A lot of people with a lot of different talents have to work together for a common goal. You might be surprised to learn that you have a talent that is sought after by the exciting and ever-expanding Georgia film and television production industry. This article describes the various jobs and the requisite talents that are involved in creating a film, TV show, or commercial production from pre-production through production and post production.
The first step is pre-production
The goal at this stage is to bring together the team so that they will be ready to shoot the film. During this phase, the finances are put in place, the cast and crew are hired and locations are chosen. During the production phase, these people work together to actually create the settings and film the scenes that will become the movie, TV show, or commercial production.
The executive producer is responsible for finding the money, and often the talent, that makes the movie possible. It could be the lead actor who is lending his or her talent to the film, or it could be the owner of the production company that is producing the film.
Stephen Ostrander – Producer
“My simple advice for becoming a producer would be…. Don’t expect to start as a producer. Start as a PA and work your way up through different departments (camera, light/grip, art,….). Don’t rush it… and enjoy the journey. What you learn by going through this process will serve you extremely well when you start working as a production manager… and eventually as a producer.”
The producers are involved in various aspects of the project. They might be working with the screenwriter, casting agents, or editors. They report to the production company or studio and are tasked with budget management. They are the intermediaries between the studio, the production company and the director. They also oversee the line producer.
The line producer is the person who maintains the budget for the film. His or her sole responsibilities are to keep track of how the money is spent, to determine whether departments are over or under budget, and to know why. In other words, when someone says, “Show me the money!” the line producer must always be ready to answer that question. A line producer can work for the studio, or a director may choose a line producer for the project. The line producer credits are usually included with the head credits and paid advertising.
The next position on the production team is the associate producer. This person plays a supporting role. He or she must have the ability and willingness to fill in the gaps. This credit can be given to someone in recognition of his or her extra effort. Alternately, it could be negotiated as part of the deal. This credit also appears in the heading and paid advertising.
Linda Burns – Producer/Line Producer/Production Manager
“Chart your own path. There are many avenues you can take to become a producer, but the more varied the experience, the more you’ll learn along the way and be able to apply as you grow in your career. If you choose to go to film school, which is not a necessity, make sure you take business and entertainment law classes.”
The next key element is the director. The director is the person who interprets the written screenplay and translates it to the sights and sounds of the movie. All directors, whether they work in film, video, television, or commercial productions, take a concept and make it a reality. The director guides the entire cast and crew during pre-production, production and post production, making most of the artistic judgments during the entire process.
One type of director that is rarely discussed: the director of stereography. This director oversees the visual effects that create 3D images in film, television, or commercials.
The director relies greatly on the first assistant director. The 1st AD has many important duties, such as collaborating with the unit production manager to plan the best shooting schedule and then implementing the schedule on set. Calls sheets, which inform the cast and crew where and when they must report for shooting, are prepared by the 1st AD and approved by the unit production manager. The 1st AD may also help the director to manage aspects of the film like extras, crowd scenes and special effects. He or she also administers all production paperwork as well as the call sheets.
The second assistant director is the right hand of 1st AD. The 2nd AD handles the logistics of the set, ensuring that the cast and crew arrive on time at the right location. He or she may help to distribute the production paperwork, and may also handle the background talent and help prepare the call sheets.
A third assistant director may be employed to help the 1st and 2nd ADs with such things as managing crowds and managing the production assistants (PAs).
A script supervisor (also called continuity supervisor) is responsible for maintaining the motion picture’s internal, visual continuity and for recording the production unit’s daily progress. This person must be very detail oriented.
Some films require the presence of a dialogue director on set to review lines with the actor and coach them in areas involving accent or dialect.
There may also be a need to hire researchers or historical advisors. These individuals can make recommendations about the style, set arrangements, or character behavior for period pieces to ensure historical accuracy.
A second unit director is the last part of the directing team. This director controls certain shots, like a car drive-by for example, that don’t require the use of the principal actors, or for synchronized sound. It may be less expensive to employ a small unit to cover these shots. The second unit director provides detailed instructions to this “second unit.”
The unit production manager (UPM) is another critical person on the set. The UPM prepares the budget along with the producer and hires the crew on behalf of the producer. The UPM must be an excellent negotiator. He or she must fully understand every aspect of a production in order to serve as middleman between the crew and the producers. The UPM must consider the costs when resolving issues on the set with the crew while at the same time serving as the advocate for the crew in communicating and resolving their concerns. He or she has to know what’s happening on the set and in the production office. Excellent people skills are required for communicating with all levels of crew on the set.
Carl Clifford – Line Producer/Unit Production Manager
“I would not necessarily recommend a film education. I’ve come across more misguided kids out of film school who thought they knew it all and were immediately ready to direct than I have receptive, curious grads. Although a degree in theatre gave me a basic knowledge of acting, directing, lighting and “show business,” what it really afforded me was the opportunity to work with creative folks my age, as well as form several lifelong friendships. Much more important than an education is a deep love of movies, a strong, unfaltering work ethic and the creative ability to make your first inside connection. Once you get that first job or internship, your promised success is as good as your performance on your last show.”
The production coordinator is responsible for organizing and managing what happens in the production office. He or she takes care of such things as shipping film, receiving dailies (raw, unedited footage) and arranging transportation and lodging for the actors and crew. The production coordinator also manages the office production assistants, and may also have to handle special requests of cast and crew. This person has to have the ability to multitask effectively, troubleshoot situations, be energetic and also have good interpersonal skills. He or she must also work well under pressure and be willing to be a team player. The production coordinator must be willing to do whatever is necessary to keep the office running smoothly. Many times that means working excessive hours to ensure that the day’s needs have been met and the next day’s needs prepared for. On larger productions many of the duties of the production coordinator are delegated to others. For instance, think about the travel needs for the cast for the movie The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. On that set, there may have been a travel coordinator to organize all travel plans. A production secretary may be hired to support the production coordinator with administrative duties.
Larger productions may require a shipping coordinator to oversee all packaging and shipping of products during production. Items for production may be ordered by different departments such as wardrobe, props, art and camera among others.
Another department in the production office is production accounting. The production accountant maintains, manages and records all of the accounting and financial records during production. That involves such things as petty cash disbursements, per diems, purchase orders, credit card transactions and processing invoices for payment. The accountant may also maintain a hot cost sheet that is updated frequently during production. This helps the UPM, producers and directors know in real time how close to budget the production is running. On a larger production, a production accountant may have staff members to help with these responsibilities. An accounting clerk may receive invoices and other paperwork from the crew. A first accountant may review coding, and then a second accountant may complete that work. The size of the budget and the length of the production determines the size of the production accounting department.
Another potential person in the accounting department is the production auditor. This person works closely with other departments to ensure that the crew follows local and federal laws and union requirements. The auditor may review financial data to assess compliance. A production comptroller may work directly for the production company or studio. This person is responsible for the accuracy and quality of the accounting and finance throughout production. Another person who works in the production office is the payroll accountant. This person receives the timesheets from the 1st AD for the on-set crew and the other department heads. These timesheets must first be approved by the UPM. The payroll accountant may process the time sheets and send them to an outside payroll company for processing. He or she also processes payroll for the producers. This person must know how to handle payroll for union as well as non-union crew. The payroll accountant must know how to process payroll for crew and cast who are members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the Teamsters, the Directors Guild of America (DGA) as well as the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). He or she must know the payroll laws with regard to meal penalties and kit or box rental (money paid for personal belongings used during production) among other things. In addition, this person must be able to work under tight deadlines.
Hired early in pre-production is the casting director. He or she is contracted to help find and recommend the best actors for the speaking roles. Some casting directors are local to the production site, and some, who usually are contracted for the principle cast, are national. Casting directors do not belong to any unions that establish their wages, but many do belong to a national organization called the Casting Society of America. There is an annual directory titled Casting By that lists all members of this society alphabetically with their credits; they are also listed geographically by state. Many times the casting director negotiates on behalf of the producer with agents regarding actors’ contracts, salaries and screen credits. He or she can make recommendations but does not make any final decisions on who is hired. Experienced casting directors usually have a wealth of knowledge about up-and-coming actors, the general price ranges of actors being considered for a role, and even what types of roles actors are currently seeking. Getting a well-known principle actor can make a big difference in helping to finance a project.
We don’t want to forget production assistants (PAs).
The primordial stew of beginning crew members making their way into the world of production. Many people working on set, in fact most people working on a set, began as PAs. PAs work in all departments of a production. A PA could be assigned to the office, the set, the props department, the art department or production design. PAs are anywhere and everywhere, on set and off.
Many times this position can be the launching pad for new opportunities as the PA improves and proves his or her skills and builds relationships with more established crew that could lead to more opportunities. The PA may do mundane things such as make coffee, run errands, or make copies; every role, no matter how small it seems, is needed. PAs should not despise small beginnings. They should go with the flow and take what they do seriously. The PA position provides a chance to gain insight into what the cast and crew members do from day to day. This may help the PA discover where he or she would really like to work on a set or in production.
Sue-Ellen Chitunya – Production Assistant
“If one isn’t sure about what position they want in film, working as a production assistant is great way to learn about different departments. There are various ways to gain experience such as volunteering on the various independent projects in town. It’s a great way to meet people and build camaraderie with potential future collaborators. Seek training workshops like the PA Academy.
Another department that is staffed early is the location department. The location manager has the task of finding locations to be used in the film, TV production, or commercial and to obtain the necessary permits and clearances. An additional duty is to find parking for crew and production vehicles. The location manager must have a good temperament, good negotiation skills and the ability to work well with all kinds of people. Other people in the department may include the location scout and assistant location manager, both of whom help fulfill these duties. This department works closely with the directors and producers. A crucial hire on any production is the director of photography (DP), also referred to as the cinematographer. He or she works intimately with the director to determine the photographic approach to the film – how lighting and the camera will be used to get the desired effects to enhance the script. The director of photography chooses the camera and lighting equipment and supervises the camera and lighting crews.
Ross Sebek – Director of Photography
“If I were to give a general statement of advice to industry outsiders trying to get in, I would say “Don’t wait for it, just start doing it.” Who cares if it’s a student film, just start doing it. It’s the best way to begin the process of learning. In the meantime, you might have to work as a PA, or an AC, or at McDonalds, but no matter what you are doing make sure you are also always studying, growing and working towards your desired position and goals.”
A vital part of the camera department is the camera operator. This individual operates the camera and preserves the camera settings and arrangements as instructed by the DP and director. The camera crew may also include a first camera assistant (focus puller, 1st AC) whose responsibilities are to set up the lenses and filters for each shot, maintain the focus for each shot and set the lens stop. The first camera assistant is also responsible for the upkeep of the equipment.
A second camera assistant (loader, 2nd AC) loads and unloads film, sets up the camera, cleans all parts of the camera package and operates the iconic and world-famous clapper slate. Additional tasks include managing the paperwork for the camera department, preparing the slate for each take and helping the 1st AC. A jib operator operates the jib, a camera mounted on the end of a boom that is used to capture the vertical and horizontal shots.
A Steadicam operator handles the Steadicam, a camera usually attached to the operator’s body and equipped with a stabilizer that creates a smooth shoot even though the operator is moving. Some productions may also require an aerial photographer who specializes in taking photographs from aircraft.
A still photographer may be employed to capture non-moving images. If there are any underwater scenes in the production, an underwater photographer must be hired to capture those images. On bigger production a data management tech may be necessary to manage the digital film footage during production and workflow during the post production process. The camera department may also include a digital imaging technician who collaborates with the DP to provide high-quality images.
Guy D’Alema – Still Photography
“Look at and analyze every image you can find on the talent that you will be photographing to see what angles work best for them and what they have approved to be released in the past on previous shows they were involved with. While there are no real programs in academics for a still photographer’s position, a solid foundation in photography, as it has been affected by digital advances, is a must.”
Herb Kossover – Camera Operator
“I think it’s important to know the buzz words and equipment used to actually craft a feature film. I would suggest at least a year at a rental house, there you will be able to touch and feel and probably even fix all kinds of equipment to get you ready to become a second camera assistant.”
The lighting department, or electrical department, works closely with the camera department. The lighting director is the person who designs the lighting used during production. A key member of the lighting department is the gaffer – the chief electrician. This person manages the lighting patterns and placement according to the DP’s instructions. He or she will seek out the power source and decide how much power is available, how much cable will be needed, the best route to string the cable and whether additional generators will be required. The gaffer’s best boy is the first assistant electrician who is responsible for the daily operation of the lighting department. An electrician is responsible for rigging and operating the lighting and electrical equipment. A dimmer operator may be employed to turn lights on or off or dim the lights in a scene. A generator operator (genny operator) is responsible for the safe and optimal operation of the generators on the set.
Carlton Patterson – Gaffer
“You need to really observe what’s happening on a shoot and learn to anticipate what is needed. Don’t just wait to be asked to do something.
Another department that works closely with the lighting and camera departments is the grip department. The head of this department is the best boy or key grip. This person is responsible for the daily operations of the department. The best boy is in charge of solving problems of rigging in each location, taking into consideration such things as access to upper-story windows, width of hallways and the best ways to move camera dollies in different situations. The grip crew assists the gaffer during lighting procedures and maneuvers the camera during moving shots. They also build platforms, rig picture vehicles and black out windows for night interior shots that are filmed during the day. The grip crew also lay out the dolly track. A dolly grip is the person who operates the camera dolly. The dolly track is moved in various directions, and this person must push or pull the camera dolly, which holds the camera operator. The dolly grip must also maintain all dolly and crane equipment. A crane operator handles the camera on a crane; a similar position is the jib operator. Other grips perform various grip department responsibilities assigned by the key grip.
Darryl Humber – Dolly Grip
“Get a copy of the Matthews catalogue and study it. Learn the names of the equipment and what they are used for. You’ll have a head start on a lot of other newcomers. Ask questions. Put the phone away. Be a grip, not a gofer.”
Mark Henderson – Cinematographer/Gaffer
“Do not think you know everything. If you know everything, you can’t learn. Tell yourself you do not know anything and your brain will be a sponge for knowledge.”
On a film set, a production sound mixer chooses the sound equipment and records the dialog and sounds during production. He or she operates the mixer, balancing the levels and equalizing the sounds from the microphones, taking into consideration the effects of background noises such as traffic, air conditioners and airplanes. The production sound mixer works out solutions for such problems with the director. The production sound mixer also maintains the sound reports. During a music video production, the music video soundmen are responsible for all sound engineering.
A production sound mixer decides the placement of the microphones, which are then put in place by the boom operator who holds the microphone boom and properly positions the microphone during the take to ensure optimum recording quality. Sound specialists must be mindful not to interfere with the lighting equipment, camera equipment and actors’ movements. They must make sure that they do not create any shadows in the shot. They also record sound effects during the take, including wild sound effects, which include the sounds of such things as footsteps, dog barks, body hits, shattering glass, gunshots and tire squeals. It is more effective and less expensive to record these sounds during production. Wild lines are short words or phrases such as “Halt” or “Good morning” that are recorded off camera because the sound quality is uncertain. Later they are synched during post production. A sound assistant may also be employed to assist the boom operation or production sound mixer. A cable person is responsible for stringing and connecting the cables related to the sound recording equipment and for handling the cables during a shot. On a television set, a technical director supervises all of the technical operations throughout the production. The technical director collaborates with the engineering, technical and creative departments to create media content. He or she may also direct staff. The video assist operator handles the video assist, which is the system used to watch a video version of what was just filmed. He or she controls the video playback, loads video inserts and handles the tape machines. A character generator operator is the technician who uses character-generator (CG) software.
We are all familiar with the teleprompter operator. He or she manages the teleprompter, which displays the lines that should be spoken by the person on camera.
The special effects department is headed up by the special effects coordinator or key special effects person. This specialist plans and executes all special effects during the production and is especially responsible for safety of crew and sets. Effects may include rain, snow, wind, breakaway furniture for fight scenes, fire and, smoke.
A mechanical effects animatronics and robotics person handles the special effects that require that robots or mechanically engineered props actually look like humans or animals. A pyrotechnician specializes in pyrotechnics. This person manages all fireworks; chemical explosives that cause heat, sound and light; as well as other explosives. A special effects technician is responsible for creating individual special effects directly on screen using visual effects (VFX), pyrotechnics, or physical effects.
The stunt coordinator (a/k/a stunt foreman) casts stunt performers for the film, choreographs stunts, and is responsible to the director for safety. Most specialize in certain types of stunts. A stunt performer performs the dangerous stunts in a scene, because every actor is not like Tom Cruise, who performs his own. Most stunt coordinators and stunt persons belong to the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and are covered under the guild contract. If a SAG picture requires stunts, then only guild members may be hired to perform the stunts.
Animal specialists are required for some films. The animal trainer is responsible to the director for overseeing the care, handling, transporting and directing of domestic and wild animals such as birds, dogs, snakes and lions. Animal wranglers report to the trainer. They directly care for, handle, transport and direct animal performers. An insect wrangler handles the insects.
Sets – beautiful, creepy, scary, historically accurate and more – are such an important aspect of any production. Sets are the responsibility of the production design/art department. The production designer works intimately with the director and DP to create a “look” for the picture. This person conceptualizes the entire visual design for the film and supervises its creation. This includes coordinating color schemes, constructing sets and assisting in choosing locations. He or she also has the awesome task of ensuring that such areas as props, set construction, special visual effects and costumes are on the same page so that there is a consistent visual style throughout the production. The design elements should help to tell the story. It is important that the production designer understands when it is more efficient and economical to shoot on location instead of choosing to build a set. Generally the smaller the space (a bathroom, for example), the more money is saved by building a set and the larger the space (a train station perhaps), the more money is saved by shooting on location. It can also be economical to use the same location for different scenes, simply redressing the location appropriately for each scene. It is also helpful to find several locations that are close to one another; this saves money by decreasing the number of production moves. The production designer depends heavily on other department heads to execute the director’s vision.
John Thigpen – Production Designer
“Respect your crew. Everyone has something to contribute in knowledge and experience. Production Designers and Set Designers come from various backgrounds. Training and experience in Architecture, Interior Design and Theatre are common paths for Production Designers in lieu of film schools.”
Tim Barrett – Art Director
“A hand drawing ability is necessary to quickly convey ideas for the conceptual and design phase. It is important to learn how to draw and use the digital formats as these provide a quick accurate way to interchange finishes, make design changes and create construction documents.
The art director supervises the design and building of the sets. He or she must have a strong knowledge of architecture as well as artistic design abilities. A comprehension of computer-aided design programs is also beneficial. An assistant art director may be hired to assist the art director.
A storyboard artist creates a multi-panel pictorial representation of the scenes in the film before production begins. The director uses the storyboard to communicate his vision to the crew. There are software programs that are designed specifically for storyboarding. They include a variety of drawing tools; a wide choice of characters, props and locations; frame sequencing options; and text tools for adding captions. Another way that a director may organize camera setups is through the use of a floor plan. The production designer may supply the floor plans of various sets drawn to scale. The director can mark the plans to show the position of furniture and props, the movement of cast members, camera positions, the direction in which the camera will move, and the order the setups will be shot. The shot list describes the camera setups. An illustrator or conceptual artist can create detailed drawings of scenes, sets, props, vehicles and so forth to convey the director’s and the production designer’s vision. A set designer implements the plans to facilitate the work of the various art department functions. He or she is also responsible for designing, building and operating all prototypes upon which the actual production models will be based according to the directives of the production designer and director. The special effects crew is responsible for constructing and operating miniatures and models conceived by the production designer.
Matt Ruggles – President of 7th Wave Picture
“Always remember to put yourself and others in a safe working environment. We are out there to work, earn money, have fun, whatever, but it isn’t worth getting hurt, or losing a life!”
A set decorator selects all of the set dressing, including furniture and artwork as well as small items like kitchenware and magazines. Larger productions may require a set decoration coordinator whose sole purpose is to budget expenses for decorations used in the background or scenery. This person also coordinates with other departments such as lighting and props. The set decorator and the on-set decorator place the items on set. The on-set decorator works with the property master to maintain the set dressing during production. The set decorator also supervises a lead person who manages the swing gang. The lead person and swing gang make the last-minute changes to the set before filming begins.
As one scene is being shot they are at the next location getting it ready for the next scene. The greensman creates, arranges and maintains the appearance of the landscape, the interior plant decorations (flowers and plants) and anything green that is going to be seen in the film. A scenic charge oversees the creation of the film’s scenery. Graphic designers use electronic formats to create digital visual images. Large productions may employ a graphic auditor to maintain the financial records during production from the graphic designer. Just think about the costs that occur in a film like The Hobbit.
Another important department under the production designer is the prop department, which is run by the prop master. Props are specific items noted in the script. The prop master is responsible for the selection, inventory and maintenance of all props used in the production. Prop assistants work with the prop master to help organize and place props on the set. Prop builders construct realistic-looking objects that will be filmed or photographed. A prop stylist creates the arrangement of props that will be used in the film or photography. The prop maker is the individual who designs, builds and operates any special props required for production as directed by the production designer and director. An armorer supplies and often makes the weapons and other warfare gear that are used in production. A food stylist arranges and enhances the appearance of the food that is to be filmed or photographed. Just think about the movie Soul Food. That film required an excellent food stylist.
Another department that is supervised by the production designer is set construction. The set construction foreman/coordinator is the key carpenter who supervises the area and reports to the production designer with regard to construction progress. Carpenters build, deliver, set up and maintain all construction pieces for the production. On larger productions, a construction auditor keeps records and manages the invoices of the construction department. Painters are employed to complete any necessary painting for the production. A scenic artist is a specialized artist who works with the paint crew to create specific looks. For example, it may be necessary to “age” walls and doors to make a newly built house look lived in. The drapery crew is tasked with making or purchasing and installing drapery and upholstery material required for production. A paperhanger applies wallpaper, tile and other related materials to the walls, floors and ceilings of sets. A welder may be employed to perform any metalwork or welding needed for production. A plasterer completes any plastering needed for production as directed by the foreman.
Next we will look at the transportation department. The transportation captain is responsible for securing and maintaining all production vehicles including those driven by the actors in the film. Various drivers are employed during a production. During pre-production the drivers chauffeur key production personnel to various sites during location scouting. During production, they may be needed to shuttle actors to and from rehearsal, makeup tests and wardrobe fittings. They may move production vehicles from location to location, shuttle actors and crew between the set and residences, parking lots and catering locations. An insert car driver drives the rolling platform that the camera crew rides on to shoot an action sequence. A marine coordinator oversees the water shots of the production. A picture car coordinator manages the use of all vehicles that are featured in the production.
Everyone gets hungry. The caterer plans, organizes, cooks and serves the main meals to the entire production crew. They are very important, because crewmembers often relate their experiences on various pictures in terms of the food rather than any other aspect of the production. The best caterers serve meals that are healthy and hot and served with a variety of beverages and yummy desserts. They use “proper” cutlery, not plastic, and they provide a comfortable place to eat. Any special diet requests should be honored regardless of whether they are cast or crew. Craft service provides various snacks and beverages to the crew throughout the day on the production set.
Medics, doctors and nurses are always present to respond to any health issues that arise on the set whether it is treating something as small as a cut or performing life-saving CPR.
The Screen Actors Guild requires that a teacher work on set to teach any minor children who are employed during regular school hours. State labor laws may have additional requirements. For example, in California a teacher must be hired whenever a minor is on set, even when school is not in session. The teacher must have a special certification to function as both a teacher and a welfare worker.
“Hone your skills. After you identify what area you need work in, find someone that does it well to help you with it. This could be an actual class or someone you know may be willing to help you for free or for a fee. Remember, knowledge and time have value!”
Once the sets are ready, the actors must be made up and costumed to fit their roles. The key makeup artist is the head of the makeup department. He or she designs and applies the makeup to the key actors and organizes and supervises all personnel in the department. The second makeup artist provides the makeup for the background and extra talent. Additional makeup artist assistants may be necessary to assist at the direction of the key makeup artist. The production may use the services of a body makeup person who applies the makeup required on the actor from the neck down. A make-up artist, special effects person specializes in transforming the talent’s face with the use of prosthetics, makeup and other materials. The key hair stylist is the lead who supervises the assistant hair stylists. He or she is responsible for cutting, coloring and styling the actors’ hair, wigs, toupees, etc. A second hair stylist may be required to style hair for the background performers and extra talent. In large productions, additional hair stylist assistants may assist the hairstylist as directed. A wig maker and stylist may be required to create wigs for the talent to wear. On the set, a hairstylist and makeup artist are always available to touch up actors’ makeup and hair between takes.
“Offer to intern for other key hair stylists, locate local fashion photographers and barter your hair services in exchange for use of photos. Make sure you keep your tools sanitized and fully stocked.”
“Research, never stop learning. Study your craft: garment history, trends, style, etc. Always be thorough and detailed.”
Last, but not least, of the departments necessary in the production stage is the costume/wardrobe department. This department is overseen by the costume designer who is responsible for the purchase and or/design and the supervision of the making of all costumes for the production according to the vision established by the director and production designer. A group of assistants helps the costume designer during the production. The wardrobe supervisor manages the day-to-day activities of the wardrobe department, which includes costuming the actors during production as well as handling the maintenance and inventory of the costumes. The wardrobe supervisor may also have assistants – dressers/costumers – to help during the production. The production may also require a wardrobe stylist and buyer to select the clothing that will be used for the feature. Most productions also require a wardrobe seamstress/tailor/stitcher, often with assistants, to make alterations to the costumes so that they fit properly, and to repair any damage sustained during filming.
The project enters post-production
After the shooting schedule is complete, the project enters the post production phase, which includes picture editing, dialogue editing, sound effects editing, music scoring, music editing, sound mixing, titles and optical effects, the sound track, negative cutting and printing.
The most important individual in this process is the film editor. Every editor should have the ability to match cuts and make smooth transitions, as these aspects of the film help to tell the story. This is when the director’s involvement and communication is critical. Hopefully the director and editor will have decided how they will work together. Will the director be present during the cutting process, or just wait for the first cut? Union pictures must use a union-affiliated editorial staff; minimally, that is one editor and one assistant editor. Non-union films are free to seek non-union editors. Often the input of the UPM and the DP is considered in the editing process. Every editor needs a good assistant film editor. The assistant’s role is to maintain and organize the editor’s leftover footage (trims and outs of both film and sound tracks) from every scene in the film. He or she must be able to quickly locate these bits and pieces. The assistant is often the liaison between the laboratory, optical house and sound facility. If the film is cut digitally, then a digital assistant editor is needed. This editor’s duties include completing the telecine process by which the film and sound are transferred to digital files. He or she also makes backup copies of the cut material; maintains paperwork; and liaises with the lab, sound and special effects houses. The digital assistant editor also must be able to operate and maintain the editing machine and troubleshoot if the editor has any technical problems. For a video shoot, a video editor assembles the shots to be used in the finished product. For some films, a colorist or color correction artist provides the best image using color grading and other effects. Another specialist who may be employed is the visual effects director/supervisor who oversees the process of adding images or distorting images into a real-action shot in a film or television production.
We have talked about the visual editing now let’s focus on the sound editing roles of post production. Sound is a significant element of any production. There are three main areas of post production sound: dialogue, sound effects and music. The dialogue editor provides the mixers with clean tracks so that they can change the levels of speakers individually. The sound effects editor creates a mood or emotion that will affect the audience’s reaction to the film. Their role to is give the mixers flexibility for manipulating individual sounds. They do this by cleaning, splitting, or enhancing the sound effects. Each sound must synchronize with the visual action. A production may require a Foley artist to record live sound effects in sync with the picture during post production. Examples of such sounds are footsteps on carpet, a doorknob turning, a man flopping onto bed and clothes rustling. One advantage of this post production sound is that a Foley artist can capture multiple sound effects on a single track or multiple tracks without editing.
Another important sound aspect of any film or television show is the music. A composer writes music to fit the picture. The music also helps to tell the story. Imagine a horror scene without the spooky music! Various types of music are used in films: underscoring, visual vocal, background vocal and source music coming from a radio or television, for example. The music editor/supervisor, generally chosen by the composer, uses a copy of the film to time each scene that requires music. Each camera move, camera angle change, dialogue start and stop, and change in action is to be detailed and timed to the hundredth of a second. Then the supervisor writes the music timing sheets, which contain all of the timing information for every scene that must be scored. The music editor also tells the composer about any changes to the picture and marks the film with music-related cues. In addition, he or she lays in any prerecorded music that will not require scoring (source music). The music editor lays the completed music tracks opposite the appropriate places in the picture. If there is no budget for original music, the music editor must work with the director to choose music. Attorneys who specialize in music clearances take care of any legal issues.
James V. Cockerham – Music Composer
“Make music that you love! There is a film project that needs it. Music composers often write music with a specific purpose in mind, but it is also okay to write music from your heart.”
All of these post production sounds are merged to create the sound mix or final dub. The person responsible for this mix is called the post production sound mixer/rerecording mixer or sound mixer. On large productions, these duties are usually divided among a dialogue mixer, a sound effects mixer and a music mixer.
Finally, the goal is to put the edited picture with the sound track. A negative cutter has the daunting task of editing the original camera negative to match precisely the edited work picture and line up the sound track in synchronization with the cut negative. If the picture has been cut digitally, the negative cutter uses a series of numbers (the negative cut list) generated by the digital editing machine to conform to the camera negative. Many negative-cutting rooms have electronic synchronizers that synchronize a video playback system with a conventional mechanical synchronizer, providing the negative cutter with a visual reference. Technology has created options for independent film producers.
Michael Kohler – Sound Design
“Train your ears. Don’t just hear things, listen to them. You can learn a lot by listening, and focusing on different instruments in songs, or individual elements like the soundtrack, sound effects or dialogue in a TV show or a movie. Music training is also very helpful even if you aren’t a musician per se. Understanding things like pitch, cadence and timing can help with everything from editing and Foley, to music placement and mixing.
Many independent producers contract with post production houses to complete their post production services. This eliminates the necessity of making large capital investments in editing equipment. Filmmakers also often contract out other tasks such titling and optical effects. Sometimes these operations can be completed economically with software packages. Filmmakers today have more technology available to greatly reduce the cost of a production.
It is our hope that this overview helps you to find an area that matches your skills in our exciting and ever-expanding Georgia film and television production industry.