Assistant Director Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

An Assistant Director, or First Assistant Director, works on a film production team and is responsible for organizing the personnel, logistics and workflow involved in producing a project. Their duties include organizing staff schedules, coordinating locations and arranging equipment rental and setup.

 

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What does an Assistant Director do?

Assistant Directors are employed by production companies or work freelance on different creative and professional projects to streamline shooting schedules and help Directors produce a film on an efficient, accurate timeline. Assistant Directors are the primary point of contact for Actors, Camera Operators, Sound, Makeup Artists and other people involved in producing a film. They act as a liaison between the Director and other roles, ensuring that they can accomplish their creative vision on time and within budget. In addition to managing staff, Assistant Directors ensure that all behaviors on set comply with safety and labor regulations.

Assistant Director duties and responsibilities

The Assistant Director has many varied duties during filming, including the following:

  • Coordinate all production activity while supervising the crew and cast
  • Create the filming schedule in consultation with the director
  • Prepare the storyboard
  • Arrange the hiring of location, equipment and props
  • Ensure that the cast is on standby at all times and ready for action when the director calls on them
  • Create and adhere to the filming schedule
  • Motivate and drive the crew and cast with announcements and directions
  • Oversee the production and distribution of the call sheet, which informs all cast and crew members of the daily shooting schedule
  • Keep a close watch on health and safety regulations on the set
  • Assist with other tasks when and where necessary, such as making calls, running the office, interviewing personnel, helping with copyright documentation, arranging meetings and managing the budget

What does an Assistant Director do?

Assistant Directors are employed by production companies or work freelance on different creative and professional projects to streamline shooting schedules and help Directors produce a film on an efficient, accurate timeline. Assistant Directors are the primary point of contact for Actors, Camera Operators, Sound, Makeup Artists and other people involved in producing a film. They act as a liaison between the Director and other roles, ensuring that they can accomplish their creative vision on time and within budget. In addition to managing staff, Assistant Directors ensure that all behaviors on set comply with safety and labor regulations.

Assistant Director skills and qualifications

A great Assistant Director needs to have the following key skills for this role:

  • Authoritative team leadership skills: A successful Assistant Director must be authoritative as well as a good motivator while still being an approachable team player.
  • Exceptional organizational skills: Time management and the ability to plan ahead are key skills in this role. Since an Assistant Director is often interrupted, they need to be good at multi-tasking and prioritizing.
  • Excellent communication skills: Since an Assistant Director routinely has to deal with issues and crisis situations, they need to communicate clearly with tact and diplomacy.
  • Flexibility and commitment: An Assistant Director often works unusual hours, so a strong commitment to the job is important. Since this job is generally high-pressure and stressful, a flexible and positive attitude is vital for a great Assistant Director.

Assistant Director salary expectations

The average salary for an Assistant Director is $53,736 and may vary according to the size and type of production unit. It also depends on the Assistant Director’s education, experience and skills. This salary estimate information is collected from 3,544 employees, users and Indeed job posts over the past 36 months.

Assistant Director education and training requirements

An Assistant Director must have a high school diploma or equivalent. It’s ideal to have completed a recognized film study or similar course.

Assistant Director experience requirements

Experience for the position of Assistant Director varies. Some professionals move into this role with some experience in other aspects of film, television or video production. However, pertinent filming experience, especially previous experience as an Assistant Film Director is valuable.

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Frequently asked questions about Assistant Directors

 

What makes a good Assistant Director?

A good Assistant Director must have extensive knowledge of all the individual tasks and processes involved in producing a project in their industry. They need to be personable, friendly and persuasive to maintain professional contacts and gain access to shooting locations, keep staff satisfied, manage conflicts and reconcile creative differences between the Director and other artistic roles on a film set. Excellent Assistant Directors enjoy working in a fast-paced environment and have the stamina and focus to work on a set under hot lights or other uncomfortable conditions all day. They are highly organized, communicative and dedicated.

 

Who reports to an Assistant Director?

A wide range of production staff can report to an Assistant Director as the first line of contact when bringing up issues to a Director or learning about their own duties and responsibilities. Because Assistant Directors are in charge of scheduling, all cast and crew who work on a set reports to them with scheduling issues and requests. Assistant Directors can also oversee pre-production and post-production roles such as Hiring Managers and Editors, allowing them to prepare a long-term schedule for a film’s planning and release.

 

What is the difference between an Assistant Director and a Director?

Directors develop a creative project’s overall vision while the Assistant Director handles logistics so that the Director can turn an idea into a fully-formed film. Assistant Directors focus on the details of running a set, allowing the Director to make high-level strategic choices and coach the cast and crew throughout the day.

 

Do Assistant Directors have different responsibilities based on industry?

While Assistant Directors are commonly employed in the film industry, other creative fields and professional organizations can employ Assistant Directors to help coordinate business operations in their field. Assistant Directors still work with employees, connecting management and staff, but the type of positions they work with differ depending on the industry. For example, an Assistant Director on a film set would regularly work with AV Support Technicians, Videographers and Set Designers while an Assistant Director of a marketing agency would work with Graphic Designers, Copywriters and Account Managers.

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