What are the different roles in a film crew and their responsibilities?

Whether you’re working on a short commercial or a blockbuster movie, your film set probably has a life of its own. That’s why it takes a highly organised team – your film crew – to keep everything moving in the right direction.

But depending on the production size and budget, some roles can be merged, replaced, or scrapped altogether. In other words, we’d have a pretty hard time fitting all possible film crew positions and their variations into this post. Instead, we’ll guide you through crucial roles and their duties, so you can quickly gain footing on any film set.


What is a film crew?

In simple terms, a film crew is a group of people brought about by the producers to create a film or motion picture. It’s considered a separate entity from actors (and sometimes producers).

Film crews vary drastically not only from set to set but also between different stages of production. For example, casting directors are only present during pre-production; you’ll see makeup artists during the shooting; foley artists create sound effects for the film in post – you get the gist.

Positions in a film crew can be further divided into “above” or “below the line”. While the terms come from production’s budget, these days, they’re often associated with someone’s creative input and level of importance.

Directors, producers, and screenwriters are all above-the-line positions and get paid a fixed rate regardless of schedule changes. They also hold the most creative authority and are considered to be at the top of the food chain.

Unsurprisingly, everyone that isn’t included in the above-the-line budget is part of the below-the-line crew. Although their input is crucial, these positions are seen as easier to replace, have less creative authority, and are usually paid by the hour.

roles and duties in a film crew

What are the different roles and duties in a film crew?


  • Executive producer (EP)– while the term “executive producer” represents authority and respect, it usually doesn’t come with a clear-cut list of responsibilities.For example, some executive producers help finance the production, some contribute creatively with scripting or advice, and some are important enough to aid the project by simply putting their names down.
  • Producers– producers answer directly to the EP and usually secure funding, put the project into motion, bring about the directors and screenwriters, and organise the production.
    • Line Producers– line producers manage budgets, create schedules, and put out everyday (financial) fires.

Directors & Management

  • Director– This role probably doesn’t need a lot of explaining, so let’s just say that directors are in charge of the film’s creative vision. Therefore, they’re involved in all other departments and guide the project toward its final form.
    • 1st Assistant Director (1st AD)– 1st AD shafts the shooting schedule, acts as the link between the director and the rest of the crew, and is generally the primary problem-solver on set.
    • 2nd Assistant Director (2nd AD) – helping with everyday problems and taking on coordinative work, 2nd ADs are common in the film industry. If you work on a particularly large set, you might even encounter the creatively-titled 2nd 2nd ADs
      • Set Personal Assistants (PA)– PAs are the most entry-level position on set. They usually aren’t required to have any specific skills and are there to help with miscellaneous tasks for different departments. Although they’re not management, Set PAs usually answer to the ADs, hence why they’re in this section – but you can expect PAs to work in every department.
    • Script Supervisor– a script supervisor pays attention to continuity, not only when it comes to the dialogue. It’s their job to make sure that a water bottle visible in one shot of the scene is still there in the next one.

Camera Department

  • Director of Photography (cinematographer)– the cinematographer records the footage following the director’s vision. They work closely with the light and grip departments and the storyboarding artist to bring about the director’s vision.
    • Camera operator– while some cinematographers do it themselves, camera operators are usually hired to control the camera.
      • 1st Assistant Cameraperson (1st AC or puller) – the puller used to be mainly responsible for pulling focus. But, with the rise of digital cameras, their duties grew to manage various capture settings. More extensive projects might hire a 2nd AC to support the camera crew.
    • Digital Imaging Technicians (DIT)– a relatively new addition to the standard crew, DIT’s role is to ensure the footage meets the production’s standards. They prevent and troubleshoot any complications caused by recording digitally.

Lighting & Grip Department

  • Chief Lighting Technician (Gaffer)– Gaffers are in charge of lighting and electricity. They work with the Key Grip to execute the cinematographer’s lighting plan.
    • Best Boy/Girl electric– Gaffer’s second in command, Best Boy/Girl, is responsible for delegating tasks to the technicians, hiring personnel, and maintaining equipment.
  • Key Grip– as the head of the grip department, the Key Grip is responsible for the crew members who position lights, cameras, and support equipment and create temporary constructions needed by other departments.
    • Best Boy/Girl grip– Best Boy/Girl grip is the Key Grip’s chief lieutenant. They usually oversee more complicated grip elements and supervise the Grips, the technicians that execute the grip plans.

Sound Department

  • Production Sound Mixer/Sound Recordist – the Production Sound Mixer is in charge of recording all relevant sounds on set that will later be edited and layered into the film in post.
    • Boom operator – on smaller sets, this role is often taken on by the Production Sound Mixer. Still, in bigger productions, a dedicated person is responsible for the boom mic and placing microphones around the set and on the cast.

Art Department

  • Production Designer – working closely with the cinematographer, the Production Designer leads the crew responsible for the look and locations used in the film.
    • Art Director – as the Production Designer’s second in command, the Art Director organises and supervises the crew in the Art department.
      • Set Dressers – Set Dressers are responsible for arranging and decorating the set. Depending on the project’s size, they might work under a Set Decorator who plans the scene beforehand.
    • Prop Master – as the name suggests, the Prop Master is in charge of sourcing all prop’s used in the project.

Wardrobe, Hair & Makeup Departments (“The Vanities”)

  • Key Makeup Artist (MA) & Key Hair Stylist – Key MAs and Hairstylists are in charge of planning the actors’ look for each scene in terms of makeup and hair, respectively. They work closely with the director, cinematographer, production designer, and wardrobe designer to maintain continuity across the film’s aesthetic.
    • Hair & Makeup (HMU) Assistants  – HMU Assistants carry out the makeup and hair plans designed by the department heads. They also watch and adjust the actors’ looks during the shooting day.
    • SPFX Makeup Artist and/or Prosthetic Director – bringing to life visions beyond the makeup artists’ expertise, the SPFX MAs create looks of monsters, aliens, etc. On bigger sets, they might work with designated Prothetic Designers.
  • Costume Designer – the Costume Designer works with the director and crew positions in their department to plan out, source, and/or create the clothing used by the cast.

Stunt & VFX Departments

  • Stunt Coordinator – the Stunt Coordinator’s job is to create and choreograph an exciting illusion while minimising the actual danger for the stunt performers.
  • VFX Supervisor – while most of the special effects work is done in post, a VFX Supervisor is present during shoots to ensure that relevant footage has been shot in a way that’ll allow for later editing.


And there it is! Although it’s by no means exhaustive, this is a list of all crucial film crew positions that you’re bound to meet on set, whether you’re working with a massive studio or a local team like our video production company in Manchester.

Keep in mind that these are the main roles involved in the project’s production phase – there’s a lot more talent working in pre- and post-production to bring the final film to life.