So as I put together some tips together for you all to follow or discard at your own pleasure when directing your first shorts last week, I thought I might follow that up by bringing you some more of what know from my filmmaking exploits. But this time I will take it in a bit of a different direction. As I alluded too, before deciding to become a director on a serous level, you may want to dedicate some time in other areas of film production so you are able to talk the language of other departments. Or maybe you just wondered what all these roles did past a director or writer while watching a credit sequence. Is an assistant director an actual assistant to the director? What does an executive producer or a line producer do that a producer doesn't? What is a Boom Operator? All these you may know, some of them you may not but I always assume that it is at least respectful to have an understanding of the medium to know the many other parts of a film that aren't a director and writer. Films are the product of hundreds of people's hard work and hopefully by illuminating this, you will have a greater knowledge that a film is never a one man show.
9. 1st Assistant Director
The 1st Assistant Director (1st AD) is possibly one of the most misinterpreted jobs in film, which is mostly down to the title. No, you are not an assistant to the director (that job exists as 'assitant to') and you definitely aren't a second director with less power who throws out suggestions (as I have seen too many times). No, if the director answers to the producer in pre-production and post-production, the 1st AD is who they answer to during production. If you are ever lucky enough to be on a major studio set, you will quickly figure out who the 1st AD is. He is the loud one. Often shouting orders and yelling at everyone to be quiet are certainly traits of the job. It is the AD's job to keep track of time and control the set. Knowing what every department is doing and how long it is going to take, while pushing them faster is the name of the game. The 1st AD is often the thorn in the side for the director. A good director will always push for one more shot and a good AD will know when to tell them no. Allowing the director space to tell his story but make sure that you wrap on time with the footage you need is the key to the job. Coming up with compromises for a director if time is getting on (which it always is) is also an incredibly valuable skill. Not afraid of being the bad guy, time management and management skills are essential to the role but it is a one of the most challenging and rewarding roles I have ever done on a set. Oh, and if you need further incentive, the 1st AD is often the one who gets to call "Action" and "Cut". And you thought directors get all the fun.
Patrick Dane is someone who spends too much of his time looking at screens. Usually can be seen pretending he works as a film and game blogger, short film director, PA, 1st AD and scriptwriter. Known to frequent London screening rooms, expensive hotels, couches, Costa coffee and his bedroom. If found, could you please return to the internet.