We’ve have a few more requests regarding film production terminology! So here are a few more key words you may have heard us mention during the production process.
Assistant Director. This, despite it’s title, is not the assistant to the director (that would be ‘Director’s Assistant’). The assistant director is like the floor manager of the set, they are the holders of the schedule and are tasked with enforcing it. Shoots are notorious for running over schedule, with that many people doing that many jobs it is almost impossible to keep track of things, couple that with prima donnas or actors stumbling over lines due to the pressure it is easy to loose time that is difficult to make back.
An assistant directors job is of the upmost importance and is almost always the first person we hire when we have a limited crew budget. Films can cost a lot of money and most of that money comes from the day rates of very niche skilled people, the assistant director keeps the schedule and makes the amount of days you are hiring a full crew far less which is why they are always worth their wage.
Finally the AD takes the flack for the director (perhaps where the name comes from), on a student set everyone would be asking the director where the camera should be placed, what shot is next, where are the actors etc etc. The AD has all the paperwork from preproduction so knows exactly what the shot is, roughly where the camera should go, they have a radio and are in touch with the rest of the team so can pin point an actor in seconds.
You may also hear the AD referred to as ‘1st AD’. This is usually when they have assistants themselves which would be called the 2nd AD, 3rd AD etc etc. Often they will have specific tasks themselves like looking after the green room, looking after the runners etc.
Release forms are essential on set, they are a document that state the subject in question (an actor, an interviewee, a location) is allowed to be used in the film for the intended purpose of the film. It essentially waives their rights to have the video taken down for using their face, voice or likeness. The release form should also state that, if there is any, the payment or compensation agreed (e.g. an actor’s fee).
It is important to note that a release form is not a contract, it is merely permission to use their image on screen.
There is a whole host of legal and moral issues surrounding release forms (I.e. was the subject intoxicated at the time) and it is always best to fully read up on them before trying to use them as a legal aid in a production.
‘The frame’ is what filmmakers use to refer to the image that is being captured by the camera in a given shot. The reason this needs differentiation is because the whole set may not be seen by the audience but the frame is what will ultimately be viewed. A common example for this term is when the microphone works it’s too close to the subject and someone shouts ‘the mic is in frame’.
The frame is what everyone is there for. It is the art piece. All of the work goes into making sure that every element inside that frame is perfect and meaningful. It does not matter that the huge light source does not look like the sun in a sound stage, it matters what the emitted light looks like in the frame.
Cutaways is one of the most common things that we explain to our clients. It is a staple in documentary filmmaking and used very frequently to keep pace and diversity in an interview. A cutaway is most commonly used to show a visual example relating to what someone is talking about in an interview. For example say a CEO is talking in his office about the incredible machines that are at work in his factory and the film cuts, still with his voiceover, to these machines printing away in the factory, we have literally cut away to see what he is talking about, hence the name.