Have you ever sat through the end credits of a movie? They always seem to go through the entire movie’s soundtrack, or well, that’s how long it feels. The list of names is interminable with weird sounding designations like grips, gaffers and boom stand holders. So, what do those people actually do? And how many people are actually involved in the making of a film?
Every time we talk to aspiring film making students or even normal viewers, we get questions like these. You might know what the actor, director, assistant director, dialogue writer, art director, DoP, stills photographer, prop manager, costume designer, script supervisor, location manager, caterer, hair stylist or makeup artist’s role is.
But here’s looking at some of the lesser-known jobs of people on a movie set – so the next time you spot them in the credits, you will know exactly what their roles and responsibilities are.
1. Second Unit Director
Second unit directors aren’t the same as assistant directors, second or third assistant directors. These directors have a small autonomous thing going. A film’s second unit gathers footage independently and these men/women are in charge of the film’s second unit. The footage they gather is used to prop up the film. The second unit might film B-roll footage, small incidental scenes and close ups. Very often, second units also film the parts of a film that require a special stunt crew. So, the second unit director plays an important role in an action movie. However, all this needs to carried out in the style dictated by the film’s main director.
2. The Foley Editor/Artist
Ever wondered how the creaking door in a horror film sounds so ominous or the leaking tap in a comedy so annoying? You have the Foley artists to thank for that. Foley artists are the sound engineers or editors that recreate the sounds that microphones on sets can’t pick up clearly. The art is named after Jack Foley, who pioneered it in 1927. Foley artists need to be able to think out of the box as they often use normal everyday items to recreate the sounds they need. A really famous example is the stabbing sound in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho which was achieved by stabbing melons or the sound of the T-1000 passing through the jail bars in Terminator 2: Judgement Day which was actually dog food being slowly sucked out of the can. Pretty cool and definitely very messy!
The head honcho of all the grips is called the Key Grip. The other grips like best boy grip, dolly grip and rigging grips all work under the supervision of the key grip. They are the guys that support the entire film rig – actually! Grips are the lighting and rigging technicians who assemble the lighting setups and the camera rigs. So all those amazing moving shots of camera using a dolly or a crane wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the grips!
The gaffer is actually a really important person in the whole filmmaking business even if the job title may sound like a bit of a mistake. The gaffer is the head of the lighting crew and works closely with the director of photography to manage the lighting effects and equipment needed for the entire film. It is a highly technical job which requires an immense amount of lighting knowhow along with a good understanding of cinematography.
5. Production Designer
The production designer is responsible for everything that you see on the set (including the props). They design the sets and sometimes also the props. It is the production designer’s job to make sure the set is ready and dressed for the day of the shoot. Production designers need to have a keen eye for what the script demands. They also need to have incredible managerial skills, especially if they are working on scripts that need massive sets (read: Lord of the Rings) as they need to manage a whole host of artists, builders, material and props while sticking to a budget and working with the director and cinematographer. There’s even an Oscar to be won for epic work in production design!
As you can see, film making does not limit itself to acting, film direction or editing – there are plenty of roles to be had in the film making industry that require a lot of knowledge, commitment and creativity. If you would like to be a part of the wonderful world of films, take a look at the Filmmaking Degree and Diploma courses offered by Seamedu that can help you make your dreams come true.
And if you have any questions with reference to any job titles that you might have come across in a film’s credits, ask us in the comments section below!