7 reasons your low-budget film needs a 2nd AD

I get it. You have small budget.  You might be making a feature for under 100K and the idea of having a 2nd AD just sounds too big budget. Here is where you are wrong.   The role of a 2nd AD is to focus on tomorrow and run base camp. The 1st AD has no time in the world to focus on tomorrow much less go to the bathroom.  Here are ten reasons why every film needs a 2nd AD….even micro budget productions.

1. Making the Call Sheet. If you don’t have a 2nd AD, who is going to work on this document that sometimes takes several hours?  Are you really going to ask the 1st AD to go home after a 12-14 hour day and work on a call sheet?  This sounds a bit insane.

2. Confirming with Actors. If you don’t have actors for the scene then you have no scene. One of the responsibilities of a 2nd AD is to confirm the day before with Actors and sometimes Extras. This process of confirmation has to be done.

3. Running first team. Running first team means wrangling the top talent to and from set.  If you have no 2nd 2nd you most certainly have no 2nd AD.  Now worse case scenario if you don’t have a 2nd AD is you have a PA taking the talent to and from set. Is it really worth it to have a PA that may not have any set experience working with your top talent?

4. Setting Background. If you have a scene involving lots of extras chances are your 2nd AD or 2nd 2nd AD will be there to set the background and choreograph their movements. This is definitely not a task you could delegate to a PA, however the 1st AD will do this from time to time with no assistance from a 2nd.

5. Solving Scheduling Problems. Yes this is the 1st ADs responsibility, however when a 1st AD is on set they can’t leave to work on the schedule. This is where it comes in really handy to have the 2nd AD come up with some solutions to a schedule that just isn’t working.

6. Delegating to PAs. The 1st AD will often delegate to PAs in reference to lock-ups etc, however there may be times where the 2nd AD can do this delegation so that the 1st can focus on the set. Sometimes 2nd ADs will manage lock-ups and verify with the 1st.

7. Working with the Office.  The 2nd AD is responsible for sides, call sheets and production reports. Most of the time the sides are delegated to a PA, however the 2nd AD is typically the one to do this delegation. Production Reports again are managed by a 2nd AD, however they are sometimes done by a 2nd 2nd or UPM.

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