Why you need a “fixer” when filming on location

Whether shooting in a small city/town hours away from an airport or filming in a remote village overseas, having a “film fixer” can be an essential element in ensuring a film’s success.

The word “fixer” has come to mean a person that can serve as a middle-man between a film production company and the city/town/area that the company is aiming to film in. In some instances this person(s) may have film knowledge and act as a “local producer” and in other situations this person(s) may be very well connected but new to filmmaking.

I’ve used fixers multiple times to find locations, secure extras and assist with the overall production of a movie. Below I have outlined some of the things that a “fixer” can assist with should you choose to use one.

10 things that fixer’s can assist with:

  1. Finding and securing key locations and in some instances handle aspects of the permitting process
  2. Acting as a conduit to the local town officials (police/fire/city/film commission) and setting up introductory meetings
  3. Having a pulse on the local news media (papers/facebook groups/tv & radio) in order to know which entities might be able to activate press
  4. Handling passports, visas and essential paperwork to allow a company to have access to said country
  5. Working as a translator (if a foreign land) and transcribing important documents
  6. Serving as a peacemaker when filming in areas that could be considered dangerous to outsiders
  7. Being a cultural leader and someone who can get others in the community excited about being a Background Actor
  8. Providing recommendations for safe and reliable places for the cast and crew to stay
  9. Connecting the production company with possible experienced crew or cast that might live in the area
  10. Filling in the gaps of the production crew and potentially working in an official capacity as a Producer, Coordinator, APOC, Supervisor, Location Manager etc..

How to run an effective production meeting

A production meeting often called a page-turn is one of the most important meetings any film or tv show can have prior to shooting. These meetings can vary depending on the size and scope of the project, however in general they look very similar. Below are some ideas for running a mtg for a typical low budget project.

  1. Schedule the Meeting. Inform the people attending the meeting a few weeks out and be sure to collect RSVPs. This assures that you will have the right people attending and can answer as many questions as possible. Make sure your crew are aware of how long the meeting will last ie…6 hours etc.. If shooting on location you may want to wait till you have a majority of the Depts on the ground to have the meeting…so generally one or two weeks before filming. If filming a larger movie or tv-show there may be multiple meetings early on. In general its ideal if you can have this meeting the day after a tech-scout because the Dept Heads have seen the locations and this will inform the meeting greatly.
  2. Decide who will and who will not attend. Generally this meeting is reserved for department heads and certain above the line folk, however certain productions may call for various personal. Depending on the size of your meeting space you may also be limited in space on who you can actually fit in the meeting. Suggestions for who to include are the following (Producer(s), Director, Line Producer, UPM, Production Supervisor, AUPM, Script Supervisor, DOP, Gaffer, Key Grip, Production Designer, Art Director, Prop Master, Set Decorator, Costume Designer, Costume Supervisor, Construction Coordinator, Location Manager, Assistant Location Manager, 1st AD, 2nd AD, Stunt Coordinator, SPFX Coordinator, VFX Producer, Transportation Coordinator, Sound Mixer, Key Makeup Artist, Key Hair Stylist, Editor and Post Producer)
  3. Have updated scripts. Send out an email a few days before the meeting and get a count of who will need a physical script. Encourage laptop/iPad use to save the forest and to avoid over-printing scripts. Scripts should be hole-punched and fastened with brads. Coordinate with the writer and director to make sure the latest edits are in this draft.
  4. Offer drinks and food. Its a good idea to offer a breakfast / lunch and have crafty type foods and drinks throughout the meeting. This will make your staff feel taken care of and allow everyone to be focused on the meeting and not their hunger pains.
  5. Setup the meeting room in advance. You may have a dozen people with laptops and electronic devices so make sure there is enough power outlets and strips for people to work effectively. Print out the wifi/password and have listed in the room. In addition to having a supply of scripts you may want to have additional materials such as one-liners, crew lists etc at the meeting.
  6. Do intros at the beginning of the meeting. For some shows this may be the first time that some of the crew members are meeting each other. Take a minute to allow everyone to introduce themself by saying their name and title. In some cases it may be great to place name-tags with titles for where each person should sit.`
  7. Consider using a TV Monitor for visual support. If you have a scene(s) that need details explaining it can be helpful to have visual aids such as story-boards etc.. This can be especially helpful if the movie is very vfx/stunt heavy and you want to talk about certain action sequences.
  8. Setup how the meeting will run at the beginning of the meeting. Typically the 1st AD will run the meeting, talk about how much time they have allotted and keep everyone on track. Normally the 1st AD will go scene by scene in script order and will read or paraphrase the descriptions of each scene. After the 1st AD talks about each scene it is a good time to ask questions or point out problems from various departments. If there is an issue that takes longer than a few minutes to solve in the meeting it is a good idea to say “sidebar” and discuss after with the pertinent people it pertains to.
  9. Take Notes. Consider having someone take notes on their computer throughout the meeting and keep track of side-bars. This person can then email the notes after the meeting to everyone who attended.
  10. Come up with Solutions. Its important to come up with solutions and action-steps at this meeting and not just address problems or concerns. Make sure that at the end of the meeting everyone has a clear idea of what problems remain and who is the person appointed to solve these problems.

What to include in your speech to Background Actors

Whenever you have a day in your production that involves Background Actors or “BG” one of the things the AD staff may handle is giving a speech to this group of people. Typically this speech is given by a 2nd 2nd AD or Background PA and is helpful so that things run smoothly and the BG know what to expect and where to go.

Below I have listed 10 things to include in your speech to Background Actors:

  1. Read or Summarize the scene(s) that the BG will be involved in. Background Actors are there to “ACT” and while they may not need the sides/script knowing the motivation of the main characters around them can be helpful on certain occasions. Let the BG know if and when they should react or respond to the main action.
  2. Explain continuity and starting positions. If you have a long complicated scene that involves a lot of coverage this will be especially important. Stress the importance of going back to your one when the ADs say back to one when a scene has cut. There may be occasions that BG need to start or stop their action by the cue of an AD or by listening/watching the action in front of them.
  3. Explain how to pantomime. Believe it or not most beginning BG will not get this right off the bat. Explain that whispering can be picked up by the sound mixer and it is not the same thing. Watermelon, Watermelon, Watermelon…. always does the trick for realistic pantomiming.
  4. Discuss any safety concerns. Remind the BG that they are on a film set and there is lots of heavy equipment spread throughout. If someone says points they should pay attention and watch their head. If there is a stunt sequence or road work this is a good opportunity to stress where they can and can not stand and how important that is to their safety.
  5. Discuss noise levels. If your BG are working close to set or the set is inside its good to remind them to keep their talking to a minimal and silent when rolling.
  6. Explain where things are. Show the BG where crafty, bathrooms, holding and set are. Be careful to use film terms such as the technical names of the trailers as that may confuse some. Stress the importance of remaining in holding and not wondering off.
  7. Talk about crafty. Once you have shown the BG where crafty is its a good idea to lay some ground rules….especially if they are sharing crafty with the cast/crew. They should not be filling their pockets to take stuff home and be respectful of the area.
  8. Give instructions regarding paperwork. Remind the BG that they may need to give their payroll sheet sometimes called a skin to another dept if they are borrowing wardrobe or props. This is a way to make sure these items are returned to the proper dept. Explain to the BG that they need to sign out with a designated AD or PA with that paperwork. This is especially helpful for new BG who may not understand the drill just yet.
  9. Discuss meals. Depending on when the BG arrived and how long they are planning to be shot will be part of the determining factors if and when your production plans to feed them. It is a good idea to let the BG know the approx time they will eat, that they will eat after the crew and where they can sit. While the breakfast or first meal may be available to the crew are you going to allow BG to participate?
  10. Talk about set etiquette. There may be occasions where the actors on set are famous. This will be a good time to talk about the importance of BG to not talk to the Actors or ask for a picture or autograph.

7 ideas to manage the pre-production process as a UPM / Line Producer

Managing the pre-production process can vary for each type of production, however many of the same issues and problems you will face as a Unit Production Manager or Line Producer will most likely remain the same. Below I have listed 7 ideas to manage the pre-production process as a UPM / Line Producer.

1. Figure out what’s urgent and important

Often I will start prepping a movie and come up with a list of 100 things on the to-do list. Its important to figure out from that list what things need to be accomplished today or this week and which things can wait a bit. I typically like to assign certain tasks to the various weeks of pre-production knowing that many of these tasks will be on-going and overlap.

Example if prepping a low budget movie for 4 weeks:

WEEK 1: setup production office, hire essential production staff, publish crew postings, setup accounting system, secure hotels or housing for out-of-town crew/cast, cast day players

hire crew, background actors casting, finalize budget/schedule, secure missing locations, vendor quotes

WEEK 3: 
secure vendors, finalize travel for cast/crew, finalize signatory paperwork, secure basecamp/parking for each location,

tech scout, production meeting, organize pick-ups, schedule cast fittings/rehearsals, finalize missing crew members

2. Keep the crew and cast Informed

As you get going there can be a lot of changes and updates that will be pertinent to the cast and crew. Its a good idea to routinely send out updated scripts/schedules on a weekly and sometime bi-weekly basis. I generally prefer to not send out updated scripts too often as it becomes cumbersome for everyone involved. One thing I like to do when I hire crew members is to send them a link to the google calendar that they can subscribe to that has important information (tech scout, production meeting, cast fittings, flights etc) along with a 411 info guide (if shooting out of town) with pertinent information. I also create a secret Facebook group that I use to share location photos, 360 photos and videos of the locations so that the DP, PD, Art Director, Set Decorator, Gaffer, Key Grip etc can all be in the loop prior to the official tech scout.

3. Figure out the needs from the department heads early on

To avoid surprises on Day 1 of principal it is a good idea to talk with all department heads and ask them about their needs in terms of crew, supplies and budget. I typically like to have these talks as early as possible so I can avoid last-minute problems.

Example when talking with your sound mixer…I might ask the following questions:

Do you anticipate needing a 2nd Boom Op or Utility on any days during the shoot?
What does your sound package include?  Do we need to rent any additional lavs, comtechs etc?
How many batteries do you generally go through? We have X amount slated for the budget…will this work?
When it comes to sound reports what is your typical work flow?
How do you feel about wiring all the actors? Is there ever a time that this is problematic?

4. Be creative with the budget and look for ways to save money

In an effort to bring the film in on time and under budget you want to be able to be in a good place financially before you begin principle photography. When getting quotes for vendors I generally like to get at least three different quotes for each big ticket rental ie… (camera, g&e package, vehicles, hotels etc). Having at least three different quotes will give me the ability to compare numbers before I go back to the vendor and ask for that big discount or deal. Many times vendors will cut their prices to a number you might never think they would simply because they want the gear to work.  I have occasionally found that renting equipment (especially smaller jobs) from individuals on SHAREGRID can be more cost effective than renting from a big rental house.  Its possible that many of your crew members will own gear…so consider renting their gear at a discounted rate that will be a win-win for both sides.

Here are a few things you can do to make sure you stay under budget
-Adjust prep days on all crew members…eliminating unnecessary prep
-Reduce dept size and consider day-playing crew members on more difficult days. ie…adding more electrics on night exteriors
-If hiring non-union crew consider which crew members rates you might have to reduce

5. Keep the ship moving with an on-going to-do list and daily prep meetings

During pre-production I like to have a brief prep meeting at the beginning of each day to talk about the tasks for each day. Having this meeting gives clarity on who is doing what and also gives accountability so no balls are dropped. I like to use a whiteboard so that the tasks are visible to everyone and also document these in an online program like todosit, asana or google docs.

6. Think with the end in mind

Don’t wait to create the credit list till the end of the shoot or you may hate yourself. Begin this document as soon as possible with a separate special thanks section. I also discuss with the producers what the delivery requirements will be in terms of stills, video and social media. Depending on the project you may be allowed to post social media before and during the shoot….although many shows will want this to be off the grid until a distributor is brought on board.

7. Find ways to build relationships and develop the team

It can be easy to get caught up with tasks, to-do lists and paperwork that you neglect the people who are making all this possible. Consider scheduling times where departments can hang out and have fun prior to the shoot. These will be key moments that the cast/crew will not forget and will be essential to maintaining a positive atmosphere throughout the film.

5 Day Weeks vs 6 Day Weeks

As a Line Producer, AD or UPM I am often tasked with the question of whether or not the film will be scheduled using a 5 Day week or a 6 Day week time frame.

In general I prefer a 5-Day week but sometimes a 6-Day week will have its advantages if the budget is really tight.

5 Day Week
Don’t have to worry about 6th day time and half pay
-Gives cast and crew adequate time to rest and recharge
-Allows Directors, ADs or Producers enough time to make critical adjustments to the following week
-Allows for enough turnaround time for actors when you are shooting splits or nights toward the end of the week

6 Day Week
Great option if you are doing a rather small shoot that lasts one or two weeks. So if you do two 6-day weeks you get 12 shoot days instead of shooting three five-day weeks. This cuts down on vendor rentals etc.
-If doing for an extended period time (more than 2 weeks) this can potentially lead to sickness within the cast/crew and fatigue

Third Option
In some cases you may want to have a hybrid of sorts. Its possible that you might decide to shoot five day weeks and then switch over to a six day week or vice versa.

10 tips to consider when scheduling your film or tv project

When it comes to Scheduling your Film or TV project it is essential to consider many factors when making decisions that will effect the entire shoot. Below I have listed 10 tips that I believe will help guide you in your endeavor.

10 tips to consider when scheduling your film/tv project:

  1. Shoot out LOCATIONS as much as possible.
  2. Condense LEAD ACTORS 1-6 as much as possible and attempt to shoot out.
  3. Shoot the HARDEST biggest scene first each day.
  4. Look for TURNAROUND issues that effect your primary cast and see how you can eliminate issues before filming begins.
  5. Shoot your EXT scenes first in case of weather.
  6. Shoot DAYLIGHT dependent scenes first and figure out what can be shot in a room without the sun for when you go into overtime.
  7. Shoot the MEAT of the movie first and leave the misc smaller scenes for later in the shooting schedule.
  8. Look for scenes that have MINORS or EXTRAS and find ways to group them together and shoot them out accordingly.
  9. Add DAY NUMBERS to your strips and aim to group scenes by day numbers to minimize wardrobe changes throughout the day.
  10. Aim to make the PAGE COUNT for each day according to the complexity of the scene(s) listed. Example: Shooting a 4 page newscast scene might only take an hour to film whereas a 4 page stunt sequence could take all day.

You have to go slow to go fast


I was walking with an actor (Stephen Baldwin) to set one bright morning and we began to have a conversation about one of the lines in the movie we were currently shooting.  The line was “You have to go slow to go fast.” Stephen began to explain that in the sport of Nascar, drivers have so many controls at their fingertips and yet they have to be extremely precise and methodical when making the best choice. Essentially the driver has to slow down the options in their head (while cars are whizzing past them) in order to push the right button that allows them to both maintain speed and go really really fast.

This metaphor really got me thinking about how I can use this value and process as an Assistant Director and weave it into the fabric of how I work. 

In the words of Ricky Bobby “I want to go fast!”

Going FAST on a film set is important, however slowing down at the right moments throughout the day can be paramount to maintaining speed and making your day.  

Below are 5 ways that ADs can slow down to go fast…


This seems counterintuitive to go fast sometimes, however 9 times out of 10 a good blocking rehearsal that last no longer than 10-15 minutes can really make things go so much quicker.   There have been times a Director will tell me it’s very simple and they don’t need a blocking rehearsal, however often in this scenario the blocking changes when the actors come in from HMU which forces the DP to spend more time re-lighting because the rehearsal was never properly done.   Whenever possible do a blocking rehearsal, especially for the first scene of the day. There are exceptions if basecamp is miles away…. than this may not be feasible, but the more you can slow down, everyone take a deep breath and watch the actors rehearse a few times the faster you will go.


When I work as a 1st AD I typically look at the call sheet for the day and find the halfway point. “Where do we want to be at by lunch?” I ask myself.  Once I find the halfway point I either speak to the Director and DP together or seperately but I let both of them know the goal of what we have to accomplish before lunch. This tone sets a since of urgency at the beginning of the day that is critical for them to start moving quickly knowing what they have to accomplish in the next six hours.


Make a point at lunch or during large setups to really analyze the next days prelim. Make it a goal to ask yourself a list of questions.  

  1. Do all the Actors call times work?  What about BG?
  2. Do I have any minors and when do I loose them?
  3. Do any departments need a pre-call?
  4. Is this the best possible scene order?
  5. Does the DP or PD have any thoughts regarding the scene order that make the day go quicker?
  6. Are there any critical dept notes that need to be double checked to see if there is a certain prop or special camera lense?
  7. Is the call time the best possible call time. Will this time effect any actor or crew turnarounds?  

I like to have departmental and crew meetings on occasion. I find that these meetings can really let people feel a sense of unity and feel connected to the shared goal.

Here are a list of possible meetings

Safety meetings
Standard safety meetings are held at the start of each day and before major stunts. These meetings are great to go over safety bulletins and remind crew members of any precautions needed for the location you are at.

PA meeting
At the beginning of each film I like to meet with all the PAs and ADs and go over standard basic operating procedures. We talk about walkie etiquette, expectations, who is running 1st team etc. The goal of this meeting is to leave everyone inspired and empowered to really think and be proactive at all times.

Lunch meetings
These are never fun, however sometimes lunch is the only time where you can get someone’s attention for five minutes. If there is a situation such as you are really far behind in the day, than having a lunch mtg with the Director and DP to discuss the rest of the day may be a good idea.

AD meeting
During pre-production I love to have a meeting with all the ADs to discuss workflow, preferences and expectations. This meeting allow us to all be on the same page and know who is going to handle what when the time arises.

Director / AD Meeting
During pre-production I sit down with the Director for an hour and we discuss how the set should be handled once on set. During this meeting we talk about any preferences the Director has and any preferences that I may have. I have found this meeting to be very critical especially when problems arise on set or we get behind in our schedule

Crew Meetings
There are certain times when it is critical to have a crew-wide meeting and get everyone on the same page. Oftentimes I have this meeting before a company move or at the start of a very complicated scene or stunt. Even though everyone has a call sheet, it can be helpful to remind people of the next location’s parking restriction or the danger zone for the car crash that is about to happen.  Different than safety meetings these stand-up meetings can be quick and informative. 


One of the most painful things to experience on set is waiting 5-10 minutes for an actor to arrive to set to block the next scene. You have the DP, Director and a few of the cast there….but everyone is waiting for that one actor to arrive.  I’m not talking about the 1st scene of the day, I’m speaking about every scene after the first scene. In an ideal world the 2nd AD has all the cast ready for a blocking rehearsal before the previous scene is finished. For this to happen successfully the 1st AD and 2nd AD must be in good communication. Having all the players ready for the next scene’s location will save 5-10 minutes, which over the course of the day can add up to an hour of time saved if done properly. This is one example of thinking about the next scene.

Other things to consider when thinking about the next scene….

-Is there clear signage to the next set?
-Is Art Dept ready?
-Can G&E do any pre-lighting?
-Have the actors that work in this scene changed over yet if they are not currently shooting?
-Are the BG dressed and ready to go?


10 Tips to Working with Background Actors on Low Budget Films

Finding, managing and directing Background Actors on a Low Budget Film can be time consuming, tedious and challenging. The below tips are simply a guide to use when dealing with Background Actors.

Tip #1  Run the numbers

During pre-production I will often sit with the Director and go through each scene with the estimated number and type of BG Actors needed. After this meeting I will figure out which BG I think I can re-purpose.

Example… If I need 5 pedestrians in the morning for Scene 31 and 10 pedestrians in the afternoon for Scene 45 I will probably reuse the 5 pedestrians from the morning and just change their outfit….this assures the production that I will only need 10 extras that day instead of 15.

Once I have a good handle on the number of extras needed I will then look at the schedule and see which days I will need extras for 8 hours or less and which days I will need for 10-12 hours.

Example…. I know that I will need 100 BG actors at 8 hrs per day and I will need 75 at 12 hrs per day. 

Now that I have the number needed from the Director and the estimated cost based on the hours I am working them I will take these numbers to the Producer to see if we are above or below my current numbers. If my numbers are way higher than the budget we will either need to increase the BG budget or decrease the numbers in certain scenes. The other option is to consider using friends, crew members or volunteers for one or more scenes.

Tip #2 Hire a BG Casting Company

If your movie has more than 30 extras you may want to consider hiring a Background Casting company. Typically these companies charge 10-20% of the total cost of your BG budget. Yes you can train a PA, Intern or have your 2nd AD handle this, however it will be a major time suck and the chances of this falling through the cracks is a lot higher.  Also if you hire BG through websites such as Craigslist.org or Lacasting.com you may have a small percentage of BG that just don’t show up for whatever reason.

Tip #3  Coordinate with your Costume Designer

Once I have a breakdown of all the BG I need, I ask the Costume Designer to write detailed descriptions so the BG will wear the right thing on the day and possibly bring options in case they need to change.

Tip #4  Have paperwork figured out prior

During Pre-Production I make BG packets that often consist of a W9, Release Form and an Invoice.

Tip #5  Figure out how you will pay everyone

In general it is ideal to pay BG actors at the end of the day, especially if they are only working one day. I mean think about it…would you really want to wait 3 weeks for a $80 check for that one day you worked as a BG Actor?

Tip #6 Disseminate information

I NEVER send Background Actors call sheets. Its just too much info for them and a lot of times will confuse them. If I am working as a 2nd AD without a Casting Company I will email the extras the day before with the Time, Location and Wardrobe Specifics. I will also make sure they confirm they got the email.

If I am working with a casting company I will email the casting company the day before shooting with the time, location and wardrobe specs.  The company will handle confirming the extras.

I also NEVER send the EXTRAS DOOD to the casting company. The reason be is that it changes so often and it can be confusing to them because what is not included on the EXTRAS DOOD is which BG I intend to reuse etc….

In general I try to give the BG Casting Company 3 working days heads up before the next batch of EXTRAS needed. Most of the time I will send them a weekly batch of needs Thursday afternoon for the next week if we are starting each week on Monday.

Tip #7 Hire a stellar 2nd 2nd AD

If you have a lot of BG actors it is imperative to have a solid 2nd 2nd AD.  The 2nd 2nd AD will make sure the BG are taken care of and assist the 1st and 2nd AD when it comes to placing and directing the BG.

Tip #8 Give a speech to the BG

Always feel it out if this batch of BG is experienced or first timers… This will impact how you run your meeting.

  1. Make sure to explain wear the following are (bathrooms, crafty, holding and changing areas)
  2. Remind everyone to silence their phones
  3. Remind BG actors to pantomime and not to whisper when rolling
  4. When starting a new scene explain the motivation they should have
  5. Tell them who to ask if they have a questions

Tip #9 Give the BG actors enough time to rehearse

It can be tricky to give actions to 30 Extras in less than 5 minutes before rolling. I typically like a good 15 minutes or more to give the BG actions, crosses and certain motivations in order to make sure the scene works. Once we do a camera rehearsal I will adjust the Extras according to the Director’s wishes and what looks best for the scene.

Tip #10 Be creative

As an AD, working with BG is one of the most creative parts of the job. Take your time and make the scene feel authentic and real to life. Would you buy the scene if you were watching it on screen or does it feel cliche or fake?


How to schedule your day as a 2nd AD

Whenever I work as a 2nd AD on a Low Budget Film I am often in charge of  a variety of tasks. Its easy to get overwhelmed so I try and break up the day so that I can prioritize what’s important.  What is in this list is not comprehensive and it may not apply to large TV shows.  Some of the items listed will happen all day long….like signing actors out on the Exhibit G.

Before the first shot

-Assist in getting Actors through the works (HMU/WARD).

-Call or Text any Actors that may be running late.

-If on location assist with making sure vehicles, crew and cast know where to go.

-Assist the 1st AD with anything related to getting the first shot off.

-Start the Exhibit G and record when Actors arrive if they are late.

Before Lunch

-Create a Call Sheet Prelim and give to the 1st AD / UPM.

-Visit the set periodically and assist the 1st AD in between scenes to make sure things are running smooth.

-Check in with different department heads to make sure they have items ready to go for the next scene or day.

-Create a Production Report from the prior day’s out times, exhibit G and call sheet. Sometimes a 2nd 2nd AD will create the PR instead of the 2nd AD.

-Make sure lunch is setup and ready to go. Notify the 1st AD if there are any delays and assist in breaking certain cast and crew early if in best interest of the day’s work and the 1st AD allows for it.

Before Wrap

-Distribute updated Call Sheet Prelims to Dept heads and go over any specifics for the next day.

-Call or Text any actors that are working the next day that are not currently on set. Give them a heads up about their call time, location of filming and make sure they have spoken to Wardrobe.

-Call any special crew or vendors that are working the next day that are not currently working.  Example. (You have a drone operator coming tomorrow and you want to make sure he is prepared and has everything he needs.)

-Update the Call Sheet based on notes from the 1st AD, UPM and any Dept Heads.

-Print Call Sheets to fly out to Crew at WRAP. (Best to print the last hour of filming incase times change and to avoid waisting paper)

-Mark up and print sides for the next day. If you are working on a large production, the office will often take care of this.

-Draft email to Cast

-Draft email to Crew

At Wrap

-Email Cast

-Email Crew

-Collect out times from Crew or assign a PA or 2nd 2nd AD to collect out times.

-Make sure that Background are getting signed out properly.

-Finalize the Exhibit G and sign actors out.

7 things every Director should know when working with an Assistant Director

Many times I will work with a first time Director who has never worked with an Assistant Director. Typically there is a bit of learning curve because the job of an AD can be very ambiguous to those who don’t typically do the job.

Below I have compiled a list of 7 things that Directors should know when working with an Assistant Director.  It is a good idea to sit down with the Director before filming and go over some of these items of business.

1. Worrying about time

An Assistant Director is tasked with the job of worrying about time, pacing and making the day. When the Director starts to worry about these things they are in essence doing the job of an AD.  In an ideal world Directors focus solely on directing actors and the scene at large. Whenever a director says lets, go, hurry up or any notion of moving things quickly they are stepping on the toes of the AD. Its very possible that the AD is not moving fast enough but 9 times out of 10 they are moving as fast as they can within the given situation. Often times Directors will want to go but the AD is not ready because he/she knows the sound guy is adjusting a lav or an electric is working on a light.

2. Quiet on set

Its not the Director’s job to get quite on the set. Asking for quiet is always the Assistant Directors job and the role of the AD staff. The only thing the Director should be yelling is Action or Cut. If there is a noise on set or on a location the AD will often have a production assistant via walkie discover the noise and get the area quiet.

3. Chain of Command

Directors should rely on the 1st AD as much as possible to disseminate information.  If a Director notices a prop is not there or a wardrobe problem he should always alert the AD, who then will relay the information over walkie to the appropriate person.

4. Directing Background Actors

When it comes to directing background this is primarily the role of the AD and more specifically the 2nd 2nd and 2nd AD. Occasionally a Director will want to make adjustments to a few BG that are close to camera, however for the most part background falls in the AD wheelhouse. This allows the Director to focus on the main actors performance.

5.  The Cadence

There is a typical military cadence on set. Picture’s Up – Roll Sound – Sound Speed – Roll Camera – Camera Speed – Slate – Camera Set – Background Action – Action – Cut. Knowing this cadence is crucial for the Director who has never been on set. Often times a first time Director will say Action before the camera is even slated or rolling.

6. Understanding Grace

When approaching 6 hours into filming the 1st AD will typically call lunch on the dot. Grace applies to the completion of a “set-up in progress,” not the completion of a scene. The director does not make the decision to apply the Grace Period, the UPM and/or Line Producer in conjunction with the advice of the 1st AD makes that determination. On non IA jobs in LA there is one (per California Labor laws) untimed penalty payment awarded all employees if lunch is not served at 6 hours. On IA shows the Grace Period is 12 minutes.

7.  How quiet a set is

It is a good idea to get an understanding from the Director in regards to how quiet he/she wants the set to be in general. Some directors are very insistent about crew being quiet while working and other directors could care less.