Assistant Director

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What does a first assistant director do?

The first assistant director (AD) is the director’s right hand. First ADs plan the filming schedule, working with the director, director of photography and other heads of department to ensure an efficient shoot.

In pre-production, they break down the script, analysing it for what will be needed in terms of cast, locations, equipment and crew. They lead recces, going off to locations to assess their suitability for filming.

Then they input the scripts into Movie Magic software, which helps them work out what to film and when, depending on the availability of cast and locations. They write the shooting schedule and work out how long each scene will take to film.

During filming first ADs manage the set, which leaves the directors free to focus on the actors and framing the shots.

What’s a first assistant director good at?

  • Visualising the script: read the script and know what this means in terms of cameras, locations and cast, understand the director’s vision
  • Planning: analyse what is needed for a shoot, and co-ordinate the schedules of various departments including camera, make-up, hair, costume, design and visual effects, think ahead
  • Multi-tasking: pay close attention to what is happening in one shot while getting ready for the next one
  • Innovation: think of creative solutions under pressure when the unexpected happens
  • Communication: able to let a wide range of people know exactly what is required of them and get them to work together, ability to listen to the director

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