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Film, Television, & Content Creation

Assistant Director

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Assistant Director

What does an Assistant Director do?

The first assistant director (1st AD) works in sync with the director. 1st ADs also work closely with the producer and production manager to create the shooting schedule. During pre-production, they break down the script and analyze it for what will be needed in terms of cast, locations, equipment, and crew. They plan the schedule based on input from the casting director, director, location manager, director of photography, and other department heads to ensure they track all availability and logistical conflicts.


During production, the 1st AD is responsible for managing the set and ensuring that the production will make its day. They are the timekeeper on set. They make sure that every department is moving efficiently and that everyone is in the right place at the right time.

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What does a Second Assistant Director do?

The second assistant director (2nd AD) reports to and works under the command of the First Assistant Director (1st AD). The 2nd AD is usually hired during the last week of pre-production. During pre-production, they set up the AD kit and creates the first call sheet. The daily call sheets are reviewed by the 1st AD, Production Manager, and Producer before disseminating to the cast and crew.


During production, the 2nd AD is the primary contact for cast and crew. The cast, background talent, and crew typically check in with the 2nd AD upon arrival to base camp. During check-in, the 2nd AD manages the personnel's paperwork regarding releases, timecards, and SAG-AFTRA's exhibit G reports. The 2nd AD will remain in constant communication with the 1st AD throughout the entire production using a headset or walkie-talkie.


Their responsibilities during production include:


  • Prepares and distributes daily call sheets based on the shooting schedule

  • Keeps everyone up-to-date with pertinent information

  • Ensures actors are ready for filming

  • Coordinates the talents transport to hair, makeup, and wardrobe

  • Responsible for coordinating the talents transport to and from set

  • Responsible for wrangling background talent (Extras)

  • Responsible for organizing and positioning Extras in a scene

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Script Analysis

What does a Key Production Assistant do?

The key production assistant (PA) is the chief on-set assistant. They report and work directly with the 1st AD. In addition, they do anything essential for the shoot's day-to-day operations, such as running errands, delivering messages, looking after the cast and crew, providing drinks and food, and escorting talent to and from the set.


Their responsibilities also include:


  • Administration of walkie-talkies, traffic cones, and other production staff equipment

  • Supervision of other production assistants

  • Assists in the direction of background action and the supervision of crowd control

  • Assists in set lock-downs

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