For Members

Photo courtesy ASMP member Andy Batt

Video Tutorial: Roles

When producing video, who is involved and what are their roles?
  • Producer. Effectively the person in charge of everything, from the general concept of the project through the finances and scheduling of how things get done. For smaller projects, the producer and the director are effectively one person who has a vision for how the end product looks and what it’s going to say to the audience.
  • Director of photography. This is the person who’s going to be responsible for translating the concept into raw footage, taking care of lighting design, camera equipment selection and pretty much anything else involved with getting usable images captured. They may serve as their own camera operator, or they may simply direct other camera operators to get the style and look they’re after.
  • Location sound recorder. On really small projects this is covered by the camera operator (or perhaps DP if they are the camera operator), but ideally you’ll have one person who is responsible for nothing other than making sure you have great sound to work with in post.
  • Editor. This is the person who takes all of the footage and sound captured during the shoot and whittles it down into a cohesive story that communicates the right ideas and emotions to the audience. They may be responsible for graphics, titles and the final “finishing” of the piece.
  • Writer. Critical for the narrative.

Other roles that may crop up depending on the needs of the project:

  • Director. The person who will oversee all creative decisions on the project. Ultimately this is someone who will direct the DP, editor and other members of the team as to their vision. The director, when separate from the producer, is generally not responsible for any financial or schedule-related decisions.
  • Line Producer. The person who puts crew together, handles all logistics of the shoot on site and makes sure everyone is doing their job.
  • Camera operator. If the DP isn’t serving as his or her own camera operator, this person is responsible for doing the actual shooting in accordance with the DP’s direction. They may be asked to bring their own gear, or use whatever’s been rented for the shoot.
  • Makeup/Hair. Same as in a still shoot. They’re responsible for making sure the talent looks their best.
  • Wardrobe. Just as with hair and makeup, this person is responsible for making sure the talent’s wardrobe looks as good as possible, including potentially selecting the wardrobe to making sure it’s clean and pressed.
  • Gaffer(s). They handle all lighting-related needs of the DP, from getting the right equipment to placing it in position and getting everything powered up.
  • Location manager. If you have a large number of locations or a particularly challenging one, this person may be required to juggle access, permits, schedules, crew, etc. Basically anything related to making sure a location gives you what’s needed for the shoot.
  • Sound editor. Sometimes a separate person from the primary “picture” editor will handle all sound-related editing for the project. This is particularly true if a large amount of the sound is reliant on cutting together a large number of clips in post as opposed to using straight location sound. For example, if none of your location sound is usable, or if none was captured.
  • Music supervisor. On larger projects (or those that really need it), this person is responsible for supervising all music on the project. That may involve selection and placement of music (also known as “music editing”), hiring composers and other artists and making sure all rights are secured.
  • Graphics artist. As the title suggests, this person is responsible for providing whatever graphics the project may require as part of the editorial process. This could range from titles all the way up to complex animations.

“I am a still photographer and I collaborate with other principals on how to utilize stills in their motion pieces or offer the images to our clients as a stand-alone service. One principal is a filmmaker and high-end video producer, and serves as artistic director/producer; and another principal is a photojournalist by trade but has done extensive work with documentary story telling through video, and serves as the director. Rates of pay vary too widely (based on the client, the use and the intensity of the shoot) to give an average rate. We also are too new to have a rock solid pricing structure.”

Erik Jacobs

“Virtually any role in a production can be done by a sub-contractor: scriptwriter, producer, location scout, director, art director, assistant director, director of photography, camera operator, gaffer, grip, location sound mixer, boom operator, actor, makeup artist, teleprompter operator, dolly grip, production assistant, craft services, prop master, wardrobe, editor, graphic artist, composer, voice-over talent and DVD authoring to mention the most common. On small or low budget projects it is not uncommon to have a single person wear all those hats. Rates vary by experience, market and type of production.”

John Freeland