Thursday, August 30, 2007


"I've always tried to be aware of what I say in my films, because all of us who make motion pictures are teachers; teachers with very loud voices." - GEORGE LUCAS (Acceptance speech after receiving the Irving G. Thalberg Award for maintaining an exceptionally high standard of filmmaking)

Have you ever wondered what all those people listed in the movie credits do? Have you ever been baffled when you saw odd job titles like "Best Boy" or "Grip" or "Foley Artist" in the credits? Wonder no longer. We've taken a large number of job titles and explained them below. Believe it or not, everyone listed in the movie credits plays an important role in the production of that movie.

Animal Performers.
Animal appeal has been used by the film industry to attract audiences since the early days of film. In Hollywood, animals are rented from nearby ranches or from trainers who specialize in particular species or breeds. Animal "acting" is achieved only after exhaustive training (animals are customarily tricked into performing by the instant gratification of a morsel of food), patience (easily frightened animals are sometimes given tranquilizers), clever cutting (shots of an animal's aimless movements are later edited to appear as logical to the film's action), and a variety of other special techniques (several look-alike animals are frequently used for the same role).

Art Director.
The designer of a film set, who has a major role in the overall look and presentation of a film.

Best Boy (Electric and Grip).
Also known as Assistant Chief Lighting Technician, this is the the chief assistant, often of the gaffer, but sometimes used as a general term for the second in command of a group. They are sometimes responsible for the menial lighting tasks such as placing reflectors and flags at their proper place for filming, but their job often consists of ordering parts and expendables. They work closely with gaffers.

Boom Operator.
The individual responsible for operating the boom on which a microphone is placed. On the boom, the microphone can dangle above the actor's picking up any dialog while still remaining out of the cameras view.

Cable Operator.
This crew member is responsible for the handling of all sound-related cables. The Cable Operator has to lay the cables, tape the cables, and drag the cables to follow the camera.

Camera Operator.
Also known as a cinematographer, this individual is responsible for rolling the cameras and stopping them on the director's cue.

Casting Associate.
Individual in charge of the casting process where actors are reviewed to see if they match the character description of a particular character in a motion picture's script.

Concept Artist.
Individual responsible for creating conceptual drawings and/or paintings based on ideas or the script of a film. These drawings help the director, producer, and other members of the creative aspects of the film conceptualize the film and decide what looks best.

An expert in any particular field who is hired as a consultant on a motion picture set to ensure the accuracy of details in his specialized area. A former naval officer may be asked to give advice on the workings of a submarine, or a native of Nepal to authenticate background details concerning his country from customs to costumes.

Costume Designer.
The person who conceives and draws designs for the costumes to be worn by the actors in the movie. The sketches are most often done in color after a careful study of the script. Approval must be received from the producer, director, and the art director.

Director of Photography.
This is the person in charge of lighting a set and photographing a film. Also known as "first cameraman," he is expected to transform the screenwriter's and director's concepts into visual images. Often referred to as the "DP" by the film crew.

Dolly Grip.
The grip responsible for laying dolly tracks, which is the railing that guides the camera in tracking shots.

The individual who decides what scenes and takes are to be used, how, when, and in what sequence, and for how long they will appear.

Foley Artist.
The individual responsible for creating sound effects to be used in a film in a controlled environment. A foley artist can get very creative in his/her search for what makes the perfect sound to achieve a particular effect. For example, most punching sounds heard in movies are often a few stalks of celery wrapped in a wet cloth which is placed on a leather cushion and smacked with a stick.

The boss grip or Chief Lighting Technician. Works directly with the Director of Photography and is in charge of all of the electricians (the people who place the lights).

A handyman who is considered the movie set's equivalent to the stagehand of the theater. He performs tasks that generally require physical strength.

Hair Supervisor.
Individual in charge of any hair styling applied to an actor.

Key Grip.
The head grip on a film set, who is in charge of the group of electricians, which usually numbers from five to fifteen. Sometimes the Key-Grip's responsibilities include looking after the physical integrity of the structures built by the construction department. Budgeting, tracking costs, and generating reports are occasional concerns of the Key Grip.

The individual responsible for loading a camera with a new roll of film as needed or requested.

Location Manager.
The person who scouts for the location to shoot at.

Make-up Supervisor.
Individual in charge of any make-up applied to either an actor's face or to a puppet. The actor or puppet is generally made-up before filming, but during filming, sometimes the make-up wears off and new make-up must applied on location.

Production Designer.
The Production Designer is responsible for creating the look of the film. He or she is in control of the Art Department and works closely with the Director to make the director's creative vision a reality.

Property Master.
The person responsible for the availability, maintenance, and placement of all props on the set. In the studio vernacular, he is usually called "props."

The individual responsible for writing the actual screenplay for the motion picture.

Script Supervisor.
This individual is responsible for making sure everything looks the same from one shot to the next. This is helpful especially when filming out of sequence. The script supervisor makes sure that actor's positions, the costumes/clothing, background, and much more is the same from one shot to the next to avoid inconsistencies. For example, if an actor is holding a cup with his left hand, the script supervisor makes sure that in the next shot, that actor is still holding the cup in his left hand.

Any individual who maintains security on a movie set or on location. A security official prevents unwanted persons from interrupting the filming process. Often, security is so tight for the filming of a motion picture that even a director like Steven Spielberg is not allowed onto the set without an official identification badge.

Set Decorator.
The person responsible for placing furnishings such as furniture, rugs, lamps, draperies, wall paintings, books, and more around the movie set. This person takes commands from the set designer.

Set Designer.
A draftsman with architectural training, this person's duty is to sketch plans and list specifications for the building of sets from the verbal descriptions or rough sketches offered by the art director.

Sound Mixer.
The individual responsible for taking many different sound tracks, each sound track containing a different sound, and putting them together into fewer tracks or one single track. In doing this, the mixer must delicately balance the different sounds so no sound overpowers and blocks out any other sound.

Special Effects Supervisor.
The individual in charge of the special effects team. This individual makes sure the special effects crew properly sets effects up according the director's desire.

Any individual who is similar in body structure and looks to a star actor in a film who can take that actor's place when it is not necessary to use the actual star actor. An example is when a script calls for a shot of the main character picking up a phone. If the director wants only a close-up shot of the hand and phone, then it is not necessary to call in the star actor just for his hand. Rather, the star actor can take a break while the stand-in appears on camera.

Story Editor.
An employee of a studio's scenario department who reads synopses and evaluations of dramatic and other literary properties made by his staff of readers (or story analysts). He/She recommends to his/her production company that a certain property should or should not be made into a motion picture.

Stunt Coordinator.
The individual responsible for choreographing any stunts seen in a motion picture. It is this person's job to make sure the stunt is safe while still realistic.

Trust me there are plenty of other important jobs on a movie set that I did not mention.



Linda and her Surroundings said...

Hair Supervisor! I want one to visit me each morning. Imagine an end to bad hair days........

Red Starr said...

I was a lighting designer for many years in the theater. It is so much fun...I loved it very much. GREAT new design by the way!!

NeoAuteur said...

I have wondered about this too. If I'm in the film industry, I would definitely want to be an art director.

Paper Fan Club said...

For the longest time, I had no idea what a gaffer was.

caricature said...

So many interesting titles. They all contribute towards making of a film and I'm glad you told us about them ~ cheers to them all :)

Ravi said...

Needs some work. The job descriptions are neither complete or correct. I think that most grips would be pretty upset to be called a handyman! Also a location manager does not just scout, he may do so on small productions but on features scouting is normally done by location scouts! A location manager is involved in budget elements in pre production and then the daily management of the units requirements while shooting at the location which he or she has arranged and paid for. Art Directors are not responsible for the overall look, that is the Designer's job. But in the end who cares about the job description we all end up doing whatever needs doing................and then we take the money, honey.