This portfolio will explore the role of the assistant director within Film and TV. It is a role that is based in pre-production as well as production. The role in pre-production makes up the major one, and it includes breaking down the script and creating the schedule. On the other hand, the role in production includes preparing and supervising the crew for filming and coordinating all production activities in cooperation with the director. The assistant director is also responsible for the management of the team, executing tasks delegated by the director, overseeing operations of the production department on set, and disbursement of budget allowances.
The assistant director role started as a stepping stone to the directing work. Sir Alfred Hitchcock and Akira Kurosawa are some of the prominent assistant directors in the history of filming (Doyle, 1967). Hitchcock began his career as a technical clerk as well as a copywriter in a telegraph company. He later joined the film industry as an assistant director where he registered significant success including winning 6 Oscar awards (Doyle, 1967). As for Kurosawa, he entered the film industry as a scriptwriter and later became an assistant director. He earned the reputation of a skilled young filmmaker in Japan, and he achieved substantial success from this role (Doyle, 1967). In the past, the role of an assistant director was quite general, and it incorporated several aspects of film making including editing of the scripts as well as design setting. As opposed to the newly defined role of assistant directors, the role previously focused on film directing. The role is currently diversified, and it focuses more on the logistics and managerial aspects of the filming process. There has been a significant transition from the former role of an assistant director because it now entails management of the theatre production personnel as well as copying the role of the producer rather than focusing on directing. However, there exist contemporary exceptions for assistant directors such as James McTeigue. McTeigue was the third assistant director in the Australian film industry (Doyle, 1967). Compared to Hitchcock and Kurosawa, his role as an assistant director formed the foundation of the newly defined roles of the current assistant directors. He was the first assistant director to undertake activities in both the pre-production as well as the production stages of numerous films.
Role Responsibility and Hierarchy of the Role
The roles of an assistant director (A.D) are evident in both the pre-production as well as production stages. The key responsibilities include script breakdown, one-line schedule, day out of days, location scouting, scheduling meetings, prep memo, storyboarding and shortlist, call sheets, and production (Honthaner, 2013). The process of breaking down a script entails highlighting all the elements of a given scene. The A.D goes through the script and records aspects such as count page, locations, characters, props, costumes, make-up, scene length, sound effects, among other details surrounding the scene (Honthaner, 2013). Such data is recorded into a chronological script breakdown - an organized summary of each scene in the script. The A.D also saves money and time by reorganizing the scenes from the chronological script breakdown into a filming order (Honthaner, 2013). One-line schedules are generally sorted as per the location. Besides, the A.D plans the work schedule of the actors. This entails informing the actors on the days they are expected to report for filming in addition to giving them shooting locations. A.Ds are also tasked with searching for suitable locations for filming. The A.D, therefore, works with the technical team which surveys the shortlisted locations before the actual shooting. Moreover, the A.D schedules meetings between the director and other key personnel, including the 1st or 2nd A.D, among others (Honthaner, 2013). Also, the A.D records minutes of such meetings. The recordings of such meetings are entered into the prep memo. Every information regarding the production process is shared with the production team, including any changes made along the way. The A.D also works hand in hand with the director of photography towards settling for the best shooting parameters in the chosen location. The A.D ensures the distribution of call sheets to all crew members. Call sheets contain information regarding the format of shooting, the procedures of the shooting, the map of the filming location, and the contacts of every member of the crew, among others (Honthaner, 2013). Last but not least, the A.D is responsible for overseeing activities surrounding filming. The A.D ensures the smooth and efficient running of activities during photography; this includes ensuring safety. In general, the A.D acts as the epicentre of communication during the production stage. The A.D is expected to set the bar for other crew members because he/she is the authoritative figure; however, the A.D also needs to be approachable (Honthaner, 2013).
Skills Required for the Role
The fundamental role of this role is to organize people and resources (Gill, 2019). Therefore, the first quality of an A.D is an exceptional organizer. The role entails much paperwork, and so, the organization creates a smooth flow of activities during the filming process. Besides, the ability to plan is vital.
Like many other roles, this requires one to possess time management skills (Gill, 2019). The A.D needs to master the art of time management - to manage his/her time as well as that of the crew. As such, the A.D needs to offer reasonable amounts of time to get things done and also allow for setbacks.
Confidence and proper communication are also necessary skills for the A.D role (Gill, 2019). The A.D serves as the authoritative figure and therefore needs to employ his/her voice during the set so that the crew knows all that is happening. Confidence is crucial in issuing instructions. Besides, being an excellent communicator enables the A.D to provide clear instructions to the team. Furthermore, the A.D needs to motivate the team into doing their best.
Problem-solving ability is another crucial skill required by the A.D role (Gill, 2019). It is usual for problems to arise during the filming process, or rather during any stage of the production process. It is upon the A.D to ease tension during a crisis by offering solutions to problems. Sometimes problems such as losing a location, running out of time, uncooperative team members arise, and much more. The A.D needs to work hard and smart towards realizing a solution as fast as possible. Also, the A.D must be able to work under pressure alongside mastering the ability to multitask.
Lastly, the first aid training skill is vital for the A.D role. As usual, accidents are random and unexpected. The A.D must have the skill of first aid so he/she can attend to an injured member of the cast during filming (Gill, 2019). Onset accidents are common, and it is a simple logic for the A.D to help in handling injuries without entirely relying upon the team medics.
Terry Bomber has been an assistant director and production manager on films such as James Bond Quantum of Solace, Tomb Raider and 101 Dalmatians. He visited the University of Derby to give a guest lecture to our Film, and Video students and here advises on getting into the film industry. He trained at Lambda between 1976 and 1979.
For How Long Have You Worked In The Film Industry?
Terry Bomber: I worked as an actor for four years and then moved back to the film where I started in the late '60s then I worked up into being the third assistant director, second assistant director, first assistant director and a production manager, and I have been lucky enough to work on carrying on films, James bomb films, a 101 dimensions holy wood movies, training films which are great fun and documentaries managers recently shared the words on the world wide scenes
What Are The Qualities That One Needs As A Production Film Assistant Director?
Terry Bomber: The qualities that one needs to be successful in the industry is a commitment, integrity, the willingness to work hard, and to be aware that you need to work hard and to be aware that you got to be resilient. At the time you migrate even now when the farm is not gone, and you got a mortgaged pay, a wife to look after and it does take its time like in the world worsened where we had to wake up at 2:30 where we had to organize getting the zombies. You could have a good look and stamina, and you can never say that I do not feel well today. You have to leave work, and then somebody can send you home. Manners in public are always important regardless of whom you are dealing with say an artist. Everybody's job is always outstanding. Everybody is important in films and treat everybody exactly how you would want to be treated when somebody approaches over screenplay from the script. A happy ending is always good for everyone to attract the attention of the audience. It will help you know the kind of characters better as you read through the script. I think critically understanding the script is very important.
How to Get Into the Role of an Assistant Director
To get into the role of an assistant director in films, people need to work hard in the line of duties and also receive more of inspiration from real-life stories. These will entail all the industry professionals' experiences, especially those who have advanced in their careers. Undergoing training on screen skills will also play a critical role in helping one to join into the world of acting films and also in directing the film.
What Skills Have You Gained In The Chosen Role?
From the research and interview with Terry Bomber, I have learned that in the film production industry, there are many skills that people acquire to keep them in the field. From the interview, it can be seen that mostly the production managers and directors are usually involved in running of the productions on behalf of the line producer and the producer. They help in determining the economical and also the most efficient way in negotiating business deals, scheduling of the shoots, locations as well as technical equipment and are also involved in the making of the decisions of the day-to-day productions to keep the production running smoothly. I have hence learnt that the role in the production management and the assistant director is mainly business oriented and demands a critical knowledge of the film productions. It remains to be the director's and manager's responsibilities in becoming hardworking while coming up with the best administrative, organizational and also planning skills. The production film directors will gain the skills of being conscious with time. This is because most of their great deal of time is spent on the telephone and hence ought to have excellent negotiation and communication skills. Through their role, the film production assistant directors ought to familiarize themselves with all the programs in budgeting as well as in accounting to help their respective managers in playing the role. Besides, they acquire skills in the scheduling of films and software of word processing. Working with the heads of the department, producers and also directors, the production managers get to know more of the creative and challenges in business which is faced by their colleagues.
From the documentary master class with Brian Woods and Katie Rice, almost every person who is a filmmaker ought to look after their contributors. "It is more of a vocation than a job - you have to be someone who cares about people. You form a relationship with [your contributors].
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