Careers in Film
Thanks to the rise of video streaming, there is a growing demand in the film industry. Netflix, YouTube, and other sites have significantly increased the need for original content.
The average film production employs close to 275 people from a wide range of disciplines. During pre-production, companies need Location Scouts, Screenwriters, Storyboard Artists, and others to craft the story.
The actual production employs even more individuals. The art department prepares the set while the camera, sound, lighting, and grip departments work together to capture the performances. Post-production may require an extensive team of Sound Engineers, Visual Effects Artists, and Editors.
View pre-production careers
The pre-production stage involves much of the planning that starts before the camera starts rolling, such as storyboarding the scenes from the screenplay, scouting locations, and casting Actors.
Producers help bring a production to life by arranging financing and supervising the hiring of essential personnel, including the Director. They are the ones that are ultimately responsible for the outcome of the film.
During pre-production, the Director helps shape the direction of the project by providing input on casting choices and shooting locations. They also work with the Storyboard Artist and Screenwriter to visualize the screenplay.
The Assistant Director offers direct assistance to the Director. They often deal with the technical aspects of pre-production while the Director focuses on developing the creative vision for the film.
Line Producers oversee a variety of pre-production activities, including setting up a production office and scouting potential locations. They also ensure that the project complies with all regulations and industry codes of practice.
Unit Production Manager
The Unit Production Manager (UPM) is typically hired by the Producer to manage the budget and timeline. During pre-production, the UPM sets the schedule for filming and coordinates shooting locations.
The Casting Director works with Directors and Producers to choose Actors to play the characters in the film, including major and minor roles. They may arrange auditions or review tapes submitted by Actors.
The Casting Assistant assists the Casting Director with the casting process. They may call Agents to inquire about the availability of Actors and perform a variety of general office duties.
Storyboard Artists create sketches or computer-generated artwork to visualize the scenes in the script. They work with the Director, Producers, and Director of Photography to break each scene into individual shots.
During pre-production, a Screenwriter works with the Director and Producers to revise the script. Some projects involve the use of multiple Screenwriters and may not always involve the original writer of the script.
The Location Manager reports to the Production Manager and supervises the Location staff, including the Location Scouts. They are responsible for gaining permission to use locations for shooting.
The Location Scout helps find suitable filming locations for scenes that require on-location shooting. They review the needs of the script, scout locations, and arrange for the use of locations.
The production stage typically requires the most crew, as it covers the preparation of sets, costumes, and equipment, followed by principal photography.
The directing team includes the individuals responsible for running the set. The heads of each department typically answer to the directing team during production.
During production, the Director provides the cast and crew with direction and steers the overall vision of the production. They directly work with the heads of creative departments to achieve a specific style and tone.
The First Assistant Director, or 1st AD, works with the Production Manager and Director to keep principal photography on schedule. They may also direct minor scenes or background sequences.
Set Production Assistant
The Set Production Assistant assists with day-to-day operations, such as delivering call sheets to Actors, coordinating extras, and ensuring that Actors arrive on set at the proper time.
The camera department prepares and operates the cameras and monitors. They are also responsible for tracking footage and managing the recorded film or digital media.
Director of Photography
The Director of Photography, also called the DP or Cinematographer, is the head of the camera and lighting departments. The DP also oversees lighting and the framing of scenes to achieve a specific look.
The Camera Operator operates the camera while following directions from the DP, the Director, or an Assistant Director. Most sets employ multiple Camera Operators to shoot scenes from more than one angle.
A Camera Assistant position may refer to the First Assistant Camera (1st AC) or a trainee in the camera department that assists other crew members. The 1st AC is responsible for keeping cameras in focus while filming.
The VTR Operator, or Video Assist Operator, is responsible for operating the Video Tape Recorder (VTR) during production. The VTR Operator often provides the Director, DP, and Producers with instant playback of recorded scenes.
Digital Imaging Technician
On-film shoots that involve digital media, the Digital Imaging Technician (DIT) is responsible for maintaining, repairing, and setting up digital cameras. They may also create dailies from raw footage and prepare captured footage for post-production.
The sound department captures and organizes the sound that is recorded during filming, including dialogue and background noise. They manage the sound equipment and ensure that the audio is clear to reduce the need for recording dialogue after the shoot.
The Production Sound Mixer is typically the head of the sound department and responsible for overseeing all recording completed during production. Depending on the project, they may also need to mix audio signals in real-time.
The Boom Operator operates a boom pole to position a microphone near the Actors and just outside of the frame of the camera lens. They are responsible for keeping the microphone in the right position without it getting in the way of the shot.
The lighting department includes trained Electricians and Technicians that are responsible for installing and configuring lighting equipment.
The Gaffer is the head of the lighting of the department and may also be called the “Chief Lighting Technician.” The Gaffer designs the lighting plan for each scene during production.
Best Boy Electric
The Best Boy Electric is the primary assistant to the Gaffer. They help carry out the instructions of the Gaffer, coordinating with various Lighting Technicians and members of the grip department.
The grip department includes technicians that are responsible for installing the rigging for lights and cameras. They work closely with the lighting department.
A Grip helps install and operate rigging. Many Grips are Dolly Grips, who are the individuals responsible for operating the camera dolly. They level the dolly track and push or pull it while a Camera Operator operates the camera.
The Key Grip is the head of the grip department. This individual works directly with the Director of Photography to achieve the right lighting and blocking for each scene.
Best Boy Grip
The Best Boy Grip is an assistant to the Key Grip. They help keep the grip truck organized throughout the shoot and may manage the activities of various members of the grip department.
The art department is responsible for preparing each scene and performer, from building sets and designing costumes to arranging pyrotechnics or miniature models.
The Production Designer oversees the art department and all its sub-departments. They are responsible for the overall visual style of the film, which involves the sets, costumes, hair, makeup, and special effects.
The Art/Design team designs the sets and creates conceptual art used by the other sub-departments of the art department to prepare each scene.
The Art Director oversees the art department while working closely with the Production Designer to craft the aesthetic details of the set. The Art Director also collaborates with the Construction Coordinator as the sets are constructed.
The Set Designer plans the structures and interior spaces based on the instructions of the Production Designer. Set Designers often have architectural backgrounds. They create drafts and construction plans for any sets that need to be built.
The Graphic Artist designs graphic elements that may be used during production. This may include signs, posters, receipts, and other printed items that appear in the background of a scene.
Concept Artists create visual representations of the ideas communicated by the Production Designer. They visualize the concepts that the art and construction teams use to build sets.
The construction team builds sets, structures, and carries out renovations to existing structures to meet the needs of the production.
The Construction Coordinator oversees all construction activities on set, including the construction of new buildings or structural elements. They order building materials and supervise any subcontractors, such as carpenters or painters.
The Set Builder is typically a skilled Carpenter that constructs and repairs structures and frameworks. They may also modify existing structures by adding stairways, rafters, partitions, and doorframes.
The sets team is responsible for decorating the set with all the necessary furnishings and props. Members of this team work closely with the art team and props team.
The Set Decorator is the head of the sets team. The Decorator and the Production Designer work together to ensure that each set is ready before scheduled filming.
The Set Buyer is the person in charge of buying materials and objects to dress the set. The Set Buyer works with the Set Director to purchase furniture, carpeting, and other items.
The Swing Gang is the crew responsible for dressing the set. They are led by the Leadman and may also be referred to individually as Set Dressers.
The Greensman is a specialized member of the sets team that focuses on the placement of landscape elements. They are responsible for dressing scenes that involve artificial or real plant material.
The props department prepares, purchases, or creates props for use in the film. This may include weapons, tools, food, candles, and anything else that an Actor may need to interact with during a scene.
The Prop Master is responsible for obtaining the necessary props for a scene. They typically work with several assistants to find and manage the props and may need to coordinate with prop builders, armorers, and other members of the art department.
The Weapons Master is a member of the props team that specializes in weapons, including firearms, swords, and various melee weapons. They may design original weapons or recreate historical ones.
The costume department finds, designs, and manages the costumes worn by Actors during film production.
The Costume Designer designs the clothes worn by Actors that appear on the screen. They typically research the needs of the script before designing or obtaining necessary garments or materials.
A Costume Buyer purchases clothing and fabrics. This may include fabric needed to produce new clothing or the purchase of new or used clothing articles.
The Costumer is responsible for managing the costumes and arranging for fitting for Actors. They may coordinate with other members of the costume team to ensure that the clothes fit properly.
Hair and Makeup
The hair and makeup teams prep Actors before they appear on the screen. They may also work with the special effects crew when Actors require prosthetics or SFX makeup.
A Makeup Artist plans the makeup designs for Actors and applies cosmetic makeup before each scene. They may also reapply makeup as needed throughout the day. In some cases, Actors employ their own Makeup Artists.
The Hair Stylist is responsible for maintaining the hairstyles of the Actors that appear on the screen. They also typically need to ensure that the Actors’ hair remains consistent throughout the shoot.
Special Effects Makeup Artist
The Special Effects Make Up Artist applies make-up effects and prosthetics to Actors to achieve a specific look.
After principal photography wraps, the post-production team begins editing and compiling the footage, which also includes adding sound elements and visual effects.
The Post-Production Supervisor oversees the post-production process, ensuring that the project meets the deadline and budget. They also coordinate with the Director, Producer, and Editors throughout this process.
The editorial department prepares the footage obtained during principal photography and edits it based on the instructions of the Editor, Director, and Producers.
The Editor is the creative executive in charge of the post-production department. The Editor is responsible for the assembly of the film from the footage recorded during principal photography. The Editor works with the Director to place the footage in the right sequence.
The Assistant Editor supports the Editor, helping to sequence and compile the footage. The Assistant Editor may also coordinate with the Negative Cutter, Colorist, and members of the sound and visual effects departments.
The Colorist adjusts the color of the recorded film to create a consistent look. When working with digital media, the Colorist may rely on digital tools to manipulate the footage.
The post-production sound team is responsible for the final sound of the film, which may include re-recording dialogue, sound effects, and music.
The Sound Designer is the supervisor responsible for managing the sound department. The Sound Designer ensures that the dialogue, sound effects, and music are audible and clear.
The Dialogue Editor compiles the dialogue heard in the film. This individual is responsible for assembling the audio containing spoken dialogue and coordinating rerecording sessions when necessary.
The Foley Artist creates sound effects for film productions. The sound effects are recorded after production, allowing them to remain when removing dialogue for a foreign-language release.
The Music Supervisor supervises the use of music in the film, including original orchestra scores and the use of licensed music. They may coordinate with orchestra composers and music artists to obtain original music.
Composers compose original musical scores for movies. They typically need to heighten the emotion of the scene. Composers also work with conductors to ensure that the score is recorded as intended.
Orchestra Conductors manage the orchestra used to record original music scores for the film. They review the Composer’s notes and conduct the orchestra.
Musicians are needed to record the original score for a film. This may include a full orchestra, with violinists, cellists, and other trained classical performers.
Recording Engineers are responsible for recording the music performed by Musicians. They may also be required when re-recording dialogue or special effects.
The Sound Mixer balances the sounds to achieve the desired audio effects. They typically need to balance audio from multiple sources, including dialogue, music, and sound effects.
The visual effects team alters the final appearance of the film, which may involve the use of computer effects, painted scenes, or animated elements.
Visual Effects Producer
The Visual Effects Producer is responsible for all visual effects in the film. They work with the Producers, Editors, and Director to add visual elements or effects.
The Creative Director is responsible for supervising the creative elements of the visual effects used in a film. They directly oversee the work of the Digital Artists, Painters, and Animators.
Visual Effects Supervisor
The Visual Effects Supervisor manages the visual effects crew and answers to the Visual Effects Producer. They work together to break down the script into storyboards and plan the incorporation of visual effects.
Digital Artists create digital elements that may be needed in the film, such as computerized visual effects. This may include lightning, rain, or other elements that are difficult to produce during a live shoot.
Visual effects teams often have a Painter that can paint entire sets, such as a landscape that is used for a backdrop in a scene. Painters that are part of the visual effects team may be called “Matte Painters.”.
Animators produce animations that may appear in the film. This may include computer-generated 3D animations or hand-drawn elements. If animation is used in a film, the visual effects team may include multiple animators.
The Compositor is responsible for compiling images from more than one source, such as combining images from computer-generated artwork, matte paintings, and footage obtained during principal photography.
The Character Rigger prepares the implementation of computer-generated (CG) elements into filmed footage. For example, they may develop skeleton frames to define the movements of CG characters.
The Rotoscope Artist alters the footage, creating matte paintings for use in composting. They may also be responsible for painting elements out of the scene, such as wires or rigging.