A film crew is a group of teams working together. Some of the department heads report directly to me (Art, Makeup, Wardrobe, Sound) and some report directly to Chuck, the director of photography (Camera, Grip, and Electric). If the director is the commander in chief, then Chuck is a four star general, and all the department heads are major generals commanding their own divisions.
Typically, the director of photography has a gaffer to implement the lighting design, and a key grip to help put everything together. The gaffer’s assistant is called a best boy electric, and the key grip’s assistant is called a best boy grip.
The camera team consists of a camera operator, a first assistant camera (focus puller), and a second assistant camera (clapper loader). Unofficially, when the DP is also the camera operator, the DP takes the title of Cinematographer.
Shannon Mita (2nd Assistant Camera), Me, Joe Segura (1st Assistant Camera)
Shooting requires the teamwork of all departments. As Chuck’s camera navigates through the crowd of extras, he is trailed by the boom operator, the first AC, the second AC, the first AD, the second AD, and sometimes the script supervisor and me. As soon as the camera shifts away from an actor, makeup and wardrobe swoop in to keep everyone looking pretty.
As the party grows throughout the night, Shane Richard’s production design team sets props, moves scenery, and makes sure continuity keeps everything in its proper place. Tiptoeing just behind the camera is a well choreographed ballet.
During the shoot, I am supported by Amy Arter, the script supervisor, who watches for missed lines and continuity errors. Each day I come on set with over 100 actor notes from the previous day’s shooting. A lot of these come from Amy – spotting where actors are deviating from the script!
The producers and PA’s support me in myriad ways. For The Last Hurrah, all of the producers are on set as extras for the entire movie. Richie Molyneux has the responsibility of corralling the background extras to fill each shot. In costume, he is able to amble through a scene, quietly whispering directions to the extras to position them where we need them.
Jason Kennedy (1st AD), Chuck DeRosa (Cinematographer), Me
The first assistant director, Jason Kennedy (pictured above), is my rock of Gibraltar. Someone has to be the barking dog to get everyone into position, and if the director does it himself he looks like a ninny. Jason sets call times, pushes the actors through wardrobe, makeup, and micing, and then polices the entire shoot.
Each day before shooting, Jason, Shane (Production Designer), and I walk through the entire set inspecting every inch. We are generals surveying the battlefield. Once we start shooting – that’s it for the night. So we must examine every scene set up to make sure everything is perfect. For some reason, it’s one of my favorite parts of the day.