Behind The ScenesAs in other industries, office staff and people behind the scenes in media production work to achieve a common goal – to get the final product completed in the most effective and in media production, whether for T.V. or movie sets, is no different.

In the Office

Office staff are people you can find in either the production office or head office. Several positions make things run smoothly and remain on time. These positions include:

  • Producer – Responsible for the entire production and balancing financial decisions while maximizing the creative vision of the film. There are often many types of producers:

a.      Line Producer
b.      Supervising Producer
c.       Executive Producer
d.      Co-Producer
e.      Associate Producer
f.        Consulting Producer
g.      Creative Producer

  • Production Managers and Production Coordinators – Production Managers (PMs) and Production Coordinators (PCs) work together on approvals and instructions; they also inform each other about production events. The PM ensures the film will be completed on time and within budget, while supervising the PC’s actions. At times, the PC may act as the Director’s Personal Assistant.
  • Assistant Production Coordinator – The Production Coordinator’s “right hand man,” the Assistant Production Coordinator helps the PC keep things within the desired time frame and help departments stay informed throughout production.
  • Office Production Assistant – The Office PA helps the Production Coordinator manage the production office.
  • Director – The director is the creative visionary of the entire production. S/he is involved in decisions about the location of the film, how the set is designed, the composition of the cast, and what changes should be made to the script early in pre-production. Although the director may know what cast and script changes he wants, the Producer still needs to approve them. In some cases, however, the Director also acts as the Producer (for instance, in feature films).
  • Script Department – Also known as the Writing Department, this department has many people involved, including an Executive Story Editor, Creative Producer, and Story Consultants as well as a full team of writers. The Production Manager and Production Coordinator also work closely with this department to ensure the script stays within budget.  In some cases, the Production Manager and Production Coordinator also assist the writing department with script revisions and help to correct grammar.
  • Production Accountant – The Production Assistant is responsible for handling and maintaining production budgets. The Production Accountant and Production Manager work together to ensure everything remains within the budget requirements.
  • Co-Production Office Staff – This staff includes Legal Counsels, Executive Producers, Co-Producers, and Controllers. The Co-Production Office Staff communicates with the Producer and/or the Production Manager regarding production.

On the Set

The people working on the set of a production are categorized into different departments. These departments include the Cast, Assistant Director and Extras Casting Director, as well as other set staff departments such as Continuity Supervisor, Transportation Department, Craft and Caterer services, and the Location Department.

Casting Directors

The Producer typically hires one or two Casting Directors, one for “guest stars” and another for the main cast. The casting director sets up audition sessions, sometimes with the help of the Production Coordinator, and distributes audition sides.

Assistant Director

Assistant Directors are often hired to help the Director with on-set tasks, such as gathering Performers and/or props, making and maintaining the set schedule and helping the Production Coordinator decide which forms to use for specific situations.

Locations Department

The Locations Department works with the Director in determining where to shoot the film. Often, this department will research and survey a variety of locations. Once a location has been selected, they will negotiate with the owners and obtain permits for permissions. They also make sure the location is protected and clean for shooting the film, arrange meals, and ensure that unit trucks and the crew have access to parking.

Continuity Supervisor

The Continuity Supervisor works closely with the Editor to ensure every shot can be cut and edited smoothly and effectively without major issues that will significantly affect the final production. The Continuity Supervisor needs to be incredibly organized and detail-oriented.

Transportation Department

The Transportation Department is responsible for driving and parking vehicles, including picture vehicles. They are in constant communication with the Production Manager and Production Coordinator to ensure everything remains within budget.

Craft and Caterer Services

Craft and Caterer services deliver snacks and hot lunches to the set for the crew. Sometimes these departments are separate; however, caterers may often deliver both snacks and meals.

Technical Department

Near the end of the pre-production stage, a technical crew will be hired. The Technical Department is responsible for all of the technical equipment and procedures performed during production. Within the Technical Department, there are individual departments and staff.

  1. a.      Sound Department – The Sound Department includes Sound Mixers, Boom Operators, and Cable-persons.
  2. b.      Camera Department – The Camera Department consists of the Director of Photography, Camera Operator, First Assistant Camera-person, Second Assistant Camera-person, Camera Trainee, Focus Puller, and Digital Image Technicians.
  3. c.       Electric Department – The Electric Department includes the Gaffer (head electrician), Best Boy (second in command), and a full team of Electricians. This team is in charge of lighting.
  4. d.      Grip Department – The Grip Department consists of the Key Grip (department head) and Dolly Grip (who pushes the camera dolly). This department can also include a Best Boy Grip, who is second in command.

Postproduction

Since the Editor is normally cutting film together while the film is still being shot, the postproduction phase typically starts very early. The postproduction crew consists of four different departments: Postproduction Facility, Editing Department, Music Department, and Post Sound Facility.

Publicity

Publicity is key to making a film successful, which is why having a good publicity team is crucial. The publicity team consists of three departments: the Publicity Department, Still Photographer, and Digital Media Team. These teams help publicize film productions through several outlets including photo shoots, Electronic Press Kits, promotional materials, as well as digital media sources such as websites, blogs, and network marketing sites.