Production

The Definitive Film Crew Hierarchy Chart

Assemble

By Assemble

July 5, 2021

Film is a business and like any business there is a chain of command. No matter what your ambitions are in the film industry, it’s important that you understand the roles and responsibilities for everyone on a film set, who reports to whom and how departments coexist.

Above the Line and Below the Line

First up, understanding the difference between “above the line” vs “below the line”.  These terms relate to the budget of the film, where the crew members for the entire production are listed individually within the overall production costs. They are generally separated by creative development and those who execute the vision.

Above the Line: Creative development of the film; roles such as the Producers, Directors, Cinematographers/Director of Photography, Screenwriters, and Talent.

Below the Line: Those who are responsible for the day-to-day filmmaking involved in pre-production, production, and post-production. Departments such as Camera, Electrical, Grip, Production Design, Costume and Makeup.

Breakdown of Film Crew Positions

The ultimate film crew hierarchy breakdown covering every department on a film production.

Above the Line

Executive Producer: The person responsible for the financing of the film and therefore the one in charge of the production.

Producer: The person who oversees the film production. The Producer answers to the Executive Producer regarding budget and manages all the moving parts in the production process.

Line Producer: The person responsible for the daily operations of the feature film. They serve the budget, hiring, locations and schedule. During production they handle the day-to-day logistics. In post production they manage deadlines and make sure the budget is on track.

Director:  Controls the artistic vision and guides the talent and crew to bring it to life.

Director of Photography: The person responsible for the photographic look of the film. Also known as the DP or Cinematographer, this person directs the camera and light crews to fulfil the Director’s cinematic vision.

Screenwriter: The person who writes the screenplay.

Talent: The actors who portray the characters in the film. Principal and supporting cast.

BELOW THE LINE

Production Management: 

Unit Production Manager: Responsible for budget, schedule and general management of set.

  • Production Coordinator: Sets up the production office and organizes equipment, supplies and staff.

  • Production Secretary: Provides administration assistance to the Production Coordinator and Production Manager. This position requires one to answer phones, compile mailings, schedule meetings and travel accommodations, organize supplies, and relay messages.

  • Production Accountant: Is responsible for managing finances and maintaining financial records during film production, working closely with the producer and the production office.

  • Office Production Assistant: Supports a film’s production from a clerical standpoint — handling paperwork, phone call inquiries, and picking-up or dropping-off items.


Assistant Directors:

1st AD (Assistant Director): This person plans the filming schedule, working with the director, director of photography and other heads of department to ensure an efficient shoot. The 1st AD creates the shooting schedule with the producers and crew heads, oversees the call sheet and makes sure everyone is on time and where they should be in the process. They “call the roll” meaning cues the various department heads to prepare the days filming and is a general diplomat, safety advocate and go-between for the Director and the rest of the crew.

  • 2nd Assistant Director: Creates the daily call sheets from the production schedule, in cooperation with the production coordinator. The “second” also serves as the “backstage manager”, liaising with actors, putting cast through make-up and wardrobe.

  • 2nd 2nd Assistant Director: Serves to lighten the load for the 1st AD and 2nd AD by supporting them and keeping the production on track. Responsible for assembling and directing extras, coordinating on-set vehicles, managing PAs and making sure everything is running smoothly.

  • Set Production Assistant: Performing technical and administrative tasks, from running errands to distributing scripts, coordinating craft services and assisting with lighting and sound for studio and on-location shoots. Basically whatever needs to get done in support of the production.


Continuity Department:

Script Supervisor: Oversees the continuity throughout principal photography of every element of production from shot to shot and scene to scene, including wardrobe, props, set dressing, hair, makeup and the actions of the actors during a scene.

Camera Department:

  • Camera Operator: With the direction of the DP, frames shots, operates and maintains equipment and takes initiative modifying any processes to help the production move along.
     
    • 1st Assistant Camera: Also called “the focus puller”.  The main job is to sit next to the camera during filming and operate the lens’s focusing ring. The role of the focus puller is to keep the right subject in focus throughout each scene.

    • 2nd Assistant Camera: Also called “the clapper loader”. This person is part of a film crew whose main functions are loading the raw film stock into camera magazines, operating the clapperboard (slate) at the beginning of each take, marking the actors as necessary, and maintaining all records and paperwork for the camera.

    • DIT (Digital Imaging Technician): Helps the director of photography with the digital knowhow of the camera. They advise the DoP on contrast, brightness and the effects of under or over-exposure, as these constraints are different from shooting with film. A DIT is also the liaison between production and post production teams, handling data management from set to editorial suite.


Electrical Department:

  • Gaffer: The gaffer is the chief lighting technician on a set and is head of the electrical department. The gaffer’s job is to run a team of lighting technicians to execute the lighting plan for a production.
     
    • Best Boy Electric: Serves as the chief assistant to the gaffer.

    • Generator Operator: Works on set to install electricity generators to supply additional power where existing circuits are insufficient, or on location where electricity is otherwise unavailable.

    • Lighting Technicians:  Support the Gaffer by executing the lighting plan.

 

Grip Department:

  • Key Grip:  The head of the grip department. The key grip and their grip crew handle all the rigging and supporting equipment for the production.  For example, rigging lights to vehicles for running shots, rigging silks and overheads, the placement of sandbags and transporting and adjusting heavy equipment.
     
    • Best Boy Grip: Serves as chief assistant to the Key Grip.

    • Dolly Grip: Is a dedicated technician trained to operate the camera dolly. This technician places, levels, and moves the dolly track, then pushes and pulls the dolly with a camera operator and camera assistant as riders.

    • Grip: Handles all the rigging work on a film set, supporting the Key Grip and Best Boy Grip.


Art Department:

  • Production Designer: Deals with conceptualizing the overall “look” of the film. They identify a design style for sets, locations, graphics, props, lighting, camera angles and costumes, while working closely with the director and producer.
     
    • Art Director: Works directly under the production designer and handles the set construction/set dressing.
       
      • Set Designer: In charge of designing/creating the sets that appear in the film.

      • Concept Illustrator: Creates visuals to convey the vision of the director and the production designer.

      • Storyboard Artist: Works with the Director to visually interpret the screenplay and produces a sequence of drawn or digital images, similar to comic strips, called storyboards, to visualize the story. In an animated film, works within the Art Department and creative team, with Live Action, more often with the Director and Director of Photography.

  • Prop Department:
    • Property Master: Makes, stores and transports the props as well as preps the props for each day’s shoot. Recruits carpenters, artists and prop makers when building props and manages the schedule for production.
       
      • Assistant Prop Master: Assist the Prop Master with anything Actors handle on set. They ensure the correct props are prepared, are on hand for the shoot, and are archived once a scene is wrapped.

  • Construction Department:
    • Construction Coordinator: Lead a team of craftsmen, including carpenters, painters, riggers and plasterers, and ensure that all sets are completed to deadline and within budget, and that they meet production requirements. 

  • Sets Department:
    • Set Decorator: In charge of populating sets with character and world-specific items from the personal habits and items that make up the small details to the decoration of artwork and furniture.
       
      • On-Set Dresser: Arrange objects on a film set before shooting. They work under the direction of a Production Designer and the Set Decorator. Set dressers place furniture, hang pictures, and put out decorative items.

      • Greensman: Works closely with the production designer, set decorator, and special effects team to realize the director’s vision for the movie’s natural environment.

  • Costume Department:
    • Costume Designer: The individual in charge of designing the clothing elements worn by actors in a film.
       
      • Wardrobe Supervisor: Takes care of the organization, maintenance and continuity of costumes during the film shoot.

  • Hair & Makeup Department:
    • Key Hair Stylist: The  person in charge of the hair department, works with the director, production designer, and key makeup artist to create original designs that fit into the overall visual look of the film.

    • Key Makeup Artist: Apply makeup to lead roles and actors, and execute any particularly complicated designs and maintain continuity of application during the shoot.


Special Effects Department:

  • Special Effects Supervisor: From coordinating car chases to creating explosions on set, they are responsible for making sure the effects are executed smoothly and safely.


Casting Department:

Casting Director: Organizes and facilitates the casting of actors for all the roles in a film.

  • Local Casting Director: If the production is filmed in different locations, a local casting director is hired to facilitate local hires.

  • Extras Casting Director:  Cast the background actors for a feature film.


Location Department:

Location Manager: Responsible for finding and securing locations to be used, obtaining all fire, police and other governmental permits, and coordinating the logistics for the production to complete its work.

  • Location Scout: Searches for interior or exterior venues to serve as the setting for scenes depicted in a script. 

  • Location Security: Provides a safe and secure environment for production.


Cast:

Stand-In: The person who substitutes for the actor before filming, for technical purposes such as lighting and camera setup and works closely with the camera crew.

Background:  Extras with non-speaking roles.

Sound Department:

Sound Mixer: This person heads up the department responsible for all the sound recorded during filming. This is predominantly dialogue but can include sound effects and atmosphere.

  • Boom Operator: Operates the recording equipment. The boom operator’s main responsibility is to capture sound during each take. They do this through a boom mic, which is suspended above the shot with a boom pole (also called a boom arm).


Stunts Department:

Stunt Coordinator: Usually an experienced stunt performer. Their job is to arrange the casting (stunt players and stunt doubles) and performance of stunts for the film.

  • Stunt Double: A highly trained professional, contracted to perform dangerous scenes in the film, often standing in for actors so they do not get hurt. 


Transportation Department:

Transportation Coordinator: The transportation coordinator is the head of the transportation department and is responsible for obtaining and managing all vehicles associated with a production, including big trucks, trailers for the makeup, hair, lighting, camera, and wardrobe departments, dressing room trailers, honey wagons, personal trailers for the director, talent, and others, picture cars, and all rental cars for cast and crew. The coordinator also hires and manages the transportation captain and drivers.

  • Transport Captain: Ensure that people are picked up at the right place, and delivered to the set on time, by private cars, mini-buses or coaches. 

  • Drivers: Physically drive and operate all provided production vehicles to and from the filming locations. This includes the transport of all crew, equipment and actors safely to and from the film set while staying on schedule.


Craft Service Department:

  • Craft Service: Also known as “Crafties”. This person or team is responsible for the drinks, snacks and treats always available to the talent and crew while working.


Catering Department:

  • Chef:  Unlike craft service which is constant during the shooting day/night, the catering team handles the hot, sit down meals offered to the production talent and crew. As a general rule, catering serves its first meal six hours after filming starts, and the next one six hours after that. Meals last about a half-hour to an hour.


Publicity Department:

Unit Publicist: The liaison between the outside world and the set. They field the communication from press, fans, local community organizations, film commissions, and any entity interested in the film. 

  • Still Photographer: The person who creates film stills, still photographic images specifically intended for use in the marketing of the production. 


Other Crew:

  • Studio Teacher: A teacher hired by the production company to serve as a child advocate for all minors and to provide schooling to all school-aged minors.


Post-Production Department:

  • Post-Production Supervisor: Post Production Supervisors are responsible for the post production process, during which they maintain clarity of information and good channels of communication between the producer, editor, supervising sound editor, the facilities companies (such as film labs, CGI studios and negative cutters) and the production accountant.
     
    • Post Production Coordinator: A person who works with many facets of the post production process, including ensuring the smooth operation of the editorial department, coordinating the production and delivery of final delivery elements, scheduling and coordinating ADR sessions and managing the administration of the department.


Editorial Department:

Supervising Editor: Works closely with the Director to achieve the Director’s vision. Oversees the editorial staff in the assembly of the feature film.

  • Editor: Working closely with the Director and the Supervising Editor, Is responsible for turning uncut footage from a film shoot into a finished, cohesive final project.

  • Assistant Editor: Aid the editor and director in collecting and organizing all the elements needed to edit the film. When editing is finished, they oversee the various lists and instructions necessary to put the film into its final form. Editors of large budget feature films will usually have a team of Assistants working for them

  • Colorist: Working closely with the Director, is responsible for designing the color scheme of the film in order to achieve a specific mood or visual style.


Visual Effects Department:

Visual Effects Supervisor: Is responsible for achieving the creative aims of the director or producers through the use of visual effects.

  • Visual Effects Artist: Uses computer-generated imagery to produce visual effects in the film; the creation or manipulation of any on-screen imagery that does not physically exist in real life.

  • Motion Graphics Artist: Creates the moving words, logos, numbers and text on the screen during a film.


Post-Production Sound Department:

Sound Designer: Working closely with the Director, is responsible for the mood, atmosphere and tone of the overall sound landscape which includes dialogue, music, effects, mixing and Foley.

  • Sound Editor: Responsible for selecting and assembling sound recordings in preparation for the final sound mix or master.

  • Foley Artist: Uses an array of props and effects to devise and record the everyday sounds heard in the film such as footsteps or the rustling of clothing.

  • ADR Engineer: Automated dialogue replacement (ADR) is the process of re-recording dialogue by the original actor (or a replacement actor) after the filming process to improve audio quality or make changes to the originally scripted dialogue.


Music Department:

Music Supervisor: Selects and licenses preexisting songs or recordings for use in the film. Usually act as a liaison between the creative and business ends of the process.

  • Composer: Writes the score, which is the sum of all the original music going into a film. Film composers are also responsible for the recording of the film score.

  • Musician: The composer’s score is performed by an ensemble of musicians.


The production process on a feature film requires all departments to work closely together. Therefore, the film crew hierarchy is less about the status of who is in charge and more about everyone having a clear understanding of their role, especially in larger productions where time is money.

 
Are you ready?

Try our project management platform for video production

Try Free