Choose A Role And Master It: A Message To Beginner Filmmakers

By | Published March 10th, 2020 | in Crew, Techniques

Choose A Role And Master It: A Message To Beginner Filmmakers

There are a ton of jobs available on a film set, but which is the right one for you to master?

The film industry is vast. There are so many people who make the TV shows and movies you love come to life. 

So how can you figure out which of these available jobs are for you? 

We have you covered. 

Whether you’re new to the industry or have been trying to break in for years, this is the post for you. I’m going to take you through the jobs available on set and talk about how each of them can help guide you to the career you’ve always wanted. 

Ready? 

Let’s go. 

Choose A Role 

For those of us who went to film school, most programs give kids a well-rounded look at the most popular jobs on set, like directing, writing, sound, and editing. 

But if you didn’t go to film school, you may not be familiar with these broad roles, or the intricate ones that happened behind the scenes. 

The best way to learn about every job on set is to Google. 

Or sit through the end credits the next time you’re at the movie theater.

It can be very intimidating to look at a list of all the jobs on set and wonder which could be for you. Off the top of my head I can think of: 

  1. Production Assistant 
  2. Best Boy 
  3. Grip 
  4. Boom Operator 
  5. Sound 
  6. Cinematographer 
  7. Assistant Camera Op 
  8. Focus Puller 
  9. Director
  10. Writer
  11. Producer
  12. Editor
  13. DIT
  14. Colorist
  15. Transportation 
  16. Script supervisor 
  17. Set design 
  18. Hair and Makeup 
  19. Costuming 
  20. Stunt supervisor 

That’s twenty right off the top of my head. And many more exist. Just check out this infographic from No Film School, where they list all of the available jobs!

Master Your Job 

Now that you know all the jobs, it’s time to master one. 

With all these positions to choose from, you can get overwhelmed. You may try your hand at a few, but in an ideal world, you should choose one and master it. Preferably one that can lead where you’d like to spend the majority of your career. 

Do you know where you want your career to go? 

Why should I specify my role on set?  

As the old adage goes ‘Jack of all trades, master of none…’

But in actuality, it’s great to have a working knowledge of what each person does on set. Not only will it give you a deeper appreciation for the final product, but it can also put you where you need to be to have a career, versus only having a job in the industry. 

So let’s go through some goals people have, and talk about the jobs that might lead there. 

1. I want to Direct

Congratulations, you and everyone else. But becoming a director is not so simple. You need to do a few things to establish yourself. The first thing would be spending time on sets. You can do this as a production assistant or working your way up from PA to AD, assisting the director. 

You also need to make your own projects. That means directing short films or even independent feature films to get the world out that you want to work. 

2. I want to write 

You picked a job that does not require being on set, though it will help you understand the way things are shot and how directors and crew interpret the word on the page to the screen. I was a production assistant when I first moved to Hollywood, but I learned the most about writing not there but working for a producer as their assistant.  

3. I want to be a Cinematographer 

The camera department is brimming with jobs. You can start as a PA for them, learning the ropes and how things work. You can then move up the ladder as a camera assistant, operator, focus puller, and then maybe being the director of photography on some second unit shoots.

Eventually, you’ll begin to shoot more and have a resume to be hired. 

Summing Up Mastering Roles on Set 

As you can see, the pathway to most jobs in the industry is through becoming a production assistant first. We like that idea because it also puts you on a set and allows you to see everything else that happens. 

From there, pick what you like. Maybe you came out here to be in cameras but have more fun in set design. No shame in switching, just find the jobs that keep your love of the industry alive. 

It’s hard out here but becoming good at a job makes it better. Not only do you get paid more, but it makes the days go be with ease. 

Being on set can be stressful, but the better you are at your job, the better your team becomes. Fill a team with experts and you’ve got something going. 

It works for us at Ambient Skies!

Who Are We?

Ambient Skies is a full service entertainment production company focused on creative storytelling for commercials, documentaries, and narratives.

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About The Author:

Trenton Massey