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The building blocks take shape: Set builds, props buying, rehearsals, clearance forms and other preparation 

SEt building

Erecting wooden flats to build rooms, laying flooring, props

Casting rehearsals

Work the the actors and scripts, source extras

Clearance forms

Child actor forms, call sheets, waivers, permissions

film roles

Above and below line roles

Take a 360 degree tour of a set build.
Drag the images to navigate around it in 360 degrees
Click on the arrows to navigate the outside of a set build
Click on the circles to access a 360 degree video of the inside of a set build
Below is a look at an example film set in 360 degree images
Mise-en-scène - the layout of everything in the frame (French for “placing on stage”) and the camerawork for that scene
set building
CASTING are a great resource for finding actors
Also approach local drama schools, friends, family, anyone could be a great actor with a little push! 


Look at acting classes and learn about improve to help non actors


Costume and makeup

These play a huge part in the look of a film - dust in Volcano covers everyone and the child comments at the end about racism which has been touched upon in the film



Trade night for day - day shoots are cheaper and better logistically (sleep for crew and actors, lighting costs and time to set up)


Try and use the same location for many shots, close up of windows for silhouettes for example, lighting so they look different

film roles
Here is a chart showing the many crew roles that can make up a film. These can run into the hundreds for a blockbuster or just a handful for a documentary. The breath of the roles is just as expansive, from technical roles to writing, admin roles to transportation, catering to props buying; filmmaking really has a place for anyone who wants to work in the industry.

Above the line - those with creative input into the creative process


Below the line - Everyone else













On a short low budget film the following roles are usual to find:


The creative head of the film. They have the last say over any input in front of the camera. Decides the visual scheme and colour scheme (talking to the DoP in pre-production). 


1st AD/1st Assistant Director

Not the Director, or an assistant to. They deal with the production side of the shoot in production, so the director can focus on the creative elements. They know the most about the production, and keep people to times and budget. They need to be strict but not overly, so as to not fall behind or stifle creative actions. 

The 1st AD is like a defensive blocker to the Director, and can help with questions so the Director can get on. They make the announcements, lead applause for role members last wraps (like extras for example), send out call sheets the day before a shoot. They also call the shot before each take (call for quiet and roll sound). 


Cinematographer/Director of Photography/DoP

The person in charge of the look of the film. The control the lighting, framing, angles, camera settings, camera movement and anything on the screen. Can operate the camera or on bigger shoots has help from a Camera Operator. The DoP can then watch the film on a monitor attached to the camera to check that the look and feel of the film are being adhered to, while the Camera Operator deals with the camera settings.

Some people can do both roles on huge films, like for example Robert Rodriegez, DoPs like Barry Sonnenfeld who went on to direct later in his career always hire a separate DoP.



This person looks after the lighting and electrics for a film. Circuits and power can be a huge drain on a film shoot and must be planned for logistical and safety reasons (especially outdoors or in public places). As well as the film lighting, other things to consider for the total power needed on set are camera and sound battery chargers, DIT (Digital Image Transfer) laptops, catering equipment like toasters for example. 


1st AC/1st Assistant Camera Person/Focus Puller

This person maintains camera focus. They can also change lenses, move camera gear around. If there is no 2nd AC/Camera Assistant they may also work the clapperboard and call shots.



As part of the grip and electric team on a shoot, the grip is in charge of the moving and installing lights and camera and dolly equipment and placing sandbags, they generally help with most of the kit placement. The head grip is called the Key Grip, they can sometimes be the only grip on a shoot. 


Sound Mixer/Sound Recordist/Boom Operator

This person records sound on set. While there are many people involved with what you see in a film, there can be only one or two people who deal with what you hear. The role is no less important, it is just as important as the visuals. It is vital to get good sound on the shoot day rather than face an expensive and time consuming job in post-production, so listening out for external sounds and pausing a shot while they pass (planes, wildlife etc) is also the Sound Mixers role. 


Production Designer/Art Director

This person is responsible for completing the look of a creative idea, with props, costumes, vehicles etc to think about. This process begins in pre-production as it require research and preparation time. Some props may take a while to be sourced, or may need to be specially made or ordered. 


Production Assistant/PA/Runner

These people help the production with whatever is needed. The role is very varied but vital to a successful and efficient film set. They can be making tea, standing in for an actor (for a position on set), cleaning up, driving, printing call sheets, dressing the set, holding the sound boom pole, anything that helps keep the film running to schedule. This role can seem very demeaning as it can be very hard work, but it is also a great way to get a foot in the door of the film industry. 


2nd AD/2nd Assistant Director

This person works just under the 1st AD and helps with the running of the production and answers questions about the production and its schedule. 

Script Supervisor

This person watches the shoot on the monitor, and takes notes on each shot. The Director and Sound person can inform on any issues with each shot, which helps the Editor in post-production. They look for continuity issues, see that the shot is shot correctly, look for what worked and what didn’t, check that the actors lines and movements were said the same each time.

Script Supervisor


This person watches the shoot on the monitor, and takes notes on each shot. The Director and Sound person can inform on any issues with each shot, which helps the Editor in post-production. They look for continuity issues, see that the shot is shot correctly, look for what worked and what didn’t; check that the actors lines and movements were said the same each time.


Data Wrangler/DIT (Data Image Technician)

This very responsible role involves taking the video from the camera and safely saving it to a computer. On larger budget films a DIT is able to do basic colour grades, calibrate on set monitors, render proxy files and many other things to catalogue and prepare the footage for the edit. When a shoot only has a few cards that need to be reused during a shoot it is imperative to get two copies of the footage saved to two different drives, and they can go further and do a data check to see that the drive files were a duplicate of the ones on the cards (called ‘redundancy’). A role alone for this important can make or break a film.


Best Boy

Despite the strange name, the Best Boy Electric or Best Boy Grip are second in command to the Head Gaffer or Key Grip respectively. 

Of course there are many many more roles in a film, but these are the main ones.




Sending out call sheets 

The 1st AD creates and prints out and/or emails the call sheets the day before a shoot and hands them out to cast and crew. This is an updated version of the summary of the schedule featuring the address(es) of the shoot, the call time (arrival time) or the crew and the cast, the meeting point/rest area on set, weather conditions, sunrise and sunset times, closest hospital information, advance schedule, contact information for crew (NOT cast) and sometimes a separate map with toilets and parking etc. 


On Set Etiquette

  • You have a role on set, stick to it. Don’t step on anyone's toes, even if you are more experienced in that role.

  • Don’t post photos of the set on social media

  • Keep quiet on set

  • Do not touch any props or anything on a hot set, if it is on camera already you risk continuity issues.

  • Follow the chain of command for questions, do not ask the Director to go to the toilet even if you know them more than the 1st AD. Ask the head of an area for someone to help them, do not go directly to the person and ask

  • Do not leave any equipment set up unsafely and unsupervised

  • Do not bring drugs or alcohol to a set, it may void any insurance and is not a thing to bring to work anyway

  • Don’t just plug anything in, as you may blow a fuse if power is limited

  • Don’t mess with any of the equipment

  • Only the Director talks to the actors on set



On set safety

No film is worth dying for. Please research the Safety for Sarah movement for camera assistant Sarah Jones who was killed due to unsafe practices on the set of Midnight Rider.

  • Tape everything down and use rubber mats to cover walkways

  • Run extensions so that cables are flat to the floor

  • Run cables with safe loads over long runs

  • Weight heavy stands correctly

  • Place safety lights about especially for night shoots

  • Do not exhaust your cast and crew

  • Equipment is heavy, can get hot, proper Personal Protective Equipment like gloves and manual handling techniques are to be followed. Never do anything you are uncomfortable with.

How much does the film crew get paid?

Many filmmakers enlist the help of friends and family to star and work in their films, especially as extras and runners, so payment is usually in catering and shares in the films profits when released (if any). have put together a list of what some higher paid skilled crew members can earn (in dollars) here: have a drop down list of daily and weekly rates for skilled crew, as well as being a networking hub:

film roles list.jpg

© Danielle Millea 2019

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