After realizing and accepting my hyper-organizational tendencies last week, I realized that there are certain positions on a production that utilize these skills more often than others. As I previously mentioned, I will be working as the Assistant Director for our production of Doll House. In class Arturo challenged me to learn more about the AD position and think critically about how I could possibly apply my skill set to this position as I try it for the first time. After looking into it a bit, this is what I found.
One of the primary duties of an AD is maintaining order on set. This means tracking the daily progress of the production against the overall production schedule. It is imperative for the AD to stay organized and on task, they are essential to keep the shoot running smoothly. An unorganized or uninformed AD would slow production and possibly even ruin time sensitive shooting dates. The AD must have a complete understanding of the script breakdown in order to fully follow the production schedule that they help create, making sure that each scene is shot in an order that makes sense logistically. An AD must also be very good at estimating how long a particular scene will take to shoot; depending on the amount of action or dialogue a scene that is only half a page may take hours to shoot.
The AD is also responsible for the health and safety of the crew. As Arturo talked about in class, if someone gets hurt on set, it is the AD that will suffer the consequences. This means making sure each department is taking the necessary steps to secure the set, like ensuring that lights are stable and cords are taped down.
The AD is also responsible for "calling the role" before filming a scene. This entails calling "Quiet on set" followed by "roll sound" and "roll camera." The call for "action" is usually called by the director, but can be called by the AD at the director's preference.
In more complicated productions, there can be many different ADs, creating a hierarchy of sorts whilst dividing up the many managerial duties that occur at any given time during a production. A production could have a First AD, Second AD, Second Second AD, Third AD, and Additional AD. I guess they just sort of ran out of creativity there.
Along with being organized, a good AD needs to be able to communicate to many (all) of the departments on set, and needs to exhibit good leadership skills to keep everything rolling smoothly along.
While I'm sure my time on set as AD for Doll House will certainly be a learning experience, I do think that I am ready to give this position a shot. It will provide me with an opportunity to really get involved in the production and put my organization skills to the test. I am looking forward to working with all of the departments and seeing how they all come together on set.