Want the end credits to a film explained?
Click on the job titles below to find drop-down menus for a huge list of career options in Canada’s film and TV industry. They’re split into the pre-production, production, and post-production phases of a project’s life cycle, but they all work together to bring the director’s vision to life.
There’s truly something for everyone within this industry. Whether you like to work on a computer, or on your feet; whether you’re great in teams, or prefer flying solo, there’s a job you’d love in film or TV.
A film set is made up of actors, cameras, and sound equipment, but just as important are the expertise of skilled carpenters, fashion wizards, makeup and hair gurus, and editing masterminds, to name a few.
We hope this guide will give you a taste of the opportunities that are out there for you.
We encourage you to explore, ask questions, and consider pursuing a career in this fast-growing and vibrant industry.
The first phase of film and TV production is called “pre-production”, and involves all the creative and administrative planning and work needed prior to filming. The key creative team on a film (including the producer, director and screenwriter) start out in pre-production along with the heads of various on-set departments, who need to plan their work in advance. A script needs to be written, actors need to be cast, locations need to be secured, sets built, costumes made, props purchased or rented, and so on – all long before the first day of shooting. This is what pre-production is all about. It’s the time period before a movie is shot, when all the planning is done. Very few roles exist exclusively in the pre-production phase of making a film or TV show. In fact, most of these roles carry over into “production”.
A screenwriter or script writer is someone who writes the story and script for a film or TV show.
A screenwriter writes the script (or screenplay) for the film or TV show. They might be working from their own original idea, developing someone else’s concept, or adapting an existing book, graphic novel or play for the screen. It’s the writer’s job to create the structure, or narrative arc, of the story, flesh out all the characters and dialogue, and, crucially, describe everything visually, so that it is very clear what the scene should look like to the audience.
Screenwriting is a freelance profession, and it is rare for screenwriters who are starting out to be paid in advance for developing and writing their work. More often, writers are paid for their completed screenplays, once the films are financed and move into production. This can make it a challenging career path to enter into, as there are no “entry level” positions or internships that can lead to a stable writing job in film or TV. For many, it is a labour of love that they pursue while also working in other areas of the industry.
In TV, an entry level position as a script coordinator or intern could lead to opportunities in the writers room. Writers on TV can sometimes also be given credits such as Co-Producer or Executive Producer for their contributions.
While no education is specifically required to become a professional screenwriter, there are several diploma and degree programmes available and many professional development courses on offer for those who would like to improve upon their writing skills.
A college degree in English, creative writing, or film and TV production with a focus on scriptwriting would be valuable in this role.
Some non-profit arts organizations offer scriptwriting workshops for those who have prior experience or a background in creative writing.
A story editor is a member of a writing team, usually on a TV series.
They may write first drafts of some episodes or do rewrites on drafts by others.
They might also be expected to help develop rough story ideas or flesh out a particular plot line, often in collaboration with some or all the members of the writing team.
A college degree in English, creative writing, or film and TV production with a focus on scriptwriting would be valuable in this role.
A storyboard artist visualizes a story for film or TV, and creates frame-by-frame sketches.
Storyboard artists may use photos, or they might illustrate the images themselves. They work under the supervision of the film’s director and/or cinematographer to illustrate what the movie will eventually look like – sort of like a comic book version of the film that shows all the camera movements, angles and shots.
The purpose of storyboards is to help the director, cinematographer and crew plan how to set up certain shots. They can also sometimes be used by producers as a way to illustrate the director’s vision in a presentation to funders or other supporters. Animated projects are often pitched on the basis of storyboards alone (that is, a screenplay may not be written until later), and storyboard artists continue to work throughout the production to develop particular sequences. As a sequence is edited, the director, storyboard artist and creative team may need to rework the sequence.
Any art school with an animation or illustration department is a solid place to build fundamental skills. The essential part is strong illustration skills.
Casting directors manage the process of selecting actors and other performers to be in a film or TV series.
On smaller productions, auditions may be run by the director and producers, but casting directors are employed by many larger films and TV series. They organize and manage the audition process, and negotiate contracts with the actors’ representatives (such as agents or managers). This person is in charge of putting out a “casting call” (an announcement to actors and their reps that auditions will be held for certain roles), choosing the actors who will be called in to “read”, managing the audition process, and working with director and producers to make the final selections and negotiate their deals (such as what they will be paid, and other aspects of their contract/agreement with the production). After the film is cast, the casting director’s job isn’t quite done! They remain the main liaison between the production and the performers’ agents/managers throughout the production.
A casting director should be actively involved in the arts scene – going out to see films or theatrical productions that actors are starring in, getting to know new and upcoming talent, and being generally up-to-date on cultural events.
This role is learned on the job, by assisting established casting directors and working your way up. Networking and reaching out to casting companies is one way to get started in this field. Starting with an internship, you’ll learn the ropes by helping to run the auditions, with tasks such as bringing actors into the room, setting up microphones and camera equipment, reading out the lines of the “other characters” for an actor during their audition, and so on. Interns can apply for opportunities as casting assistants and work their way up to casting associate and beyond.
The location manager is a member of the production crew responsible for finding and securing locations to be used for filming, and getting permission to use them.
Sometimes, films and TV shows are shot on a set (just like in the theatre). However, films often use real locations to shoot in. They might be tasked with finding the perfect suburban home with a blue door, and then ensuring the residents of that home are willing to have a film crew shooting on their lawn. There are many databases of available locations for them to search online, but one fun part of the job also involves scouting locations by travelling to them to check them out in person. If the film is shooting on the street or in a public space, then the location manager is also in charge of obtaining permits from the city, informing neighbours that a film shoot will be coming to their street, and ensuring fire codes and other safety requirements will be met. If a community member has questions about a nearby film shoot, it is usually the location manager’s job to speak with them and address their concerns.
If a film shoot involves large equipment that needs to be stored in between shooting days, it might be the location manager’s job to secure storage. For example, if the location is outdoors, then they will need to think about where to store equipment overnight, and also how to accommodate the cast and crew’s other needs (bathrooms, trailers to get dressed in, a covered place to eat lunch in case of rain, etc). After shooting is done in a location, they must ensure it’s cleaned up and left in the same condition in which it was found. They are the first people to arrive on location and the last to leave.
Good location managers are detail oriented and great at problem solving.
On larger productions, the location manager may hire additional support staff such as assistant location managers and location scouts. A Scout is someone whose job it is specifically to visit potential locations in order to ensure they have everything the producer and director need – this is a great entry level position within the locations / production department.
Some key skills to becoming a good location manager include the ability to read, understand and draft contracts, logistical and administrative skills, take photos, drive a car and interact with people in a professional manner. While there is no direct educational route to become a location manager, some have a background in geography, real estate. Gaining experience on-set as a PA, and working towards the locations department is an excellent way to get into the field.
Production is the phase of film and TV making that happens on-set and on-location, where the story is designed by the art department, brought to life by actors, and lit up by the electrical crew; the camera and sound departments record sight and sound, producing the raw materials (IE. film or digital files) that will quickly be delivered to post-production for further editing. It’s fast-paced, collaborative, creative, and highly organized … and, ACTION!
Producers are generally the people “in charge” of a film or TV production. They’re responsible for raising and managing the money, assembling the team and supervising all aspects of pre-production, production and post-production.
Producers often initiate a project by buying the rights to adapt a book or other property and then hiring a screenwriter and/or a director to create a film adaptation. They can also consider using existing screenplays or story ideas at the suggestion of a director. Producers generally have the right to approve or influence how the screenplay is developed, and in addition to the director, can have creative influence on the project.
While the director is in charge of the actors, camera and sound crews, and works closely with all other departments on set, the producer oversees and supervises everything behind the scenes. They hire the key crew members (including the director) and manage the budget, logistics and business aspects of the production.
When the credits roll, you’ll notice that there are many types of producers involved in a film project, such as “associate producers”, “executive producers” and so on. However, the person who has a simple “producer” credit is the boss! They’re doing the hands-on work of producing on set. An “associate producer” might manage all the contracts and agreements for a film, or just support the producer in whatever way they require. The “executive producer” role might sound more impressive, but it’s usually a title given to those who contribute to the production less directly (such as by securing financing or distribution for a film).
The number of producers depends entirely on the scope of the project and its budget. The larger the movie, the more the responsibilities are divided among different levels of producer.
Line producers manage every “line” of a very complicated budget.
Production managers hire every crew member (with the approval of the director and lead producer) and oversee the general day-to-day progress of the film shoot. Many TV shows and larger film shoots now also have Assistant Production Managers.
On a larger film, these roles are strictly hierarchical, with each level of producer reporting to the one directly above them. On a low budget film, one producer might handle all of these responsibilities.
No matter the role, being a producer requires enormous attention to detail as well as the ability to see the big picture. A good producer will support a director while also keeping a tight rein on budget and schedule, anticipating future problems, and motivating a large team of actors and crew members. Above all, a good producer has exceptional organizational skills.
While producing is something that can be learned in school, usually one gains experience elsewhere in the production department, such as working up from a production assistant, to a production coordinator, production manager or line producer. Line producers usually come from the ranks of assistant directors and unit production managers, giving them a strong background in the logistics of filmmaking and time management. It is common for them to continue to perform one of those roles on projects they produce. They do not necessarily attend a film school.
The production coordinator helps manage or coordinate the various groups and personnel that come together to make a movie or TV show.
Serving under the production manager or producer, the duties of a production coordinator are extremely varied. They can range from office manager to human resources, to any aspect of the administrative and logistical planning of a movie that the producer or PM needs help with. Production coordinators might be tasked with ensuring that every member of the cast and crew has signed their contracts and submitted all the necessary paperwork to the production; they may also be in charge of printing, assembling, and distributing daily schedules for cast and crew.
The production coordinator requires adept organizational skills and excellent computer skills, resourcefulness, and the ability to handle a multitude of tasks simultaneously under high-pressure situations. Production Coordinators often get an opportunity to hire an Assistant Coordinator. A first or second assistant coordinator is a good entry level position on set.
To coordinate dailies, maintain databases, communicate clearly, and manage deadlines, a diploma in any post-secondary programme should get you the kind of knowledge needed to be a successful production coordinator. On-the-job experience as a production assistant (an entry-level position on a film crew) is also required.
While a film is always a collaborative effort between dozens of crew and cast members, many of whom may have creative input into the finished product, the director is the one whose creative vision everyone is helping to execute.
A good director requires leadership skills, as well as the ability to maintain a singular focus even in the stressful, fast-paced environment of a film set.
Because the film director’s success depends on the cooperation of many creative individuals, he or she also needs to understand the importance of teamwork in making a film. The director must have excellent communication skills and strive to ensure that the entire crew is working towards a shared vision.
The director, like the producer, is one of the few positions that requires intimate involvement during every stage of film production, from pre- until post-production.
There are many pathways to becoming a film director. Some start as screenwriters, cinematographers, producers, film editors or actors. Others go to film school and start by making their own independent short films before “graduating” to feature-length works.
The role of an assistant director (AD) on a film includes tracking daily progress against the film’s production schedule, arranging logistics, preparing daily call sheets, checking cast and crew, and maintaining order on the set.
They also have to take care of the health and safety of the crew. To become an assistant director, professionals must have performed many other roles on a film set or started out as production assistants. Gradually, they earn assistant director positions of higher and higher rank, as described below in the following sub-roles:
The first assistant director (first or 1st AD) has overall AD responsibilities and supervises the second AD (2AD). The “first” is directly responsible to the director and “runs” the floor or set. Sometimes, they even get to be the person who yells “Action!” on behalf of the director.
The second assistant director (second or 2nd AD) creates the daily call sheets from the production schedule, in cooperation with the production coordinator, and publishes these schedules once the Producer or Line Producer have signed off. The “second” also serves as the “backstage manager”, liaising with actors, and putting cast through make-up and wardrobe and coordinating the background performers. Other duties of the second AD include supervision of the third AD and ADtrainees or PAs.
The third assistant director (third or 3rd AD) works on set with the “first” and may liaise with the “second” to move actors from base camp (the area containing the production, cast, and hair and makeup trailers), organize crowd scenes, and supervise one or more production assistants. The distinction can be blurry between a 2AD and 3AD, and how many ADs a film set has also depends on the size, scope and budget of the production.
There is no formal educational training to set you on course to becoming an assistant director, but experience on-set as a production assistant and familiarity with film production is key.
A cinematographer, or director of photography (DOP or DP), is the person in charge of the camera and light crews working on a set and is responsible for making artistic and technical decisions related to the image.
The study and practice of this field is referred to as cinematography, and is a highly skilled and technical craft. The cinematographer isn’t always the person operating the camera, but they are responsible for the resulting images.
During pre-production, the cinematographer discusses the vision for the film with the director and determines what’s needed to make the film look right. They also hire the camera crew, and arrange for equipment and supplies. The cinematographer works with other departments, like sound and lighting, to coordinate production needs.
During production, the cinematographer coordinates the camera crew and works with the director to make sure each scene is set up and shot to match the director’s vision. A cinematographer can have a lot of creative input on the look and feel of the film. For each scene, the cinematographer decides on the best combination of cameras, filters, and lenses, as well as camera placement and lighting best suited for the scene.
The cinematographer’s work often continues after the film is shot. They review “dailies” (the unedited footage that is shot each day) and provide a critical eye throughout post-production.
Cinematography is a highly technical job requiring a good eye and knowledge of the ever-changing high tech equipment used to shoot films and TV.
Many film schools offer courses in cinematography, touching on lighting, shot design, and how to tell visual stories. You can also start out as an entry level assistant in the camera department, learn on the job, and work your way up.
A camera operator is the person who runs the camera to capture the footage on a film set.
On smaller productions, the cinematographer might do this job for themselves. On a larger set, the cinematographer might direct the camera operator and team as they operate the equipment.
The camera team consists of multiple tiers of assistants. The first assistant cameraperson (1st AC) is responsible for maintenance of the camera, such as keeping it clean or adjusting the focus. Often, an AC whose main job is to maintain the camera lens’s focus during each scene is called the “focus puller”.
A second assistant cameraperson (2nd AC) might be employed to load film (or hard drives), slate scenes, or maintain the camera report (a log of scenes, takes, rolls, photographic filters used, and other production data).
Understanding how a camera works is the most important skill for a camera operator.
Like many other departments on a set, it is possible to learn on the job by starting out in the lowest tier of assistant, and working your way up. Another way to gain an intimate knowledge of the gear is to work at a camera rental house. Many equipment rental companies encourage their employees to learn about the equipment that they offer, and it can be a great way to gain experience that you will later use on set.
The grip department is responsible for the gear that supports the work of the camera operators.
Grips work closely with the camera department on setting-up camera equipment, such as mounting the camera on a dolly or crane. This can mean getting it into unusual positions, such as the back of a car, or the top of a ladder. Grips also work closely with the lighting department on setting up the lights for each scene. The Key Grip is the head of the Grip Department, but there can be many grips in the crew, especially on a large set. Grips are always busy and on their feet. They are essential to the smooth running of any film set. Before shooting begins, grips are also responsible for preparing equipment, packing it into the grip truck and transporting everything to the filming location.
Depending on the size and scope of the film set, there may be many grip positions required, such as a “dolly grip”, who is solely responsible for the operation of the camera dolly – a wheeled cart that a camera can be mounted onto, which allows it to move smoothly without having to be hand-held.
Another type of grip is the “best person grip”, who is the assistant to the department head. Their many responsibilities include the renting, ordering, inventory, and returning of equipment; workplace safety; completing paperwork; stocking of expendables; loading and unloading production trucks; handling relations with the other production departments; and serving as the day-to-day representative of the department with the production manager and coordinator of their department.
The best way to get started is to work as a general production assistant on set and learn on the job. Because there are limited courses available to learn how to become a grip. Transferable skills from previous jobs or schooling which demonstrate your strong work ethic, stamina and attention to detail are a plus.
In film and TV crews, the “electric department” deals with lighting, and the gaffer is the chief lighting technician responsible for the execution (and sometimes the design) of the lighting plan for a production.
The gaffer is responsible for managing lighting under the direction of the director of photography.
The term “gaffer” originally related to the moving of overhead equipment to control lighting levels using a gaff (a gaff is a long pole with a hook on the end that was used to adjust theatre lights or street lamps).
As in the grip department, there are many roles such as set lighting technicians, lamp operators, and a “best person electric”, who works as the assistant to the gaffer. For shoots on location, and especially outdoor shoots, generators are often needed to power all the heavy-duty equipment on set. Commonly referred to as a “Genny”, generators produce electricity from diesel fuel. The person in charge of a generator is called the “Genny operator”.
A boom operator is a member of the sound department, who operates the recording equipment and holds the boom microphone.
The boom operator’s main responsibility is to capture sound during the film shoot. The boom operator stands near the camera operator and holds the boom mic (usually suspended on a long pole called a boom arm). They must hold it close enough to the actors to record with good sound quality, but not so close that the boom mic or its shadow dips into the shot. The boom operator also affixes small lavalier (“lav”) microphones to the actors’ clothing or bodies to ensure all dialogue is recorded clearly. The boom operator reports to the production sound mixer.
This is a physically demanding job, as a boom operator has to hold up the boom mic (often above his or her head) through an entire day of shooting, often for many days in a row. It requires a working knowledge of some specialized sound equipment as well as a good memory and quick thinking skills. For example, a boom operator needs to be as close as possible to the actors while they are speaking, so they may need to remember the flow of dialogue during a scene, as well as the planned movements of actors and camera equipment, in order to follow them and capture the clearest audio.
Though there is no formal requirement, the basic skills common to all successful boom operators include a cursory knowledge of electronics and sound recording equipment, excellent aural skills, strength and dexterity, memorization skills, good timing, attention to detail, and the ability to work in teams.
Field Recording Mixer
The field recording mixer oversees recording all of the actors’ dialogue on set.
The field recording mixer’s goal is to catch as much clean dialogue as possible (without background noise), and to take note of the good takes for the post-production sound team, in order to help the editor do their job. This is usually a position on film sets, and is less common on TV.
If shooting on location, the production sound mixer may also record the background sounds and “environment” of their surroundings for the post-production team. Recording a track of background noises of a specific location is important for consistency – it helps the editor and post-production sound team cut dialogue seamlessly, especially if they are putting together dialogue from several different takes.
A certificate or degree in audio engineering is preferred for this role. Internships and apprenticeships in audio production are very important, as is learning on the job in entry-level positions in the audio/sound department of smaller-budget productions.
Production Sound Mixer
The production sound mixer serves as a sound recordist during filming, and is responsible for recording and balancing the audio effects on set. It is the senior-most sound position during pre-production and production.
The responsibilities of this role begin at the pre-production stage and may involve selecting the audio equipment that will be used, visiting the filming locations to evaluate potential sound problems (such as background noise), and hiring and assembling their sound team. During production this person records all the sound on set (including actors’ dialogue and location sounds) and mixes audio in real-time, which means they balance the volume and other sound quality to ensure audio will sound great in the finished movie. Most production sound mixers start in the entry-level positions of the sound team to get comfortable with the equipment — positions like operating the boom mic or being a production assistant or sound trainee.
Experience in an audio engineering programme at the college or undergraduate level is ideal, but not a strict requirement. Entry-level experience on the Sound Crew on smaller-scale projects can help build the skills needed for this role.
An actor is a person who plays an on-screen role in a movie or TV show, using their physical presence and/or voice to help create and portray a character.
Acting involves researching every aspect of the role, memorizing dialogue the screenwriter has written, and developing the character so that they feel authentic on screen. Working as an actor involves bringing to life emotionally intense scenes, both on set and in auditions. Honing one’s craft as an actor is a crucial part of the process, and acting can be emotionally challenging work.
Educational requirements: Many actors go through formal training, while others are self-taught. Colleges offer programmes where actors can receive training in theatre, on-camera acting, and performance art. Schooling in other areas of interest, like literature or the arts, is useful in informing an actors’ creative practice.
A Stunt Coordinator is in charge of coordinating and arranging the stunts for a film or TV show, and hiring the stunt performers to do them. In many cases, the stunt coordinator budgets, designs, and choreographs the stunt sequences to suit the script and the director’s vision. They are themselves usually an experienced stunt performer, which is described further below.
Training in some form of martial arts, gymnastics, or combat discipline.
A Stunt Performer is a trained professional who performs stunts. “Stunts” encompass a wide variety of actions that might need to be performed on set. When there is a high-speed car chase or fight sequence on screen, those actions are performed by stunt people. Sometimes, even much smaller and less dangerous actions (such as bumping into something and falling down) might be performed by a stunt person. Some stunt people act as “doubles” for specific actors, doing all the action sequences instead of them. Many stunt sequences are very tightly scripted and planned, so stunt performers need to be physically fit, and often need to be trained in some form of martial arts, gymnastics or combat discipline.
Please remember, in spite of their well-choreographed appearance, stunts can still be dangerous and physically demanding!
Training in some form of martial arts, gymnastics, or combat discipline.
Fight choreographers design and direct combat sequences for film and TV. Much like dance choreographers, they instruct actors on how to move in various ways, in order to make fight scenes appear realistic and/or historically accurate, while also ensuring the safety of the cast and crew. While knowledge of various fighting styles is necessary for this career, fight choreographers must also understand theatrical staging and the principles of choreography. Before choreographing fights, individuals must first be trained in how to fight in particular styles, such as hand-to-hand combat, fencing and martial arts.
Many fight choreographers start out as professional martial artists or have a background in stunt work.
A wrangler is someone employed to handle animals during the making of a film or TV Series.
They use their knowledge of animal behaviour care for the animals on set and also train them to perform specific behaviours or actions that are required for the scenes being shot with them.
Trainers provide appropriate physical and mental exercises to keep animals healthy and happy during the hours they are not working on set. Additional duties for movie animal trainers may include providing food and water, administering medications and supplements, maintaining cages and enclosures, exercising animals, keeping accurate health and behaviour records, and transporting the animals to and from the set/location.
Educational requirements: Although a college degree is not mandatory to enter the field, common college majors for aspiring animal trainers include animal science, animal behaviour, biology, zoology, marine biology, and psychology. Most movie animal trainers have a degree in an animal-related field or significant practical experience gained by interning with experienced trainers, gaining valuable hands-on experience along the way.
The production designer creates the look of a film. They are an artistic jack-of-all-trades and a confident leader who manages the entire art department.
This role works closely with the director and the cinematographer to create the look and feel for the film. They are responsible for bringing the director’s ideas to life by coordinating an overall visual appearance and artistic style throughout the production. The production designer’s job starts in the pre-production phase, with planning what each set or location will look like and sourcing or building the set pieces and decor items that will achieve the look. The production designer is also in charge of hiring and managing the art department, which can be one of the biggest departments on a film crew.
They might need to research and design the look of a historical setting, or invent a world that doesn’t exist through colour, lighting, and creative use of furniture, set dressing and more. There is a lot of preparation involved in this role and the bulk of the really intensive work happens before shooting begins.
During production, the production designer makes sure each set and camera set-up looks right, and fields any requests or concerns that the director or director of photography may have about that day’s set. They also plan ahead for the next set or location, and oversee the sets each day.
A production designer’s job traditionally ends shortly after shooting is finished. They may have to coordinate the return of rented set items, and perform other wrap-up duties, but the work may not extend into post-production. However, as more films are completed with CGI in post-production, production designers may need to stay involved to provide input on aspects of post-production that may affect the film’s final look.
A production designer needs a great eye for design. Skills such as drawing and building, graphic design and a knowledge of art history, pop culture, and design principles are all major assets. They should also have strong communication skills, and be able to manage their budget and their team.
Educational requirements: As with many creative fields, there is no set way of becoming a production designer. Degrees in graphic design, theatre, architecture, or art, however, will give you a solid background in some of the key skills you’ll need to get into the industry—and can provide you with valuable industry connections. Courses in woodwork and set construction at your local college can be valuable to gain experience in building and design.
The art director is in charge of the overall visual appearance of the film or TV show.
Art director is a title that appears in many industries, including film, theatre, advertising/marketing, fashion, and more. The art director makes decisions about visual elements. In film, they work directly below the production designer, in collaboration with the set decorator and the set designers. A large part of their duties include the administrative aspects of the art department. They are responsible for assigning tasks to their team, keeping track of the art department budget and scheduling (i.e. prep/wrap schedule).
Art directors typically need a bachelor’s degree in an area relating to visual art or design, preferably as they relate to film. Courses in theatre, architecture, digital design, fine art, film history, and interior design are all relevant to study. On-set experience is also key, as well as organizational and administrative skills. If going the film school route, courses in production design are especially useful.
Art Department Coordinator
The art department coordinator assists the art director in matters of administration and production.
The art department coordinator acts as the administrator of the art department crew; he or she is under the supervision of the art director. Their work begins during pre-production and includes managing all department communications concerning scheduling, such as informing staff of meetings and deadlines, doing research, and keeping track of all art department materials, equipment and other assets. The coordinator is also tasked with tracking the art department budget, scheduling crew and documenting time sheets, both before and during production.
Educational requirements: A college degree in film and TV production or theatrical design is recommended, and courses in entertainment business are an asset. Good organizational skills and excellent computer skills can help with this role, as it is largely administrative. However, coordinators can also work their way up by starting out as trainees or production assistants in the art department and learning on the job.
A set decorator prepares the set with props and furniture to give it the right appearance and make sure each item is in the correct position for each performance.
Set Decorators are the head of their department, which also includes Set Dressers. They arrange objects on a film set before cameras start rolling. They place furniture, hang pictures, and position decorative items. They are also responsible for some light construction and assembly of small items, such as air-conditioning ducts and light switch plates. They may move items as necessary to make room for the filming equipment. During the shoot, the prop department works with an on-set dresser to ensure that the props and furnishing are in the proper location for the script and to maintain continuity, as scenes are often shot out of order.
Another role without a strict educational path. To learn the skills necessary to bring a set to life, however, certification in theatrical or interior design, film production, and art history are very useful. Experience on a film or TV production as a set dresser (people who move furniture and other items on and off set as needed) or in the props department is important to be able to work your way up to lead set decorator.
A set carpenter is the person who builds sets and stage elements.
Films are sometimes shot on location, but otherwise on-set elements need to be purpose built, like in a theatrical stage production.
At minimum, a set carpenter is required for building sets. However, a larger production or TV show might have an entire construction team, including a Supervisor, Carpenters, Set Painters, Scenic Painters and entry level assistants.
Set carpenters work with the production designer, art director and the rest of the team in charge of creating the visual world of the film. Carpenters work mainly with wood and metals, and use techniques that include woodworking and welding.
A general carpentry programme at a college is an excellent way to build the technical skills needed to work in set construction and carpentry. Because carpentry is a trade, there is rigorous training needed to become certified. You can also gain early experience by getting your hands on do-it-yourself building, repair, and carpentry tasks for your friends and family. This self-taught level of experience may be enough to get you on the construction team of a production.
The property master (aka prop(s) master), is a member of the art department who is responsible for purchasing, acquiring, manufacturing, properly placing, and overseeing any props needed for a production.
The property master also works with other members of the production, managing the physical appearance of the set. For example they might work with the script supervisor to maintain set continuity (keeping track of whether a glass is full or empty, where a particular item is placed at the start or end of a take, how objects move, and so on).
This is a senior level role, so college-level technical education in art and design, along with several years of experience in the art department, are required. Apprenticeships or on the job training are also possible. This position requires the ability to work well with your hands and construct materials to form props when needed, as well as organizational skills and an interest in the historical accuracy of items and scenes on a film set.
Key Hair Stylist
A key hair stylist is in charge of designing character hairstyles and styling actors’ hair or wigs on set.
As head of the hair department, the key hair stylist works with the director, production designer, and key makeup artist to create original designs that fit into the overall look of the film.
They start working full-time on designs long before the film starts shooting, and before other hairstylists are hired to join the crew on set.
Many colleges provide diploma programmes in hairstyling, where health and safety issues, professional ethics, communication skills, and entrepreneurial practices are taught alongside the skills of haircutting, styling and colouring. Hairstyling is a skilled trade, so an apprenticeship is often required. There are always new styles and trends to follow, so keeping up-to-date is important. Volunteering for small theatre or film productions in high school is a great way to start applying your skills in hairdressing within the setting of the performing arts.
Key Makeup Artist
A makeup artist is responsible for visually transforming people’s appearance via make-up, paint, and other accessories.
The makeup artist usually works with directors and performers in order to determine the desired appearance of each character. They often examine sketches, photographs, and other references from concept artists to get inspiration for the desired look. They read and analyze scripts in order to predetermine the necessary makeup and changes depending on different scenes and sceneries.
Some makeup artists also specialize in doing special effects makeup, which can include everything from putting a prosthetic nose on an actor’s face to change their appearance, to creating fake wounds or a ghoulish monster mask to put on the victims and villains in a horror film.
There are many college-level programmes in makeup artistry, with courses focussing on theatre, film and TV, and special effects makeup techniques. Because makeup is a popular area, it can be competitive – a solid foundation will give you an advantage when it comes to working on a film set. Volunteering for small theatre or film productions in high school is a great way to start applying your skills in makeup within the setting of the performing arts.
Special Effects Makeup
SFX makeup artists use make-up and prosthetics to give performers abrasions, wounds, animal features, or to turn actors into fantastical creatures.
Special Effects (SFX) Makeup is the process of using prosthetic sculpting, molding and casting techniques to create advanced cosmetic effects. They can make an actor look slightly older—or create an otherworldly monster. Their days are spent either working with actors (applying their makeup, sometimes for many hours each day) or building prosthetics – which could include anything from body parts for a medical show, to creatures for a monster movie.
Attending school for special effects makeup can help you jumpstart your career. Most SFX makeup programs cover everything from the basics of beauty makeup to creating 3D prosthetics using molds and sculpting. These programs can help you decide if there’s a specific area of special effects makeup that you want to specialize in. They also give you the chance to participate in internships so you can start developing your SFX makeup portfolio.
A script supervisor (also called continuity supervisor) oversees logic and consistency in the filmmaking process.
If you’ve ever seen a film and noticed that in one shot, an actor’s glass of juice is empty, and suddenly in the next shot it is full again – you’ve spotted a “continuity error”. It is the job of the script supervisor to ensure that those errors (and many other continuity issues) don’t happen! They also help organize the footage for the editor (who is not usually on set during filming).
Films are not always shot in chronological order, so a scene that takes place at the end of the movie might be shot before a scene that takes place at the beginning. This means that keeping track of the accurate chronology of the story, as well as every small detail about the way the sets, and the actors’ hair and clothes look, is a very important job.
The script supervisor is also the primary liaison between the director and the editor. On set, the script supervisor stays close to the director at all times and keeps track of the many different takes of a scene that are shot, so that the footage will be well organized and clearly labelled for the editor.
A costume designer is a person who designs costumes for a film or TV show.
The role of the costume designer is to create the characters’ outfits and balance the scenes using texture and colour. They may sew and construct the costumes from scratch, or source existing clothing that suits the look of the film. The costume designer may also collaborate with the hair and makeup departments.
Costume designers start by reading the script and having conversations with the writer, director and other members of the production team about the look and feel of the film, the time period, and so on. They’ll compile a collection of visual references for specific materials, patterns or clothing pieces that they wish to draw on in devising their own final designs. They might have to do historical research (as for a period film), or use their own imaginations (for a fantasy film or something set in the future, for example). Ultimately they are responsible for either making or sourcing all the costumes (clothing, footwear, accessories) for all the characters in the film.
Many start in this field with a background in fashion design, or by gaining experience in other areas of the film industry, such as assisting in the wardrobe department. In addition to getting hands-on experience in these entry level positions, aspiring designers must put together portfolios that showcase a diverse range of costumes they have designed.
Set costumers keep track of the costumes, making sure they get packed into the truck and unloaded safely without damaging or dirtying them.
They see that costumes and accessories are distributed to the correct actors and explain proper costume care, including not eating, drinking or smoking while wearing a particular costume, and so on. They establish guidelines for actors to check costumes after each use for dirt, tears and other problems, and where to place pieces when they need attention. It’s the set costumer’s responsibility to keep the production’s “costume continuity book” updated. This book chronicles every shoot in order of appearance, and what each actor was wearing in each scene. In addition to making sure actors wear the right costume at the right time, the book allows for tracking the use and location of each costume piece throughout the course of the production.
Experience as a seamstress or tailor is an asset in this role, as is experience as a production assistant in the costume department.
The wardrobe supervisor is in charge of the maintenance and organisation of the costumes during the production.
Wardrobe supervisors manage a team of costume assistants, designers and other team members (depending on the size of the film production). Consulting the continuity book, they work with the team to decide and discuss details such as which costumes will be needed for each scene and the number of costume changes per shooting day. A key responsibility of the wardrobe supervisor is to ensure that all costumes arrive on set and are ready for the actors. The wardrobe supervisor must also ensure costumes are well maintained, and keep an accurate record of all the clothing items and accessories, including any items that are rented and may have to be returned after shooting.
Wardrobe supervisors usually start out working as trainees or assistants in the costume department and work their way up. A background in fashion or costume production is helpful.
The transportation coordinator is responsible for managing the transportation department and overseeing the transportation needs of the film crew and staff.
This role is usually in charge of getting everyone and everything from place to place!
They are responsible for renting vehicles (including trucks or trailers used for makeup, costumes, lighting and other gear), personal trailers for the actors, and any cars that will actually be used on camera. They will also be in charge of hiring drivers.
They must be skilled in transporting cargo, and are responsible for handling the logistics of transporting cast and crew plus the associated equipment to the location of the film shoot. They must have motivation to work well under pressure and the ability to work long hours despite various weather conditions.
Basic skills for this job are good organisational skills, attention to detail, awareness of various rules and regulations, scheduling skills, managing a team, and negotiating skills.
No specific credentials other than a drivers’ license are required.
Craft Services and Catering
Craft services is the department in film, TV and video production which provides cast and crew with snacks and drinks throughout the work day.
Typically there is one main “craft table” where the snacks and coffee are set up – and that table remains stocked all day, every day. The craft area is also where you might go for other types of supplies, such as a first aid kit, bandages, aspirin, gum, antacids, toothpicks, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, and hand-warmers.
Catering refers to hot meals (breakfast, lunch or dinner), which are provided by a separate person or company, usually a restaurant or catering company that serves multiple clients per week.
Educational requirements: There is no specific degree required for a craft services career, but an interest in food is an asset, as is a strong understanding of food safety. Catering companies are usually run by entrepreneurs with a background in Culinary school or in the food and hospitality industries.
A production accountant is a regular accountant who happens to do that job on a film set! They look after all of the finances for a production.
The Production Accountant manages money, pays the crew and actors, reports to unions, and provides projections for the line producer, letting them know how much money has been spent versus what has been budgeted. They specialize in the unique nature of film budgets and expenses. If you want to train in something practical such as accounting and bookkeeping but also dream of working in the creative sector, using those skills within the film industry is a great way to do it!
There can be many positions within a production accounting department, such as First Assistant Accountant, Second Assistant, Payroll, and an entry level position of file clerk.
Education is required in bookkeeping and accounting, with familiarity of film production a plus. Many people get into accounting in the film industry by first achieving the designation of Chartered Professional Accountant, the highest level of achievement in the field.
The production assistant (PA) is an entry-level job for a film or TV production.
The position may be based in an office or on the set. The PA does just about anything and everything, from getting coffee to making script copies to shuttling crew or equipment around town as necessary. How much a production assistant does depends on the budget of the production, as well as how much confidence their superiors have in their abilities. They get tasked with doing many of the small jobs, and this allows them to learn about various aspects of the production. Starting out as a PA is a great way to get to know what life on set is like and figure out what career path you may want to choose within the film world.
A relatively new position created with the advent of digital filming technologies. The data wrangler gets digital files to the editor from their work station on set immediately after filming a scene. They sometimes work with other members of the post-production team (such as the editor and colourist) to get the look and the scene they want. The advantage of digital technology allows for the team to establish a desired look during filming, rather than having to wait for all the shots to be handed to post-production.
The DIT receives and checks footage from the assistant cameraperson and the sound recordist, backing it up from data cards onto large hard drives throughout the day. They keep all footage and data organized for delivery to the post-production team.
While there are no specific programmes for this position, training in computers/IT, video editing, data management, film production are all useful and necessary for this position.
Post-production is the last phase of the filmmaking process, and deals with crafting and manipulating the audio and visual material recorded during the production phase (ie. the shoot, photography, etc.) into a finished creative work intended for viewing by an audience. It requires just as much consideration of storytelling and creative vision as the pre-production tasks of writing and visualization of the script, and the actors’ and director’s interpretations of it. It is also technical and detail-oriented work.
Many members of the post-production team of a film or TV project can expect broadly similar work environments. For example, in post-production, many roles entail freelance employment, work on multiple projects at once, remote work thanks to digitization, and work days that are spent mostly alone and indoors, while in collaboration with the filmmakers and the creative team, etc…
Post Production Supervisors are responsible for overseeing the post production process, during which they maintain clarity of information and good channels of communication between the producer, director, editor, supervising sound editor, the facilities companies (such as film labs and CGI studios) and the production accountant. Although this is not a creative role, it is pivotal in ensuring that the film’s post production budget is manageable and achievable, and that all deadlines are met.
The Post Production Supervisor’s role requires ingenuity, quick thinking, and the ability to make tough decisions under pressure, as well as a comprehensive understanding of the entire post production process.
The role of the Post Production Supervisor varies according to the type of film and the budget. On big budget films using complex CGI (Computer Generated Images), they start work during pre-production, liaising with the CGI Company and ensuring that the producer is aware of all the creative and budgetary considerations and how they may impact on the post production period.
On smaller budget films they also advise about any limits that may need to be applied to the shoot, as well as providing an overall picture of what can be realistically achieved in post production. Most Post Production Supervisors also work with the producer, director and editor to hire other post production personnel.
They usually continue to work on the production until all the elements needed for the completion of the film are delivered, including everything that the film’s distributor might need (for example, the technical specifications for theatrical play, or versions that allow different language tracks to be added for distribution to other countries).
A film editor is in charge of “cutting” and assembling the raw footage of the film into a cohesive final product.
An editor’s job includes watching all of the recorded footage, selecting which takes to use, and then using digital editing software to assemble that footage into a completed feature film or TV episode.
Oftentimes, this process involves watching and logging the footage, organizing the footage by scenes and takes, and then shaping the story alongside the director.
The job description of a film editor includes more than just placing shots in the correct order. They must analyze every shot (which sometimes means hundreds of hours of footage), meticulously selecting the takes that will achieve the desired emotional and thematic impact of a film.
There are a number of skills that editors must possess to be effective at their job. They include “big picture” thinking, problem solving and being detail-oriented. Additionally, editors need to be tech savvy and highly skilled in using complex editing software.
A program in Media or Film studies, concentrating on post-production, is useful. Experience using editing software is key, as is working on small projects to build your portfolio.
A sound editor is a creative professional responsible for selecting and assembling sound recordings in preparation for the final sound mixing of a film or TV program.
There are three main elements of sound that are combined to create a final mix:
Dialogue editing is thought of as “production sound editing”, where the editor takes the original sound recorded on the set, and using a variety of techniques, makes the dialogue more understandable, as well as smoother, so the listener doesn’t hear the transitions from shot to shot (often the background sounds underneath the words change dramatically from take to take).
Among the challenges that effects editors face are creatively adding together various elements to create believable sounds representing everything you see on screen. The sound editor must put all the elements of sound together in a way that not only sounds seamless and natural, but also heightens the dramatic tension or emotional impact that the director wants in each scene.
A program in Media or Film studies, concentrating on post-production audio, is useful. Experience using editing software is key, as is working on small projects to build your portfolio.
A music supervisor is a person who combines music and visual media.
They are generally someone with a broad knowledge of music and music licensing and negotiation. Part of their job is to secure the rights to use various existing songs (which were not written specifically for the movie). They liaise between the rights holders of the recorded music and the director, and gather the appropriate information to list credits and, in certain cases, manage royalty collection. This job requires skill in working with tight deadlines, and in business negotiation.
You can be a music supervisor with experience in other music-related fields, by doing internships in the music industry, or by taking music business classes. As with other roles in the film industry, building your portfolio by working on smaller-budget projects is key.
A film composer scores music to accompany a film.
In film, they are often the people who write original musical pieces for the film. A film score is original music written specifically to accompany the film. The score forms part of the film’s soundtrack, which also usually includes pre-existing music, dialogue and sound effects, and might include a number of musical pieces called “cues”, which are timed to begin and end at specific points during the film in order to enhance the dramatic narrative and the emotional impact of the scene in question. Scores are written by one or more composers and then performed by musicians, and recorded by a sound engineer.
The composer of an original film score must also understand filmmaking and storytelling, as the music should follow the plot, character motivations, and moods of the film. First and foremost, a film composer is a musician. Writing music, and using editing, mixing, and compositional software like Pro Tools are the main technical skills required.
Many colleges and universities offer degrees such as diplomas, BAs or BSs in music composition or production. They typically require an audition or demonstration of proficiency at an instrument, so skill at playing an instrument like the piano or guitar is required. Graduate level education could follow.
Foley artists come up with creative ways to reproduce sounds to match the visual scene in a film.
Foley is the reproduction of everyday sounds, which are then added to films during post-production. It can be challenging to record every small sound that happens in a scene while you’re actually on set (keys rattling in a door, footsteps, a spoon clinking inside a cup, someone typing on their keyboard, etc). Sometimes, these sounds have to be recreated or included after the fact. For example, when actors do a fight scene, they aren’t really hitting each other, so there are no punching sounds to record! The job of a foley artist is to find something that can sound convincingly like a real fight to the audience (while avoiding real violence, of course!)
Foley Artists typically have a college education with a diploma in sound and/or recording arts plus knowledge and experience in post-production. A good place to start is as an intern or runner in a post-production audio facility. This gives you a thorough grounding in the technical aspects of recording sound, including knowledge of electronics and training in acoustics.
Sound designers combine all the elements (music, background noises, dialogue, effects, other atmospheric sounds) into one unified soundscape that forms the sonic backdrop for a film.
Sound design commonly involves performing and editing of previously composed or recorded audio, such as sound effects and dialogue, but it can also involve creating sounds from scratch through synthesizers or other instruments.
Most Sound Designers are experienced sound editors who may even supervise the work of the entire sound post production process, in addition to having a specialized creative role in putting together the entire sonic aspect of the production.
Good communication skills are needed, along with imagination and creative flair to produce original sound elements and effects.
Education options range from 1-year diploma programs to bachelor’s, post-graduate, and master’s degrees in sound design. Art schools, film schools and universities offer programs in the industry.
ADR recordists/mixers are recording engineers who specialize in re-recording dialogue in a studio setting, as well as recording the voiceover for animated films and TV shows, documentaries, and video games.
ADR stands for “automated dialogue replacement”, and it refers to the techniques that can be used to fix or smooth out issues in recorded sound. To get clear and perfect dialogue in each shot of a TV show or movie, filmmakers have a secret weapon: an ADR mixer. Sometimes, dialogue is re-recorded and used to replace the original sound in a scene, because there was some issue, such as background noise, or an actor messing up a line. The ADR person makes sure that all the spoken dialogue in a film is of the highest possible audio quality. They are given notes from the script supervisor or production sound mixer, taken during the film shoot, indicating where there are problems in the audio tracks, and from there, they get to work replacing those spots with new recordings, with the actors called in for studio recording sessions of the necessary dialogue.
A college degree in film and TV production with a concentration on audio post-production is beneficial to this career but may be substituted for a degree in recording arts with a particular focus in audio engineering. The ADR editor must be proficient in the use of analogue and digital audio recording consoles, as well as digital audio software.
A visual effects supervisor is responsible for achieving the creative aim of the director through the use of visual effects.
This role is responsible for overseeing all VFX work and managing technical and artistic VFX personnel. While it is a creative role, most visual FX supervisors possess a strong technical background and are capable of making informed decisions about the most efficient and effective technique to employ to solve the problem at hand. Often a supervisor will work in tandem with a visual effects producer and computer graphics supervisor.
A college degree in film and TV production, computer animation, or art and design are key. These are taught at many colleges, universities, and arts schools. Training in the use of visual effects and animation software is a must.
The colourist digitally processes the final image of a project. They work to improve the appearance of the film for presentation.
Colourists work on a variety of media ranging from commercials, TV and film. Sometimes, the lights in a scene are too dim, or the lighting in one scene doesn’t totally match another. The colourist can brighten, touch up, or modify tones in a scene using special software in post production. The result is a work that is aesthetically consistent and evocative.
Usually, the colourist begins by setting the overall look for each of the scenes by using a wide shot as the reference point. Once the director or DOP agrees on an image, the colourist moves on to match each of the other camera setups to that image. After a first pass has been made, everyone reviews the work in its entirety before going back to finesse the fine details. This cycle may repeat several times throughout the course of a project, depending on budget.
Programs in post-production for film or media are available. You can also develop your workflow and build your portfolio by working on small-budget or passion projects in your area. Learn how to use colour-grading software, while studying up on colour theory and cinematography, which will teach you about how light and colour are related. A background in art or photography is helpful.
A subtitler’s responsibilities may involve translating content from a foreign language, creating and formatting closed captions and subtitles, managing the timing and placement of subtitles, and comparing subtitles to official scripts
They transcribe all the dialogue, music and sound effects of a film into two-line written captions that appear on the screen, either in the language in which the film is made or in a foreign language. Subtitlers or captioners make it possible for films to be enjoyed by audiences all over the world and by the deaf and hard of hearing.
After carefully watching and listening to the whole film, they write captions with accurate time codes that describe music and sound effects as well as the dialogue and voice-overs. The captions have to be punctuated and spelt correctly and should be on the screen long enough to be read easily. Translators are in charge of translating the dialogue into another language. Subtitlers should have a good eye and ear and good command of the written language, as it is also their job to ensure all spelling is correct and that captions don’t obscure characters’ faces.
Subtitlers are usually employed by specialist post-production companies but sometimes work on a freelance basis.
Educational requirements: A program in film post-production, language skills, and courses on transcription and subtitling software are helpful.
Described Video (DV) is the narrated description of non-verbal elements on screen that may include characters’ surroundings, costumes, and body language, aimed at making visual media more accessible to people who are blind or otherwise visually impaired.
Descriptions of what’s on screen are heard during pauses in dialogue, and enable people to form a mental picture of what is happening in the program. Descriptive Video Transcriber is the person who makes this possible by writing script, hiring a voice actor, recording and editing the finished audio track
There is no direct educational path to transcribing descriptive video, but a background in writing and post production or audio engineering production is useful.
A dubbing mixer (or re-recording mixer) is a post-production audio engineer who mixes recorded dialogue, sound effects and music to create the final version of a soundtrack for a feature film or TV show.
The final mix must achieve a desired sonic balance between its various elements, and match the director’s or sound designer’s vision for the project.
During production or earlier parts of post-production, sound editors, sound designers, sound engineers, production sound mixers and/or music editors assemble the tracks that become raw materials for the re-recording mixer to work with. Those tracks in turn originate with sounds created by professional musicians, singers, actors, or foley artists.
The first part of the traditional re-recording process is called the “premix.” In the dialog premix the re-recording mixer does preliminary processing, including making initial loudness adjustments, cross-fading, and reducing environmental noise or spill that the on-set microphone picked up.During the “final mix” the re-recording/dubbing mixers, guided by the director or producer, must make creative decisions from moment to moment in each scene about how loud each major sound element (dialog, sound effects, laugh track and music) should be relative to each other.
A diploma in audio engineering is generally relevant for this job. To gear your engineering knowledge towards film, however, it is best to work as an assistant sound editor and then move up to working with or as a member of each post-sound department.