews, locations and technical equipment, and make day-to-day production decisions to ensure that the production proceeds smoothly.
- Production Managers are dynamic and highly self-motivated individuals. They should be excellent communicators, prepared to work very long hours, and be able to react calmly, under immense pressure.
- The role is challenging but well paid, in most cases on a freelance basis.
RESPONSIBILITIES – DURING PRE-PRODUCTION
- Production Managers are in charge of the expenditure of the ‘below-the-line’ budget. In pre-production, Production Managers work closely with the Producer, Line Producer and First Assistant Director to break down the script page by page, and to prepare a provisional schedule.
- Production Managers then consult with the various Heads of Department to estimate the materials needed, and to assist in the preparation of draft budgets.
- Once the overall budget has been signed off, Production Managers assist Producers in interviewing and selecting crews and suppliers to meet production requirements. They help to negotiate rates of pay, and conditions of employment, ensuring compliance with regulations and codes of practice.
- They negotiate, approve and arrange the rental and purchase of all production materials, equipment and supplies.
- Production Managers oversee the search for locations, sign location releases, and liaise with local authorities and the Police regarding permits and other permissions. On smaller productions they may also negotiate contracts with casting agencies.
DURING PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHY
- During production, Production Managers ensure that all bills are paid, that tasks are delegated properly, and that people work well together.
- During the production, the Production Manager’s responsibilities include:
- Setting up and implementing financial monitoring systems
- Controlling production expenditure
- Monitoring and controlling the progress of productions
- Overseeing production paperwork, such as releases, call sheets, and daily progress reports
- Liaising with the First Assistant Director on set, to ensure that the production schedule and departmental budgets are on target.
- Production Managers sign and authorize all purchase orders, and help the Production Accountant to prepare weekly cost reports.
- They make changes to the schedule and to the budget as required, and ensure that these changes are brought to the attention of all relevant personnel.
- Production Managers deal with any personnel problems or issues that may arise, and ensure that all Health and Safety regulations are adhered to.
- At the end of the shoot, the Production Manager ‘wraps’ the production.
DURING POST PRODUCTION
Effectively and efficiently wrapping the production involves, amongst other things:
- Ensuring that all final invoices for services provided are received, checked and passed for payment
- Overseeing that locations are signed off in accordance with agreements, and that all rental agreements are terminated and equipment returned on time.
- On larger productions involving more than one Production Unit, these responsibilities may be delegated to Assistant Production Managers, who are referred to as Second Unit Production Managers, or Assistant Production Managers.
- In such situations, Production Managers are likely to work permanently in the main production office.
This role is very business oriented, and requires a thorough knowledge of film production. Production Managers must:
- Be hard working, with superb planning, organizational and administrative skills.
- Spend a great deal of their time on the telephone, and must therefore have excellent communication and negotiation skills in order to win the confidence and respect of suppliers and production personnel.
- Be familiar with budgeting and accounting programs, film scheduling and word processing software.
- Understand the creative and business challenges faced by the Producer, Director and Heads of Department, on each specific film production.
- Must have good contacts with local equipment suppliers, and know where to recruit reliable production personnel, from Location Managers and Art Directors, to Carpenters and Production Assistants.
- Be familiar with Health & Safety legislation, and must know how to carry out risk assessments according to regulatory requirements. They must also be familiar with all insurance issues.
TYPICAL CAREER PATH
- Production Managers play a key role on any film production and to qualify for this position, they must be highly experienced in the film industry.
- The typical Career Path to Production Manager is from on-set PA to Assistant Direction (i.e., from Second or First Assistant Director to Production Manager), or through the production office (i.e., from Production PA to Assistant Production Manager or Production Co-ordinator, or Assistant Production Manager to Production Manager), or from production management in television drama or advertising.
- A degree in Film or Media Studies is not essential, although a degree in some discipline is often an advantage.
- Productions often insist that a Production Manager should have a full clean driving license.
Production Coordinators are directly responsible to the Line Producer and Production Manager for scheduling and coordinating the communications and the day-to-day workings of the whole production team.
The role of the Production Coordinator differs from country to country. An American production coordinator has different responsibilities to a UK Production Coordinator. Generally speaking however, based on the UK model, a Production Coordinator:
- Co-ordinates the crew
- Maintains the purchase order log
- Makes sure paperwork is completed and filed
- Answers the telephone, and ensures that nothing is overlooked.
- Produces new versions of the script as changes are made.
- Is responsible for the day-to-day workings of the production office
- Must work very long hours, particularly in the final week before the start of principal photography and employment is usually on a freelance basis.
- Production Coordinators run the production office from the office, according to the guidelines set out by the Production Manager.
- Production Coordinators manage the production office and are left in charge of it whenever the Production Manager is on set.
- Production Coordinators typically perform the following duties during the different phases of production:
- Production Coordinators are responsible for setting up the Production Office and for ordering equipment and supplies
- They co-ordinate travel, accommodation, work permits, and visas for cast and crew; and they prepare and distribute shooting schedules, crew and cast lists, scripts and script revisions.
- They assist with ordering and collecting equipment, and booking personnel, once the Production Manager has negotiated acceptable terms.
- Production Coordinators organize and process the paperwork related to insurance cover for action vehicles, rental cars, office equipment, etc.
- A Production Coordinator is responsible for preparing, updating and distributing crew lists, daily progress reports, script changes, call sheets and movement orders.
- He or she must ensure that transportation needs are communicated to the transport captain, or to unit drivers.
- They organize the use of courier and shipping companies, co-ordinate the shipment of film and tape to and from various laboratories, and make arrangements for the movement of props and costumes, and other equipment.
- As the shoot draws to an end, Production Coordinators assist the Production Manager to “wrap” the production by closing accounts with suppliers, returning surplus stock, tying up all loose ends, and ensuring that office files are stored safely, and in a suitable format, so that information can be easily accessed by other personnel when required.
- Depending on the size of the production, Production Coordinators may delegate tasks to one or more Assistant Production Coordinators, and to a number of Production Runners.
- This role can be stressful, particularly during the last week of pre-production.
- Production Coordinators must have strong, multi-tasking abilities, be good team players and be able to work calmly under pressure and without constant supervision.
- They need to be hardworking and efficient, and must have excellent organizational and communication skills.
- They need a very good understanding of the film making process and of the different phases of production.
- Specific production skills often required include identifying and negotiating copyright issues, and assisting with daily financial control.
- Production Coordinators must be highly computer literate, with excellent secretarial, word processing and e-mail abilities.
- They should have a good knowledge of Health & Safety regulations and may be required to help conduct an assessment of risks in the workplace.
POTENTIAL CAREER PATH
- No specific degree in Production Coordination is currently available in South Africa to our knowledge.
- A potential career path to the position of Production Coordinator on a film is generally via the position of Production Runner, Production Assistant and Assistant Production Coordinator
- TV experience complementing the skill set, advertising or experience in general office management is an advantage. Production Coordinators should also consider undertaking Health & Safety courses.
- A full clean driving license is a very valuable asset and is often required.
ASSISTANT PRODUCTION COORDINATOR
The Assistant Production Coordinator acts as a general assistant to the Production Coordinator, performing duties relating to the preparation, distribution and filing of paperwork, both within the production office and on set.
Assistant Production Coordinators are almost always self-employed, and must be prepared to work long hours, particularly during the final week of pre-production. Most larger long-form films employ one Assistant Production Coordinator; however, even larger productions may employ two or more.
Assistant Production Coordinators work under the direct supervision of a Production Coordinator.
Their duties vary according to the production phase, and the daily requirements of the production office.
Responsibilities may include:
- Setting up, maintaining and closing down the Production Office, for example, ordering furniture, equipment and supplies.
- Travel & Accommodation – helping to co-ordinate travel, accommodation, work permits, visas, medical examinations and any immunizations for principal crew and cast to conform with insurance and foreign travel requirements.
- General production duties – including typing, filing, answering the telephone, and other related office duties.
- Transportation – helping to organize the pick-up and delivery of equipment and personnel by the Unit Drivers.
- Production paperwork – assisting the Production Coordinator to prepare and distribute shooting schedules, crew and cast lists, call sheets, production reports, movement orders, scripts and script revisions.
- Assistant Production Coordinators must have strong multi-tasking abilities, be enthusiastic team players, and be able to work calmly under pressure.
- They need to be hardworking, efficient, and to have strong organizational and communication skills.
- They should have an understanding of the film-making process, and of the different phases of production.
- They must be highly computer literate, with excellent secretarial, typing, word processing and e-mail skills.
- 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.
- Assistant Production Coordinators must also know how to manage and market themselves as freelancers.
QUALIFICATIONS & EXPERIENCE
There are currently no specific degree courses or industry unit standards in Production Coordination; however, significant industry experience is usually required.
POTENTIAL CAREER PATH
- Assistant Production Co-ordinators on film productions usually progress to this role from working as Production Runners or production assistants.
- Equivalent experience in TV, advertising or general office management may also be sufficient.
- Valuable work experience can also be gained by working on short film productions.
- A full clean driver’s license is usually a key required for this role.
The Production Secretary
- Is responsible for over-seeing the day-to-day activities of the production office, liaising with all departments to ascertain their needs and ranking various priorities with senior personnel.
- Makes bookings and where required, processes orders
- Checks prices and makes arrangements for obtaining required resources.
- Makes sure that everyone involved knows who has to do what in order to move, deploy and store resources and ensure that the production systems work.
The Pre-Production Secretary
The Pre-Production Secretary co-ordinates the pre-production activities within the production office. Understands priorities and knows how to deal with contingencies. Makes various arrangements communicating with all relevant personnel and suppliers and liaises with the appropriate authorities.
KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING
- What equipment and facilities are required for the production
- Factors which may delay production activities
- The importance of meeting deadlines
- How to arrange medicals and insurance
- Who should receive schedules and scripts
- Special requirements for foreign film servicing and co-productions
Regarding office activities, a Production Coordinator or Production Secretary must:
- Ensure that necessary equipment and facilities are ordered and obtained, keeping accurate records of orders
- Liaise with others about personnel and resource requirements
- Provide support to senior personnel who have responsibility for the planning and scheduling of production activities
- Identify factors and key requirements which may affect the time-tabling of activities
- Develop contingency plans to cope with factors that may cause delays
- Arrange medicals and insurance, where appropriate
- Prepare music copyright clearances
- Organize the effective distribution of schedules and scripts to relevant people
- Prepare and where necessary distribute contact lists, unit lists, cast lists, schedules, call sheets, movement orders and other production documentation
KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING
The Production Secretary should know and understand the following regarding Management of Resources
- Why it is important to have effective resource control systems
- The nature and priority of the activities which occur in the various stages of the production process
- The quantity and types of resources required for the different stages of the production process
- How different environments and types and scales of production affect the nature and quantity of resources required
- The organizational policies and legal requirement which apply to obtaining resources
- The appropriate documentation to use when ordering resources
- Arrangements for moving and storing resources
- The appropriate documentation to use when returning resources to suppliers (return notes) when reporting a loss or damage claim.
THE FOLLOWING SKILLS ARE REQUIRED FOR THIS POSITION
- Set up appropriate systems for managing the resources for a production
- Collate and compile information about the resources required by different departments and at
different stages of the production process, including accommodating international cast, crew, resources and requirements
- Conduct discussions with departments in a manner which promotes good working relationships
- Proactively check prices from a number of alternative suppliers and obtain what is needed at the lowest price available for the quality required by the production
- Determine ongoing, what resources are needed and which suppliers to use, in line with organizational policies, legal and BBBEE obligations
- Check with the production manager whether requirements are within budget limits
- Check with all relevant parties who is responsible for moving and storing resources
THE POST PRODUCTION PROCESS INVOLVES AMONGST OTHER THINGS:
- Liaising with the various departments involved with post-production, and ensuring that their requirements are met.
- Booking couriers, obtaining equipment, arranging facilities and booking artistes.
- Keeping in close contact with everyone involved with the post-production process, referring upwards to the post-production supervisor or producer, as appropriate.
- A basic understanding of the post production process and technical terminology.
KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING
A Production Secretary or Production Coordinator should know:
- The requirements of the post-production schedule if any aspects of post-production are being completed in South Africa
- Your own level of responsibility in respect of the post-production process
- When to refer upwards
- When and how to prioritize
- Effective methods of communicating with relevant people
- How to locate couriers, providers of equipment and facilities, and artistes
- How to check availability and price
- How to make bookings and purchases
- How to monitor suppliers
- How to co-ordinate artiste travel and accommodation when required
- How to co-ordinate the movements of film materials
- In broad terms, the post production process and technical terminology such as ADR, effects , music and sound and dubbing procedures
The Production Coordinator or Production secretary should be able to:
- Maintain an ongoing awareness of the requirements of the post-production schedule if post is being conducted in SA.
- Liaise with the relevant people to establish their requirements for the smooth running of the post-production process
- Clarify precise requirements where there is lack of detail or where ambiguity exists
- Act promptly on those requirements which fall within your ability and level of responsibility
- Ensure that all necessary materials and associated paperwork are delivered to the cutting-room or edit suite, as appropriate
- Take instructions as appropriate and refer upwards when necessary
- Maintain frequent communications between all departments involved with post-production
- Check availability and price for the required equipment, facilities or artistes
- Make bookings and purchases as required by the post-production process, ensuring that budget limitations are met
- Monitor supplies carefully to ensure that they match orders and purchases
The Director is the artist who puts that dream onto a canvas called celluloid or on a state-of-the-art digital format.
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.
- The Director is the captain of the ship, who steers the various diverse elements together in a visual way to express the film’s story, theme, and mood.
- The Director carries the creative burden of the film.
- He or she, as the `Team Leader’, so-to-speak, is nominally in charge of everything creative, in so far as he or she directs operations, ranging from budget, to schedule, to script, to actors, to costumes, to sets, to lighting, to cinematography, to editing, to music, to final answer print.
- A director is responsible for overseeing every creative aspect of a film, from start to finish. From the ‘look’ of the film to trademark lighting or mood,
- You can recognize the best and worst directors’ films by their artistic signatures. Hitchcock, Spielberg, Woody Allen, Tarantino and Werner Herzog, just for example, each leave their own, distinctive mark on every film they make, for better or worse.
- When a director reads a script he or she develops a personal vision for how that story should be told. Whether it is a dark tale, a story of triumph, or one of passion, the director’s unique vision will be responsible for presenting it in a way that no other director would.
- A director sees beyond the words on the page to a moving picture with specific shots, pace, framing, lighting, mood, music, nuance and emotion – all visually created for the screen.
- If the initial script needs work, the director will make suggestions to the writer of the screenplay for improving the script and rendering it more `filmable’.
- The director may bring key crew members to the project that he or she has successfully worked with in the past, such as the Director of Photography. Clean Eastwood is a great example. He rarely makes a feature without his regular Director of Photography, Tom Stern, and Camera Operator Steve Campanelli and Invictus, the film Eastwood recently made in Cape Town with Moonlighting Productions, is a good case in point.
- Despite this, as Director, she or he will be responsible for approving each and every camera angle, lens effect, the lighting, and set design.
- The Director also works closely with the cast, meeting before each scene to do a run through. Here she or he gets a feel for how the actor will play the scene. If needed, the director can provide motivational insight, or tweak performances by making suggestions. He or she, where appropriate, will also listen to the suggestion of the actors, particularly if they are highly experienced marquee names.
- Studio executives or executive producers will visit the set to make sure the project is on schedule and on budget. The director will work with the studio execs to make sure they’re happy about how the film is progressing.
- The Director will also be intimately involved in post-production when the film gets edited into its final form.
- Although a director is responsible for the vision behind a film, a good director also listens to his or her crew and cast and works collaboratively. There are many talented people involved in the making of a film and utilizing each person’s talent is what makes a director, and the film, a success.
RESPONSIBILITIES – CONCEPT STAGE
- May write the film’s script or commission it to be written
- May be hired after an early draft of the script is complete.
- Must then develop a vision for the finished film, and define a practical route for achieving it.
- Make crucial decisions, such as selecting the right cast, crew and locations for the film.
- May suggest changes to the script, direct rehearsals, scout and approve locations
- May meet Art Directors, Wardrobe and Costume Designers, Construction Managers and Set Decorators to discuss creative interpretation and choices
- Meet the DOP to discuss camera style and shots
DURING PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHY
- Direct the performances of the actors once the film is in production.
- Are responsible for leading and motivating the team to produce the best possible results
- Manage the technical aspects of filming, including the camera, sound, lighting, design and special effects departments in pursuit of the realization of their creative vision.
DURING POST PRODUCTION
- Work closely with Editors through the many technical processes of editing, to reach the final Director’s cut or version of the film.
- Are responsible at all stages for motivating the team to produce the best possible results.
- Must be constantly mindful and always appreciate the needs and expectations of the film’s financiers.
- Must have exceptional leadership and teamwork ability, artistic vision and creative skills to develop and realize an engaging and original film.
- Must show real commitment and a deep passion for filmmaking, along with the ability to act as a strong and confident leader of a complex matrix of interconnected teams.
- Must constantly make decisions, but must also be able to delegate, and to collaborate with others.
- Require excellent communication and interpersonal skills to get the best from the filmmaking team.
- Must inspire and motivate the team to produce the film they have envisioned.
- Need an extensive understanding of the entire filmmaking process, from both technical and creative points of view.
- Should possess in abundance, a capacity for long hours of intensive work, attention to detail, and the ability to remain calm and think clearly under great pressure.
- Need great self-belief and the determination to succeed.
POTENTIAL CAREER PATH
While there are numerous and diverse training courses and reference books on directing, formal qualifications are not necessary to become a Director.
- Studying the art and craft of directing is important, but the role can only really be mastered through in-depth practical experience over the long term.
- Writing a screenplay, directing one’s own short film or an amateur play, are all good starting places. Extensive industry experience is also crucial to this role
- Up-to-date knowledge of filmmaking techniques and equipment is vital, as is learning how to work with actors to create a performance.
- Many Directors work their way up over many years from entry level positions, getting work experience as a Runner on a film set or in a production office as an ideal starting point.
- Observing successful Directors at work, working under the mentorship of successful directors or around them, whilst immersing oneself in the practical process of filmmaking, are vital first steps on this fiercely competitive and highly challenging career path.
FIRST ASSISTANT DIRECTOR (FIRST AD or AD)
The First AD is the person who organizes the crew to the best advantage for filming.
The Fiirst AD is the Director’s right hand person, taking responsibility for a number of important practicalities so that the Director is free to concentrate on the creative process. He or she usually designs and controls the shooting schedule and generally liaises between the production office and the set. He or she is responsible to the Director for the efficient execution of the schedule on set and assists the director, when required, in the direction of extras, crowd scenes and special effects.
The AD is also responsible for production paperwork, including overtime authorization.
- First ADs break down the script into a shot-by-shot storyboard
- Work with the Director to determine the shoot order, and how long each scene will take to film.
- The First AD then draws up the overall shooting schedule (a timetable for the filming period). Once the film is in production, The First is in charge of making sure that every aspect of the shoot keeps to this schedule.
- Before the shoot, the Firsts’ main task is to create the filming schedule, working in careful consultation with the Director in order to fulfil his or her creative ambitions.
- When drawing up the shooting schedule, First ADs must also be aware of budgetary constraints, cast availability and script coverage. Preparing the storyboard, overseeing the hiring of locations, props and equipment, and checking weather reports, are all key pre-production duties for Firsts.
PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHY RESPONSIBILITIES
First ADs’ main duties are:
- Assisting the Director
- Coordinating all production activity
- Supervising the cast and crew.
- The 1st AD is also in charge of a department of other Assistant Directors and Runners.
- Overall, they provide the key link between the Director, the cast and the crew, whilst also liaising with the production office, and providing regular progress reports about the shoot.
- During production, the First AD must ensure that everyone is on standby and ready for the Director’s cue for action.
- First ADs’ core responsibility is to keep filming on schedule by driving it forward, so they frequently make announcements and give directions to co-ordinate the cast and crew.
- They also control discipline on the set and supervise the other Assistant Directors.
- The First AD oversees the preparation of the daily ‘call sheet’ (a document detailing daily shooting logistics, which is distributed to all cast and crew).
- Firsts are also responsible for health and safety on set or location, and must take action to eliminate or minimize hazards at all times.
- First ADs must be authoritative team-leaders and motivators, whilst also being approachable team players.
- They need exceptional organizational and time-management skills.
- The ability to plan ahead, trouble-shoot and pay close attention to detail is vital in this role.
- Being an excellent communicator, with tact and diplomacy skills, is also essential as they must routinely deal with problem or even crisis situations.
- They are also constantly required to prioritize tasks, and as they may be frequently interrupted, the ability to multi-task is crucial.
- Firsts work long and often unsocial hours on a freelance basis, so a strong commitment to the job is essential.
- They also usually work under highly pressurized and stressful conditions, so a flexible, upbeat and positive approach is highly valued.
QUALIFICATIONS AND EXPERIENCE
- No formal qualifications are required to become a First Assistant Director.
- Extensive industry experience gained through working on set or on location is the key route to develop the necessary skills.
- Most First ADs start as Runners, before progressing through the other Assistant Director roles (Third Assistant Director and Second Assistant Director).
- Please note that this route may take a number of years.
- Firsts need specific experience in planning and budgeting (and how this affects scheduling), as well as in-depth knowledge of, and qualifications in, current Health and Safety legislation and procedures.
- Regular Health and Safety training courses should be undertaken, in order to keep this knowledge up to date.
- A full driving licence is generally deemed necessary.
SECOND ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
The Second Assistant Director (Second AD or Second) is the First Assistant Director’s right hand person. The Second AD’s main function is to ensure that all the First AD’s orders and directions are carried out.
Under the supervision of the First AD, the Second looks after the cast. From time-to-time and where required, they also take charge of the set and organize the next day’s call sheet. Second ADs tend also to be a liaison between the set and production office.
Seconds have two main responsibilities during production:
- They prepare and draw up the ‘call sheet’ (a document detailing daily filming logistics, which is distributed to cast and crew), under the supervision of the First
- They oversee all the movements of the cast, ensuring that the principal actors are in make-up, in wardrobe, or standing by on the set at the correct times.
On smaller productions, where there is no Third Assistant Director, Seconds may also be responsible for finding and looking after background artistes (extras). Most Seconds also assist the First in liaising between the set or location and the production office, updating key personnel on the timings and progress of the shoot.
On each day of a shoot:
- Seconds must prepare and draw up the next day’s call sheet, (which involves confirming the details of who needs to be on set and at what time, the transport arrangements, extras required etc.).
- These details must be approved by the production office before the Seconds can distribute the call sheet to the cast and crew.
- Ensuring that everyone knows their ‘call time’ (the precise time they will be required on set) is a key responsibility – any delay to filming due to bad time-keeping negatively affects the day’s schedule and budget, and is considered unprofessional, extremely inefficient and most important, very costly.
- Once the day’s filming has begun, Seconds must ensure that all actors are ready for filming when they are required, which entails coordinating any transport requirements, as well as make-up and wardrobe timetables.
- In some cases, Seconds may also be in charge of finding extras, sometimes in large numbers at short notice, and coordinating their transport to, and activities on, the set or location.
- Seconds must have excellent organizational and time-management skills to co-ordinate arrangements and to make efficient plans.
- First-class communication and interpersonal skills are also essential, as Seconds must deal with a large number of people, convey messages and give instructions clearly, concisely and confidently.
- Cast members may be under pressure to learn script lines, or to hone their performance, and need to be dealt with tactfully and diplomatically at all times.
- Paying close attention to detail and always attaining very high standards of efficiency are vital skills for successful Seconds.
- To win and maintain the confidence of First ADs, Seconds must consistently offer capable support and assistance. As the work is on a freelance basis, and involves long and unsocial hours, Seconds must be extremely motivated and always flexible.
- No formal qualifications are required to become a Second Assistant Director.
- Industry experience is key, and the best way to gain this is via the conventional entry level position as a Runner or Production Assistant, eventually acquiring enough on-the-job experience to progress to the role of Third Assistant Director, and then on to becoming a Second.
- A full driving license is generally required for this role.
- Regular Health and Safety training courses should be undertaken, in order to keep this knowledge up to date.
THIRD ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
The main function of the Third Assistant Director (Third AD or Third) is to support and assist the First and Second ADs in whatever ways are necessary on the set or location.
This can involve a wide variety of tasks, but the key duties of most Thirds revolve around the movement and activities of background artistes (extras).
Thirds may be required to direct the action of extras, or of vehicles appearing in the background of the shot, especially in large crowd scenes.
Thirds also act as messengers on the set or location, and are often required to convey messages and relay information to cast or crew members, usually by radio link.
- Thirds are responsible for coordinating the extras to arrive at the right time and place for filming.
- Once the extras are on set or location, Thirds are in charge of preparing and cueing them, and sometimes also directing them, in any required background action.
- They must also supervise and look after they extras – they may be on standby on the set or location all day, despite only being needed for a short period.
- Thirds may have to keep members of the public out of shot, and off the set or location, so that they don’t interrupt filming, cast or crew.
- Thirds may also liaise with the Location Manager, and may be given responsibilities with regard to the security and locking up of studios or locations after filming has taken place.
- Firsts or Seconds may also provide Thirds with specific information to add to the daily progress reports, before they are sent to the production office.
- Thirds must have excellent organizational and time-management skills, as well as a good stock of common sense.
- The ability to take instructions and carry them out with enthusiasm and efficiency is vital.
- Communication and interpersonal skills are also essential, as Thirds spend most of their working days interacting with a large number and variety of people.
- Diplomacy and patience are required when coordinating and directing large groups of extras.
- As the work is freelance and involves long and unsocial hours, Thirds must be highly motivated and always flexible.
POTENTIAL CAREER PATH/ QUALIFICATIONS/ EXPERIENCE
No formal qualifications are required to become a Third Assistant Director. Industry experience is the key, and the best place to start is via the conventional entry-level position as a Runner or Production Assistant.
With sufficient on-the-job experience, individuals may then progress, usually relatively quickly, to becoming a Third Assistant Director. Regular Health and Safety training courses should be undertaken, in order to keep this knowledge up to date.
A full driving license is generally required.
PRODUCTION RUNNER OR PRODUCTION ASSISTANT
- Are the foot soldiers of the production team, performing small but important tasks in the office, around the set and on location.
- 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.
WHAT EXACTLY DOES A PRODUCTION RUNNER OR ASSISTANT DO?
Production Runners are deployed by the Producer and by other production staff, such as the Production Co-ordinator:
- To assist wherever they are needed on productions.
- Their responsibilities vary considerably depending on where Production Runners are assigned.
In the Production Office the Production Runner or Assistant may be required, amongst other things to:
- Assist with answering telephones
- File paperwork and data entry
- Arrange coffee, tea, lunches, dinners, and transportation reservations
- Photocopy, do general office administration, and distribute production paperwork.
On-set duties may involve, amongst other things:
- Acting as a courier
- Helping to keep the set clean and tidy and distributing call sheets
- Distributing Health and Safety notices, and other paperwork.
- On location, Production Runners may also be required to help to co-ordinate the extras, and to perform crowd control duties, except where this work is dangerous, or performed by police officers or other official personnel.
POTENTIAL CAREER PATHS
- Production Runner or Production Assistant is an entry-level role that can provide valuable contacts and experience for many other roles.
- Progression might be to a trainee position within another department or to a more senior role within the Production Office.
KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS REQUIREDM
Production Runners must
- Be flexible and well organized, and be able to think on their feet.
- Be able to relay messages quickly and accurately, whilst paying due regard to the need for silence when on set.
- 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.
- Be punctual and enthusiastic, and understand the importance of taking detailed notes and recording expenditure accurately.
- Be level-headed and able to work calmly and effectively under pressure.
- Be able to contribute to good working relationships, and to creating a positive atmosphere on the production.
- Or rather should have good secretarial skills, and be computer literate in standard word processor, spreadsheet and e-mail Programs.
- Be aware of Health and Safety issues, and ensure that their actions do not constitute a risk to themselves or to others.
KEY SKILLS SHOULD INCLUDE
- Organizational and administrative skills
- Computer skills
- Good communication and interpersonal skills
- Being proactive in anticipating needs of the people around you.
- The ability to work without supervision
- Versatility and a willingness to learn
- Knowledge of the requirements of the relevant Health and Safety legislation and procedures.
POTENTIAL CAREER PATH
- Passion, Commitment and 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.
- 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. Relevant courses include City Varsity, Cape Tech, AFDA, UCT Film & Media School; for that matter any foundation degrees, first degrees and postgraduate courses in film and TV production.
- Some experience in film, drama or broadcasting, whether it is in amateur dramatics, student radio or film making, shorts or community media is also an advantage.
- A full, clean driver’s license is a huge advantage and is almost always required.
Film is deemed as an industry “… that plays an important role in communicating ideas, information and ideology. Second, on a political level, this industry provides a forum for debate and discussion as well as information which is essential for citizen’s participation in community life. Third, economically this is an industry which turns over billions of dollars and generates millions of jobs throughout the world. The entertainment industry includes film, television, music and publishing. The film and television industry generates jobs directly in production and post-production companies, through casting and crewing agencies, in equipment-hiring companies, through set design and manufacturing companies and prop suppliers. Jobs are also created indirectly in supporting industries such as the hospitality industry in catering firms and hotels, and the transport industry” (CGIS Film Report). A critical and fourth element that is missing in this definition is the cultural significance of the film and broader audio visual industry.
Entrepreneurial and Skills Development
The growth and development of entrepreneurs in any industry is critical, but in particular more so for the film, video, television and multi-media industry due to the high risk and quick turnaround nature of the business. The availability of skilled personnel and a steady supply of creative and other skills are critical for the medium and long-term survival of this competitive industry.
The increasing cost of filming in the world makes the North West Province; which is a green field currently a potential film destination for future growth, if promoted and marketed as such. The centrality and accessibility as well as the abundance of locations make the North West Province marketable when one considers Klerksdorp, Hartbeespoortdam, Sun City, Rustenburg, Zeerust, Vryburg, Potchefstroom, Mafikeng and many more other shooting locations.
Initiatives are aimed at developing producers that can make the following programmes:
- Feature films
- Short Films
- Television Dramas
- Magazine Programmes
- Children’s Programmes
- Sports Programmes
- Music Videos
The Film Industry Value Chain
- Identification of story
- Story line
- Scene and character development
- Situations and locations
- Scene breakdown
- First draft
- Script editing
- Subsequent drafts
- Register intellectual property rights
- Soliciting and getting recognition for the project
- Securing local and foreign distribution
- Sourcing funding
- Secure production partnerships
- Deal making
- Legal work and contracts
- Plan Marketing strategy
- Logistics planning
- Location scouting
- Actor auditioning and selection (casting)
- Crew selection and deployment
- Script breakdown
- Story boarding
- Production design
- Purchasing and hiring of props
- Set construction and painting
- Costume design
- Costume making, purchase hiring and laundry
- Make up design and purchases
- Special effects design, purchases and construction
- Lighting design
- Secure lighting, sound, grips, camera and film stock
- Obtain permission for all locations
- Safety and security strategy
- All contracts finalized and signed
- Recording/filming of live action scenes
- Still photography for publicity
- Develop and print film
- View daily takes
- On set interviews and publicity
- Additional dialogue recording
- Recording sound effects
- Music composition and recording
- Graphics and special effects
- Negative matching, cutting and colour grading
- Combining picture, sound effects and music
- Inter negative and inter positive
- Audience research
- Final print
PUBLICITY, PROMOTION AND MARKETING
- Marketing strategy and campaign
- Arrange interviews
- Print publicity material
- Arrange screenings at film festivals nationally and globally
DISTRIBUTION AND EXHIBITION
- Distribution agreements
- Release strategy for different territories
- Screening of movie to audience
- Film Editor
- Production Sound
- Casting Director
- Unit Production Manager
- 1st Assistant Director
- 2nd Assistant Director
- Script Supervisor
- Key Production Assistant
- Production Accountant
- Location Manager
- Production Designer
- Art Director
- Publicity Designer
- Key Makeup Person
- Key Hairdresser
- Costume Designer
- Set Costumer
- Property Manager
- Set Director
- Director of Photography
- Camera Operator
- 1st Assistant Cameraperson
- 2nd Assistant Cameraperson
- Continuity Stills Photographer
- Production Still Photographer
- Documentary Videographer
- Best-Boy Electric
- Boom Operators
- Sound Assistant
- Key Grip
- Best-Boy Grip
- Set Ops Grips
- Dolly Grip
- Construction Foreman
- Construction Grips
- Assistant Editor
- Lead Compositor
POST-PRODUCTION SOUND & MUSIC
- Sound Designer
- Mixing Engineer
- Foley Artist