Reading the credits at the end of a film can be like reading a foreign language. To a film industry newbie, “best boy” and “dolly grip” aren’t exactly the most enlightening job titles, after all.
There are, however, many people who dream of having their name mentioned in the credits of a major motion picture. No matter how small your role, there’s a feeling of accomplishment seeing your name on the big screen.
If you’re currently outside the film industry, trying to figure out your first steps to getting experience in filmmaking jobs, a little more explanation of the various roles can be helpful.
Decoding Filmmaking Jobs
Producer: Runs the business end of a film project, from finding a script to hiring to finances.
Associate Producer: Assists the producer and communicates with both the production and postproduction crew.
Production Manager: Manages the many business aspects of a production, from getting the right equipment to arranging housing for the cast and crew.
Production Assistant: Handles a variety of small tasks necessary for daily operations on the set.
Postproduction Supervisor: Coordinates the processes and workers involved in finishing the movie after filming has wrapped.
Line Producer: Handles the budget for a film project.
Director: Directs all creative elements of a film, from helping hire actors to choosing locations, and making sure that his/her vision is successfully communicated to the crew.
Assistant Director / First Assistant Director — Helps the director by planning the filming timeline and managing the set, the extras and more.
Location Manager — Scouts locations and obtains permits for filming in those locations.
Art Director — Designs and oversees set construction.
Set Designer — Responsible for executing the construction of the set according to the art director’s instructions.
Cinematographer / Director of Photography: Carries out the director’s vision for the look of a film. Plans and supervises others to achieve the right camera shots, lighting and set design.
Camera Operator: Follows the action with the camera, according to instructions from the director and cinematographer.
Dolly Grip: Sets up the dolly track and operates the dolly, allowing the camera and camera crew to move smoothly as they capture the action.
Key Grip: The head grip in charge of setting up equipment to enable the camera crew to capture the right shots.
Gaffer: Sets up the lighting on set.
Best Boy: The primary assistant to either the gaffer or the key grip.
Production Sound Mixer: Records all production dialogue and other production sounds at optimal levels. May also mix the various tracks for dailies.
Boom Operator: Holds the microphone boom near the action to capture the dialog.
Foley Artist: Creates sound effects that can’t be captured during filming.
Editor: Works with the director to produce the final cut of a film that both flows well and captures the director’s vision for the project.
Negative Cutter: Cuts the actual negative of the film as directed by the editor, director and others.