What Does An Assistant Director Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

Alyssa OmandacCareer, Overview

Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Assistant Directors

The Assistant Director oversees the daily progress of the pre-production and production stages of a film or television production. The role of the Assistant Director is to manage day-to-day operations to allow the Director to focus on creative output.

Bachelor's degree

The Assistant Director assists the Director for film, television, or theater productions. They handle the logistics of keeping the production moving on track while the Director crafts the tone and style of the production.

Assistant Directors are also responsible for the health and safety of the production crew. They supervise special effects and shooting schedules to maintain a safe work environment. In some cases, the Assistant Director directs scenes, such as background scenes or action sequences.

The Assistant Director reports to the Director and Producer and may supervise a team of Assistant Directors, such as the Second, Third, and Additional Assistant Director.

What they do

The Assistant Director oversees the daily progress of the pre-production and production stages of a film or television production. The role of the Assistant Director is to manage day-to-day operations to allow the Director to focus on creative output.

Prepare the daily call sheet each day

The Assistant Director (AD) is required to prepare a call sheet before filming starts each day. The AD uses the Director’s shot list, which includes a list of the scenes that need to be filmed.

The daily call sheet includes the call times for essential crew members, giving a timeline for when people are expected to be on set and ready to work. Along with the schedule, the call sheet includes the shooting schedule for the day, including which scenes are being shot and the location of the shoot.

Track the daily progress of the production

The AD is typically responsible for maintaining the production schedule. They track the daily progress of the shoot to reduce the risk of delays.

After reviewing the shooting schedule for the day, the AD begins coordinating with the various departments responsible for constructing and dressing the sets. They hand out the daily call sheet to the cast and crew and ensure that the Actors are on schedule.

Manage daily operations on the set

The AD manages the set. The AD coordinates with the heads of each department and checks in with the talent.

The Assistant Director is a technical role that involves managing the logistics of the shoot. This gives the Director more freedom to focus on the creative components of the production. The AD manages the crew, allowing the Director to review the Actors’ performances and the overall quality of the takes.

Maintain a safe working environment

The safety of a film set is often the responsibility of the Producer, Director, and AD. However, the AD is often the one responsible for adhering to safety protocols.

When a safety issue arises, the AD is the one on the set that resolves it. For example, if the Weapons Master (Armorer) brings up a safety concern involving the use of weapons, the AD is responsible for finding a solution.

Call the roll for each take

Film and television productions involve shooting multiple takes for each scene. The Assistant Director is responsible for “calling the roll” before each take.

Calling the roll involves the use of specific cues to ensure that the cast and crew understand their roles. For example, after everyone is in position and ready to film, the Assistant Director may call out “final checks” or “last looks.”

After finishing a take, the Assistant Director checks with the Director to determine if another take is needed. If the Director is satisfied, the AD calls out “check the gate,” which signals for the Focus Puller to verify that the cameras did not malfunction during the take. If the Director wants another take, the AD calls out “going again.”

What is the job like


You are one of the top people involved in a film or television production

The Assistant Director answers to the Director and Producer, making you one of the most important individuals on the film set.

You get to help produce original movies or television shows

Many Assistant Directors enter this field due to their love of movies and television shows. You have the chance to help create the content that you love.

You may get to visit exotic locations when working on a production

If you work on big-budget projects, you may get the chance to travel around the world and visit exotic locations.

You have the chance to work with and meet famous Actors

Assistant Directors that work in the film or television industry may get to meet and work with celebrities.


The amount of pressure can be stressful

Assistant Directors face pressure each day, from maintaining the production schedule to coordinating with the various departments. The pressure can lead to significant stress.

You may need to resolve conflicts

When crew members have a dispute, the Assistant Director is often responsible for resolving the issue.

Where they work

Film Studios
Advertising Agencies
Music Video Production Companies
Corporate Production Companies

Assistant Directors are typically employed in the film and television industries. They are often chosen by the Director or Producer and employed by the production company or film studio. Some Assistant Directors may also work for theatre companies, assisting the play’s Director with the logistics of producing the play.

Advertising agencies, music video producers, and corporate production companies may also hire Assistant Directors for projects. Advertising agencies require ADs to manage the production of television commercials. Corporate production companies may employ ADs to produce corporate training.

How to become one

Step 1: Learn more about the film industry

Aspiring Assistant Directors should learn more about the film industry and the filmmaking process. High school students may watch movies, research films online, and read books on the topic.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor’s degree from a film school

Many Assistant Directors earn Bachelor’s degrees from film schools or universities with respected film programs.

Step 3: Look for work as a Production Assistant

Working as a Production Assistant (PA) is a common path to becoming an Assistant Director. It is an entry-level position but may still require a Bachelor’s degree.

Step 4: Work your way up from 2nd 2nd Assistant Director

After gaining experience as a PA, look for work as a 2nd 2nd Assistant Director. The 2nd 2nd Assistant Director assists the 2nd Assistant Director, which is the next step for this career. After becoming a 2nd Assistant Director, start looking for small projects that need an Assistant Director.

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Leader

People with this personality likes to start and work on projects. They also like leading people and making many decisions.

You can read more about these career personality types here.

Assistant Directors must possess exceptional communication skills, as they are responsible for communicating essential information between the various departments. They need to clearly explain instructions to the film crew to maintain a productive shooting schedule.

The need to interact with a wide variety of individuals also requires strong social skills. You should feel comfortable speaking up and issuing commands to large groups.

Organizational skills are also important due to the logistics of managing a film set. There are many moving parts and the Assistant Director is responsible for keeping things moving on time.

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