The Ultimate Film Crew Positions & Department Breakdown

Every Job Role on a Film Explained (With Infographic)

Infographic – Film Crew Departments and Positions

Outline

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Do you know the difference between a Gaffer and a Grip? How about a Best Boy and a Script Supervisor?

Stepping onto a film set can feel like entering a bustling beehive of creativity -- or chaos. To be the best filmmaker you can be, it's vital to fully understand what each position does on set.

In this article, our team of film production experts, have created a detailed list of all film crew positions, from development to distribution. Plus, we've created a beautiful downloadable infographic that lays out these positions and departments in a visual way. Let's learn!

Key Takeaways:

  • Film crews are divided into two main categories: above-the-line, which includes roles like director and producer that control the creative and financial aspects of a film, and below-the-line, which covers roles like camera operators and set designers responsible for executing the production details.
  • Key positions above-the-line include the director who translates scripts to screen; producers who handle budgets, logistics, and coordination; executive producers managing finances; principal cast delivering performances; and casting directors finding talent for each role.
  • Below-the-line departments crucial for film production include the AD Department coordinating schedules on set, Art Department creating visual elements like sets and props, Camera Department capturing images under guidance from the DP (Director of Photography), Electric Department handling all set lighting needs, Grip Department setting up equipment to support cameras and lights effectively.

Note: This list covers key film crew positions typically found in a mid-sized feature film. It's important to note that the size of a film crew will change depending on the project type and budget. For example, high-end Hollywood studio films can have 2,000 crew members, whereas a low-budget independent film might get by with only 20.

What are Above-the-Line vs Below-the-Line Film Crew Positions?

In the world of film production, crew positions fall into two main categories: above-the-line and below-the-line roles.

Above-the-Line Positions

Above-the-line positions typically refer to the individuals who guide the creative direction of a movie project before actual filming begins.

These include high-level decision-makers such as directors, producers, and principal cast members. They are pivotal in shaping the screenplay, set design, casting, and overall vision of the film.

Examples of Above-the-Line Positions:
Here are key examples:

  1. Director - The visionary leader responsible for translating the script into a visual masterpiece, overseeing the artistic and dramatic aspects.
  2. Producer - In charge of managing the film's budget, coordinating various aspects of production, and ensuring the project's overall success.
  3. Executive Producer - Often involved in securing funding, overseeing major decisions, and guiding the project from a strategic standpoint.
  4. Principal Cast - The main actors who drive the plot forward and are integral to the storytelling process.
  5. Casting Director - Tasked with finding and selecting talented individuals to bring characters to life on screen.

Below-the-Line Positions

Below-the-line roles encompass those responsible for bringing that vision to life during and after production. Members of this group handle meticulous details on set and in post-production stages like lighting, sound design, props management, cinematography editing processes -- essentially all aspects that transform a concept into a cinematic experience.

Their work is critical as they often operate behind the scenes creating magic we see onscreen though their names might not be as widely recognized compared to those holding above-the line jobs.

5 Stages of Film Productions

Development

This is the creative incubator where ideas are born and nurtured. It's the first stage of a film's journey and involves refining the script, securing funding, and assembling a core team to bring the film's concept to fruition. It's a collaborative brainstorm, where a concept is turned into a workable project and its feasibility is assessed. Think of it as the seed-planting phase, where the foundation of the entire production is laid down.

Pre-Production

Pre-production is akin to creating detailed blueprints before the construction of a house. It involves meticulous planning and preparation. This stage is where cast and crew are assembled, locations are scouted and secured, and schedules are created and finalized. It's also where the director's creative vision starts taking a tangible form. Art departments create sets, costumes are designed, and the cinematographer plans the visual look of the film. In essence, pre-production sets the stage for the magic to happen, ensuring things are in place before the cameras start rolling.

Production

The production stage, often called "Principal Photography", is the heart of the filmmaking experience. This is when the cameras start rolling, and the script comes to life. Actors deliver their performances, the crew executes their roles with technical excellence, and the director steers the ship. It's often the most intense time of a film's creation, where every scene is meticulously shot (often out of sequence) requiring a high level of organization, energy, and coordination.

Post-Production

After the intensity of the production phase, post-production is where the film is sculpted into its final form. Editors assemble a rough cut from the raw footage, creating the story's rhythm and pace. Visual effects are added, soundtracks and scores are composed, and color grading enhances the visual tone. It's a phase of refinement and finesse, where the rough edges are smoothed out, and the director's vision is fully realized. Post-production is a meticulous, often unsung hero of filmmaking, transforming hours of footage into a cohesive, engaging narrative.

Distribution

The final curtain call of the film's journey is distribution. Distributors develop marketing strategies, decide on release dates, and determine the best platforms for the film, whether it be theaters, streaming services, or physical media. It's a critical phase where the financial success of a film is often determined, as it involves making the film accessible and appealing to the widest possible audience. In distribution, the film finally reaches its destination -- the viewers, completing its transformative journey from an idea to a cinematic experience.

Download Film Crew Positions Infographic

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Above the Line

Film Crew - Above the Line Positions - Video Production

Key Creatives

Producer

The producer is the first person on a film project and the last to leave. Their first task is to source a screenplay and secure story rights. In development, they find film funding and hire key crew members. In pre-production , they help hire the crew and organize the shoot. In production, the producer oversees the entire project. They work both on and off-set with the help of a large production management team. Any major decisions or script changes will go through them. In post-production, they observe and approve the final cut. Their last job is to ensure that the film gets a distribution deal.

Director

The director is the creative force behind a film; it's their vision reflected on screen. A producer will hire them to work on a project in early development. Sometimes the director is also the screenwriter. During pre-production, the director manages all creative decisions. This includes hiring key crew, casting, locations, and production design. In production, the director is responsible for the actor's performance and oversees that scenes get filmed as planned. They watch over the edit in post-production alongside the producer. The director's job ends when the producer and studio approve the final cut.

Executive Producer

The executive producer is the person who helps source the film financing . On smaller film sets, the producer will do this themselves. In TV and film production, they might also help develop screenplays and acquire story rights. Executive producers vary in involvement; some are only present during development, while others act as a producer's supervisor.

Screenwriter

The screenwriter writes the screenplay either alone or as part of a writer's team. A producer might buy an original script or hire a screenwriter to adapt an existing story (e.g., comic book adaptation). If a screenplay is commissioned, the screenwriter might work with a development producer to get it ready for production. Screenwriting is a collaborative process with producers, directors, and actors working on the script. It's also common for multiple writers to work on one project and share credit. The screenwriter's work ends once a final draft gets approved by the director, producer, and studio.

See also: The Best Script Writing Software For Screenwriters

Pre-Production

Development

Film Crew - Pre-Production Department

Development Producer

Large production and TV companies hire development producers to find new projects. The producer might also hire them to help get a project ready for pre-production. Film crew positions differ depending on the size of the production budget. In general, large companies hire development producers to find new screenplays.

Script Reader

The script reader works for a production company to read and write coverage reports. These reports consist of a story breakdown and assessment of its potential to get made into a film. If a script receives a high rating it might attract a producer.

Researcher

A researcher supports the screenwriter and development team. They conduct research on a topic, fact-check, and gather resources like stock footage. These film crew positions are common in documentary work and historical dramas that want accuracy.

Accounting Department

Production Accountant

Film studios will have dedicated in-house accountants and finance controllers. The production accountant works during filming on completing general accounting, bookkeeping, and keeping track of spending. High-end film and TV productions will have a whole department of production accountants and accounting assistants.

Cashier

The cashier or accountant's assistant help keep accurate records of the production spending. They deal with expense claims, department receipts, and petty cash spending. It's their job to assist the accountant in making sure the production isn't overspending.

Casting Department

Casting Director

The casting director finds, auditions, and casts actors for the film. They start by reading the script and breaking down roles. During pre-production, they will have meetings with the director and producer. Part of their job is also to negotiate conditions with actors. The production team then creates the contract with the actor's agent.

Casting Assistant

Casting assistants offer general help to the casting director. They will complete basic admin tasks such as answering the phone. In addition, they help find background artists and organize auditions. On large film projects, there will be several casting assistants.

Production Office Department

Line Producer

The line producer is one of the most senior film crew positions, second only to the producer. During pre-production, their main task is to hire the below-the-line workers (everyone apart from the screenwriter, director, DOP, and production manager). They are in charge of organizing the budget and negotiating the crew contracts. In production, they work both in the production office and on set. They keep track of the budget and stay with the project until handing it over to the post-production supervisor.

Production Manager

Also known as the unit production manager, the production manager is the assistant to the line producer. They oversee budgets, help hire crew and look after additional units. The UPM also works with the producers to create a shooting schedule. In production, they work between the set and production office, making sure that everything goes to plan.

Production Coordinator

The production office is run by the production coordinator . They work with producers and production managers to complete a range of clerical tasks. For example, maintaining budgets, schedules, and work permits. When the production nears the wrap, they help the line producer close accounts with suppliers and return equipment.

Office Production Assistant

The office production assistant is the most junior position in the production office. The production office assistant completes general admin tasks such as printing paperwork, photocopying, data entry, answering the telephone, and ordering lunches. Many producers start out in this role and work up the production management team.

Locations Department

Locations Manager

The locations manager finds and secures film and TV production locations. In pre-production, they have production meetings with the director and other visual film crew positions to decide on the film's overall look. It's their responsibility to work within the budget to negotiate deals with owners and schedule locations. In production, they manage the site, keep the location clean, and make sure that the owners are happy.

Locations Assistant

On large film sets, there might be several location assistants and locations coordinators. In pre-production, they help research locations and organize location scouts (or recces). In production, they help manage the public, perhaps with the help of a locations marshall. After filming wraps, they make sure that all locations are in the original condition.

Location Scout

The role of location scout is an entry-level job role in the film industry. On large sets, there will be various scouts and trainees whose job it is to assist the locations department. In production, they will complete tasks, including blocking roads and keeping the location tidy.

Production

Assistant Director (AD) Department

1st Assistant Director

One of the most essential film crew positions is the 1st Assistant Director (AD). They are the director's key assistant and manage the production so that the director can focus on the actors. In pre-production, the 1st AD completes a script breakdown and creates the shooting schedule. In production, they keep the filming on time and on schedule.

2nd Assistant Director

The 2nd AD is the assistant to the 1st AD and helps them organize the film set while working in the production office. It's their responsibility to prepare the call sheet , make sure all actors are ready for filming, and helping to coordinate transport.

2nd 2nd Assistant Director

Also known as 3rd AD, the 2nd 2nd AD works on set helping the 1st AD. They are responsible for coordinating production assistants and background action. In addition, they might manage the public and large crowds alongside the locations department.

Production Assistants

The production assistant is an entry-level crew position; PAs work on set following orders from the assistant directors. They help with simple tasks like running errands, handing out bottles of water to the crew, and helping to keep the film set clean and tidy.

Art Department


Film Crew - Art Department - Video Production

Production Designer

The head of the art department is the production designer . It's their job to create the look of the film. They start work in pre-production by breaking down the script and having meetings with the director and other visual departments. They draw sketches, approve locations, and create the film's overall atmosphere and color palette.

Art Director

Art directors execute the vision of the production designer. They start work in pre-production, helping to hire the art staff, create a props list, and design sets. On smaller films the art director holds the same responsibility as the production designer.

Art Department Coordinator

On large film sets, the art department coordinator will help manage the whole art department. In production, they create art department schedules, organize meetings and help manage the art department budget. The amount of film crew positions in the art department will differ depending on the production budget.

Construction Coordinator

Also known as the construction manager , they will look after the building of studios and sets. A construction team of carpenters, painters, and riggers will build sets following the drawings of the production design and art director.

Carpenters

The construction carpenter builds a variety of wooden structures, including sets, windows, and doors. They follow orders from the construction coordinator to build, install and remove sets. Deconstructing a set after filming is also known as "striking" the set.

Key Scenic

The key scenic artist is responsible for making the sets look dramatic and realistic. A team of scenic artists and painters will create textures for walls and create backdrops. They make sure that everything meets the vision of the production designer.

Set Decorator

The set decorator creates the background of sets, paying attention to the walls, ceilings and floors. In production, set decorators arrive early to dress the set. Once the director and director of photography have approved the set, they move on to decorating the next scene.

Set Dressers

In production, set dressers arrange objects and props on the film set. They work under the set decorator and help them dress the set. Examples of set dresser tasks include placing props into a scene, moving furniture, and driving prop vehicles into shot.

Art Department Assistants

One of the entry-level film crew positions is the art department production assistant . They will help assist the art department with various basic tasks such as ordering props, helping dress a set, admin work, and painting set walls.

Props Master

Aka, the property master , they keep track of all moving props on set. The props master works with the production designer and helps them find or create props for the film. It's their responsibility to make sure all props are safe and won't cause harm to actors. They might also hire carpenters, artists, and designers to help them create the props.

Prop Maker

Some films require the creation of a lot of props. For these film sets, a props maker and many props assistants will work to design and build props. They might have various craft skills from carpentry, welding, sculpting, painting, and computer design.

Greensperson(aka greensman)

The greensperson takes care of every tree, bush, and flower you see in a movie. If a film requires a natural backdrop (woods, jungles, gardens), an expert gardener comes in to dress the scene. The greensperson works closely with the production designer and art directors.

Armory

Also known as the weapons master , this person is responsible for the safety, maintenance, and control of any prop weapons. This includes firearms, swords, knives, bows, and staff weapons. They work closely with the props master, director, actors, and stunt coordinator.

Animal Wrangler

Also known as animal trainers , these people are responsible for any animals on set. As well as looking after animals, they also train them for on-screen roles. Animal wranglers can spend months before a production training animals and teaching them certain stunts.

Storyboard Artist

The storyboard artist works with the director to plan storyboard shots for the film. Some film genres, such as fantasy and sci-fi, will require a lot of pre-visualization. Concept artists will also create artwork to design the world of the film.

Costume Department

Costume Designer

Costume designers design, create and hire the wardrobe for the actors. It's their job to work with the director and other visual departments to develop the film's look. They work with a team to ensure all costumes are ready and organized for production. During filming, they are always on set whenever an actor has a costume change.

Assistant Costume Designer

Also known as costume supervisor , this person is the first assistant to the costume designer. They assist in making costumes, organizing schedules, and checking the continuity on set. In addition, there will be a costume continuity assistant on large film sets.

Set Costumers

Depending on the production scale, there will be several costume film crew positions. The set customers will keep track of costumes on set, making sure they are clean and ironed. They will also repair any damaged clothes and assist actors in dressing.

Wardrobe Supervisor

The wardrobe supervisor is responsible for all the production costumes. Working with the costume designer, they arrange costume hire and organize schedules. In addition, they will oversee the washing and repairing of all costumes.

Seamstress / Tailor

Depending on the production scale, a team of seamstresses, tailors, and sewers will help actors dress. They also assist with the creation and alteration of clothes. This might also involve dying and aging clothes to make them look lived in.

Buyers / Shoppers

The costume department will have a dedicated costume buyer . Duties include researching, shopping, buying, and helping take care of costumes. They will assist the wardrobe supervisor in laundry, ironing, sewing, and general costume maintenance.

Hair & Makeup Department

Hair Department Head

On small film sets, hair and makeup film crew positions are combined. The hair department head designs all the hairstyles throughout production. In addition, they manage a team of hairdressers and work with the director and all visual departments.

Makeup Department Head / Key Makeup Artist

The makeup department head, who is also sometimes called the Key Makeup Artist , designs all makeup looks throughout the film. In pre-production, they break down the script and work with the director to understand their vision. In production, they manage a team of makeup artists

Hair and Makeup Artists

Depending on the scale of the production, there will be a team of hair artists and makeup artists . They are responsible for applying wigs, styling hair, and applying makeup. It is important for looks to maintain continuity throughout the film.

Special Effects Makeup

Some film genres will require skilled special effects and prosthetic makeup artists . They work to create wounds, cuts, and even transform an actor's face with supernatural features. They work closely with the makeup and hair heads to design looks.

Camera Department


Film Crew - Camera Department - Video Production

Director of Photography

The Director of Photography is the head of the camera and lighting department and is also known as the DP (or DoP). They work closely with the director and all visual department heads to create the film's on-screen look. In production, they lead the camera team and guide the gaffer and grip. In post-production, the DP looks over the color grading and final cut.

Camera Operator

The camera operator captures the film's shots. They take direction from the director and DP. Film crew positions have a strict hierarchy, and the camera operator is a senior camera department role. On some film sets, the DP will also operate the camera.

1st Assistant Camera

The 1st assistant camera (aka the focus puller) ensures that all the shots are in focus. It's their job to set up the camera, test lenses, and calculate the distances for focusing. They might operate a wireless focus or direct focus from the camera lens.

2nd Assistant Camera

The 2nd assistant camera (aka the clapper loader) loads the film magazines or digital drives. They create camera reports working with the script supervisor and log every shot for reference. It's the 2nd AC who writes on the clapper board and slates the shot.

Steadicam Operator

The Steadicam operator is responsible for setting up, balancing, and capturing Steadicam shots. The Steadicam creates a smooth shot that is free to move around the location and actors. It is a physically demanding role that requires specialist training.

DIT

The digital imaging technician works with the DP to ensure the digital camera has the correct settings. They advise the DP on contrast, color correction, and visual effects. In production, they will check over the shots and create color correction previews for the DP.

Stills Photographer

A unit stills photographer captures photographs for marketing and promotion. They must not disturb the actor's performance or get in the way of the camera team. To avoid camera clicking sounds, they use special noise reduction DSLRs.

Script Supervisor

Films are shot out of sequence, so you need a script supervisor to keep track of continuity. This includes costume changes, makeup changes, props, and camera shots. In addition, they create a lined script and editor logs to help with continuity editing.

Grip Department

Key Grip

The head of the grip department is the key grip . They are in charge of everything that holds the camera. This includes a tripod, dolly, cranes, and vehicle shots. On some sets, they will also work with the electrical department to create lighting setups. It's the grip's job to make sure that all camera supports and setups are safe for both crew and actors.

Best Boy Grip

The first assistant of the key grip is the best boy grip (or the "best grip"). The best boy (who can be any gender) is responsible for renting equipment, unloading trucks, and managing and taking care of grip equipment. A large film set might hire dozens of grips and grip assistants.

Dolly Grip

Some grips will specialize in operating specific equipment. The dolly grip is primarily responsible for setting up the dolly. The crane grip sets up camera cranes, and the jib grip sets up the camera jib. Film crew positions for grips will change depending on the budget.

Rigging Grip

The rigging grips are a type of grip that sets up, moves, and dismantles camera equipment and scenery. They are experts in setting up equipment in any location. This could be hanging lights from a ceiling or creating a lighting stand on top of a mountain.

Electrical Department

Gaffer

The leader of the lighting department is the gaffer . They are in charge of all the lighting in a film, taking orders from the DP. During pre-production, they create lighting plans and hire equipment for every scene. In production, they set up and quickly move lights for every shot. They are fully trained electricians and are liable for all electrical safety on set.

Best Boy Electric

The first assistant to the gaffer is also called the best boy electric (or "best electric"). The best boy (who can be any gender) is responsible for lighting logistics. This includes renting, testing, and moving lights and stands. They also complete risk assessments and monitor safety.

Lighting technicians

Lighting technicians (aka sparks) are production electricians who set up and focus lights for each shot. They work with the gaffer and best boy to manage all lighting on set. This includes carrying out lighting tests, effects, monitoring power systems, and installing wiring.

Generator Operator

Lighting film crew positions will vary depending on the scale of production. On medium to large film sets, generator operators (genny operators) will load, transport, and power generators on set. This position requires a qualified electrician.

Practical Electrician

On film sets, there will be a team of qualified electricians to help manage all lighting. Practical lighting electricians will work with the art department and construction crews. They prepare and wire any "practical" props on set, such as lamps.

Sound Department


Film Crew - Sound Department - Video Production

Production Sound Mixer

The sound mixer records all audio on set, ensuring it is in sync and balanced. In pre-production, they meet with the director and producer to discuss how to record the film. In production, they work with a sound team to record audio from radios and microphones. It's common for dialogue to get re-recorded in post-production as ADR(Automated Dialog Replacement).

Boom Operator

The boom operator (also known as first assistant sound) records all audio by operating a boom microphone. They do this by holding the mic on a pole and need to make sure that the mic is not in the shot. In addition, they set up and maintain all of the sound equipment.

Sound Assistant

On large film sets, there will be a team of sound assistants and trainees. They start work in production, helping to set up sound equipment. Other responsibilities include charging batteries, clipping wireless microphones to actors, and filing sound rushes.

Transportation Department

Transport Captain

The transport department, also referred to as "transpo", is in charge of transferring all cast and crew from one location to another. It's the transport captain's job to make sure everyone arrives on time. To accomplish this, they lead a team of drivers to organize the movement of film production.

Transport Coordinator

The transport coordinator will manage all transport on set. This includes cars, mini-vans, and buses. In addition, they need to make sure all equipment and people get to the location on time, taking into account traffic, and looking after prop cars.

Picture Car Coordinator

On large film sets, picture car coordinators look after all prop vehicles. They are also responsible for the modification, maintenance, and movement of prop vehicles. Film crew positions vary, on low budget films, this job is done by the coordinator.

Stunts Department

Stunt Coordinator

The stunt coordinator is responsible for coordinating the film's stunt performances. In production, a stunt team helps the actors perform stunts safely and without injury. Some film sets have a stunt director who works on par with the director during stunt scenes.

Stunt Performer

The stunt performer performs stunts in film and television shows. It's common for stunt performers to have a range of skills from fighting, rock climbing, horse riding, and gymnastics. It's important that they plan and perform all stunts as safely as possible.

Special Effects (SFX) Department

Special Effects Coordinator

On-screen special effects (SFX) include explosions, car crashes, and weather effects like fog. These are practical effects created during filming instead of visual effects (VFX), which are digital. The special effects coordinator (also known as the special effects supervisor) designs, plans, and implements these effects. They work closely with the director and stunt coordinator.

Special Effects Technician

The special effects technician is the assistant to the SFX coordinator. They supervise all mechanical effects and make sure they get done on time. In production, they will lead a team of special effects technicians who will assist them in creating the effects.

Pyrotechnician

A pyrotechnician creates any explosions, fireworks, or fires in a film. They plan and design any fire-based special effects with the visual effects coordinator. The pyro special effects need to work on the screen and be created in a safe manner.

Safety Department


Film-Crew-Security-Department-Film-Production

Set Medic

Accidents can happen on film sets. Even if a film doesn't have stunts, most films will have a set medic . This is a trained medic who provides medical assistance on film sets. They work closely with the production team and advise them on any safety issues.

Intimacy Coordinator

The intimacy coordinator ensures the well-being of actors when participating in sex scenes or any intimate scene. This includes nudity and any physical contact. The intimacy coordinator makes sure actors are comfortable and consent to the intimate performance.

COVID Compliance Officer

Film crew positions can change depending on the global economy. The covid compliance officer (CCO) makes sure that the film set abides by current rules and regulations. They complete risk assessments and enforce risk management techniques.

Catering Department

Production Caterer

Film sets have a lot of people working very long hours and often away on location. As such, there needs to be food available throughout the day. The production caterer provides food based on personal requirements and delivers the food directly to the set.

Key Craft Services

Key craft services (also known as crafty) provides the crew with snacks, drinks, and hot beverages throughout the day. This includes prepackaged snacks, coffee, and water bottles. Crafty is also a rest area for cast and crew to eat, rest, and refresh during production breaks.

Post-Production & Distribution


Post-Production


Film Crew - Editing Department - Video Post-Production

Post-production Supervisor

The post-production supervisor helps the producer make the most of the editing process and keep track of the budget. After wrap, the line producer hands the project over to the post-production supervisor. Their first job is to make a budget plan, including any CGI costs. Next, they keep track of the whole editing process , including music, effects, and language dubbing.

Post-production Coordinator

It's the job of the post-production coordinator to manage all administration during post-production. They will assist the supervisor in organizing ADR sessions and preview screenings. In addition, they will make sure that the video and audio files have proper storage.

Editor

The film editor will cut together the footage, working closely with the director and producer. They will work through all of the production footage and place it in chronological order. It's the editor's job to shape the project's story into the final cut.

Editing Assistants

The assistant editors help the editor by organizing footage and checking camera sheets. There will be a first assistant editor and, on large film sets, second and third film crew positions. It's the assistant's job to make sure the editor can focus on the editing.

Colorist

It's the colorist's job to edit, define and create color in the film. They work with the director and director of photography to change the film's digital color levels. This includes the film's color palette, mood, luminance level, and stylized color grades.

Sound Designer

It's the sound designer's job to look after all sound throughout the film. This includes dialogue, ADR (Automated Dialog Replacement), foley, and background sounds. They work to create the film's audio mix. They also manage the sound budget and editing workflow.

Foley Artist

The foley artist creates additional sound effects for the film. This could be a glass pouring water, footsteps, bangs, or surreal effects. These sound effects make the film more cinematic and more immersive. They also help sync the sound effects to the image.

Music Supervisor

The music supervisor is responsible for all music throughout the film and keep track of the music budget. They work closely with the composer to create an original soundtrack. They might also need to secure the rights for any pre-recorded songs or music.

Composer

The film composer writes the film's original music. They will work with the music supervisor to create and record music. It's the composer's job to write the music, often working with an orchestra. The music score is then edited alongside the final cut.

Subtitler

A subtitler adds subtitles to the film's final cut. This makes it possible for the film to be enjoyed by the deaf and hard of hearing. In addition, subtitlers translate the film into other languages. Film crew positions like this are specialist roles hired by film studios.

Visual Effects (VFX) Department


Film Crew - Visual Effects Department - Video Post-Production

Visual Effects Supervisor

A visual effects supervisor will start work in pre-production. They will need to plan all visual effects (VFX) and make sure that all shots are VFX ready. The VFX supervisor will work closely with the director to make sure the effects meet their vision. In post-production, they will lead a team to design, create, and implement all VFX.

Visual Effects Coordinator

The visual effects coordinator helps the VFX supervisor manage the post-production workflow. This includes hiring team members, creating schedules, and keeping the project on budget. Sometimes VFX film crew positions dominate the film's closing credits.

VFX Concept Artists

Most visual effects images are first designed by concept artists . This includes characters, environments, buildings, and props. The Concept artists will use traditional hand drawing as well as digital computer software to create their designs.

VFX Animator

The VFX animators craft the movements on digital 3D models. In VFX, animators need to integrate these effects onto pre-record footage. Some films use motion capture, where a motion tracker's suit is worn by an actor and their movements are recorded.

Matte Painter

The matte painter creates visual backdrops. They are expert artists who paint realistic landscapes and environments that were not present at the time of filming. Traditionally they would paint these backdrops by hand, but now they are mostly created using digital tools.

VFX Compositor

The VFX compositor creates the film's final image. They take all of the visual effects and place them into a single image. The VFX compositor is the last person on the VFX pipeline. When they edit and approve all VFX the film's final cut is complete.

Distribution


Film Crew - Distribution Department - Film Distribution

Sales Agent

The sales agent works for the producer to sell the film to a distributor. They promote films at film markets and festivals by holding screenings. Some films can find a distributor before production. Low-budget films often need to have a completed project.

Distribution Executive

Film distributors get films into the cinema or on streaming platforms. They go to film markets and film festivals where they negotiate distribution deals . Many big budget films have a distribution deal in place before they start production.

Film Buyers

Film buyers (also known asAcquisitions) work for the distribution executive. They help find films by attending festivals and markets. The film buyer will negotiate deals and buy regional and language rights for the film. A film's rights are usually bought for only a few years at a time.

Marketing Manager

The marketing manager will oversee a marketing team that will create a buzz around the film so that people watch it. This includes trailers, posters, billboards, TV, and internet advertising. Marketing managers also prepare and stick to a marketing budget.

Publicist

The film publicist works with or for the marketing manager and producer. They help promote the film by creating press packs (also known as an EPK) and inviting critics to watch the film. In addition, they might organize TV interviews with actors and key crew.

In Conclusion - Film Crew Positions

This is a complete list of film crew positions and responsibilities. It's important to note that the size of a film crew will change depending on the project type and budget. For example, high-end Hollywood studio films can have 2,000 crew members, whereas a low-budget independent film might get by with only 20. Typically, the art and visual effects department hire the most people. The larger the budget, the more producers, executive producers, and co-producers attached. It's also becoming more common to have a team of writers instead of a single screenwriter credit.

We hope this has helped you understand more about film crew positions. Next time you watch a movie's end credits, challenge yourself to remember what everyone does on set. It makes watching movies more fun!

A Video Explaination

This video is a helpful breakdown of many of the different crew positions listed in this article:

How many crew members do I need on my film?

The number of crew members needed for a film production can vary widely depending on the scale, complexity, and budget of the project. Here's a general breakdown for different types of productions:

Small or Independent Projects

  • Minimal crew: 3-10 people (handling multiple roles)
  • Larger indie projects: 10-30 crew members (with more specialized roles)

Medium-Sized Productions

  • Crew size: 30-100 members
  • Includes additional roles like assistant directors, script supervisors, art department, etc.

Large or Studio Productions

  • Crew size: 100-300 or more
  • Includes very specialized roles across various departments

Blockbuster or High-Budget Films

  • Crew size: Can exceed several hundred
  • Includes extensive visual effects teams, large-scale set construction crews, etc.

 

Check out this video for a helpful guide on how many crew members you may need for your project:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the hierarchy of a film crew?

The hierarchy of a film crew includes the Producer overseeing production, the Director leading the creative vision, department heads like the Director of Photography for cinematography, and various assistants and technicians for specific tasks.

Who hires the crew on a film set?

Typically, the hiring of the crew is a collaborative effort. The Producer often plays a key role, especially for higher-level positions like the Director and Director of Photography. Department heads like the Director, Cinematographer, and Production Designer often select key personnel within their departments. The Line Producer or Production Manager may handle the hiring of the technical and support staff.

What are above-the-line and below-the-line film crew positions?

Above-the-line film crew positions include roles central to the film's development and creative process, such as the Director, Producers, Screenwriters, and Principal Cast. Below-the-line positions encompass the technical and support staff like Cinematographers, Editors, Sound and Lighting Technicians, and Set Designers.

What is the most important job on a film crew?

While all crew positions are vital, the most important job on a film crew is arguably that of the Director. They are the creative visionaries who guide the film's artistic and dramatic aspects, shape the script, direct the actors, and work closely with the production team to realize the film's final form.

How do I find out which on-set film crew job fits me?

To find out which on-set film crew job fits you, assess your skills and interests. Are you creative and visionary? Consider directing or cinematography. Organized and detail-oriented? Look into production management or script supervising. Tech-savvy and like cameras? Explore camera operation or lighting. This video may be helpful to you.

How much do film crews get paid?

Film crew salaries vary widely based on roles, experience, and the project's budget. Top roles like Directors and Cinematographers can earn from tens of thousands to millions per film, while entry-level positions like Production Assistants might earn around $200-$300 per day.

What is the highest-paying job in the film industry?

The highest-paying job in the film industry is typically that of a film director. They are responsible for the creative vision of a movie, guiding its artistic and dramatic aspects, and play a crucial role in the film's success, often commanding high salaries.

What is a skeleton crew in film?

A skeleton crew in film refers to a minimal team retained to perform only the most essential tasks, typically used in low-budget projects, or during scenes requiring fewer personnel for efficiency or discretion. It typically consists of key personnel such as the Director, Director of Photography, Sound Technician, Camera Operator, Gaffer, Hair and Makeup Artist, and Production Assistant, focusing on essential tasks for efficient and minimalistic production.

How do you get a first job on a film set?

To get a first job on a film set, start by networking, attending film industry events, and joining online communities. Gain experience through internships, student films, or independent projects. Apply for entry-level roles like Production Assistant, and showcase any relevant skills and enthusiasm for filmmaking.

What are the film crew departments?

Film crew departments include Production (overseeing the film's creation), Directing (managing artistic vision), Camera (handling cinematography), Sound (recording and mixing audio), Art (designing sets and visuals), Lighting (managing lighting effects), Makeup, Hair, and Wardrobe (creating character looks), and Post-Production (editing and finishing the film).

Conclusion

We hope this breakdown of film crew positions and departments helps you understand the collaborative teamwork that goes into film production, serving as an essential guide to the roles and responsibilities within a film crew hierarchy.

Resources & Continued Reading:

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Luke DeBoer

Luke is a filmmaker, developer, and designer. He is also the founder and CEO of SetHero, where he is on a mission to create the film set of the future. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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