- Provide support to directors on film and TV sets, helping with everything from scripts and cast to paperwork
- Exciting, fast-paced work in multiple locations - hours may be long during filming
- Progress from 3rd to 2nd to 1st Assistant Director, then onto Directing
As an Assistant Director (AD) you'll work closely with the Director to support them with all aspects of organising and managing a creative and technical side of making film and TV. Most productions use a team of ADs, with a 1st AD, at least one 2nd AD and sometimes one or more 3rd ADs, all with different jobs to do.
- Planning before a production
- Managing the set during filming
- Working with the director to break down the script into a shot-by-shot 'storyboard'
- Deciding the order of shooting
- Planning a filming schedule
- Taking into account the director's ideas and the budget
- Overseeing the hiring of locations, props and equipment
- Recruit the cast and crew
- Make sure filming stays on schedule
- Supervise a team of 2nd and 3rd ADs and runners
- Motivate the cast and crew
- Produce each day's 'call sheet' (schedule)
- Be the link between the set and the production office
- Deal with paperwork
- Organise transport and hotels
- Make sure cast members are on set at the right times
- Find and supervise extras on productions where there's no 3rd AD
- Make sure extras are on set at the right times, and give them their cues
- Direct the action in background crowd scenes, and act as a messenger on set
You'll usually be paid a fee for each project. Rates can vary widely. The Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU) has information on current pay guidelines.
Your working hours could be long and irregular, depending on the demands of a production, and will often include evenings and weekends. You'll work in TV and film studios, or on location. Work can be anywhere in the UK or abroad, so a driving licence is usually required.
There are no set requirements for this role and employers are usually more interested in your experience and skills than your qualifications. You'll need the ability to lead and motivate others, excellent organisational and planning skills, problem-solving ability, a flexible and adaptable attitude, and good administrative skills.
You might start as runner or production assistant on set, and work your way up to 3rd or 2nd assistant director (AD). It can take several years to progress from being a runner through to 1st AD. You may find it easier to get a job as a runner if you do a film, video or media production course that includes practical skills and work placements.
You can take short courses in production skills for assistant directors run by film schools, regional screen agencies and private training providers.
You can also do a foundation degree, higher national diploma, or degree in film production, creative media production, and film and television.
Or you could start off by taking a college course such as a Level 3 Diploma in Media Techniques, Level 3 Diplomas in Creative Media Production, or a Level 4 Diploma in Media Production Film-making.
You may also find it useful to train in health and safety, as this is likely to be part of your duties.
With experience, you could progress to be a director, production manager or producer.