The Role of an Assistant Director.

Most of you probably know exactly what a Director does, but how many of you know about an Assistant Director’s role?

An Assistant Director plays an Integral Role in the process of Filmmaking.

As a student if you are exploring a Film Director Course, then it’s important for you to understand the different areas of Assistant Director’s contribution.

The key areas where an Assistant Director (AD) contributes are: 

Casting

So many films with great storylines, scripts and amazing cinematography have been let down by a failure to cast the right people in key roles: After all would Will Ferrell work as Jack Sparrow, or would Irfaan Khan work as Krrish? Not really. Casting is pivotal to the believability and hence the critical and financial success of a film.

As an AD, you are an important part of the casting process. While the lead actors have often been cast while the project is being conceived, there are a number of other smaller roles that need to be filled. Much of this will be the AD’s responsibility.

Breaking down a script

Scripts need to be broken down into various sections: props, characters, stunts, wardrobe, locations, sets, etc. Each section often needs to be tackled separately and the breakdown becomes preeminent. For instance what good is a knight of the realm without his sword, how believable is a medieval warrior dressed as a US marine?

Make sure you go through the script more than once and don’t hesitate to use a color or symbol scheme to separate the various aspects of a scene.

Don’t mess with continuity

Continuity is key to any film and preserving it is also one of you responsibilities as AD. You have to coordinate with all departments, monitor the shoot, and make sure that there are no errors in continuity, with regards to costume, make-up, and location. During the pre-production stage, at the time of scheduling and budgeting, you will have to create a number of lists based on the script, including a one-line continuity synopsis providing basic information on each scene, such as the time of day.

Handling adoring fans

Don’t you just hate it when someone’s constantly disturbing you while you prepare for a big exam? Now multiply that by a thousand and just imagine what a superstar goes through when he has to prepare for a scene and deal with hundreds of fans.

Crowd control is essential on the set, and while you can’t control the popularity of your star you sure can make sure they’re given the space they need to prepare for a scene. Most large production hire private security firms to control fans, but on a small-budget film you might need to wrangle a few mates and do it yourself.

Handling call sheets

The last thing you need is your stars cooling their heels in their trailers waiting on their scenes. This is where the call sheet comes into play. This informs the cast and crew of a film production where and when they should report for a particular day of filming. Call sheets include other useful information such as contact information (e.g. phone numbers of crew members and other contacts), the schedule for the day, which scenes and script pages are being shot, and the address of the shoot location. Without call sheets you will not have communication system or a schedule and without these two there can’t be any film.

Today, several alumni of Annapurna College of Film and Media are working as Assistant Directors in Bollywood and Tollywood. Before students plunge into the world of Film and Media, they must explore the wide range of filmmaking courses and fully understand the roles that contribute to the process of filmmaking.

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