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Film Crew Positions - A Guide to Every Job on a Movie Set

Film Crew Positions - A Guide to Every Job on a Movie Set

Every person on a film set has a part to play and you may hear the terms "above the line" and "below the line". Keep reading to learn more about every job you'll see on a film set and what they do.


Producers play a crucial role in the film industry. While some producers do have creative input, their primary job is finding and providing funding for the film.

Executive producers are at the top of the pyramid from a business standpoint. EPs are primarily responsible for acquiring (or providing) funding for the film and sometimes for assembling creative talent. That can mean anything from landing major box office stars to liaising with investors.

Producers report to the EP and take a more active hand in the production itself. They typically work with the line producer to establish budgets, communicate creative notes to the director, manage business operations, and ensure the production is running on schedule.

Line producers oversee every aspect of the film's budget. They may also do logistical troubleshooting on set if an issue that arises concerns the movie's bottom line. LPs report to the executive producer. The unit production manager reports to the line producer and makes sure payroll, call sheets, shooting schedules, and anything else that affects the budget gets done. The production coordinator keeps track and organizes all of that paperwork while also managing the film's production assistants.


The director's creative vision guides the film. Along with the producers, they are at the top of the crew hierarchy. They are creatively in charge and lead production from start to finish. A significant part of a director's job is giving out instructions to every department to ensure that each aspect of the finished product fits their blueprint with a clear style and vision.

These roles work under the director:

  1. The First Assistant Director (AD) maintains both the daily shooting schedule and the overall production timeline. They communicate instructions to the department heads to make sure every day on set runs smoothly.

  2. The Second Assistant Director (AD) oversees logistical duties, such as creating and distributing call sheets and making sure that talent is on set when needed. They are sometimes responsible for directing background performers.

  3. The Script Supervisor maintains the story's continuity throughout production. They ensure that everything from where a prop is placed to how an actor delivers a line is consistent. This position is separate from the film's screenwriter, who pens the script but often isn't on set.

  4. Second Unit Directors capture B-roll, action, or pickup shots with their own crew. They exist independently from the film's primary hierarchy.


While not technically included in the film crew hierarchy, the cast is obviously a crucial part of a movie set. Actors portray the characters that bring the film to life—and that comes with its own separate pecking order.

  1. The Principal Cast comprises anyone with a major speaking role. The significance of each principal actor to the film's plot is usually determined by their place on the call sheet; the closer to the top, the more integral they are to the story.

  2. Background Actors, also known as extras, go through wardrobe and work with the first or second assistant director to fill out a scene. They rarely have spoken lines.

  3. Stand-ins are not actors in the traditional sense, but they temporarily replace principal cast members on set so that the rest of the crew can properly rehearse, light and focus a scene before shooting.

Camera Department

This department is responsible for physically capturing images with the camera. 

Department head:

  • The Director of Photography, also known as the cinematographer, is responsible for lighting and shot composition. They develop the visual style of the film based on the director's instructions.

These positions report to the cinematographer:

  • The Camera Operator physically controls the camera and executes the angles for the DP.

  • The First Assistant Camera (or focus puller) operates the camera's focus ring, keeping the subject of a particular shot sharp.

  • The Second Assistant Camera (or clapper) loads film and runs the slate or clapper board that identifies the start of each take. They help keep footage clearly labeled and organized and help to synchronize audio and video in post production.

  • Digital Imaging Technicians (DIT) assist the cinematographer with color correction on set and troubleshoot aspects of filming on digital rather than film, including camera settings, color management, dailies management, and workflow.

Set Lighting and Grip Department

Lighting is integral to capturing a moving image. While the camera department picks up light, this department provides it.

Department head:

  • The Gaffer is the film's chief lighting technician. They come up with a plan to properly—and creatively—light a scene and execute it along with their staff.

Reporting to the gaffer:

  • The Best Boy Electric is the gaffer's right hand, overseeing all cables and generators.

  • The Set Lighting Technician is in charge of running cable to power the lights. Technicians also program any special effects or moving lights.

  • The Generator Operator handles the generators required to power in-studio and on-location generators.

Department head:

  • The Key Grip, while in the lighting department, works with the gaffer to rig or shape light and also works with the camera department to stabilize the camera or support it with any camera movement. 

These positions report to the key grip:

  • The Best Boy Grip is the key grip's second in command who manages the grips on set, keeps track of equipment, ensures organization, and assigns working hours and roles.

  • Grips set up and support the art, camera or lighting departments.

Sound Department

While the camera, lighting, and grip departments often work in tandem on set, several key members of the sound department—such as sound designers and foley artists—are also part of the post production process.

Department head:

  • The Production Sound Mixer records audio and sound on set. That requires mixing in real time, as well as asking for a retake if the audio quality isn't quite right. In addition to dialogue and background noise, the sound mixer also records "room tone," or a few moments of silence in each new location, for editing purposes.

These roles work with the production sound mixer:

  • The Boom Operator holds and handles the boom microphone, the long recording device used to capture dialogue during a scene.

  • Cable People assist with running power from the generator to the mics and any other sound-related utility needs on set.

Art Department

The look of a set helps actors and audiences feel immersed in the world, contributes to the tone of the project, and provides the details necessary to tell the story.

Department head:

  • The Production Designer leads the art department and designs the sets both in-studio and on location—as well as determining how those sets will be dressed with furniture and props. They're responsible for executing the aesthetic of the film.

  • The Art Director manages the art department on set, essentially making the production designer's vision come to life. Occasionally, the production designer and art director are one and the same.

  • The Location Manager is in charge of making sure a shooting location is ready for production to begin. That means settling parking, finding power sources, minimizing outside noises, and closing off areas to the public if and when necessary.

  • The Location Scout finds locales that suit the scene's requirements.

  • The Construction Coordinator works with a small crew to build whatever is necessary for sets in the studio and on location. They collaborate with the set designer and props department.

  • Greenspeople take care of anything natural on set, like plants.

  • The Gang Boss acts as the set's foreman.

  • Set Decorators are essentially interior decorators for film. They find the right rugs, furniture, curtains, artwork, and anything else that will physically populate the scene.

  • Set Dressers place the scene's decorations and furniture onto the set itself. It is the set dressers' responsibility to make sure the setting feels natural and lived-in.

  • The Prop Master is responsible for the creation, maintenance, and inventory of all props. A prop is any object in a scene that is used or touched by an actor.

Wardrobe, Hair, and Makeup

Actors must be made up to fit the world of the film. That's where hair and makeup come in.

Department head:

  • The Key Makeup Artist designs and executes the plan for every actor's makeup, including any necessary prosthetics and visual effects (VFX) work. Makeup artists apply the necessary makeup, both before and during shooting.

  • Special Effects Makeup Artists deal with prosthetics and anything that's required to transform the actors beyond the traditional confines of hair and makeup.

Department head:

  • The Key Hair Stylist designs and executes the plan for every actor's hair. Hairstylists create and maintain the character's hairstyle both before and during shooting.

Along with hair and makeup, the wardrobe department is in charge of dressing the actors according to the story, tone, and aesthetic of the film.

Department head:

  • The Costume Designer maps out, coordinates, and approves the wardrobe so that all the characters achieve a particular look. The costume designer may design the clothes themselves or work with tailors and shoppers to purchase and fit outfits from brands or thrift stores.

These positions work for the costume designer:

  • The Wardrobe Supervisor manages all clothing on set; that includes care and maintenance, as well as proper labeling, hanging, and storage.

  • The Set Costumer is on hand to help with any wardrobe-related issues that arise on set.

  • The Costume Coordinator keeps administrative records of all costumes.

Stunts and VFX

Stunt performers and coordinators are primarily concerned with safety. They put themselves at reasonable risk to make action look good and keep everyone safe, not just the movie stars.

Department head:

  • The Stunt Coordinator designs, choreographs, and casts all physical stunts across the production. Fight choreographers often overlap with stunt coordinators, but occasionally, a separate stunt performer will specifically be in charge of designing any scene in the film involving combat. Fight coordinators, on the other hand, most often choreograph and rehearse fights but have no hand in any other stunt work.

  • Stunt Performers sub in for the actors and execute the stunts.

The visual effects on any large-scale production are mostly created in postproduction. But with the amount of digital touch-ups and motion capture used in film today, the director often needs a VFX crew present on set.

  • The VFX Supervisor's role starts in preproduction, when they determine the techniques and equipment necessary to smoothly capture effects once filming begins. On set, they ensure the director and camera department are capturing those effects properly, in a way that won't hinder the postproduction process or require reshoots.

  • The VFX Coordinator is more of an administrative position. They schedule and work with visual effects artists to make sure everything is done on time.

Craft Services

This department has nothing to do with the final film and everything to do with sustaining the filmmakers and cast on set. Film shoots often involve long or odd hours, and people have to be fed.

  • Craft Services provides food and water to cast and crew throughout the day.

  • Catering specifically provides meals, often with a small menu of choices, for longer shoots as part of designated meal breaks. Both craft services and catering are independent contractors separate from the hierarchy.

Transportation Department

There is a whole department on a film crew that's charged with moving people and equipment from point A to point B. It's an essential role, especially when shooting on location.

  • The Transportation Captain or Transportation Coordinator is responsible for getting people and equipment to set. They organize a plan and budget for conveying where everyone and everything needs to be.

  • The Driver takes talent, crew, and equipment to and from the studio or location.

Miscellaneous Film Crew Positions

In addition to the above-mentioned roles, there are several miscellaneous positions that contribute to the smooth operation of a film set:

  • Production Assistants (PA) are entry-level positions that handle various tasks on set, from fetching coffee to assisting with equipment setup.

  • Script Coordinators work closely with the script supervisor to ensure continuity in the script and provide support during production.

  • Casting Directors are responsible for finding and selecting actors for the film.

  • Editors work in postproduction to assemble and edit the footage into a cohesive final product.

  • Sound Editors are responsible for creating and editing sound effects, dialogue, and music in postproduction.

  • Colorists work on the color grading of the film, enhancing and adjusting the visual tones to achieve the desired look.

  • Visual Effects Artists create and manipulate digital elements in postproduction to enhance the film's visuals.

  • Production Accountants manage the financial aspects of the production, including budgeting, payroll, and financial reporting.

  • Insurance Coordinators ensure that the production is adequately insured against potential risks and liabilities.

  • Animal Wranglers handle and train animals used in the film, ensuring their safety and well-being.

  • Set Medics provide medical assistance and first aid on set.

  • Security Personnel maintain the safety and security of the set, crew, and equipment.

  • Wranglers assist with wrangling and managing equipment, props, and other items on set.

  • Crew Drivers transport crew members and equipment to various locations.

  • Production Design Assistants provide support to the production designer, assisting with research, sourcing materials, and other administrative tasks.

  • Postproduction Coordinators oversee the workflow and coordination of tasks during the postproduction phase of the film.

  • Visual Effects Producers manage the visual effects production process, including budgeting, scheduling, and coordination with the VFX team.

  • Storyboard Artists create visual representations of the film's scenes to assist with previsualization and planning.

  • Art Department Coordinators provide administrative support to the art department, including budgeting, scheduling, and coordination.

  • Craft Services Assistants assist with the setup and maintenance of craft services on set.

  • Camera Assistants provide support to the camera department, assisting with equipment setup, lens changes, and other tasks.

  • Digital Asset Managers organize and manage the digital assets, including footage, sound files, and visual effects, throughout the production process.

These are just a few of the many roles and positions involved in the film industry. Each job is essential in its own way, contributing to the overall success of a film production. Whether they are above the line or below the line, every member of the film crew plays a vital role in bringing a story to life on the big screen.

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