Most people make a bee line for the door to be first to sit in traffic in the parking lot after a movie but, you might have noticed that at the end of most every flick there is a long list of credits. In that never-ending scroll of crew titles is much to learn. Some of you might even find it more interesting than your 11th grade physics text book.
The first thing the credits can teach you is seemingly obvious but, aptly applied to any video shoot. That is, making a video is a team effort. It takes a great deal of talented and focused people to make those moving pictures we take for granted these days, no matter the screen it is viewed on. The credits also give you insight to the language of filmmaking too! Each crew position has a funny name given to it and so often people will ask, who is the Best Boy and am I too old to be one?!
Above the Line (and supporting members)
Producers – There are a great many producers and some get more words attached to their title, so it can be a little bit confusing who might be doing what but, every show has at least one. Sometimes that person has another role on the crew in addition to producer, often this is the director, sometimes a writer. Yet, not every producer role is the same. Executive Producers rarely are involved with any technical aspects of a picture. They mostly raise money and make sure that there will be a budget to make sure the show can pay for all the people, skills and equipment every show needs. When simply named a Producer, that person is involved in all aspects of gathering the budget, crew, distribution and plan for a successful project, often from a big picture point of view. In the movies you watched, the producer can often be dressed for success, riding high and with the fanciest people, places and things. Otherwise, the producer is ground down, struggling mightily to just keep all the pieces from falling apart. The reality is, Producers need to know filmmaking’s inner workings from start to finish and that is no easy chore. Co-Producers and Assistant Producers will work with other producers and help in all the details of the production. A Line Producer will be the budget person always with an eye to the finances and schedule, which are the real boss’s on any video!
Production Coordinator – These people assist with drawing up the battle plans for any production. Production Coordinators manage all the resources for any job. This ranges from organizing crew, equipment and location needs. This is as complex as knowing who has what skills, what skills are needed, what equipment will support the scenes expected to be shot on what days, which they help to schedule and making sure permits are had and the locations selected are secured and are aware of the needs of the project. Oh yeah, they have to make sure lunch shows up on time too! If that wasn’t enough, all of these details need to written down and shared with the appropriate parties and creative thinking is needed to make it all fit in the budget, which they helped to create and make sure the proposal they drafted for the client is met to a tee! Once underway, the Production Coordinator will liaise with the client to monitor progress and their satisfaction.
Screen Writer – From the fertile minds of Writers, pictures from the mind transform to words on the page, to the vibrant images on the screen. Whether writing to adapt another work into the shooting script, or beginning from scratch to make something entirely new, the writer makes the foundation that all the work will be based upon. No matter if toiling in the dark of their neurosis alone, or collaborating to make a group effort, writers take the script through many versions in the hopes of one day becoming the blockbuster we come to love.
Director – There can only be one! While it isn’t exactly Highlander, there is only one person filling this role for every shoot. This excludes the Coen brothers who asexually divided and are likely to do so again, which is good news for those of us who would like to see a sequel to Raising Arizona with the Dude somehow the godfather… The director is the person charged with making sure that the film has a cohesive vision. This is the same for a video. Every show has a purpose and that purpose can be met many different ways. What is the most effective and did the efforts of all cast and crew serve the style in achieving that goal? That is for the director to decide.
Director of Photography – This role used to be credited as Cinematographer but, everyone these days needs a bigger title to their name, like your kid brother somehow is vice president of the lemonade stand now, but didn’t get a pay raise… I digress. The Director of Photography or DP in biz lingo, is in charge of the camera department and is the go-to person for heads of all other departments. This person works closely with the director and could very well be the director depending on the size of the crew. They are in charge of making sure that visually all the goals of the director’s vision is met, with whatever tools are needed to achieve that end.
Be sure to check in again next week for Part 2: Camera, Lighting, & Sound Department