Employing the right people in any job is important, but with the size of budgets at stake here it’s all the more vital that those you find will use their talents to the full to make your production a success.
The Knowledge is a great source – whether you’re looking for a camera operator, an art director or the entire film crew.
Here’s a rundown of the different departments and individuals in a film crew and what they do.
The role played by all the varied producers and managers, assistants, directors and co-ordinators is ensuring that a production runs smoothly and that all the key elements fit into place and happen when they are supposed to. They are the controlling force within the wider film crew and the myriad of administrative support that drives the project forward.
The location manager, aided by scouts and all manner of assistants, ensures that the correct locations are found and secured, that the relevant parties are compensated and kept happy, and that all the equipment and personnel are where they should be, when they should be.
If it has to be designed or made, built or landscaped then it’s the art department’s responsibility. On a major feature, film crew in this department can number into the hundreds. The production designer controls the creative look of the film and is the top of the pile, but underneath come a variety of departments, including sets, props, construction, scenic, greens and special effects, all with their specific areas of artistic creativity.
With those directing, doing and supporting the work in each of these different sub-departments it’s no wonder that art department members are often the largest group in the film crew.
A director of photography, or a DoP as they are known, manages all the camera-related members of the film crew, converting the director’s instructions into footage. The team often consists of a focus puller, who keeps the shot in focus, an assistant who actually operates the camera and a clapper loader, who inserts the film. Lately, with the use HD filming, new roles in the film crew have emerged, such as the digital imaging technician who looks after the camera and processes the digital footage at the end of the shoot.
Professional make-up artists and hairdressers, along with their assistants, will be needed to ensure that exactly the right looks are achieved for each character in each shot under the demanding lighting. Make-up artistry can also on occasion be expected to cross the divide between enhancement and special effects (think about any werewolf or vampire movie that you might have seen recently).
Responsible for everything that’s worn on set, the costume department is made up of those who design the garments (costume designer and supervisor), those who make the garments (cutters and fitters), those who procure the materials and clothing (costume buyer), and those who maintain the costumes (costume standby and key costumer).
Usually supported by other members of the film crew, the production sound mixer manages the department, the utility sound technician ensures that all the equipment is where it should be, and the boom operator positions the microphone to receive the best reception. Basically, they are tasked with ensuring that everything noise and voice is recorded exactly as it is supposed to be.
The film crew in this department are trained lighting and rigging technicians led by the ‘key grip’. Basically what they do is ‘set stuff up’ and ‘shift stuff’, mainly lighting and heavy things on the sound stage.
These are members of the film crew responsible for planning the electrics of a shoot, including the lighting. The chief here is aptly called the ‘gaffer’ and his assistant the ‘best boy’. Obviously, it doesn’t have to be a boy.
Members of the post-production film crew, film editors and their assistants cut the film into the motion picture it was destined to become, while a colourist ensures that there is visual consistency across different shots.
To add the wizardry of CGI or to manipulate the images to create or add things that were not there on the shoot you need the visual effects department.
Film productions are huge-scale affairs and finding the right film crew for your production can be tricky. The Knowledge puts you in touch with the people who can get the job done right.