Reel Opportunities

1st Assistant Camera

Also known as: AC, Focus Puller

What is a 1st Assistant Camera?
What does a 1st Assistant Camera do?

The 1st Assistant Camera (1st AC) is responsible for maintenance of the camera, such as keeping it clean or adjusting the focus. Often, an AC whose main job is to maintain the camera lens’ focus during each scene is called the “Focus Puller”.

Pulling focus is not an easy job onset and is very important for production. The 1st Assistant Camera will sit next to the camera operator and use a dial to bring the picture in and out of focus. The 1st Assistant Camera will need to know exactly where the actor, or the object, that needs to be in focus is, so they can correctly mark the dial and pull to it.

They also manage the camera equipment and make sure it is organized on set. They will help with preparing the equipment, cleaning the lenses, and even setting up and tearing down the camera rig each day.

What's a 1st Assistant Camera good at?
  • Photography

    Have a good eye and understanding of composition, light, colour, focus, and framing

  • Technical knowledge of cameras

    Have a good understanding of the latest motion picture equipment, cameras, lens, filters monitors, and lights

  • Taking instruction

    Listen, do what’s asked accurately, stay calm under pressure, pay close attention to detail

  • Communication

    Work well with crew members, onscreen contributors, presenters and production staff, be responsive

  • Handling cameras

    Be well-coordinated, prepared to lift and move heavy camera equipment frequently throughout a shoot

Who does a 1st Assistant Camera work with?

The 1st Assistant Camera will work directly under the Camera Operator of the production or the operator of the camera unit. They will work closely with the Camera Operator and be by their side for most of the production. They will also work closely with the 2nd Assistant Camera as they both will help in the daily functions of the camera department. The 1st Assistant Camera will also work with the DOP (Director of Photography).

How do I become a 1st Assistant Camera?

Like many other departments on a set, it is possible to learn on the job by starting out in the lowest tier of the Camera Department and working your way up. Another way to gain an intimate knowledge of the gear is to work at a camera rental house. Many equipment rental companies encourage their employees to learn about the equipment that they offer, and it can be a great way to gain experience that you will later use on set. You can also look into the local camera unions such as IATSE and try to gain experience from them. They can provide qualifications to acquire entry-level positions on sets.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Set Designer

What does a Set Designer do?

Set Designers create the way a film or TV show looks by designing the sets. Films can be set in any number of places: a Victorian orphanage, a Caribbean cruise ship, or another planet, for example. They work with all the other visual departments, including costume, lighting, visual & special effects, and graphic design to build the perfect set without needing to rely on shooting on location.

Set Designers start with the script. Collaborating with the Production Designer, they draw sketches and develop blueprints. Then they work with other art department members to agree on a budget. They prioritise the work schedule and allocate the management of finances to team members performing different tasks. They are usually freelancers.

What's a Set Designer good at?
  • Art

    Draw by hand to scale, do technical drawings and computer-aided design

  • Design

    Understand colour theory, know the history of architecture and interior design

  • Knowledge of photography

    Understand cameras, lenses and lighting and their effect on a film’s look and mood

  • Organization

    Manage budgets, draw up schedules, prioritize and meet deadlines

  • Communication

    Share the vision with a wide number of different people and keep a team working together well

Who does a Set Designer work with?

Set Designers work directly with and report to the Production Designer or the Art Director. On a day-to-day basis they work with the art department such as Carpenters and Painters, and when filming they work with crews.

How do I become a Set Designer?

Most Set Designers have worked in the art department for many years. Aim to start as a Production Assistant and work your way up through the ranks outlined above. Here are some more tips:

Get a degree: Most set designers have got degrees in art, architecture, theatre, theatre design, interior design or 3D design.

Get an internship: An internship is a job with training, so it’s a great opportunity to earn as you learn. However, it can be challenging to find jobs as an internship within production companies. It might be worth looking for a job as an intern in an industry that uses similar skills, such as being an Architectural Assistant. This will help you develop your craft and create a body of work for a portfolio that you can use to find your way into film and TV shows at a later point.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Art Department Assistant

What does an Art Department Assistant do?

Art Department Assistants help the whole art department, but particularly the Art Director. In a studio, they help dress the set and manage the props, ensuring they are in working order and available when needed.

They also help with styling when the filming is on location, where there might be a very large area needing styling and props. If an Art Department Assistant is experienced, they might be the only person from the art department on location.

Otherwise, much of an assistant’s work is in the preparation before filming. This involves helping with the sourcing and purchasing of materials, as well as the building, painting, and finishing of props. They sometimes design and make props themselves.

Generally, Art Department Assistants are expected to pitch ideas and assist in any way that’s required, from helping transport items and making coffee to filling the gaps of any work that needs doing. On smaller budget studio shows, they might do the work of a Production Assistant alongside their other responsibilities.

What's an Art Department Assistant good at?
  • Art

    Draw conceptually (technical and freehand), work with specialist design software, build props and dress sets

  • Attention to detail

    Have thorough research skills, source correct materials and props, be organized and tidy

  • Knowledge of construction and design

    Research and awareness of the latest developments in production design

  • Knowledge of production

    Understand production techniques, studio environments, studio capabilities, and the challenges of working on location

  • Hard work

    Be able to multitask and meet deadlines

Who does an Art Department Assistant work with?

Art Department Assistants work directly with Art Directors and manage Production Assistants, but they will also work with everyone and anyone in the department, including Production Designers and Buyers.

How do I become an Art Department Assistant?

Build up your skills as an artist. Then try to find work in an entry-level role such as an art department Production Assistant, and work your way up.

Develop a wide range of art skills: Learn how to paint, do 3D modeling and graphic art. The more you can do at this stage, the more chance you have of being useful in the art department later on.

Learn to drive: If possible, get access to a car. This makes you more versatile and means you can help more.

Build a portfolio: This is essential for impressing collaborators and people in the film industry.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Prop Master

Also known as: Property Master, Prop Person

What does a Prop Master do?

A prop is any moveable item that can be seen on a film. It could be a hat, gun, cushion, wine glass, lightsaber, carpet, kitchen unit, tree or aircraft. Prop Masters run the property department which makes, stores and transports the props as well as preps the props for each day’s shoot.

Prop Masters usually start work a few weeks before shooting begins. They work with Production Designer, Set Decorators and Art Director to work out what props are needed. They do research and then draw up properties lists, deciding which are to be hired and which are to be made. They create a ‘set and strike’ schedule to share with location and construction departments.

Where props are to be made, Prop Masters recruit the Carpenters and prop makers and manage the schedule for production. Where they are hired, they work with the Production Buyers to source them.

When shooting is finished, they return all hired props and organize the sale or safe disposal of everything else.

What's a Prop Master good at?
  • Understanding film

    Pick up the Director’s vision, break a script down for props requirements take account of the need for continuity

  • Historical knowledge

    Research different eras, dress a set authentically

  • Craftsmanship

    Work with a wide variety of materials, craft and repair items

  • Moving items

    Handle large, heavy but fragile items

  • Communication

    Work closely with the Production Designer and other departments, share the vision with the props team

  • Organization

    Manage staff, budgets, complex schedules, transport and storage

Who does a Prop Master work with?

Prop Masters report to Production Designer and Set Decorators as part of the art department. They work closely with the Director, Art Director, Production Buyers, Location Manager and Construction Manager. They also might work with the Script Supervisor to maintain set continuity (keeping track of whether a glass is full or empty, where a particular item is placed at the start or end of a take, how objects move, and so on).

How do I become a Prop Master?

This is a senior level role, so college-level technical education in art and design, along with several years of experience in the art department, are required. Apprenticeships or on the job training are also possible. This position requires the ability to work well with your hands and construct materials to form props when needed, as well as organizational skills and an interest in the historical accuracy of items and scenes on a film set.

Here are some more tips:

Learn how to drive a van or a truck: Being a Prop Master can often involve moving heavy props and travelling around different locations. Learning to drive is essential for this, as is learning how to move large, heavy but fragile items safely.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Set Decorator

Also known as: Set Dec, Set Dresser, Stylist (commercials)

What does a Set Decorator do?

Set Decorators are storytellers. They create the background of the action, explaining the context, adding mood and visual interest as the drama unfolds. While Prop Masters deal with the placing of objects an actor holds, Set Decorators are concerned with the walls, floors, vehicles and furniture.

Before filming begins, Set Decorators work with the Director, Art Director, Props Master and Production Buyers to go through the script and work out what sets are needed. They make a list and a plan for the Props Master to follow. Then they buy or hire the items and get in Props Makers to make furniture.

The day before shooting, Set Decorators arrive early to begin dressing the set. After the Director and Director of Photography have checked it, the Set Decorators move on to the next scene. Once a scene has been shot, they are responsible for striking (taking apart) each set.

What's a Set Decorator good at?
  • Understanding film

    Be able to pick up the director’s vision, know how a background can tell a story

  • Style

    Have a good eye for decoration, a sense of colour and form, precise attention to detail

  • Historical knowledge

    Research different eras and dress a set authentically

  • Communication

    Work closely with the production designer and other departments, share the vision with the team

  • Organisation

    Break down a script for set requirements, manage staff, budgets, complex schedules and transport

Who does a Set Decorator work with?

In larger productions, Set Decorators will have a team made up of Assistant Set Decorators, Buyers, Set Dressers, painters, drapers, cabinet makers, sculptors and so on. They report to the Production Designer and work closely with the Art Director and Props Master.

How do I become a Set Decorator?

There is no standard career path to be a Set Decorator. Often, they will have experience working as a Production Buyer or an Assistant Set Decorator. They have usually worked in the art department for several years or in set design in the theatre.

Here are some tips:

Educational Requirements: If you want to go to university, courses in art and design, architecture, photography, theatre, graphic design or graphic communication are useful.

Get experience: Volunteer to do set decorating for student videos. Or decorate stage sets in amateur theatre productions.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Art Director

What does an Art Director do?

The role of an Art Director varies slightly depending on the kind of production being produced. Art Director is a title that appears in many industries, including film, theatre, advertising/marketing, fashion, and more. The Art Director makes decisions about visual elements.

Art Directors start by examining the script and working with the Director to understand the vision for the film or TV show. They then create their designs and determine the tone, mood and colour palettes.

In a studio show, Art Directors are responsible for turning the creative vision of the Production Designer into reality by drawing plans and visuals and making models. They organize the art department and oversee the construction of the set. They are responsible for the way the set is dressed and the inclusion of any props. They remain on set throughout the production to ensure the set is maintained and dressed appropriately to accommodate the varied content.

On shows where there isn’t a set, but where the content is filmed at various locations, they work with the Producer and Director. They create ‘mini-sets,’ managing the dressing and styling of an area (indoors or outdoors) in which to film. Often, they design these props themselves and oversee their build.

While the Production Designer is the creative mind behind the overall look of a production, the Art Director is the hands that makes that vision come to life. Art Directors are the metaphorical “architects” of the art department. If there is not a Production Designer on a production, Art Directors ensure that what they are doing meets health and safety guidelines as well as the needs of the Producer and Director, and is within budget.

In animation, Art Directors are responsible for the visual style of the animation. They decide how the characters, props, and environments are going to look and provide a basis for the rest of the art department to work from.

This is a job that involves a lot of communicating with people and needs strong management skills. Art Directors are responsible for ensuring all artwork is of high quality and in keeping with the Director’s vision. They are also responsible for making sure everyone in the art department stays on budget and on schedule.

What's an Art Director good at?
  • Creativity

    Visualize what a production requires, the look of a set or location, imagine how it will accommodate the production brief and department requirements. Have the artistic skill and imagination to produce original and high-quality designs

  • Leadership

    Have strong management skills to lead a department, be able to communicate visual ideas, and be able to work as part of a team

  • Art

    Be able to draw conceptually and technically, work with specialist design software, build props and small sets, have knowledge of art history

  • Knowledge of construction

    Source appropriate materials and props, be aware of the latest developments in production design

  • Knowledge of production

    Understand production techniques, studio environments, studio capabilities and the challenges of working on location. In animation, be able to understand what is going to be achievable further down the line on an animation production by the animation and post-production teams

  • Leadership

    Be able to share their vision with a wide number of different people, manage budgets and people, draw up schedules, prioritise and meet deadlines

  • Communication

    Understand what the director wants, be able to explain ideas, give constructive feedback, have good presentation skills

Who does an Art Director work with?

Art Directors project-manage work within an art department. They oversee construction teams, Production Buyers, Art Department Assistants, Carpenters, Greensmans, Painters, Scenic, Set Dec and Production Assistants. Art Directors work closely with Production Designers, particularly on studio shows, and on-location work with Producer and Directors and their teams of Associate Producers, Researchers and Production Designers. They also collaborate with camera, sound and lighting operators to ensure their work complements theirs and doesn’t create technical issues, such as with colour, lighting or the creation of unnecessary sound problems. They also work closely with Production Managers in planning and budgeting.

In animation, Art Directors work closely with the Director and as well as the artists in their teams, including Background Designers and Modellers.

How do I become an Art Director?

Art Directors typically need a bachelor’s degree in an area relating to visual art or design, preferably as they relate to film. Courses in theatre, architecture, digital design, fine art, film history, and interior design are all relevant to study.If you’re going the film school route, courses in production design are especially useful.

On-set experience is also key, as well as organizational and administrative skills. Art Director is a senior position, so you usually need some experience before you can progress to this role. A good route would be through starting in a junior position in the art department, such as a Set Decorator. You’ll also need to develop strong management skills. To be an Art Director in the animation realm, you will also need a good understanding of how an animation project works.

Here are some other tips:

Develop a wide range of art skills: Learn how to paint, do 3D modelling and graphic art. The more you can do at this stage, the more chance you have of being useful in the art department later on.

Learn to drive: If possible, get access to a car. This makes you more versatile and means you can help more.

Build a portfolio: Create work that you can show off to employers. As an Art Director, you will be hired based on your personal style and skill, so you need to have a strong portfolio. This could be made up of your own independent artwork or work you’ve done for collaborative projects. This is essential for impressing collaborators and people in the film industry.

Look outside the industry: Art Directors are needed in many industries outside of film and animation, including advertising, theatre, print magazines and product design. Getting experience working in the art department of a company in one of these fields would be a good way to gain relevant experience which you can translate into film.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Construction Manager

What does a Construction Manager do?

Construction Managers look after the building of sets in the studio. They make sure the sets look realistic or look the way the production desires. They interpret the drawings of the Production Designer, Art Directors, and Set Designers and work out how to build them in ways that are safe and environmentally friendly.

Then they hire the workforce, the Carpenters, Painters, Riggers, and Plasterers, and ensure everyone knows what needs to be done and by when. They are responsible for getting the necessary materials and tools on-site. They are also responsible for the safety of the crew. Construction Managers are responsible for dismantling (or “striking”) the sets, and ensuring all the materials are recycled as much as possible, or placed into storage for future productions.

What's a Construction Manager good at?
  • Construction

    Know all aspects of building work

  • Reading drawings

    Interpret drawings to plan size and scale, understand the designer’s vision, work out what this means in terms of building requirements

  • Organization

    Manage a budget, work to a schedule, recruit hundreds of constructors within a tight timeframe

  • Communication

    Be able to liaise between the artists and the construction workers, get a team to work well together

  • Staying safe

    Ensure all health and safety measures are in place

Who does a Construction Manager work with?

Charge Artist
Charge Artists or Lead Scenic Artists are responsible for all the work carried out by the painting team.

Scenic Artist
Scenic Artists may be asked to paint cloud or city backdrops, murals or other on-set paintings. They are skilled painters capable of intricate detailing and painting techniques such as marbling, wood graining and ageing. They may create complex prop pieces. They are responsible for scheduling their own work and buying necessary supplies.

Set Painter
Painters may be responsible for a range of artistic effects, from painting cars with a metallic finish, using a spray gun to cover a huge background surface, applying fine specialist finishes such as replica marbling and graining effects to sets, painting pipes to make them look old and rusty, and hanging large wall coverings. They usually supply their own tools and specialised brushes.

Set Carpenter
Carpenters produce a variety of structures, from on-screen props like windows and furniture to replica spacecraft or medieval ships. They also do a great deal of off-screen building to create support structures for the crew. This includes all the wooden structures required by film production, from doors and windows to the raised platforms that may be required by the crew.

Plasterer
Plasterers’ work involves the traditional job of applying wet finishes to walls, ceilings and floors. It also involves fibrous plastering, making moulds and model casts from solid plaster or fibreglass in workshops.

Rigger
Rigging is the fastening or securing of items at height in a safe way. Head Riggers are responsible for the work of the entire rigging department.

Model Maker
Model Makers are responsible for building models and miniatures. They could work with clay, plaster, plastic or metal and a range of techniques. They include polystyrene carvers and sculptors who make lightweight and large sculptures, trees, rocks and other oversized complex items. They may use freehand drawings skills or computer-aided design (CAD) to create designs.

How do I become a Construction Manager?

Construction Managers have years of experience in film and TV drama production. Typically, they start off in one of the trades, usually carpentry, and work their way up.

Get an apprenticeship: An apprenticeship is a job with training, so it’s a great opportunity to learn as you earn. However, it might be worth looking for a job as an apprentice in an industry that uses similar skills, such as being a furniture maker or a painter and decorator outside of film and TV. This could help you develop your craft and give you the skills you need to get into film and TV drama at a later point.

Get to know people in the industry: Once you are qualified and have a couple of years’ experience in your chosen trade, you will be handy for constructing film sets. Try to get to know people in the industry and ask if they need your skills.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Director of Photography

Also known as: Cinematographer, DP, DoP

What does a Director of Photography do?

The DoP is the head of both the lighting and camera departments. They are responsible for artistic and technical decisions related to the images captured by the camera.

They read the screenplay and work closely with the Director to discuss the look and feel of a film. They then research how to create the look through lighting, framing, and camera movement and what they will need in terms of equipment and crew to achieve this. The DoP works with other departments, like sound and the director’s unit, to coordinate production needs.

During production, the DoP coordinates the camera crew and works with the Director to make sure each scene is set up and shot to match the overall vision. A DoP can have a lot of creative input on the look and feel of the film. For each scene, the Director of Photography decides on the best combination of cameras, filters, and lenses, as well as camera placement, camera moves, and lighting best suited for the scene.

It’s the job of DoPs to make sure every shot satisfies the Director’s vision and fits with the aesthetic of the film. They view the dailies with the Director and work closely with the Colourist in post-production. On smaller productions, they sometimes double as the Camera Operator.

The DoP is considered one of the key creatives on a film set. The position is both highly technical and artistic, requiring extensive experience and training.

What's a Director of Photography good at?
  • Photography

    Have an eye for composition and color, know how to tell a story through a shot, understand camera and lighting techniques, know how to use them to evoke an emotional response




  • Technical knowledge of cameras

    Have an in-depth understanding of all motion picture equipment, cameras, lens, monitors, and lights

  • Editing knowledge

    Understand the post-production workflow, and how shots fit together to tell a coherent story

  • Making decisions

    Think quickly, often under pressure

  • Organization

    Plan, know how to do things and how long it will take, get the right kit and crew, think about logistical, artistic, and budgetary considerations at the same time

  • Communication

    Ensure everyone in the team knows what’s expected, work closely with the grips and the gaffer, lead the team and resolve conflicts in situations that can sometimes be stressful

Who does a Director of Photography work with?

The Director of Photography works closely with, and oversees the Camera Department which consists of the Camera Operator who looks through the camera and is the DoP’s eyes, the 1st Assistant Camera who makes sure the shots are in focus, the 2nd Assistant Camera, who prepares the equipment and keeps records of the shots, and the Camera Trainee who assists the whole department. The DoP also works closely with the Digital Imaging Technician who makes sure that all the digital settings on the cameras are set to bring the DoP’s vision to life, as well as the Video Assist Operator who makes sure that the director can see what is being shot.

How do I become a Director of Photography?

This is a senior role and people come into it through a variety of routes. Some start as Camera Trainees and work their way up through the roles outlined above. Others come up through the lighting department. IATSE has an excellent apprenticeship training programme that is the most direct way into this field. You can also learn a lot about cameras and other equipment in a film production programme in college, university, or independent training programmes. Here are some more tips:

Educational requirements: Many film schools offer courses in cinematography, touching on lighting, shot design, and how to tell visual stories. You can also start out as an entry-level assistant in the camera department, learn on the job, and work your way up.

Work for an equipment company: Contact an equipment rental company like Panavision, Provision, or ARRI Rentals. Ask if you can become an intern or driver for them. That way you will learn more about the equipment and build up contacts

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Colourist

Also known as: Grader, Post-Digital Imaging Technician

What does a Colourist do?

Colourists contribute to the mood and look of a film by defining its colours. They work with the Director and Director of Photography to decide the palette; whether it’s restrained or hyper-coloured, whether it uses milky colours or primary ones. Colourists are able to contribute to these looks by changing the luminance levels (brightness) and chroma (colour).

Film and TV dramas are usually shot on digital cameras in a raw format, which means the information about the colour is captured in the data but can’t be seen until the colour is applied. If shooting on film, the rushes are taken to the lab where they are processed and then scanned into a digital workflow. It’s the job of the Colourist to perfect the way in which the colour is put into the picture. This is known as grading.

When Colourists receive the files in the edit, they stylize the colour in line with the vision of the director and director of photography. They match the shots, balancing colour saturation and luminance to maintain a consistent look from shot to shot. . They also offer creative solutions to picture-related problems. They might know what to do with under-or over-exposed images, or provide day for night corrections, for example.

Colourists are also responsible for ensuring the film complies with the scientific law and theory around luminance levels and chroma.

What's a Colourist good at?
  • Understanding colour

    Know how to use colour to enhance a story, appreciate the psychological effect of colour, have a good eye, know what look fits the style of the drama

  • Knowledge of digital and film process

    Understand how best to get the creative look from the raw camera negative

  • Knowledge of film production

    Be aware of the whole process of making a film or TV drama

  • Using software

    Adept at using colour editing software, such as Adobe Premiere, Baselight or Davinci Studio, keep up-to-date with software developments and know the best tools for the job

  • Communication

    Work well with the director, understand the vision of the director of photography, share the process with the edit assistants and the script supervisor

  • Attention to detail

    Be patient, work with tiny changes in colour and tone, keep attending to detail when under pressure

Who does a Colourist work with?

The Colourist works closely with the Editor, Director and Director of Photography. It’s quite a solitary job as much of the detailed work is done alone.

How do I become a Colourist?

Programs in post-production for film or media are available. You can also develop your workflow and build your portfolio by working on small-budget or passion projects in your area. Learn how to use colour-grading software, while studying colour theory and cinematography, which will teach you about how light and colour are related. A background in art or photography is helpful. Most Colourists start out as post-production edit or tech assistants or runners and get to know the post-production process well over several years.

Here are some more tips:

Get a degree: It’s not essential, but having some experience in post-production or editing software from film programs can be helpful when searching for a job position.

Build a portfolio: This is essential for impressing collaborators and people in the film industry. It’s also one of the best ways to learn about editing, seeing what works and what doesn’t.

Look for post-production companies: Try to connect with post-production companies to gain a network and possibly find some with entry-level positions.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Editor

Also known as: Picture Editor

What does an Editor do?

An Editor is in charge of “cutting” and assembling the raw footage of the film into a cohesive final product. Films tend not to be shot in the order in which the story unfolds, so Editors might be working on scenes from the end of the film before the beginning is even filmed.

Their job is to take scenes in non-story order, analyze every shot (which sometimes means hundreds of hours of footage), and meticulously select and assemble the takes that will achieve the desired emotional and thematic impact of a film.

In pre-production, Editors work closely with the Director to decide how to make the most of the script. Once filming starts, they look at the dailies each day, checking technical standards and the emerging sense of story and performance and editing it into a series of scenes. By the time the film wraps, Editors will have spent hours reworking scenes and cutting them together to create a rough assembly.

During post-production, the Editor and Director will work closely to refine the assembly edit into a Director’s cut, which must be approved by Producers, until they achieve the final cut, (also known as “picture lock”). After that, the music and sound are added to the mix, a process that Editors will oversee.

When it comes to Editors in the animation realm, the planning process is more labor intensive as no footage is produced that hasn’t been precisely planned. In live-action, Editors work with existing footage in post-production, choosing between a variety of shots. In animation, the whole film, including each of its scenes and their order, is planned out beforehand. So essentially, in animation, the editing happens first.

What's an Editor good at?
  • Storytelling

    Understand how to use pictures, rhythm, pace and tension to tell a tale

  • Visual awareness

    Have a good eye, know what look fits the style of the film

  • Using edit software

    Be adept with tools like Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premier, Final Cut and Lightworks

  • Communication

    Work well with the director, and share the process with the edit assistants and the script supervisor

  • Attention to detail

    Be patient, show attention to detail and good organizational skills, often under pressure

Who does an Editor work with?

Assistant Editor
Assistant Editors take charge of the day-to-day running of the cutting room, leaving the editor free to concentrate on editing the film. Their primary task is to communicate with other departments, like production, camera and sound. They check camera sheets when the rushes arrive and note any technical problems. Sometimes the editor asks the first assistant to do an assembly cut.

Second assistant editor, third assistant editor and edit assistants
First assistant editors might be helped by several assistants, depending on the size of the production. The assistants label files and do simple cutting, editing and sound syncing. They read oscilloscopes and audio meters, TV and video signals, are familiar with technical specifications for different broadcasters, and understand compression.

Sound Editor
Sound Editors are responsible for all sound post-production. They are the picture Editor’s main point of contact for everything concerning the production soundtracks.

ADR Recordist
The ADR Recordists have a close working relationship with the picture Editors due to script changes and replacement dialogue with the actors.

Colourist
Colourists contribute to the mood and look of a film by defining its colors. They work with the director and director of photography to decide the palette.

How do I become an Editor?

The traditional route to becoming an Editor is to start as a Production Assistant and go on to become an assistant editor. It’s common to work as an Assistant Editor in lower budget productions before moving into feature films.
Here are some more tips:

Educational Requirements: A program in Media or Film studies, concentrating on post-production, is useful. Experience using editing software is key, as is working on small projects to build your portfolio.

Get an internship: Internships are jobs with training, so they’re a great opportunity to earn while you learn. Before taking any apprenticeship, check what you’ll be learning with your prospective employer and college, so you can be sure it will be giving you the skills you want.

Edit: Make videos. Set up a YouTube channel showing off your work.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Foley Artist

What does a Foley Artist do?

Foley Artists come up with creative ways to reproduce sounds to match the visual scene in a film. Foley is the reproduction of everyday sounds, which are then added to films during post-production. It can be challenging to record every small sound that happens in a scene while you’re actually on set (keys rattling in a door, footsteps, a spoon clinking inside a cup, someone typing on their keyboard, etc). Sometimes, these sounds have to be recreated or included after the fact. For example, when actors do a fight scene, they aren’t really hitting each other, so there are no punching sounds to record! The job of a Foley Artist is to find something that can sound convincingly like a real fight to the audience (while avoiding real violence, of course!)

What's a Foley Artist good at?
  • Creativity & Storytelling

    Be able to recreate everyday sounds to enhance the storytelling

  • Using software

    Record sound, have extensive knowledge of ProTools and other audio design software

  • Communication

    Understand the Director’s vision and be able to articulate creative and technical ideas, have productive discussions and address constructive feedback, work closely with the dialogues and always keep the sound in mind

  • Organization

    Be able to work to tight deadlines in post-production

Who does a Foley Artist work with?

Foley Artists work closely with the Director and Editor. They might also work with the following people:

Sound Editor
Sound Editors work directly with the filmmakers to structure and advise on schedules and creative styles. They liaise closely with the picture Editor. They build the team of editors responsible for creating the film’s soundtrack. Sound Editors organize the effects (FX) and Foley recording sessions. They provide creative input during the mix and ensure the final mix and various versions are delivered.

Sound Effects Editor
Sound Effects Editors work closely with the Sound Designer and supervisor. They create backgrounds using specific sounds, such as clocks, wind, birdsong, and cars passing. They create an ambience that can be altered to work with the dialogue and music.

Sound Designer
Sound Designers combine all the elements (music, background noises, dialogue, effects, and other atmospheric sounds) into one unified soundscape that forms the sonic backdrop for a film.

How do I become a Foley Artist?

Foley Artists typically have a college education with a diploma in sound and/or recording arts plus knowledge and experience in post-production. A good place to start is as an intern or runner in a post-production audio facility. This gives you a thorough grounding in the technical aspects of recording sound, including knowledge of electronics and training in acoustics.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

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Sound Designer

What does a Sound Designer do?

Sound Designers combine all the elements (music, background noises, dialogue, effects, and other atmospheric sounds) into one unified soundscape that forms the sonic backdrop for a film.

Sound design commonly involves performing and editing of previously composed or recorded audio, such as sound effects and dialogue, but it can also involve creating sounds from scratch through synthesizers or other instruments.

In animation, Sound Designers create the soundscape. In animation, there are no natural sounds to work with (as there would be when filming live action) so everything in sound in animation is created from scratch by Sound Designers.

Sound Designers decide which sounds to use to create the right atmosphere and communicate the story and characters to the audience. They discuss with the director the kind of effect they want and then find creative ways to achieve this.

Most Sound Designers are experienced sound editors who may even supervise the work of the entire sound post-production process, in addition to having a specialized creative role in putting together the entire sonic aspect of the production.

Good communication skills are needed, along with imagination and creative flair to produce original sound elements and effects.

What's a Sound Designer good at?
  • Creativity

    Be able to imagine a soundscape that doesn’t exist yet, translate ideas into sound, create bespoke sounds to enhance the storytelling

  • Storytelling

    Have a good understanding of the characters and the story and design sounds which communicate these well, understand the importance of timing, when sound design is necessary and when not

  • Using software

    Record sound, have extensive knowledge of ProTools and other audio design software

  • Communication

    Understand the director’s vision and be able to articulate creative and technical ideas, have productive discussions and address constructive feedback, work closely with the dialogues and always keep the music in mind

  • Organization

    Be able to work to tight deadlines in post-production

Who does a Sound Designer work with?

Sound Designers work closely with the Director and Editor. They might also work with the following people:

Supervising Sound Editor
Supervising Sound Editors work directly with the filmmakers to structure and advise on schedules and creative styles. They liaise closely with the picture editor. They build the team of editors responsible for creating the film’s soundtrack. Supervising Sound Editors organize the effects (FX) and Foley recording sessions. They provide the creative input during the mix and ensure the final mix and various versions are delivered.

Sound Effects Editor
Sound Effects Editors work closely with the Sound Designer and Supervisor. They create backgrounds using specific sounds, such as clocks, wind, birdsong, cars passing. They create the ambience that can be altered to work with the dialogue and music.

Dialogue Editor
Dialogue Editors are responsible for editing the recordings of the script and synchronizing this with the animation.

Foley Artists
Bigger studios might have specific Foley Artists who create everyday sounds which are then added to films during post-production. It can be challenging to record every small sound that happens in a scene while you’re actually on set (keys rattling in a door, footsteps, a spoon clinking inside a cup, someone typing on their keyboard, etc). Sometimes, these sounds have to be recreated or included after the fact. For example, when actors do a fight scene, they aren’t really hitting each other, so there are no punching sounds to record! The job of a foley artist is to find something that can sound convincingly like a real fight to the audience (while avoiding real violence, of course!)

Music Editor
Music Editors determine where music is needed in the film and the style and purpose of the music. Sound Designers will collaborate with them to make sure their sound effects work well with the music being written by the Composer.

How do I become a Sound Designer?

Most Sound Designers begin as Production Assistants in post-production or audio post-production houses. They work their way up to Assistant, Mixer or Sound Editor and spend many years perfecting their craft.

Educational requirements: Education options range from 1-year diploma programs to bachelor’s, post-graduate, and master’s degrees in sound design. Art schools, film schools and universities offer programs in the industry.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Music Supervisor

What does a Music Supervisor do?

Music Supervisors are a key creative voice in film and television post-production. They will watch the rough cut of the film or television show in what is called a “spotting” session, where they will write notes about where music is needed. They research the right songs and music to complement the scenes’ story and tone. They make suggestions and confer with the Director over the right choices for the project.

Once the music has been selected, Music Supervisors will then research the rights holders and contact them to gain the rights and licenses for the use of the music. They sometimes have to negotiate the price of some songs since they can be very expensive. Once the rights are obtained the Music Supervisor will keep track of the rights and make sure the royalties and credits are distributed properly using “cue cards” in the end credits.

What's a Music Supervisor good at?
  • Knowledge and passion for Music and Music History

    Music Supervisors have to have a vast knowledge of the music landscape as well as the history of music. This helps them have a good idea of what songs should be used for certain scenes

  • Rights and License knowledge

    Music Supervisors need to know the copyright laws and the different rights and licenses needed in Canada to acquire a song

  • Knowledge of film-making

    Be able to understand the production process, particularly the post-production sound process

  • Communication

    Be able to work with multiple people on the production and communicate your music ideas to the Director. You will also need to speak to a number of different song rights holders and negotiate with them

  • Organization

    Work within the sound budget, keep clear notes on the music suggestions for the film and keep records of all the royalties and credits of the songs

Who does a Music Supervisor work with?

Director
The Director is the one whose creative vision everyone is helping to execute. They have an overall look and feel they want for the film. They want to convey the story in a certain way and need the help of a lot of people to accomplish it. Directors are good leaders and visionaries being able to convey their ideas to the entire crew.

Sound Designer
Sound Designers are most commonly involved in the performing and editing of previously composed or recorded audio, such as sound effects and dialogue, but it can also involve creating sounds from scratch through synthesizers or other instruments. They add and create the soundscape for the film since not all of the sound you hear in movies is recorded on set.

Editor
The Editor watches all of the recorded footage, selecting which takes to use and then using digital editing software to assemble that footage into a completed feature film. They must analyze every shot (which sometimes means hundreds of hours of footage), meticulously selecting the takes that will achieve the desired emotional and thematic impact of a film.

How do I become a Music Supervisor?

Music Supervisors should have some experience in the music industry or music-related fields. Then you need to develop contacts in the film and TV drama industry to get experience working on film sets. Look into becoming a part of a post-production sound team on smaller productions and providing your knowledge of music.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

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Film Festival Programmer

Also known as: Programmer

What does a Film Festival Programmer do?

Film Festival Programmers select the films to be shown in festivals, whether in theaters, online or on TV.

Film festivals, like Cannes or the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), are where film professionals see unreleased films and network with their peers in the film world. They also function as markets where Sales Agents, Distributors, and Theater Programmers go to do deals over the rights of movies they are interested in buying.

Film Festival Programmers select the films that will make their festival successful. Diversity is key. They create a balance of tone and form and aim to start a conversation with the audience or to draw attention to lesser-known films.

Film Festival Programmers can’t just pick the films they like the best. An understanding of the audience is essential so they often carry out audience research. They use box office data, focus groups and surveys for this.

What's a Film Festival Programmer good at?
  • Knowledge of film

    Have a passionate interest and extensive knowledge of film, enjoy watching a wide range of content (even the bad stuff) and understand various film formats (digital cinema prints, 35mm, IMAX)

  • Audience awareness

    Know audiences, be able to research audiences to understand how they watch films or TV dramas

  • Judgment

    Spot films or TV dramas that will be popular, be able to create a balanced programme appropriate to the venue or TV channel

  • Negotiation

    Communicate with distributors, other programmers and local or regional organizations to achieve an effective programme, get the best deal, understand contractual obligations

  • Finance

    Manage a budget, know what funding sources are available

Who does a Film Festival Programmer work with?

Film Festival programmers will work with other programmers and members of their festival. They could be working with filmmakers, producers and production companies to gain films for the festival. Sometimes festivals or venues will hire a team of programmers who work together to select films. They also work closely with Distributors, marketing teams, and technical staff.

How do I become a Film Festival Programmer?

Many programmers progress to their role from administrative or technical roles in cinemas or exhibition venues. A passion for theater and knowledge of the market is the most important thing. Any marketing or business experience will also be useful in this area.

Volunteer: See if any film festivals near you need volunteers. This will be a great way to network and understand more about how the exhibition side of the industry works.

Start your own channel: Set up a review blogging site or content channel. This is the marketing version of having a portfolio. You can send a link with your channel to show your writing and online skills, and, equally importantly, your interest in film and TV drama.

Host your own screenings: Set up your own events locally to screen films. Try to find your own alternative niche and do something different. The film community is a small one, and getting known as tasteful and knowledgeable, as well as communicative, about film can lead to great opportunities.

Watch a lot of films: The most important thing to do if you want to be a programmer is to watch as much as you can. You need to get a sense of what’s out there across a range of genres.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

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Marketing Assistant

Also known as: Brand Marketing Assistant, Junior Marketing Assistant, Marketing Communications Assistant

What does a Marketing Assistant do?

Marketing Assistants do anything that’s needed to ensure the success of a campaign to market a film or TV project; whether that’s scheduling tweets or ordering in lunch for meetings.

Marketing campaigns for film and TV dramas can include posters, newsletters, content on social media as well as trailers.

Marketing Assistants help with proofreading copy, filing, and inputting contact details into research spreadsheets. They often coordinate market research projects and use the data to help assess the effectiveness of campaigns to help with future ones.

Marketing Assistants might be employed by film sales agencies, marketing agencies, production companies or broadcasters. Big production companies will have their own marketing departments for their film and TV dramas. Smaller ones will use a separate marketing company or agency. For TV dramas, Marketing Assistants are more likely to be employed by the broadcaster or channel, such as CBC.

What's a Marketing Assistant good at?
  • Audience awareness

    Know audiences, research audience statistics, understand how they watch films or TV dramas, be aware of the commercial ‘performance’ of these

  • Watching film and TV drama

    Have a passion for the genre and a love of the industry, have a critical eye and analyze the content

  • Taking initiative

    Observe that’s happening, be proactive, ask questions at the appropriate time

  • Social media

    Enjoy creating a buzz on social media platforms, use scheduling software

  • Communication

    Write compelling copy, engage people from a wide range of backgrounds, seize initiative.

  • Organization

    Anticipate, prioritize and stay on top of tasks, provide support to your team.

Who does a Marketing Assistant work with?

Marketing Assistants work with Marketing Managers and possibly Assistant Production Accountants within an agency or department.

How do I become a Marketing Assistant?

There are no set routes to becoming a Marketing Assistant. However, a degree in marketing, communication or a film subject is useful. Become familiar with how various social media platforms work and operate.

Here are some tips:

Volunteer: Find charities, amateur theater or student film productions. Ask if you can do their social media for them. Create a campaign and keep track of how your campaign has increased visitors to the website, donations or ticket sales. Put that on your CV.

Start your own channel: Set up a review blogging site or content channel. This is the marketing version of having a portfolio. You can send a link with your CV to show your writing and online skills, and, equally importantly, your interest in film and TV drama.

Look outside the industry: Marketing is important in all industries, not just film and TV drama, so there are plenty of agencies and departments elsewhere that have marketing assistant roles. Apply for junior marketing roles in any industry to build up your skills. You can transfer those to the film or TV industry later on.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

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Marketing Manager

Also known as: Brand Manager, Director of Marketing, Marketing Executive

What does a Marketing Manager do?

Marketing Managers help to identify the audience for a film or TV drama and create a campaign to bring it to their attention and pique their interest. With film, this could be through billboards, posters, and a digital strategy. With TV drama, it could be through newsletters, trailers, as well as social media. When an animation is about to launch or go to broadcast, it’s promoted through a marketing campaign that can be targeted at either a trade (professionals or bodies of the relevant industry) or consumer audience. The campaign might involve print, TV, cinema, events and digital advertising.

Marketing Managers oversee all of this and make sure it happens; collaborating with creative partners to develop and deliver promotional artwork materials. In film, Marketing Managers may also see that the product of the movie is presented well to potential buyers (distribution companies); if marketing managers are working in exhibition, then they market and present the movie to audiences.

Marketing campaigns vary depending on the needs of the production. Big-budget films with movie stars usually have more money spent on marketing and publicity than small productions. Marketing Managers consider how to prepare a marketing budget, bearing in mind income forecasts, acquisition costs and contract terms. If a film is being screened internationally, the campaign needs to be adapted to different cultures and countries.

What's a Marketing Manager good at?
  • Audience awareness

    Know audiences, research audience statistics, understand how they watch films or TV dramas

  • Knowledge of the industry

    Have an awareness of cultural trends in film and TV drama and how they are reflected in terms of box office figures and viewers

  • Marketing

    Think creatively and analytically, create engaging content, understand who a production is for and how to reach them

  • Communication

    Write compelling copy, engage people from a wide range of backgrounds, share the vision with a team, be the conduit of information for other teams. (such as PR, operations, acquisitions and sales)

  • Planning

    Schedule the work that needs to be done for the campaign and work with a budget, forecast audience numbers or determine actual theatrical revenue for a given project

Who does a Marketing Manager work with?

Publicist

Publicists help create the distributors’ release plan and create a buzz about the film in the media.
They are responsible for getting media coverage of the film through having good relationships with journalists and critics. They create press packs, which usually include the film’s synopsis, production notes, cast and crew credits and biographies, stills and the electronic press kit (EPK). Film Publicists also schedule press screenings for bigger budget movies. Unit Publicists invite journalists to the set during shooting.

They handle all major aspects of press relations and keep the Distributor and Producer informed of PR developments.

Marketing Assistant

Marketing Assistants do any task designated to them by management, such as scheduling tweets and ordering in lunch for meetings for example.

How do I become a Marketing Manager?

There’s no direct path to becoming a Marketing Manager. Starting as a Marketing Assistant is an entry-level position that will help you learn about marketing campaigns, market research and budgeting. Alternatively you could become a Publicist or Sale Agent.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

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Publicist

Also known as: Press Representative, Public Relations Officer, Publicity Coordinator, Publicity Consultant, Unit Publicist

What does a Publicist do?

Publicists create the ‘buzz’ that surrounds the release of a film. They get the critics talking.

They are responsible for getting media coverage of the film through having good relationships with journalists and critics. They create press packs, which usually include the film’s synopsis, production notes, cast and crew credits, and biographies, stills that create the electronic press kit (EPK). Film Publicists also schedule press screenings for bigger-budget movies. Publicists invite journalists to the set during the shooting.

They handle all major aspects of press relations and keep the Distributor and Producer informed of PR developments. They look over all publicity materials with consideration of any legal, ethical, and cultural issues. If there’s any controversy at any stage, it’s the Publicist who deals with damage control – and they need to be available at any time of the day and night to do so.

What's a Publicist good at?
  • Understanding the media

    Have good contacts in the film and media industries, know the needs of journalists in print, TV, radio and online

  • Writing

    Write the promotional story of the film, create press packs, devise release plans

  • Knowledge of the film market

    Identify the core audience for a film, know how to reach them and excite them, be aware of box office figures, viewing figures, and the film trends

  • Flexibility

    Thrive in changing situations, enjoy spontaneity

  • Persuasion

    Network with the influencers in the film industry, such as the press, critics, and programmers, and pitch and convince them of the strength of the film

Who does a Publicist work with?

Publicists work with theatres, studio executives, members of the film’s cast and crew, film critics, film press and film festival representatives, and other people promoting the film, such as the Marketing Manager.

How do I become a Publicist?

Publicists will have worked in the film or TV industry for many years before they get to this position. There’s no set career path, but common routes to this role include public relations, journalism, marketing, and film production. A good way to start would be as an assistant in the marketing department of a distribution, production, or film sales company or TV channel. See the job profile Marketing Assistant for details of how to do this.

Here are some tips:

Start your own channel: Set up a review blogging site or content channel. This is the marketing version of having a portfolio. You can send a link with your resume to show your writing and online skills, and, equally importantly, your interest in film and TV drama.

Look outside the industry: Consider any PR roles in any industry as this experience will be helpful in getting into the film industry later. Also, consider roles in marketing. Marketing agencies may have more roles available than TV channels or production companies. You will develop technical expertise that you can transfer to film or TV drama.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Composer

What does a Composer do?

Composers write original music that reflects and communicates the atmosphere, character’s emotions, and story. A film score has to work with the film, rather than as a standalone piece of music.

Composers are usually given a scope of work at the start of the project. This happens at the stage where storyboards are edited in time with the soundtrack. They then can create a full score for the final film. Composers rewrite their score according to feedback from the Director, Producer, and Editor. A section of music might need to be a different length, highlight a different onscreen moment, or have a different feel to it.

Composers need to be aware of the genre they are composing for. For works such as feature-length musicals, or TV shows with a theme song, the composer might be involved with writing these. Or this might fall to a different musician, with the Composer sometimes scoring the backing for the songs.

On big-budget productions, Composers prepare the score, usually on midi files, for the orchestrator and copyist. In most TV and lower-budget films, Composers do their own orchestration. They also prepare the score’s electronic aspects for the recording sessions and deliver the score to the Producer, together with all recordable media. Composers often need strong music production, recording, and performance skills in order to realize their works for projects as music budgets are generally tight. They are freelancers and usually work from their own home or office.

What's a Composer good at?
  • Music

    Have a high level of technical musical skill and be able to compose and notate original, high-quality scores with interesting and distinctive musical ideas that fit the style of the animation

  • Storytelling

    Be able to communicate a story and reflect its themes through music

  • Music production

    Have good recording and production skills to create demos and professional-level scores, be able to use music composition software and music editing software such as Avid ProTools

  • Communication

    Be able to work to a brief, act on constructive feedback, and compose music to contribute to the Director's overall vision, build extensive contacts with musicians who can contribute to your work

  • Business management skills

    Understand legal and contractual aspects of the job as a freelancer contributing your work to a different project

Who does a Composer work with?

Composers work closely with the Director, Producer, and Music Editor (if there is one), as well as communicating with the Sound Designer and Editor.

How do I become a Composer?

Composers get jobs based on their portfolio. You need a high level of musical knowledge and technical skill, so generally, all Composers are formally trained in music. Some have specific degrees in composing for film and television. The most important thing, however, is that you have a strong body of work to demonstrate your skill and personal style. You also need to make connections with filmmakers and musicians. Even if you are working on live-action films rather than animations, it will give you invaluable experience insights into the process of adding sound to film.

Here are some more tips:

Watch a lot of films and listen to music: Watch as many films and television shows as you can and pay attention to how the music is scored. Get a feel for how music interacts with the film and musical styles vary between genres.

Build a portfolio: Start writing your own music. Learn music composition and notation software. Find filmmakers who need someone to write the music for their film and collaborate with them, or you can practice and add to your portfolio by writing your own new scores for existing films. Building your portfolio is essential.

Look outside the industry: Composers are needed in lots of industries – aside from live-action film and TV and games, there are also composing jobs in advertising and theatre. See if you can get a job in one of these fields and gain experience that you can later use to compose for animation.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

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Sound Editor

Also known as: Supervising Sound Editor, Sound Effects Editor

What does a Sound Editor do?

Sound Editors manage the team that looks after each part of the sound of a film or TV drama. This includes those responsible for dialogue, additional dialogue recording (ADR), sound effects, background sounds, and Foley.

Their role varies according to the budget of the production. On lower-budget films, they start work when the picture Editor has achieved picture lock – the point at which the Director or Producer has given the final approval for the picture edit. On bigger budget films, they start work before shooting begins and appoint specialist Sound Editors to supervise separate teams for each area of work.

After picture lock, Sound Editors attend a “spotting session” with the Director and other Sound Editors. They discuss any concepts for the overall feel of the sound (naturalistic or stylized), and check every sound effect and line of dialogue to see what’s needed.

They will then have a hands-on role in creating the overall soundtrack for every discipline.

They are responsible for the sound budget and for organizing the workflow – from sound editorial, foley recording, ADR sessions, pre-mix to the final mix, and making plans for any special requirements. After the final mix, Sound Editors usually oversee the creation of the different deliverables, including a music and effects version which allows dialogue to be replaced with dialogue in different languages.

Among the challenges that Sound Editors face are creatively adding together various elements to create believable sounds representing everything you see on screen. The Sound Editor must put all the elements of sound together in a way that not only sounds seamless and natural but also heightens the dramatic tension or emotional impact that the Director wants in each scene.

What's a Sound Editor good at?
  • Listening

    Have a good ear, know what sounds good, be able to hear sounds that shouldn’t be there

  • Story-telling

    Understand the process of film production, appreciate how sound contributes to the narrative

  • Using software

    Record sound, use editing software, and understand how sound is made

  • Organization

    Budget, recruit staff, plan the workflow, and work to the deadline

  • Communication

    Understand the vision of the director, work with actors replicating dialogue with ADR, collaborate with the producers, picture editor, and sound editors

  • Attention to detail

    Be patient, and attend to the smallest sounds, often under pressure in the final mix stage

Who does a Sound Editor work with?

Sound Editors work closely with the Director, Editor, and the Post-production Supervisor, who is responsible for the smooth running of the whole post-production process. They also work with the following people in the post-production sound department.

Music Editor
Music Editors intensify the emotional impact of a film by creating the soundtrack. They contribute mood, atmosphere, and the occasional catchy theme tune.

Sound Designer
Sound Designers are concerned with all the sound effects whether that be gunshots, clocks, doors closing, dog barking (spot effects) or rain, wind, traffic, birdsong (atmosphere effects), or special effects such as aliens talking.

Foley Editor
Foley Editors add subtle sounds that production microphones often miss. These often relate to movement, such as footsteps, fights, fist banging on a door, or pouring wine, shards of glass falling from a broken window. The process gives scenes added realism. They note every Foley effect that is required and works out how to create that sound in special studios. They create the sounds with Foley Artists in front of a projected picture and may try several different ways to get the right effect. After the studio recording, Foley Editors fit all the Foleys to the images in perfect sync.

Re-recording Mixer
Re-recording Mixers mix a soundtrack for preview sessions. They work at large mixing consoles smoothing out sound and adding a temporary music soundtrack prepared by the Music Editor. After previews, when the film or show has been re-cut, Re-recording Mixers further pre-mix the sound and reduce the number of tracks in preparation for the final mix. In the final mix, the soundtrack is refined in consultation with the director and mixed to industry standards.

ADR Mixer or ADR Dialogue Editor
ADR Mixers review the original sound files of a production to spot technical or performance-related problems and analyze whether they could be replaced by an alternate take. Working on a digital audio workstation (DAW), they use editing software to cut between a number of takes to create crisp clean lines of dialogue. If this isn’t possible they will use additional dialogue recording (ADR). This is where actors come in for a voice recording session, watching themselves on screen and re-voicing as accurately as possible. After the newly recorded ADR has been edited into the original track, ADR Mixers work to make all background or ambient sound smooth.

Descriptive Video Transcriber
Descriptive Video Transcribers are responsible for creating detailed descriptions to be provided in cinemas or as home-viewing additional soundtracks for visually-impaired viewers. They use a specially designed programme that simultaneously displays the film script, actual image, and timecodes to enable them to write their own narration according to precise timing. Once the audio description script is prepared they will spend several days recording and mixing the new specific soundtrack, which will be reviewed by the Distributor.

How do I become a Sound Editor?

Most Sound Editors begin as Production Assistants in post-production or audio post-production houses. They work their way up to Assistant, and Mixer and spend many years perfecting their craft before becoming a Sound Editor. A program in Media or Film studies, concentrating on post-production audio, is useful. Experience using editing software is key, as is working on small projects to build your portfolio.

Make films: Do the sound on student productions. Make a showreel of your work and build your sound portfolio. This is evidence of your practical skills and creativity that you can show collaborators and employers.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

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Music Editor

What does a Music Editor do?

Music Editors intensify the emotional impact of a film by creating the soundtrack. They contribute mood, atmosphere, and the occasional catchy theme tune.

They usually start work while the film is being edited. They work with the Director to decide on the purpose of the music, find a style to suit the story and mark the points in the film where music is required (spotting). Music Editors then work closely with a Composer, who is usually appointed by the Director, and who composes the music using the temp score as a template. The temp score is also used by the film editors to achieve the right tempo with the cut. Music Editors often act as a bridge between the sound and picture teams.

They attend all recording sessions, helping with any revisions and design a ‘click track’ which is used to help the musicians achieve synchronization with the movie. Working with a specialist music mixer, they create different mixes, lay down the tracks and fit them exactly to the picture, ready for the final mix or dub.

What's a Music Editor good at?
  • Music

    Know the history and construction of music, compose in different styles and genres, improvise, read scores, create themes quickly under the pressure of deadlines

  • Understanding film production

    Appreciate the process and techniques of making films, know how music affects images and adds drama, have a passion for the industry

  • Collaboration

    Listen to the Director, translate the vision into music, be flexible, communicate the vision with the Editor, Composer and other musicians

  • Using software

    Produce electronic scores using technology such as ProTools, use editing and mixing software

  • Networking

    Know people in the music, film and TV industries, build up contacts, understand contracts and copyright clearances, organize, communicate and negotiate

Who does a Music Editor work with?

Within the post-production house, music editors work closely with the supervising sound editor. They also work with the following:

Music Supervisor
Music Supervisors negotiate deals and contracts, prepare budgets, and attend scheduling meetings. They oversee the composing process, ensuring that the required music is being written, listened to, and reported upon. They organize music orchestration and copying. If the music is to be published, they ensure that it’s registered properly.

Composer
Composers write original music. They write themes to pictures and deal with any revisions, collaborating with the editor. Composers prepare the score, usually on midi files, for the orchestrator and copyist. They also prepare the score’s electronic aspects for the recording sessions and deliver the score to the producer, together with all recordable media.

How do I become a Music Editor?

Music Editors are usually graduates in sound technology or music. After graduating, they may work their way up the post-production sound department, starting as runners, training as assistants, and progressing to Dubbing Mixers or Sound Editors.

Here are some more tips:

Get a degree: You might choose one in music, sound technology, or sound engineering.

Start composing and recording: Write your own original compositions. Collaborate with friends making videos and writing the score.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.