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The director may be the name credited with pulling off a movie, but he is only one of the many people in the crew that’s involved in bringing the vision expressed in the screenplay to fruition. He has many people ready to help him out, and they include the 1st Assistant Director.
There is a pool of professional ADs in the filmmaking industry worldwide. However, In some cases, actors within the films themselves sometimes serve as assistant directors in some capacity or another. One good example of this is James Phelps, who played Fred Weasley in the successfully Harry Potter film series, taking on AD duties in The Half Blood Prince as revealed in an interview with Collider in promotion of the first part of The Deathly Hallows.
So What Does the 1st Assistant Director Do?
The Assistant Director’s roles are varied, but they are mostly administrative and managerial in nature. Their skills are utilized both in pre-production, when the film is being prepared for shooting, and in the principal photography itself.
Here are some of the roles that you could expect a 1st assistant director to play during the pre-production and production phases of your project. Bear these in mind, as you could find yourself employed as an assistant director as well at sometime in your career.
Organize the schedule
While you, as a the director, are busy putting on the finishing touches to the screenplay, or with communicating with the executive producers, the 1st assistant director is busy laying out the schedule for you in preparation for shooting the film.
In addition to organizing the schedule, the assistant director is also responsible for making sure that everything goes according to the plotted time-frame as much as possible so that the director can focus on guiding the actors in doing their parts in the project.
Take a look at the locations
1st Assistant directors are important when scouting locations. Their experience will help directors determine whether using the location is possible logistically and how the logistics should be organized when shooting finally takes place.
Coordinate the departments
Because he or she is responsible for making sure everyone’s working according to schedule, the AD is also tasked with communicating with the various departments involved to see if everyone’s on track, or, if there’s a problem, to work out a solution and present it to the director.
Manage the shoot
As opposed to what people think, in a full-sized production, it is not the director that calls out the ubiquitous commands heard in behind-the-scenes footage. It is actually the first AD that calls out the cuts and the rolls, as well as reminders for everyone in the set to keep silent when the camera and audio equipment begin rolling.
In other words, while the director is focused on directing the creative elements of the film, i.e acting and photography, it is the assistant director that is responsible for making sure that everyone involved in the production is able to help the director in achieving exactly what he or she has envisioned for his or her projects.
Photo credit : Jason Hargrove