Reel Opportunities

Gaffer

Also known as: Chief Electrician, Supervising or Chief Lighting Technician

What is a Gaffer?
What does a Gaffer do?

Gaffers work closely with the Director of Photography (DoP) to bring to life the overall look of a film by creating and controlling light.

They work with the DoP to understand the desired light effects and figure out how to achieve them. They go on location scouts to see how the lighting will work on location and draw up a list of the equipment that will be needed to achieve the artistic vision.

Then they pitch for the equipment. They put in a request to the Line Producer or Production Manager for the equipment they need and appoint the Best Person to hire the crew and order the gear. During filming, they work out the positioning of the lights and the fastest way to change the lighting setups between shots. Gaffers mediate between the DoP and the rest of the lighting crew.

They’re also responsible for safety and need to comply with the scientific theory of electricity, driving, and employment.

What's a Gaffer good at?
  • Understanding light

    Have an artistic eye, know the techniques required to achieve different lighting effects and the kit needed to achieve them

  • Electrical knowledge

    Have an in-depth understanding of circuits, power supplies, motors, cables, fuses, thermal relays, fault current protection switches, heating, lighting, air conditioning and more

  • Knowledge of film-making

    Be able to understand the production process, particularly the roles of the director of photography and how the gaffer role fits in

  • Communication

    Be able to draw up plans and explain them to the crew, communicate well with the director of photography and the lighting crew, be clear and approachable even when making quick decisions under pressure

  • Organization

    Work within a budget, schedule the crew and the kit requirements, prioritize and meet deadlines

  • Working at heights

    Be good at climbing ladders as most lights are set up above the head height

Who does a Gaffer work with?

The Gaffer oversees the lighting department and works closely with the Best Person who is mainly responsible for getting the right lights to the right places at the right times, the Lighting Technician who sets up the lighting equipment and manages the gear, and the Generator Operator who load and transport the generators required for productions. The Gaffer also works closely with the Director of Photography (DoP) to configure the layout and positioning of the lighting to best achieve the DoP’s vision.

How do I become a Gaffer?

Gaffers should be fully qualified Electricians, so your first step is to get yourself qualified and experienced in electrical installation. Then you need to develop contacts in the film and TV drama industry to get experience working on film sets. Look at the electrical trainee job profile to learn more about how to do this. Once you have found your way into the lighting team, you need to work your way through the roles outlined above.

Work with a kit hire company: Get work experience with a kit rental company. Look for companies that supply equipment to the theater, film, TV, and events industries. Get to know the best persons coming in and ask if they would take you on as a trainee.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Professional Organizations Associated With This Role

Each region of Canada has different professional organizations associated with jobs in films and television. Select your region for more information.

This position is represented by the following unions/guilds in your selected region.

Sorry, we couldn’t find a professional organization associated with this role in the region you selected.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

2nd Assistant Camera

Also known as: 2nd AC

What does a 2nd Assistant Camera do?

The 2nd Assistant Camera is an important role on the camera team. They are responsible for the accessories for the cameras, including changing memory cards and charging batteries.

The 2nd Assistant Camera works mainly with the “clapboard” or “slate”– the black and white board that’s become iconic for the beginning and end of film takes. A traditional way to sync audio with each take, the 2nd AC uses the slate to indicate for an Editor when the camera has started and stopped recording. The 2nd AC will mark on the slate what scene, take, and camera memory card the production is on. Modern clapboards or slates are digital and include a timecode generator on an LED display. The 2nd AC clearly lists out the information on the slate before clapping the sticks at the beginning (or sometimes the end, known as tail-slate) of the take. This helps keep all the shots organized for the post-production team and allows the picture and audio to be synched together.

The 2nd Assistant Camera will also keep track of all of the camera data for each shot. They fill in reports called “camera logs”; that mark the focal length, the scene, the take, and some small notes. They will also mark which take is the director’s favourite, so the editor has an easier job looking through the footage.

In addition, they will assist the 1st Assistant Camera in marking spots for focus and helping in the organization of the equipment.

What's a 2nd Assistant Camera good at?
  • Photography

    Have a good eye and understanding of composition, light, colour, focus, and framing

  • Technical knowledge of cameras

    Have a good understanding of the latest motion picture equipment, cameras, lens, filters monitors, and lights

  • Taking instruction

    Listen, do what’s asked accurately, stay calm under pressure, pay close attention to detail

  • Communication

    Work well with crew members, onscreen contributors, presenters and production staff, be responsive

  • Handling cameras

    Be well-coordinated, prepared to lift and move heavy camera equipment frequently throughout a shoot

Who does a 2nd Assistant Camera work with?

The 2nd Assistant Camera will work directly under the camera operator of the production or the operator of the camera unit. They will be close with the 1st Assistant Camera and the Camera Operator. The 2nd AC will work in tandem with the 1st AC to make sure everything is set up for the camera department to thrive. The 2nd Assistant Camera will also work with the DOP (Director of Photography). They may also work with the Assistant Editor in sharing the information of the camera logs.

How do I become a 2nd Assistant Camera?

Like many other departments on a set, it is possible to learn on the job by starting out in the lowest tier as a Production Assistant and working your way up. Another way to gain an intimate knowledge of the gear is to work at a camera rental house. Many equipment rental companies encourage their employees to learn about the equipment that they offer, and it can be a great way to gain experience that you will later use on set. You can also look into the local camera unions in your area and try to gain experience from them. They can provide qualifications to help acquire entry-level positions on sets.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

1st Assistant Camera

Also known as: AC, Focus Puller

What does a 1st Assistant Camera do?

The 1st Assistant Camera (1st AC) is responsible for maintenance of the camera, such as keeping it clean or adjusting the focus. Often, an AC whose main job is to maintain the camera lens’ focus during each scene is called the “Focus Puller”.

Pulling focus is not an easy job onset and is very important for production. The 1st Assistant Camera will sit next to the camera operator and use a dial to bring the picture in and out of focus. The 1st Assistant Camera will need to know exactly where the actor, or the object, that needs to be in focus is, so they can correctly mark the dial and pull to it.

They also manage the camera equipment and make sure it is organized on set. They will help with preparing the equipment, cleaning the lenses, and even setting up and tearing down the camera rig each day.

What's a 1st Assistant Camera good at?
  • Photography

    Have a good eye and understanding of composition, light, colour, focus, and framing

  • Technical knowledge of cameras

    Have a good understanding of the latest motion picture equipment, cameras, lens, filters monitors, and lights

  • Taking instruction

    Listen, do what’s asked accurately, stay calm under pressure, pay close attention to detail

  • Communication

    Work well with crew members, onscreen contributors, presenters and production staff, be responsive

  • Handling cameras

    Be well-coordinated, prepared to lift and move heavy camera equipment frequently throughout a shoot

Who does a 1st Assistant Camera work with?

The 1st Assistant Camera will work directly under the Camera Operator of the production or the operator of the camera unit. They will work closely with the Camera Operator and be by their side for most of the production. They will also work closely with the 2nd Assistant Camera as they both will help in the daily functions of the camera department. The 1st Assistant Camera will also work with the DOP (Director of Photography).

How do I become a 1st Assistant Camera?

Like many other departments on a set, it is possible to learn on the job by starting out in the lowest tier of the Camera Department and working your way up. Another way to gain an intimate knowledge of the gear is to work at a camera rental house. Many equipment rental companies encourage their employees to learn about the equipment that they offer, and it can be a great way to gain experience that you will later use on set. You can also look into the local camera unions such as IATSE and try to gain experience from them. They can provide qualifications to acquire entry-level positions on sets.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Assistant to Producers

What does an Assistant to Producers do?

Assistant to Producers is an administrative role in the filmmaking process, similar to that of an Executive Assistant in business. The Assistant to Producers works closely with the Producer from pre-production through production, post-production, and is even involved in the distribution of the film. The tasks vary with each production and Producer. The Assistant to Producers will have a good overview of the entire production process and be one of the hands of the Producer.

The tasks may vary but there are many tasks an Assistant to Producers is responsible for. Some involve writing coverage on scripts, draft letters, making and managing phone calls, assisting with any on-set duties, and being a liaison between the producers and the post-production team. You have to be a jack of all trades to support the Producers and address the needs of the production.

What’s an Assistant to Producers good at?
  • Organization

    Managing a Producer’s schedule, meetings, tasks, contacts and duties during all stages of production

  • Administration

    Good with computers and software such as MS Office, Movie Magic and other film-related programs

  • Communication

    Able to communicate the needs of the Producer to key creatives and the rest of the crew, and vice versa

Who does an Assistant to Producers work with?

Assistant to Producers work closely with the Producer throughout the entire production. They also work with a multitude of the crew from pre-production to post-production. They will be communicating with the crew on the behalf of the Producer.

How do I become an Assistant to Producers?

Assistant to Producers need to have a fundamental understanding of the needs of a production. They can begin as Production Assistants and then become a personal assistant to one of the crew members. They will perform the same duties for the one individual. You can establish yourself as a good assistant and, with the understanding of the production process, be able to offer your services to Producers.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

3rd Assistant Director (3rd AD)

Also known as: Thirds

What does a 3rd Assistant Director (3rd AD) do?

Thirds are the 1st AD’s right-hand on set. They are responsible for coordinating extras, preparing and cueing them, as well as sometimes directing them in any required background action. They may have to keep members of the public out of shot, or off the set and/or the location, and will liaise with the Location Manager regarding the security and tidying up of studios and locations after filming.

The 3rd AD reports directly to the 2nd AD. The 3rd AD’s key responsibilities include moving actors from point A to point B, organizing extras, and supervising Production Assistants. The individual may also serve as the set messenger, conveying information between cast and crew members – usually by radio.

Because the responsibilities of 2nd and 3rd AD overlap, the specific function on-set may vary from film to film. However, it will most likely include things like keeping the public out of the Director’s shots so that they don’t disrupt the expensive production schedule, locking up a studio, and securing a location when filming is completed. There may even be some directing involved – cueing extras and drivers of on-set vehicles and generally coordinating the background action.

What’s a 3rd Assistant Director (3rd AD) good at?
  • Multi-tasking

    Pay close attention to what is happening in one shot while getting ready for the next one

  • Attention to detail

    Ensure everything is on screen as it should be - cueing extras and even directing

  • Communication

    Able to let a wide range of people know exactly what is required of them and get them to work together, ability to listen to the director

  • Organization

    Plan, multi-task, work calmly under pressure

Who does a 3rd Assistant Director (3rd AD) work with?

The 3rd AD reports directly to the 2nd AD and on set works closely with the 1st AD.

How do I become a 3rd Assistant Director (3rd AD)?

Like many roles in film and TV, there are many routes to becoming a 3rd AD. From getting degrees, diplomas, certificates, internships, apprenticeships, or even freelancing and volunteer work, there is no standard recipe. Training on-set is also a great route, and there are lots of ways to do it, both extended and short-term.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

2nd Assistant Director (2nd AD)

What is a 2nd Assistant Director (2nd AD)?
What does a 2nd Assistant Director (2nd AD) do?

The 2nd Assistant Director is the right-hand man of the First Assistant Director (1st AD). The main responsibility of the 2nd AD is to ensure that all of the 1st AD’s orders and directions are followed. Under the supervision of the 1st, the 2nd AD’s prepare and draw up the ‘call sheet,’ which is the document that details daily filming logistics and is distributed to all cast and crew; they supervise all cast movements, ensuring that the principal actors are in makeup, wardrobe, or standing by on the set at the appropriate times.

The 2nd AD may also be in charge of finding and looking after background artists (extras) on smaller productions without a Third Assistant Director. The majority of 2nd ADs also assist the 1st AD in liaising between the set or location and the production office, keeping key personnel up to date on the shoot’s timings and progress.

The film’s 2nd Assistant Director reports directly to the 1st Assistant Director. The 2nd AD will typically use a headset and/or walkie-talkie to communicate with the film’s 1st Assistant Director at all times.

What’s a 2nd Assistant Director (2nd AD) good at?
  • Planning

    Co-ordinate the schedules of various departments including camera, make-up, hair, costume, design, and visual effects, think ahead and create call-sheets

  • Time-management

    Coordinate logistics, make arrangements, and draw up detailed plans for the 1st AD's review

  • Innovation

    Think of creative solutions under pressure when the unexpected happens

  • Communication

    Able to let a wide range of people know exactly what is required of them and get them to work together, ability to listen to the director

Who does a 2nd Assistant Director (2nd AD) work with?

The 2nd Assistant Director works directly with the 1st Assistant Director. They also manage the movements of the actors and work closely with the hair/makeup and wardrobe departments.

How do I become a 2nd Assistant Director (2nd AD)?

Like many roles in film and TV, there are many routes to becoming a 2nd Assistant Director. From getting degrees, diplomas, certificates, internships, apprenticeships, or even freelancing and volunteer work, there is no standard recipe. Training on-set is also a great route, and there are lots of ways to do it, both extended and short-term.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Production Coordinator

What does a Production Coordinator do?

Production Coordinators help ensure a film or television project runs smoothly. Working under the Production Manager or Producer, they help to arrange the day-to-day running of the production office and the team to make sure everyone has the information they need to work effectively.

Production Coordinators can also be the key travel coordinators on small to mid-sized productions. They organize travel plans, book flights and hotel rooms, and they also acquire necessary travel visas for the cast and crew. Production Coordinators are also the main contact at the production office and usually are responsible for communications and document deliveries such as sending out schedules, scripts, script revisions, and call sheets.

Production Coordinators need to communicate well with everyone. They liaise with production and post-production. It’s their job to help to keep everyone informed and on target so the project is finished on time and on budget.

What’s a Production Coordinator good at?
  • Communication

    Work within a team towards a shared goal, be able to communicate clearly with all team members

  • Organization

    Be good at managing projects and working to deadlines, be organized, show attention to detail, be able to multitask and prioritize

  • Software knowledge

    Be able to use database and scheduling software, be good at learning new software, understand common file formats and resolutions

  • Resilience

    Remain calm and confident under pressure, cope well with fast-paced environments and short deadlines, be adaptable, use initiative, have a positive attitude

Who does a Production Coordinator work with?

Production Coordinators work closely with office staff throughout production and post-production. They usually report to the Production Manager.

How do I become a Production Coordinator?

There are a few routes into becoming a Production Coordinator. You need to show you have very strong teamwork and organizational skills as well as a good understanding of the way a film is made. Entry level as a Production Assistant in the office is a great way to work your way up to Production Coordinator.

Here are some more tips:

Educational Requirements: You can take courses in business studies, film studies, media studies, English, math, and economics.

Get an Internship: Internships are jobs with training. They’re a great opportunity to earn while you learn. You might be able to get an internship as an Assistant Production Manager or project manager.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Production Assistant

Also known as: PA

What does a Production Assistant do?

The PA does just about anything and everything, from getting coffee to making script copies to shuttling crew or equipment around town as necessary. How much a Production Assistant does depends on the budget of the production, as well as how much confidence their superiors have in their abilities. They get tasked with doing many of the small jobs – such as copying call sheets & scripts, taking breakfast orders – and go around distributing these items to the crew. This allows them to learn about various aspects of the production. They can also do general office jobs like answering the phone, filing paperwork and entering data. They manage a float, buy stationery and keep everyone stocked up with caffeine and snacks. PA’s are usually freelancers.

Starting out as a PA is a great way to get to know what life on set is like and figure out what career path you may want to choose within the film world. Most departments on set, such as Art or Locations, have their own Production Assistants that are given tasks specific to that department. Depending on the production, there may be more than one type of Production Assistant on a film or television set such as ones that work on set (Set PA), or after everything has been shot (Post-production PA).

What’s a Production Assistant good at?
  • Taking instruction

    Listen carefully, do what’s asked quickly, stay calm under pressure

  • Taking initiative

    Have common sense, see what needs to be done in a situation, work without supervision

  • Multi-tasking

    Be able to be organized and prioritize when asked to do different things by different people at the same time

  • Watching film and TV drama

    Have a passion for the genre and a love of the industry

  • Learning by watching and asking

    Observe what’s happening and know when to ask about things you don’t understand

  • Reliability

    Get to set on time, be punctual

  • Communication

    Give clear and concise communication, learn the faces and names of all the senior crew members to excel in this position

  • Some items you might find helpful to take with you as part of your PA kit on set (especially on your first day) are

    Pen or Sharpie for taking notes & food or drink orders
    Flashlight for early morning or late night shifts
    Phone Charger
    Phone with map reading software
    Car mount for phone; it’s not essential but it’s very useful

Who does a Production Assistant work with?

Production Assistants work with almost everyone on the production team and crew. They are directly supervised by department heads and senior management such as the Production Manager. On a daily basis PAs interact with everyone involved. Being a PA is a great way to meet and network with crew members in the career path you are interested in.

How do I become a Production Assistant?

Educational Requirements: You might find courses in art and design, photography, drama and theatre, physics, psychology, English, graphic communication or business useful.

Make films: Learn how films are made by making films. This will help you learn the craft of film production and demonstrate your interest.

Learn to drive: It helps to get to film locations early in the morning and in out-of-the-way places.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Script Supervisor

Also known as: Continuity Supervisor

What does a Script Supervisor do?

If you’ve ever seen a film and noticed that in one shot, an actor’s glass of juice is empty, and suddenly in the next shot it is full again – you’ve spotted a “continuity error”. This happens because shooting is organized according to the practicalities of location and availability of cast rather than the unfolding of the story. It’s the job of the Script Supervisor to ensure that those errors (and many other continuity issues) don’t happen! They also help organize the footage for the editor (who is not usually on set during filming).

During pre-production, Script Supervisors prepare a continuity breakdown. This is a document that analyzes the script in terms of cast, actions, wardrobe and props in scenes and story days. Then they time the script, which is quite a skill in itself.

Once filming starts, they closely monitor what’s happening to check no dialogue is overlooked and the actions and eye-lines of the actors match. They keep detailed written and photographic records of dialogue, action, costumes and props. All camera and lens details are noted along with the slate and scene number information.

They keep a progress report of each day’s filming which goes to production and the Visual Effects (VFX) Supervisor in the case of VFX shots. These records are invaluable. They help Directors and Editors find what’s been shot and what the options are for each scene. They also ensure that when different takes are edited together, the film is consistent and makes sense.

What’s a Script Supervisor good at?
  • Analysis

    Break down, time and itemize scenes in terms of set, costumes, make-up, props and dialogue according to where they are in the story

  • Filmmaking

    Understand the art of storytelling through a lens, know what this means in terms of required shots and crossing the line

  • Observation

    Have an eagle eye and good memory, have the stamina to remain observant during long filming days

  • Attention to detail

    Be meticulous and methodical in taking precise notes quickly and efficiently

  • Communication

    Let the director, actors, crew, hair, make-up and production know about continuity issues

Who does a Script Supervisor work with?

Script Supervisors work closely with the Director and are the primary liaison between them. They also communicate with actors, hair and make-up departments and production.

How do I become a Script Supervisor?

You don’t need a formal qualification to become a Script Supervisor but you do need a very good understanding of film production, particularly of editing and how scenes are constructed out of individual shots.

A common route is to spend a few years working in the industry at a junior level like a Production Assistant or Assistant Production Coordinator in a production company. From there you can build contacts, get to know the industry and step up to assist an experienced script supervisor.

Become a PA: Apply to be a Production Assistant. This can give you valuable on-set work experience that you can then apply to film and TV drama later on.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Art Department Assistant

What does an Art Department Assistant do?

Art Department Assistants help the whole art department, but particularly the Art Director. In a studio, they help dress the set and manage the props, ensuring they are in working order and available when needed.

They also help with styling when the filming is on location, where there might be a very large area needing styling and props. If an Art Department Assistant is experienced, they might be the only person from the art department on location.

Otherwise, much of an assistant’s work is in the preparation before filming. This involves helping with the sourcing and purchasing of materials, as well as the building, painting, and finishing of props. They sometimes design and make props themselves.

Generally, Art Department Assistants are expected to pitch ideas and assist in any way that’s required, from helping transport items and making coffee to filling the gaps of any work that needs doing. On smaller budget studio shows, they might do the work of a Production Assistant alongside their other responsibilities.

What's an Art Department Assistant good at?
  • Art

    Draw conceptually (technical and freehand), work with specialist design software, build props and dress sets

  • Attention to detail

    Have thorough research skills, source correct materials and props, be organized and tidy

  • Knowledge of construction and design

    Research and awareness of the latest developments in production design

  • Knowledge of production

    Understand production techniques, studio environments, studio capabilities, and the challenges of working on location

  • Hard work

    Be able to multitask and meet deadlines

Who does an Art Department Assistant work with?

Art Department Assistants work directly with Art Directors and manage Production Assistants, but they will also work with everyone and anyone in the department, including Production Designers and Buyers.

How do I become an Art Department Assistant?

Build up your skills as an artist. Then try to find work in an entry-level role such as an art department Production Assistant, and work your way up.

Develop a wide range of art skills: Learn how to paint, do 3D modeling and graphic art. The more you can do at this stage, the more chance you have of being useful in the art department later on.

Learn to drive: If possible, get access to a car. This makes you more versatile and means you can help more.

Build a portfolio: This is essential for impressing collaborators and people in the film industry.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

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Camera Operator

Also known as: Cameraperson, Studio Camera Operator, Steadicam Operator, Cameraman

What does a Camera Operator do?

Camera Operators are responsible for capturing the action on a film or television production. They play an integral role in the film and television production process, working closely with the Director of Photography, ensuring that the shots produced are in line with the visual style and tone of the project. They know how to choose which cameras to use in certain conditions and consider the composition, framing, and movement of a shot. They can also shoot what’s happening live, whether that’s on location for a news programme, documentary, or a large multi-camera studio show.

On larger productions there may be more than one Camera Operator, known as Camera A and Camera B. This allows for simultaneous coverage of a scene from various shots and set-ups. Each Camera Operator would have several Assistant Camera and Grips working as part of a cohort or mini-team in order to achieve each shot. On smaller productions, one Camera Operator would be responsible to cover all shots, and scenes may be played out several times in order to get a variety of angles and framing choices.

When shooting on location, such as on documentaries, they might be the only Camera Operator working in all kinds of conditions — underwater, in a snowstorm, or in a desert. They often operate a variety of different cameras, including handheld cameras mounted on a body frame (Steadicam) or a drone. They are responsible for taking care of the kit wherever they are shooting, and on smaller productions often own their equipment. They are also skilled at lighting composition.

What's a Camera Operator good at?
  • Photography

    Have a good eye and understanding of composition, light, colour, focus, and framing. You may specialise in certain genres, but you must also be able to adapt to different shooting styles

  • Technical knowledge of cameras

    Have an in-depth understanding of the latest motion picture equipment, cameras, lens, monitors, and lights

  • Communication

    Listen, do what’s asked by the producer, director and work as a team with other crew and production staff

  • Multi-task

    Watch, listen, think quickly, and problem solve on the go, all whilst carrying out complex technical tasks, adapt to requirements of different shoots

  • Concentration

    Be patient, maintain focus over long programme shoots, stay calm under pressure

Who does a Camera Operator work with?

Camera Operators report directly to the Director of Photography and the 1st AD. Sometimes they may even take direction directly from the Director. Camera Operators work with the Grips to move and set up camera equipment and talk to the Gaffers about lighting too. They often have a Camera Assistant or two working with them. Lastly, they work directly with the Digital Imaging Technician on preserving data from memory cards.

How do I become a Camera Operator?

Camera Operator is a senior and experienced position. Most work their way up into this role from a position like Camera Assistant.

Here are some more tips:

Educational requirements: You may find courses in a combination of subjects that include art, art and design, graphic communication or photography, along with maths and physics.

Get an internship: Internships are jobs with training. They’re a great opportunity to earn while you learn. If you can’t get an internship with a broadcaster, it might be worth trying to find one outside the TV industry, where you can develop your skills and your craft. You can then move into TV at a later point. Before taking any internship , check what you’ll be learning with your prospective employer and college, so you can be sure it will give you the skills you want.

Work for an equipment company: Contact an equipment rental company. Ask if you can become a kit room assistant for them. That way you will get to learn more about the kit and build up contacts.

Get a degree: It’s not essential to have a degree in order to become a Camera Operator. There are, however, degree courses that specialize in television production and photography that you might consider.
Get work experience: Try to get work experience by writing to local production companies and asking if they offer any.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Digital Imaging Technician

Also known as: DIT, Data Management Technician (DMT)

What does a Digital Imaging Technician do?

The Digital Imaging Technician (DIT) is a relatively new crew position in the film and television industry. Previously thought of as nothing more than a “data wrangler” the DIT is now widely considered one of the most integral members of the camera crew, bridging the gap between production and post-production, and working closely with the Director of Photography to achieve the optimal look for the project. The reason for this is that what used to be reels of exposed film is now “data” – digitally recorded images stored on cards or drives.

The DIT is almost an extension of the DoP. Helping with digital image manipulations such as aspect ratio, camera settings, resolution, codecs, frame rates and even LUTs (color grading). One of the primary functions of the DIT is to indeed wrangle data—offloading, copying data and keeping data secure in at least three locations. He or she works closely with the Video Assist Operator to get the raw footage ready for dailies—reviewed by the Director, and other members of the production team. As raw footage seldom looks right, the DIT manipulates the footage, applying color grading and other techniques to prepare it for viewing.

Lastly, the DIT is also in the middle of the workflow between production and the post-production team, liaising with the Editor or Assistant Editors and transferring data. The workflow focuses on secure and efficient handoff of data, making sure no prize footage is lost or corrupted during the process.

What's a Digital Imaging Technician good at?
  • Digital cameras and computers

    Have expert knowledge of cameras, file formats, storage media, and computer systems to get the smoothest workflow

  • Digital photography

    Understand contrast, focus, lighting, cinematography, and color. Have a good eye for grading raw footage

  • Problem-solving

    Be able to fix kit, tech, and cable connections

  • Communication

    Advise the director of photography on the benefits or limitations of particular set-ups, be the liaison between the set and the post-production team, create the best possible workflow between the two

  • Film production

    Understand how a film set works, the roles within it, and the production process

  • Staying calm under pressure

    Stay alert in a live environment, adjust picture accurately

  • Attention to detail

    Label files, wrangle the data without loss, notice corruptions

Who does a Digital Imaging Technician work with?

DITs work most closely with the camera department. On some shoots, they are needed at the Director of Photography’s side. They also need a good relationship with the 2nd AC, who gives the footage to the DIT when needed. (On larger sets they’re assisted by a Data Wrangler). DITs will often have to make reference notes for different departments like hair and make-up, costume department, and the Script Supervisor.

How do I become a Digital Imaging Technician?

Typically, Digital Imaging Technicians work their way up through the camera department. One good route into this is through becoming a Camera Trainee.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Video Assist Operator

Also known as: Playback, Video Playback Operator, Video Split Operator, VTR

What does a Video Assist Operator do?

Video Assist Operators (VAOs) take the images generated by digital cameras and display them on video monitors so the Director and other crew members can see exactly what’s been shot.

These images are also recorded for playback, so the action can be reviewed after each take. They are a reference through which continuity can be checked. The playback is stored to form a complete archive of the shots taken throughout the production.

VAO’s use dedicated software for the recording and instant playback. The software also gives the VAO the ability to simulate visual effects on set as filming is happening. The Director and Visual Effects (VFX) Supervisor can evaluate these shots immediately rather than wait until the raw footage is processed and manipulated.

The VAO can also edit the scenes on set for continuity and timing purposes. This helps ensure that no shots have been missed.

What's a Video Assist Operator good at?
  • Concentration

    Be alert, ready to respond immediately when called to record or playback, pay attention to the shots on the video monitors, spot problems and advise

  • Knowledge of video

    Understand video playback equipment, video and audio cables, wireless video links and the basics of video signals and formats

  • Knowledge of film production

    Understand digital cameras and lighting, appreciate the role and responsibilities of all the members of the crew

  • Communication

    Be able to work as part of a team and to liaise with other departments

  • Problem-solving

    Be able to diagnose faults and work out how to correct them

Who does a Video Assist Operator work with?

Video Assist Operators are primarily there to assist the Director and Script Supervisor but they also work closely with 1st Assistant Directors, camera and visual effects crews. On bigger shoots, they have a Video Assist Assistant to help.

How do I become a Video Assist Operator?

The most common route to becoming a VAO is through working at a junior level for camera rental companies or video playback companies. This helps you to understand the equipment and to get contacts in the industry. Trainees spend time getting to know the role before becoming Video Assist Assistants and, in time, Video Assist Operators.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Camera Trainee

Also known as: 3rd Camera Assistant

What does a Camera Trainee do?

Camera Trainees work with all members of the camera crew, but they usually work most closely with the 2nd AC or Clapper Loader.
They help prepare the equipment at the beginning of the job and may be involved with camera and lens tests. They might mark actors’ positions during rehearsals and keep records, camera logs and other paperwork ready for the edit.

Monitoring can be a big part of the role; setting up the monitors, cables and wireless. If there isn’t a dedicated monitor operator, it becomes the role of the Trainee. Experienced Trainees may also be asked to take on the responsibility of using the clapperboard, changing camera batteries and helping the Focus Puller (1st AC).

The scope of the job changes depending on the size of the production. They might start out making tea and coffee and getting the sides (printouts of the scenes to be shot that day) from the production office to the camera department. On bigger productions, they might help with the second unit camera, a camera set up to do secondary shoots while the main action is taking place elsewhere.

What's a Camera Trainee good at?
  • Photography

    Have a good eye and understanding of composition, light, colour, focus and story-telling

  • Watching film and TV drama

    Have a passion for the genre and a love of the industry

  • Learning by watching and asking

    Observe the Clapper Loader and Focus Puller and ask questions at the appropriate moments

  • Taking instruction

    Listen, do what’s asked, stay calm under pressure

  • Reliability

    Arrive to set on time and also be focused on set

  • Communication

    Work well with crew members, write accurate and detailed camera reports

Who does a Camera Trainee work with?

Camera Trainees mainly work with the Clapper Loader (2nd AC) but they also come into contact with the Focus Puller, Camera Operator, Director of Photography (DoP) and the wider camera department.

How do I become a Camera Trainee?

IATSE has an excellent apprenticeship training programme that is the most direct way into this field. You can also learn a lot about cameras and other equipment in a film production programme in college, university, or independent training programmes. Here are some more tips:

Educational Requirements: If you want to go to university, take courses that let you explore different subjects, ideally with some combination of art, art and design or graphic communication with math and physics.

Get work experience: Contact video making companies and ask if you can do work experience with them.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

LED Technician

Also known as: Virtual Production Manager

What does an LED Technician do?

An LED Technician works with a form of film-making technology called virtual production (sometimes referred to as virtual reality walls), which is becoming more and more popular. Virtual production involves large surfaces (walls, ceilings, sometimes floors) created out of LED screens. These large screens, called LED walls, are built on a soundstage. Visuals are then created in a 3D software named Unreal Engine and generated on the screens. The screen acts as a background and can be linked with motion capture cameras to add the effect of a real background. They move in relation to the camera movement and provide a real, immersive background experience. This creates less work in post-production.

An LED Technician is responsible for assisting in creating these immersive environments for productions. They have to build and calibrate the large screens and work with the production to achieve the right space and look. The Technician will be responsible for managing the screens on set, making sure the correct backgrounds are displayed for the scene. They will assist the production in creating this large world and if needed, advise the on-set camera team on the optimum settings for the screens.

What's an LED Technician good at?
  • Understanding light

    Have an artistic eye, know the techniques required to achieve different lighting effects

  • Electrical knowledge

    Have an in-depth understanding of circuits, power supplies, motors, cables, fuses, thermal relays, fault current protection switches, heating, lighting, air conditioning, and more

  • Knowledge of film-making

    Be able to understand the production process

  • Communication

    Be able to draw up plans and explain them to the crew, communicate well with the Director of Photography and the lighting crew, be clear and approachable even when making quick decisions under pressure

  • Organization

    Work within a budget, schedule the crew and the kit requirements, prioritize and meet deadlines

  • Understanding of LED and Unreal Engine Technology

    Have a clear and in-depth understanding of the technology you are working with

Who does an LED Technician work with?

An LED Technician will work with the Director and the DOP to understand the desired look of the scene. They will discuss the construction of the LED screen wall and the type of lighting effects and backgrounds desired. On-set, the LED Technician will work with a crew of Grips and Gaffers to construct the LED screen wall and make sure everything is working properly. LED Technicians will also work closely with the artists that are creating the landscapes in Unreal Engine.

How do I become an LED Technician?

Develop lighting and camera skills: The entranceway into becoming an LED Technician begins with understanding the fundamentals of lighting and camera. You can begin by learning these aspects by getting involved with a local lighting and camera union or by attending educational courses.

Look for Opportunities: After working on sets and gaining experience in lighting, camera, and the technology required on a film set you can move into LED virtual production. You can either attempt to find productions utilizing this technology and work with it to gain experience or work with a company that rents out the technology and services.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Electrician

What does an Electrician do?

Electricians look after all the electrical equipment needed on a film or TV production, with a particular focus on the lighting. They help plan it. They rig it (set it up). They operate it, maintain it, and de-rig. Electricians work directly under the Gaffer and the Best Boy Electrician.

During the planning stage of a programme, Electricians assess the equipment. They set it all up and make sure all electrical equipment is working safely throughout the production. This might involve testing, cleaning and repairing equipment, and writing dimmers and circuit boards.

Electricians that are in charge of the generators that may be needed for location lighting. These Electricians are also called Genny Operators. They also monitor electricity usage during shooting to see if additional power or resources are needed.

What's an Electrician good at?
  • Electrical knowledge

    Have official electrical qualifications and a thorough knowledge and understanding of circuits, power supplies, motors, cables, fuses, thermal relays, fault current protection switches, heating, air conditioning and more.

  • Lighting skills

    A good eye for colour, able to use all lighting equipment and aware of what can and can’t be achieved at different locations.

  • Communication

    Take direction well and work effectively within a team.

  • Health and safety

    Know health and safety issues including legal requirements, have strong attention to detail.

  • Manual dexterity

    Be able to do a physically demanding, hands-on job, sometimes at heights, and work long hours.

Who does an Electrician work with?

Electricians often work under a Gaffer and communicate closely with any other Electricians on the team, as well as Camera Operators and Directors. On large productions with lots of lights and LED video projection, there will be a team of Electricians working under a Gaffer.

How do I become an Electrician?

To be an Electrician on a film or TV production, you need electrical qualifications. You also need to be able to demonstrate creativity and an interest in and understanding of the industry.

Look outside the industry: Electricians are needed across many different industries in industrial, commercial and domestic environments. You can gain experience of working as an Electrician in another industry that you can later transfer to a role in the Canadian film & TV industry.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Assistant Editor

What does an Assistant Editor do?

Assistant Editors are the ones that keep the flow of post-production smooth and do the busy work so the Editor can focus on the edit. The role of the Assistant Editor is to communicate with the production departments such as the camera, sound, and Digital Imaging Technician. They must bring in the daily footage, and make sure it is organized and named properly for the Editor to access.

They have to make sure all the footage is organized in a way so the Editor can easily find the shots they are looking for. The names of the files need to be named specifically so the Editor knows what the shot entails. They will also implant metadata to the shots so the Editor can search for it with a tag and find it. Once the picture is “locked” (final edit of the film) the Assistant Editor’s job is still not over, they have to conform and transfer the files correctly for the sound team.

On large budget films, there is sometimes a team of Assistant Editors to work on the flow of the post-production pipeline. On lower-budget films or television, there is typically one Assistant Editor to the Editor.

What's an Assistant Editor good at?
  • Using edit software

    Be adept with tools like Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere, Final Cut, and Lightworks

  • Communication

    Work well with the editor, and production team in getting all the correct files and information

  • Attention to detail

    Be patient, show attention to detail and good organizational skills, often under pressure

  • Organization

    Must have great organization skills to keep the files in order, properly named, placed, and streamlined for the Editor

Who does an Assistant Editor work with?

Assistant Editors work directly under the Editor and will be doing anything the Editor directs them to do. They will also be working closely with the production team as the daily footage comes in. They will work with the 2nd Assistant Camera by gaining the camera logs and data from the shoot. They will also work with the Sound Recordist and gain the sound logs from them. Finally, they will work with a Digital Imaging Technician, in gaining the footage from the hard drives on set.

How do I become an Assistant Editor?

You can start as a Production Assistant (PA) for editing houses or Editors. You will build connections and create a reputation for yourself in the post-production field. You will need to be well-versed in editing software such as Avid Media Composer and Adobe Premiere Pro. If you have experience in editing already or have been in a school program focused on film and media production, create a reel of your work.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Locations Assistant

What does a Locations Assistant do?

Locations Assistants help the location manager and unit manager with the day-to-day running of the site. They help with cordoning off areas with location marshals or security guards, and keeping the location clean. 

Locations Assistants also help guide the crew to where to park on location. They also help with paperwork regarding acquiring, and management of all locations. On set, they help set up green rooms, tents and areas for holding the cast and crew.

They make sure the locations vans are stocked with stationery, snacks, flashlights, batteries, traffic cones, signs and all the other things that are needed on a shoot.

When filming has ended, they help pack up and leave the site as it was found. They are often the first on set and last to leave each day.

What's a Locations Assistant good at?
  • Interest in locations

    Have an eye for architecture, knowledge of geography, the ability to research and visualize how a location could be turned into a set

  • Photography

    Take good pictures when researching a location

  • Watching film and TV drama

    Have a passion for movies and a love of the industry

  • Reliability

    Get to set on time and do what is asked, take responsibility

  • Being outside

    Have stamina to work long hours in all weather, enjoy being outdoors

  • Communication

    Able to take direction from the location manager and let other members of the team know what’s happening, talk to extras and everyone from the owners of a stately home to the general public wanting to know what’s filming

Who does a Locations Assistant work with?

A Locations Assistant reports to the Locations Manager and works with everyone in the team. They will also be working with the Locations Scouts in the pre-production phase of the production. They will also work with a number of other cast and crew members on set, while they create green rooms and clean the sets.

How do I become a Locations Assistant?

If you are interested in becoming a Locations Assistant, gain experience in managing or taking care of an operational space. You can apply and reach out to local productions to gain more experience as a trainee in the locations department.

Here are some more tips:

Volunteer: Help at music gigs, live events and festivals. The skills needed to set up a successful experience for hundreds of people, troubleshooting, keeping it safe, dealing with the unexpected, are very similar to those needed to work in locations.

Take a health and safety course: This can be a valuable skill on set, especially when working with equipment and vehicles. Taking a course in health and safety can set you apart from other candidates.

Learn to drive: If possible, get access to a car, and definitely ensure you are licensed to drive, as this is often an essential part of the work of the locations department. It will make you more versatile and means you can help more.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Locations Scout

What does a Locations Scout do?

The Location Scout is a member of the production crew responsible for finding locations to be used for filming.

Sometimes, films and TV shows are shot on a set . However, films often use real locations to shoot in. They might be tasked with finding the perfect suburban home with a blue door, and then ensuring the residents of that home are willing to have a film crew shooting on their lawn. There are many databases of available locations for them to search online, but one fun part of the job also involves scouting locations by traveling to them to check them out in person.

A Location Scout is someone whose job it is specifically to visit potential locations in order to ensure they have everything the Producer and Director needs – this is a great entry level position within the locations / production department.

What's a Locations Scout good at?
  • Sourcing locations

    Have an eye for architecture, knowledge of landscapes, ability to research and visualize how a location could be turned into a set

  • Interest in photography

    Take good photographs of locations to present to the rest of the production team

  • Law

    Know how to comply with public liability, trespass, public highway and health and safety legislation

  • Negotiation

    Get the best price for the location and facilities

  • Organization

    Plan, budget, attend to detail and spot potential problems in advance

  • Communication

    Work sensitively with location owners, members of the public and production colleagues

  • Cartographer Skills

    Have a good sense of direction and ability to read and mark maps

Who does a Locations Scout work with?

Location Manager
Location Managers manage the shooting location. They make sure everyone in the cast and crew knows how to get there. They negotiate parking, noise reduction, power sources, catering requirements and any official permissions that may be needed with the site’s management or owner. They are responsible for ensuring it’s safe.

How do I become a Locations Scout?

Some key skills to becoming a good Location Scout include the ability to read, logistical and administrative skills, take photos, drive a car and interact with people in a professional manner. While there is no direct educational route to becoming a Location Scout, some have a background in geography, and real estate. Gaining experience on-set as a Production Assistant, and working towards the locations department is an excellent way to get into the field.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Boom Operator

What is a Boom Operator?
What does a Boom Operator do?

A Boom Operator’s primary responsibility is to capture sound on a film or TV production through the use of a microphone on a long pole or arm called a boom pole. The Boom Operator stands beside the Camera Operator and holds the boom pole above the heads of the performers keeping the pole and its shadow out of the shot. In a moving shot, the Boom Operator must follow the action while remaining unseen.

On larger productions, the Boom Operators’ sole job is to hold the boom pole. They report directly to the Sound Recordist or Sound Mixer. On smaller productions, the Boom Operator may also be responsible for affixing body mics known as ‘lavs’ or placing other mics throughout the location. In these cases, the Boom Operator and the Sound Mixer may be one and the same.

What's a Boom Operator good at?
  • Communication

    Have great people skills, put cast members at ease when fitting personal mics and be able to collaborate effectively with other team members to ensure the sound fits with the visuals.

  • Problem-solving

    Be resourceful and find effective solutions to technical problems and recording challenges.

  • Technical knowledge

    Be able to operate, maintain and repair sound equipment, keep up-to-date and use innovations.

  • Knowledge of the production and post-production process

    Have a good understanding of all crew roles and aspects of how a programme is made from pre- through to post-production.

  • Physical fitness

    The film industry is characterized by very long filming days, which means that boom operators often have to hold up the boom mic consistently throughout an entire day—for many days in a row. This can cause a lot of strain on your arms, shoulders, and back.

Who does a Boom Operator work with?

Boom Operators work intimately with all on-screen talent and contributors, fitting personal mics and monitoring their sound output. They communicate with all members of the production and crew, especially Camera Operators and Directors. The Boom Operator reports to the Production Sound Mixer, the senior-most sound crew member on set. On lower-budget films, the Boom Operator and the production’s Sound Mixer are often just one person, referred to as the “Sound Recordist.”

How do I become a Boom Operator?

Though there is no formal requirement, the basic skills common to all successful Boom Operators include cursory knowledge of electronics and sound recording equipment, excellent aural skills, strength and dexterity, memorization skills, good timing, attention to detail, and the ability to work in teams.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.