Becoming a film star is often high up on young people’s lists of dream jobs they would love to do when they grow up. However, acting is just one aspect of making a movie. There is a whole army of talented professionals behind the cameras, working together to bring the initial movie concept to reality. You only have to look at the endless names scrolling by at the end of any film to see how much is involved.
So, if you are interested in a career in film, but don’t see yourself on screen, there are plenty of things you can do away from the glare of the cameras. In the first of a series of two blogs looking at non-acting roles, we take a closer look at five crucial roles and the types of activities they oversee.
The film director is the person in charge of the project’s creative vision and oversees all aspects of the film’s creation. Directing the film is about so much more than shouting ‘action’. Directors are always making decisions that impact how the film comes together. They make final casting decisions, plan out how all the scenes will look and have a solid vision for the film, which they see through with assistance and support from their team. The role calls for amazing communication skills, leadership and confidence working with a large team, plus lots of imagination, plenty of ideas and charisma. They must also be able to work well under pressure.
A film producer handles a lot of making things happen. They’re involved in the business side of things, such as managing the team, as well as working closely with the director to agree artistic decisions. They’re responsible for making sure production can happen on time, and within budget. This role requires strong leadership skills, with a good understanding of audiences, a head for figures and a clear understanding of how the film industry operates. As a producer, you may also be involved in finding funding to pay for production costs and commissioning writers, directors and other key members of the team.
The film editor’s role comes into its own after the film scenes have been shot and raw footage is made available for editing and post-production work. As an editor, you will work with the footage to turn it into a slick, seamless film with a logical progression and smooth story arc. To do this, film editors usually work closely with the director to ensure their original vision is maintained in the finished product. Film editors are responsible for adding ‘pace’ and suspense to a film, editing scenes and sometimes changing their order, style or mood. Editors need a keen eye for detail, as well as strong critical skills, to help them make good choices as they construct the film.
All films must have somewhere where they are set and shot, which is where the location manager steps up. They are in charge of finding the perfect location, or backdrop for the scene(s) being filmed on any one day. This involves a lot of travel and research to find the perfect spots, whether they are lavish stately homes for a period drama or vast, dramatic landscapes for adventure shots. The location manager liaises with the owners or managers of chosen locations to ensure the film crew can gain access, park, keep everyone safe on set, install equipment and change things around to suit their requirements on filming day. They are also responsible for negotiating remuneration for use of the location, as well as arranging any insurance, permits and other red tape necessary.
Another unsung hero of the film set is the researcher or team of researchers, who carry out a lot of work doing factual investigations to ensure that productions depict things accurately. They might look into the actions, settings, costumes and language depicted in the film are all correct and suit the time period and location of the story being told, or they might look into the backstories of characters based on real life people. Researchers come from a wide background of academic studies and must be able to navigate their way around materials such as museum archives, local recollections, musical sources and literature. Some researchers end up specialising in certain film genres, while others take a more general approach to the projects they work on.