There are many parts to a fully operating set. Whether a director or producer, there are conventional and unconventional roles to every job. You could be holding up a light one second, and then picking up trash the next. For some, roles on set can be anything but conventional. Here are some descriptions of the most used roles on a set.
A director can be considered the leader of the group. He or she is in charge of directing everyone from the actors to the camera crew in a film or video. The director can also control the visual aspects and tone of the video through the script, actors, and crewmembers (in the absence of a dedicated Director of Photography.) All directors approach a video or film differently, for some like to have complete control over the actors while others allow the actors to do their own interpretation of the script. Regardless, the director is always in control of each scene, and will make the decisions fit for a successful video.
Although a director already has a lot of control, some unconventional jobs include the editing process in post-production. This allows the director to make sure his or hers visual interpretation of scenes are brought to life after filming. Also some directors like to contribute in other areas of a video, like writing the script, making an appearance in the video, or making the music score.
A sound engineer can be defined as a technician for broadcast radio or musical performances; but in the case of video, a sound engineer is best characterized as the “sound technician.” The sound engineer, or sound technician is used in both production and post-production. Their duty in production includes recording all sound on set or on location. He or she must make sure that all the sound acoustics are not too high-pitched or too low-pitched, and must also continuously monitor the sound and make adjustments throughout filming. In post-production, the sound engineer is in charge of mixing and balancing the recordings, and creating sound effects if needed.
A sound engineer might be asked to do certain sound effects with the audio, or re-record the audio if good sound quality was not captured the first time. The job entails working long hours and in not so pleasant conditions depending on where the set is. The sound engineer must always be prepared to capture the needed audio whether it is raining outside or in a fully operating building.
Directory of Photography
The director of photography is also known as the cinematographer or DP. He or she is head of the camera crew and lighting. The DP must make both technical and visual decisions depending on the director’s instructions. He or she also works hand in hand with the director and must pick out the right equipment to fulfill the directors vision for the scene. The DP is also the chief of framing, costumes, and makeup. In other words, the DP is in charge of making sure everything through the camera lens looks good.
At times, the DP helps assist the post-production team with color correction and grading. The DP will also help make costume and makeup decisions that will not be affected by the lighting won’t be unflattering on the actors.
The producer is similar to a manager. He or she must plan and figure out the finances for a video. The producer is the one the clients communicate with regarding the budget and what they are looking to create; he or she overseas every part of production. However, along with managing and planning, the producer is also the one who takes the fall if anything were to go wrong on a video shoot. In other words, the unconventional job of the producer is making sure the schedule is followed, is constantly sending out emails, stressing over the location and budget of a video, and is always moving around to make sure every part of production is going as planned. If something isn’t going right and the client isn’t happy, the producer takes responsibility.
Being a script supervisor doesn’t just entail overseeing the script but also wardrobe, props, hair and makeup, and scenes. He or she is in charge of taking notes throughout filming so the editors may use them in post-production to determine the best takes for a scene. The script supervisor also works directly with the director and director of photography by monitoring the scenes to keep track that the script is being followed without any errors. At the end of each shoot day, the script supervisor will make production reports and editor notes for the production and editing team regarding take times and breaks as well as specific lines of dialogue shot that day.
Besides constantly monitoring the scenes and script, the script supervisor may also find his or herself helping the director and camera operators set the cameras position.
The production assistant, or PA, is involved with various duties. He or she might find themselves setting up dollies, tri-pods, cranes, and tents; or getting the talent, making script copies, answering phones, and driving the equipment truck. When it comes to being the production assistant, the unconventional is conventional. One second, he or she might be picking up food and trash left around on set, and the next will be calling out “action” and “cut” for scenes. The PA is the first one to arrive at set and the last one to leave.
The best boy either refers to the best boy electrician or best boy grip. He or she is the person on the lighting team that the DP counts on. Mostly, the best boy is in charge of moving the lighting. However, responsibilities vary and can be both conventional and unconventional. As assistants to the head of the lighting team, the best boy must be prepared to handle everything: completing time cards, paperwork, overseeing union rules, unloading and loading sets, setting up lighting and sound equipment, getting food for the crew and actors, and even picking up the actors dogs from the groomer. As the best boy, he must be willing to accommodate everyone.
For some, roles on set doesn’t differ day to day while others must constantly be prepared to do whatever he or she is told. One thing is for sure though, when being on set everyone must be on their toes and ready for that one word: “ACTION!”