Craft Departments

“The Production Department is the core of a movie set… If the Director is ‘Captain’ then the Studio is the ‘Commander-in­ Chief’ and the Producers are the ‘Generals’.”

Reference: ON THE SET: The Hidden Rules of Movie Making Etiquette
by Paul J. Salamo (Third Edition)

Craft Departments are listed below on tabs. Click a tab for a brief description and the positions associated with that department.

This department includes off-camera “above-the-line” positions, the assistant directors and the script supervisor – all of whom manage physical production.

Positions: Director, Screenwriter, Executive Producer, Producer, Line Producer, Unit Production Manager (UPM), 1st Assistant Director (1st A.D.), 2nd Assistant Director (2nd A.D.), 2nd 2nd Assistant Director (2nd 2nd A.D.), (Set) Production Assistant (P.A.); Script Supervisor

Talent means the on-camera performing artists.

Positions: Actor, Stand-In, Body Double, Stunt Double, Background; Related: Casting Director, Extra Wrangler

“Headed by the Director of Photography (a.k.a. the Cinematographer), the highly trained and skilled camera team must follow the D.P.’s orders as well as maintain a meticulous record of all camera activity. Over 200 film and television Directors of Photography belong to the American Society of Cinematographers. This fraternity denotes its members by the initials ASC after the D.P.’s name in the credits.”

Positions: Director of Photography (D.P.): a.k.a. The Cinematographer, Camera Operator, 1st Assistant Camera (1st A.C.), 2nd Assistant Camera (2nd A.C.), Loader, DIT (Digital Imaging Technician), Still Photographer.

“First you must understand that the sound and the image are two separate entities. Yes, they are recorded at the same time, but it is not until post-production that they are married together.”

Positions: Sound Mixer, Boom Operator, Cable/Utility, Video Assist Operator, Wranglers/PAs.

“Every scene has its own unique lighting arrangement, so after every set up, lights have to be adjusted, added or removed. Most of the workday is used up due to the time it takes to relight between set ups. Copious notes are maintained by various departments in order to keep the lighting consistent within the multiple shots needed for each scene.”

Positions: Gaffer: a.k.a. Chief Lighting Technician, Best Boy Electric: a.k.a. Assistant Chief Lighting Technician, Set Lighting Technician / Lamp Operator, Dimmer Operator

“Working closely with the Director of Photography and the Gaffer, they help to determine the most efficient method of setting up the shot. They provide various methods for diffusing, shielding and otherwise controlling the lights.”

Positions: Key Grip, Best Boy Grip (a.k.a. Assistant Key Grip), Dolly Grip, Grip

“Hairstylists and Make-Up Artists arrive early to the set with the Actors. Depending on how elaborate the transformation is, affects how much lead time they need. Every minute change must be noted to maintain proper continuity.”

Positions: Key Make-Up Artist, Make-Up Assistant, Body Make-Up Artist, Make-Up Artist; Key Hair Stylist, Hair Stylist; Lens Technician

“The decisions are based on who each character is both physically and psychologically in the context of the story. If the movie takes place in a contemporary setting, they will first scour stores and boutiques for existing clothing. If that fails, clothing must be manufactured. Still, most lead characters have clothing designed and made specifically for them and tailored to fit precisely.”

Positions: Costume Designer, Assistant Costume Designer, Costume Supervisor, Set Costumer, Costumer, Tailor/Seamstress

“Once this look has been established, the Art Department’s team of highly trained Artists turns the drawings into workable sets and set pieces. Carpenters are hired to erect the sets on the stages according to a predetermined format designed to ease filming.”

Positions: Production Designer, Art Director; Set Decorator, Leadperson, Set Dresser, On-Set Dresser, Swing; Construction Coordinator, Construction Foreman, (and Gang bosses), Toolperson, Carpenters (Propmakers), Utility; Scenic Artist, On-Set Painter, Set Painter; Greensperson

“A prop is any object that the Actor comes in contact with that is not a costume or part of the set. The crew might also include a Food Stylist who deals only with food items on the set. Another task that falls under this department is (prop) handguns. These members of the department are highly trained.”

Positions: Property Master, Assistant, Set Props or Props Person, Food Stylist, Armorer

“Special Effects are broken down into different groups. Mechanical/Physical Effects, Pyrotechnics and Stunts are typically part of the crew. It is very common to have to rig items or sets even for dramas and comedies and even these films require stunts and fire gags as well.”

Positions: SPFX Coordinator, Visual FX Supervisor, Mechanical / Physical Effects; Make-Up Effects, Creature Effects, Visual Effects, Technicians, Pyro-technician (Licensed); Stunt Coordinator, Stunt Person

Location takes care of all the practical locations, crew maps, permits, and enforces conditions.

Positions: Locations Manager (Key), Assistant Locations Manager, Location Assistant or Location Coordinator, Locations PAs; Location Scout

“Led by the Production Office Coordinator, the office staff schedules flights and hires cars to pick­ up and drop-off Actors. They also deal with the massive amounts of paperwork required to keep a production going such as call sheets, production schedules and script changes…”

Positions: Production Office Coordinator (POC), Assistant Production Office Coordinator (APOC), Production Secretary and/or Key Office PA, Travel Coordinator, Office PA.

“Without Production Accounting, no one would get paid which is usually the crew’s top priority. This department handles crew payroll, issuing checks, petty cash and, if on location, per diem.”

Positions: Production Accountant, Payroll Accountant, 1st Accountant, 2nd Accountant, Clerk, Post-Accountant

Whereas caters provide sit-down meals, the craft services provides snacks and drinks between meals, and may provide hot meals or take-out if the schedule changes.

Positions: Caterer (On-Set Vendor in NM), Medic (On Set, often also Off Set), Craft Service – Key, Second, Assistants

“The Transportation Department handles anything dealing with trucks, trailers, or cars. They coordinate crew parking, set up base camp, and can provide picture cars… ”
“Specially licensed and trained individuals provide and directly work with the animals during the shoot (Wranglers). All animal activity on a set is monitored by the Humane Society…”

Positions: Transportation Coordinator, Captain, Dispatcher, Drivers, Picture Car Coordinator; Animal Wrangler and Animal Trainer, and a Human Society Representative

Below is a basic, no nonsense introduction to craft departments and the structure of physical production.

Below is a 16 minute plus informational video on the film and television craft departments, the positions within each craft department, and the typical union affiliations in New Mexico.

Although cannot determine the accuracy of these websites or does not have any control of changes made to these links, here are some additional sources for your consideration and research about crew positions:

NMFO Glossary of Crew Positions
(New Mexico State Film Office)

IMDB Movie Terminology
(Internet Movie Database)

Creative Skill Sets – Film Job Roles