Crew members who work as 2nd Assistant Directors fill one of the most critical roles on any film set. The 2nd AD acts as a bridge between the “set” and the “basecamp” and while they are known for creating the call sheet, their duties extend into other areas of production that are vital for a set to operate efficiently.
The below information was complied by the Directors Guild of America:
2nd AD Duties
- Prepare the call sheets, handle extras, requisitions, and other required documents for approval by the 1st AD, the UPM and/or the production office.
- Prepare the daily production report and end of day paper work.
- Distribute scripts and script changes (after shooting has started) to cast and crew.
- Distribute call sheets to cast and crew.
- Distribute, collect, and approve extra vouchers, placing adjustments as directed by the 1st AD on the vouchers.
- Communicate advance scheduling to cast and crew.
- Aid in the scouting, surveying and managing of locations (mandatory in New York and Chicago)
- Facilitate transportation of equipment and personnel.
- May be required to secure execution of minor cast contracts, extra releases, and on occasion to secure execution of contracts by talent. (May also be delegated to 1st AD and UPM.)
- Coordinate with production staff so that all elements, including cast, crew and extras, are ready at the beginning of the day, and supervise the wrap in the studio and on location (local and distant).
- Schedule food, lodging and other facilities.
- Sign cast members in and out.
- Maintain liaison between UPM and/or the production office and the 1st AD on the set.
- Assist the 1st AD in the direction and placement of background action and in the supervision of crowd control.
- Perform crowd control in New York and Los Angeles except where the work is customarily performed by police officers or is performed by security personnel or a facility at which the photography takes place and which requires or customarily provides this service; provided, however, persons not covered by the Basic Agreement may perform such work if at least two additional 2nd ADs are employed in addition to a Key 2nd AD and 2nd 2nd AD or two Key 2nd ADs
- Supervise and direct the work of any Trainee or Intern assigned to the picture.
- May assist in the proper distribution and documentation of milage money by the Producer’s appointed representative.
An employer may not unreasonably deny a request from a UPM or 1st AD for another 2nd Assistant Director. BA 13-202 (b).
The 2nd 2nd AD (sometimes called 3rd AD outside the US) is primarily responsible for being the extension to the 1st AD on set. In general a 2nd 2nd AD works with background actors, supervises production assistants and sometimes wrangles talent.
The thing I love about a good 2nd 2nd AD is that they can really help the 1st AD with very complicated scenes that involve stunts, mass amounts of extras or scenes that take place in difficult shooting conditions.
Below are 5 things to consider when working as a 2nd 2nd AD:
- Setting background actors is an art form. This is one of your main areas of responsibility so take it and run with it. Make it the most believable scene of extras crossing the street anyone has ever seen. When you are giving background actors direction…. consider giving them a storyline so they can get into character and come up with creative crosses that reflect everyday life.
- Delegate lock-ups to PAs and the Key Set PA. Think about how you can work with the Key Set PA to determine the best possible lock-ups at least 10-15 minutes before the lock-up occurs. Its too late to think about lock-ups once the camera is rolling…so always be thinking about this ahead of time.
- Accurate Production Reports are a must. As a 2nd 2nd AD you will most likely be responsible for filling out the Production Report or PR or at the very least managing parts of the PR. These documents can look different on various sets but the main thing to note is LUNCH TIMES and OUT TIMES of the crew. While it can be overwhelming to collect out times of a large crew, this can be made easier though using dept sign out sheets. Many PRs have a place to put important notes like if someone got hurt or if a scene was missed. Throughout your day it is a good idea to keep track of important things like this so you can add them to the PR later in the day.
- Work as an extension to the 1st AD. The 2nd 2nd AD is oftentimes the only person other than the 1st AD on set that really knows what is going on in terms of “making the day”. If you want to really excel at this job always be anticipating what the 1st AD needs and delegate information to the PAs. You can ask dept heads if they are ready for the next scene, shot or day and even advance to various sets to keep an eye on the art department. If the 1st AD is having to put out 10 different fires…then consider yourself as someone who is helping to put out those fires and lighten the load a little bit.
- Backup the Key 2nd AD when available. There may be days with no background and one or two talent. Use this as an opportunity to help the Key 2nd with any work that may be piling up with future days coming up.