Who’s Who in a Production Crew
For those of you that are new to video production, the number of crew members on set can sometimes be intimidating. There are so many different important people running around, and from a client or outsider's perspective, it can be pretty confusing! So we’re here to clear things up and explain the different roles that everyone has on set.
To be clear, the amount of people on set depends on the size of the production and budget. There are three general sizes of production crews: skeleton crew, commercial crew, and Hollywood crew.
Skeleton crew- the smallest production teams, where you typically have 2 to 10 people. Prices range depending on the project, so we’ll just describe the budget with $-$$.
Commercial crew- the next level up, with anywhere from 10 to 30 people working on the project. Because of this, the budget typically ranges from $$-$$$.
Hollywood crew- the biggest production crew you can get, with 30 or more people and costing $$$+.
Below is a list of the basic positions that most larger commercial shoots include. While the list seems pretty long, we’ve done our best to try and simplify each crew member’s specific roles and responsibilities.
The director has creative control over shots and guiding talent and technical crew on set, to keep things moving forward and guiding the video’s artistic style.
1st Assistant Director
Working with the director and production manager, the 1st AD breaks down the script and shooting schedule to to keep the all activity on track and the crew organized.
2nd Assistant Director
The 2nd AD helps the 1st AD get what they need, getting the scripts and call sheets to all cast and crew.
The producer is in charge of organizing the entire production. They are managing the details and finances of the entire process- from developing the script to post-production and handing off the final project. On larger productions, there are sometimes more than one producer (see below).
The EP is the lead producer that plays a large creative or financial role in the process, rather than the technical aspects of the project.
The line producer manages the entire budget of a video or film. This includes daily costs of talent, locations, and renting equipment.
The PM is in charge of technical aspects of the process, including tech, budget, and scheduling, making sure things stay on schedule and in budget. PMs report the budget to the line producer, trying the keep things under budget each day.
PAs are on set to help with any general tasks that production heads (or anyone) might need.
Director of Photography
The DP plays a major creative role working with the director to create the look and feel of the video. DPs who also run the camera are sometimes described as cinematographers.
This is the person behind the camera, controlling the framing while filming. Sometimes performed by the DP.
1st Assistant Camera
The 1st AC, the focus puller, is responsible for maintaining focus during filming and is the main assistant to the Camera Operator. They also setup and take down the camera, as well as load film media when needed.
2nd Assistant Camera
The 2nd AC, the clapper loader, is in charge of running the slate and giving the footage to the DIT.
The digital imaging technician is in charge of the data management and workflow, making copies of the data to ensure everything is safely backed up, and checking footage for any technical issues.
Lighting & Grip Department
The gaffer is in charge of lighting and grip. They design the lighting setup based on direction from the DP.
This is the gaffer’s go-to person. They’re responsible for renting the necessary lights and making sure the lights have power sources, etc.
The grip is responsible for non-technical aspects of the lighting, using bounce boards, gels, filters to get a certain style of light for each shot.
Manages all grips and works with the whole lighting and grip department, as well as with the DP, to plan for lighting and power during production.
The production designer makes sure everything looks amazing in the background of each shot. They work with the director to achieve a certain look or aesthetic for the film or video. They typically have Prop masters and art PAs on their team to help out.
Prop-masters are responsible for getting the necessary materials needed on set (in the background and being used by talent). Must make sure all items fit the story and time period being portrayed in the film or video.
Also known as the sound mixer, this person is responsible for recording sound. While recording, they will notify the director if there is any interferences or issues with the audio.
Either holds the boom mic or is in charge of setting up mic stands. They will also listen for any background noise that may interfere with the audio, and notify the Audio Tech.
Makeup and Wardrobe Department
Hair and Makeup Artist
The HMU artist makes sure all subjects are looking their very best on camera. On larger productions there is often a hair stylist and makeup artist, but sometimes there is one person who does both.
The wardrobe stylist is in charge of picking clothing options for the talent, and making sure no wardrobe malfunctions happen on set.
The talent is whoever will be on camera. This can include actors, influencers, employees, etc.
This is the best part of any shoot and is necessary to keep the crew happy. Craft Services bring the food, drinks and sometimes candy and other treats.
Now I know I’m not including every crew position, but for people wanting to understand the basic positions, this list covers almost everything you’ll need to know. Not everyone will need a Hollywood level crew to run their shoot, but typically the more people that are involved, the higher the quality of video or film will be produced. This may seem like a crazy amount of people involved, but if you have ever been on set, you’ll realize how important each and every one of these people really is in producing a truly great video.