Today, we'll be focusing on two types of assistant directors (ADs): the first one and the second one. For those of you who don't often work on film sets, or for those of you who don't have much knowledge on the topic, my previous statement isn't as dumb as it sounds (even though it kind of is). There are in fact two assistant directors, and their positions are called 1st Assistant Director and 2nd Assistant Director. SO GET OFF MY CASE AND ENJOY THE POST. Ok? Good.
Let us begin with the first type of AD: the 1st Assistant Director. The 1st AD is very much involved in the preproduction and production processes. To best summarize their responsibilities, I turn to the handy dandy bulleted list. Once again, I apologize, but it's quite the list and I have some editing to tend to. The 1st AD's job is to:
-Assist Unit Production Manager to prepare script breakdown and preliminary shooting schedule
-Assist the UPM in location business
-Check weather reports (exciting, right?)
-Prepare daily schedules for talent and determine cast and crew calls
-Supervise the preparation of call sheets
-Supervise background activity and crowd control
-Supervise the proper functioning of the set and crew
The 1st Assistant Director's job is to basically take care of everything the Director shouldn't have to worry about, allowing them to focus on making sure everything pertaining to what viewers will see is absolutely perfect.
"How does the 1st AD possibly get all of this done? It's so much stuff to get done!" You're right! It's a pretty demanding job. Luckily, though, they have a chief assistant who is in charge of conducting all the business of the set or location. This person is referred to as the 2nd Assistant Director. Go figure! How convenient is that? What exactly is the business of the set or location you ask? Well, it includes:
-Preparing all call sheets
-Preparing the daily production reports in collaboration with the UPM
-Distributing all information to the cast and crew (scripts, changes, and call sheets)
-Communicating advance scheduling to the cast and crew
-Assisting the UPM, 1st AD, and Location Manager in location management
-Facilitating the transportation of all equipment and personnel
-Schedule all food, lodging, and other facilities
-Supervise the set and location wrap
-Maintain a liaison between the 1st Assistant Director and the Unit Production Manager
-Assist the 1st AD with the direction of background activity and crowd control
PHEW! Glad that's over. I was beginning to just feel sorry for anyone who's a 2nd AD. I guess if you really love what you do, who's to tell you that your job is no fun. What I've gathered from this information, is that the student producers I've worked with in the past have actually been conducting the responsibilities of the Assistant Directors while the ADs have actually just been clapping the slate and keeping us on schedule. Who knew?! You do now!
Assistant Directors are wonderful people who moviegoers never really know anything about, but they're some of the most important people to have on a set. They essentially do all the things a director doesn't have time for (and probably doesn't want to do). If you're ever in the market for a career that's physically and emotionally demanding and that doesn't get much of any public recognition, Assistant Directing is the career for you!