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.

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