Occupations in the Industry
The length of the credits at the end of most feature films and television programs gives an idea of the wide variety of workers involved in producing and distributing films (table 2). However, jobs in the industry can be broadly classified according to the three phases of filmmaking: Preproduction, production, and postproduction. Preproduction is the planning phase, which includes budgeting, casting, finding the right location, set and costume design and construction, and scheduling. Production is the actual making of the film. The number of people involved in the production phase can vary from a few, for a documentary film, to hundreds, for a feature film. It is during this phase that the actual filming is done. Postproduction activities take place in editing rooms and recording studios, where the film is shaped into its final form.
Some individuals work in all three phases. Producers, for example, are involved in every phase, from beginning to end. These workers look for ideas that they believe can be turned into lucrative film projects or television shows. They may see many films, read hundreds of manuscripts, and maintain numerous contacts with literary agents and publishers. Producers are also responsible for all of the financial aspects of a film, including finding financing for its production. The producer works closely with the director on the selection of the script, the principal members of the cast, and the filming locations, because these decisions greatly affect the cost of a film. Once financing is obtained, the producer works out a detailed budget and sees to it that the production costs stay within that budget. In a large production, the producer also works closely with production managers, who are in charge of crews, travel, casting, and equipment. For television shows, much of this process requires adhering to especially tight recording deadlines.
Directors interpret the script and develop its thematic and visual images for the film. They also are involved in every stage of production. They may supervise hundreds of people, from screenwriters to costume, lighting, and set designers. Directors are in charge of all technical and artistic aspects of the film or television show. They conduct auditions and rehearsals and approve the location, scenery, costumes, choreography, and music. In short, they direct the entire cast and crew during shooting. Assistant directors (or first and second assistants) help them with such details as handling the transportation of equipment, arranging for food and accommodations, and hiring performers who appear in the film, but have no lines. Some directors assume multiple roles, such asdirector-producer or writer-producer-director. Successful directors must know how to hire the right people and create effective teams.
Preproduction occupations. Before a film or a television program moves into the production phase, it begins with an idea. Anyone can pitch an idea to a studio executive or an independent producer, but usually an agent representing an actor, writer, or director will have the best opportunity—and the best access—to pitch to someone who can approve a project.
Once a project is approved, whether developed from an original idea or taken from an existing literary work, screenwriters will be brought in to turn that idea into a screenplay or a script for a television pilot (a sample episode of a proposed television series). Screenwriters work closely with producers and directors. Sometimes they prepare a treatment, a synopsis of the story and how a few scenes will play out, but no dialogue. Before filming or taping can begin, screenwriters will prepare a “shooting script,” which has instructions pertaining to shots, camera angles, and lighting. Frequently, screenwriters make changes to reflect the directors’ and producers’ ideas and desires. The work, therefore, requires not only creativity, but also an ability to collaborate with others, and to write and rewrite many versions of a script under pressure. Although the work of feature film screenwriters generally ends when shooting begins, writing for a television series usually continues throughout the television season with a new script required for each episode.
Art directors design the physical environment of the film or television set to create the mood called for by the script. Television art directors may design elaborate sets for use in situation comedies or commercials. They supervise many different people, includingillustrators, scenic designers, model makers, carpenters, painters, electricians, laborers, set decorators, costume designers, andmakeup and hairstyling artists. These positions can provide an entry into the motion picture industry. Many people begin their careers in such jobs in live theater productions and then move back and forth between the stage, film, and television.
Production occupations. Actors entertain and communicate with the audience through their interpretation of dramatic or comedic roles. Only a small number achieve recognition in motion pictures or television. Many are cast in supporting roles or as walk-ons. Some start as background performers with no lines to deliver. Also called “extras,” these are the people in the background—crowds on the street, workers in offices, or dancers at a ball. Others perform stunts, such as driving cars in chase scenes or falling from high places. Although a few actors find parts in feature films straight out of drama school, most support themselves by working for many years outside of the industry. Most acting jobs are found through an agent, who finds auditions that may lead to acting assignments.
Cinematographers, camera operators, and gaffers work together to capture the scenes in the script on film. Cinematographerscompose the film shots to reflect the mood the director wishes to create. They do not usually operate the camera; instead, they plan and coordinate the actual filming. Camera operators handle all camera movements and perform the actual shooting. Assistant camera operators check the equipment, load and position cameras, run the film to a lab or darkroom, and take care of the equipment.Commercial camera operators specialize in shooting commercials. This experience translates easily into filming documentaries or working on smaller-budget independent films. Gaffers, or lighting technicians, set up the different kinds of lighting needed for filming. They work for the director of photography, who plans all lighting needs.
Sound engineering technicians, film recordists, and boom operators record dialogue, sounds, music, and special effects during the filming. Sound engineering technicians are the “ears” of the film, supervising all sound generated during filming. They select microphones and the level of sound from mixers and synthesizers to assure the best sound quality. Recordists help to set up the equipment and are in charge of the individual recording devices. Boom operators handle long booms with microphones that are moved from one area of the set to another. One person often performs many of these functions because more and more filming is done on location and the equipment has become compact, lighter, and simpler to operate.
Multimedia artists and animators create the movie “magic.” Through their imagination, creativity, and skill, they can create anything required by the script, from talking animals to flaming office buildings and earthquakes. They not only need a good imagination, but also must be equal parts carpenter, plumber, electrician, and electronics expert. These workers must be familiar with many ways of achieving a desired special effect, because each job requires different skills. Computer skills are very important in this field, as many areas of television and film production, including animation and visual effects, now rely heavily on computer technology. Although there was a time when elaborate computer animation was restricted to blockbuster movies, much of the three-dimensional work being generated today occurs in small to mid-size companies. Some specialists create digital characters that can be used in place of an actor, such as when a stunt or scene is too dangerous.
Many individuals get their start in the industry by running errands, moving objects on the set, controlling traffic, and helping with props. Production assistants and grips (stagehands) often work in this way.
Postproduction occupations. One of the most important tasks in filmmaking and television production is editing. After a film is shot and processed, film and video editors study footage, select the best shots, and assemble them in the most effective way. Their goal is to create dramatic continuity and the right pace for the desired mood. They must have a good eye and understand the subject of the film and the director’s intentions. The ability to work with digital media also is becoming increasingly important because editing is done on a computer. However, few industry-wide standards exist, so companies often look for people with skills in the hardware or software they are currently using.
Assistant editors or dubbing editors select the soundtrack and special sound effects to produce the final combination of sight and sound as it appears on the screen. Editing-room assistants help the film editors with their simpler tasks. Some television networks have film librarians, who are responsible for organizing, filing, cataloging, and selecting footage for the film editors. There is no one way of entering the occupation of editor; but experience as a film librarian, camera operator, sound editor, or assistant editor—plus talent and perseverance—usually help.
Sound effects editors or audio recording engineers perform one of the final jobs in postproduction: Adding prerecorded and live sound effects and background music by manipulating various elements of music, dialogue, and background sound to fit the picture. Their work has become completely computer driven. The best way to gain experience in sound editing is through work in radio stations, with music groups, in music videos, or by adding audio to Internet sites.
Even before the film or television show starts production, marketing managers develop the marketing strategy for the release. They estimate the demand for the film or show and the audience to whom it will appeal, develop an advertising plan, and decide where and when to release the work. They also may follow the filming or review film while in production, looking for images to use in movie trailers and advertising. Advertising and promotion managers, or “unit publicists,” write press releases and short biographies of actors and directors for newspapers and magazines. They may also set up interviews or television appearances for the stars or director to promote a film or television series. Sales representatives sell the finished product. Many production companies hire staff to distribute, lease, and sell their films and made-for-television programs to theater owners and television networks. The best way to enter sales is to start by selling advertising time for television stations.
Large film and television studios are headed by a chief executive officer (CEO), who is responsible to a board of directors and stockholders. Various managers, such as financial managers and business managers, as well as accountants and lawyers, report to the CEO. Small film companies and those in business and educational film production cannot afford to have so many different people managing only one aspect of the business. As a result, they usually are headed by an owner-producer, who originates, develops, produces, and distributes films with just a small staff and some freelance workers. These companies offer good training opportunities to beginners, exposing them to many phases of film and television production.
Please rate this article.
If you enjoy Pluginin™ and the information we provide please sign up as a subscriber today! Thank You.
Let us know your thoughts and comments.
Pluginin™ © 2011 All RIGHTS RESERVED Leader in Quality Introductions for Today’s Emerging Artist.
Follow us on Twitter @Pluginin
Join our Facebook Fanpage: Search for Pluginin