Q:Do first ADs work with the actors?
Hey there, and thanks for reading.
First Assistant Directors absolutely work with actors, along with many other members of a film crew, and I’d even venture to say it’s a pre-requisite for the job.
On set, the First AD usually gives small direction to the actors from the director (depending on your director). These notes could be anything from blocking adjustments to small technical notes, or, if the director is comfortable with you as a 1st, then even minor acting notes. Something to keep in mind is that sometimes the Director is by a monitor 50 feet away from the actual cameras, so I’ll put my 2nd 2nd AD or my Key PA near the Director and monitors so that he/she can relay notes.
When you say “work with actors”, I’m assuming you mean work with them in a creative, collaborative, and directorial capacity on set, as in, directly interacting with them. The reason I’d like to distinguish here, is that many other departments work with actors in other capacities as well, and it should be noted that being able to work with, and productively interact, with actors (and everyone on a film set, for that matter), even famous “A-Listers”, is an important part of working in the industry in general, not just in the AD/Directorial Dept.
The Wardrobe Department works with actors.
The Hair/Make-Up Department works with actors.
The Sound Department works with actors.
The Camera Department works with actors.
The Art Department and Props works with actors.
Producers work with actors.
PAs (Production Assistants) work with actors.
Nearly every on-set department/position works with actors, and the best thing you can try and remember is that they are regular people, and should be treated with respect and general courtesy.
With one exception…
Unlike anyone else’s job on a film set, they have been asked to be the most emotionally vulnerable version of themselves that they can possibly be so that they can bring their current character to life. And, whether they’re a method actor who takes their character to extremes, or an actor that can just be themselves, always try to keep in mind that as an actor, they are being asked to display a very private part of themselves to the world, and that can easily put someone on an emotional edge. Unfortunately, it’s just an unwritten part of their job description.
Sometimes they will be edgy or cranky, but just keep in mind that maybe it’s because they just re-created in their mind what it would be like if they had to murder their entire family…and their family dog…on Christmas…using their family Christmas tree as a weapon…and then had to laugh about it…because that’s what it said they had to do in the script.
You can tell of my appreciation for actors and their craft by how-long winded that was, so now back to the original question.
Do First ADs work with actors?
Yes. Yes we do. And, the more I get to work with them the more I come to respect what they are able to conjure, on a daily basis, what it would take some of us a lifetime of self-exploration to manifest.
Thanks again for reading, and thanks for your question.
Now get back to set,
~Movin On, New Deal
Local 491 president
By Harrison M Palmer
Train Tragedy Update. Following up on the MIDNIGHT RIDER incident: There was not a full ‘tech scout’ prior to the “dream sequence” being shot on the train trestle. It was a pre pro/prep/camera test day & NOT a ‘production…
Q:How do you make the transition from PAing to ADing, do you usually get asked at some point to AD (because you are an experienced PA) or do you have to keep lobbying your network for AD opportunities once you are a seasoned PA
Hi there, and thanks for reading.
The transition from PAing to ADing is different for everybody depending on where you are in your career, who your network is, etc…however, one thing to keep in mind in ANYONE’S SHOES…being a freelancer means you’re constantly working towards getting your next job, and the more proactive you are, the more successful you’re going to be.
I’m sure that the scenario you describe in which people just start asking you to AD from being a PA does happen to some people…some very lucky people…but I wouldn’t bank on it.
Once you feel like you have enough experience under your belt, start lobbying yourself as an AD. There’s going to be a weird cutoff point where you need to stop saying you’re a PA, and just start saying you’re an AD…even though you may still PA, put it out in the universe that you’re an AD and see what comes back.
I’d suggest starting to 2nd 2nd as much as you can, it gets you closer to the action, less PA duties, more AD dept. experience.
Unless it’s on a smaller show or short, I wouldn’t recommend going straight from PA to 1st AD until you’re sure you’re ready…there’s always something to still learn to make you a better AD. I learn something new on every show that I wish I would have known on the last one.
Short answer: don’t wait for anyone to ask you to AD from being a PA…it’s all about the hustle, and the better you hustle, the more you get hired.
Cheers, thanks again for reading.
Now get back to set
~Movin On, New Deal
Hey, man. Sometimes being a crafty art dept. person means you’ve gotta come up with a way to make deer tracks in the snow without mucking everything up with your own footprints. Like fastening a deer leg to the end of a really long weapon-like pole device. #setlife #artdept #bts #props #production #1stad #behindthescenes #axemurderer
A second camera assistant was killed Thursday afternoon when a freight train struck and killed her on the set of the Gregg Allman biopic “Midnight Rider,” sources confirm to Variety. Four other peo…
I am deeply saddened by this. My fellow filmmakers, please be careful. My fellow production peers, please be responsible. To all my fellow crew members and actors, please remember that sometimes you must say “no” if you ever feel unsafe. Safety should never be side-lined, and in this instance it was, not by Sarah, but by the people that should have had her back. People like me.
Sarah Jones, I didn’t know you, but on behalf of everyone in my position on a film set, I’m sorry we failed you. As an AD, the crew’s safety is my responsibility, and we’ve failed you. I am truly sorry.
In our field of work we go through extensive training on safety, from OSHA’s safety standards, to the Safety Passport training we receive as DGA members, it should always be on the forefront of your mind. My fellow Assistant Directors, Key Grips, On Set Medics, Stunt Coordinators, Producers and Directors; sometimes we are put in difficult situations as on set safety representatives, and sometimes we have to make a decision as we stand between the always-present divide of creative versus below-the-line crew…and sometimes those decisions are tough. Sometimes they can cost you a job in the future, but always know that if your decision could endanger the life of a fellow film crew brother or sister, then your decision just became an easy one to make, and I promise as an AD and a department head to do everything in my power at all times to help prevent a tragedy like this from ever occurring.
My heart goes out to Sarah Jones, her family, her friends, and anyone else who is more directly impacted by this tragedy than I.
Behind The Scenes Timelapse • Film Shoot • Shot on GoPro Hero3