Other Departments

There are many other departments to be found within any given studio, staffed by all manner of vice presidents, directors, managers and assistants. Here are just some of them.

• Acquisitions: This department is responsible for acquiring outside properties for release and distribution—projects that may have already been developed, partially packaged, partially or fully financed and may or may not have been completed. Screenplays, rough cuts and finished films are submitted to this department for review. Acquisitions executives also regularly track independent projects and attend film festivals searching for product they feel the studio can successfully sell. Once they acquire the rights to a property, they will often make changes (such as editing, music, re-shoots) prior to its release.

• Legal & Business Affairs: These are terrific jobs for film lovers with law degrees. The "legal group" is responsible for overseeing all legal aspects of films in development and in production. Project attorneys prepare and negotiate talent contracts, negotiate union/labor agreements and supervise, negotiate and approve all show-related contracts and clearance deals.

• Finance: This department is generally made up of a Vice President, Director, Senior Auditor and Manager of Budgeting and Estimating. As a whole, they are responsible for supervising the budgeting, estimating and daily/weekly cost reporting of all studio/company films. They work closely with the production accountants and production managers and act as troubleshooters when financial problems arise or cost reports reflect impending overruns.

• Casting: Some studio shows use the services of a freelance casting director, but casting is often done in-house. Basically, the casting executive interviews actors, makes recommendations, then hires the talent selected and negotiates their contracts. But there are also times when a casting exec will, in the development stage of a project, work closely with creative execs to attach an A-list actor to the property, sometimes even before a producer or director has been chosen. (See Chapter 5 for an in-depth description of a casting director.)

• Post Production: This department customarily encompasses a Vice President and any number of post production supervisors. They oversee the entire post process (editing, sound effects, looping, scoring, mixing, etc.), approve the hiring of the editing team, act as liaison between the post production team and the studio's creative executives and ensure all delivery requirements are met.

• Labor Relations: Staffed by legally trained executives, this department is responsible for the implementation, interpretation and administration of all union and guild collective bargaining agreements. They engage in contract negotiations and handle labor grievances, dispute resolution, and production office inquiries. They interact with and provide support to all company divisions and production entities regarding compensation, policy implementation and staffing issues.

• Production Resources (also known as Product Placement): This department procures and negotiates the use of all props, set dressing, vehicles and wardrobe loaned or given to a particular production for on-screen use. They interface with the producers, production designer and various department heads as well as the studio's creative executives, production executives, and the marketing, publicity and legal departments while coordinating the product placement deals from proposal stage through the release of the film.

• Research/Clearances: This department is staffed by individuals who read each screenplay during the development or pre-production process and prepare a research report that lists all elements of the script that must be cleared. Obtaining clearances is the process of securing permission to use someone's likeness, name, logo, photograph, piece of art, product, premises, publication, film clip or stock footage in the production; and all clearances must be secured before the parts of the script containing these elements can be shot. This department works closely with the art and production departments, negotiates and procures clearances and administers copies of all release forms.

• Music: In much the same manner, this department will research the songs and music suggested in a screenplay and report on the licensing costs to procure these selections—often suggesting less expensive alternatives. When final determinations are made as to which music will be used, they will negotiate all applicable license fees. They sometimes help in the selection of a composer and remain involved in the entire music process, which encompasses the score and soundtrack.

• Medical: There is a medical facility on all studio lots. Most are staffed by RNs (registered nurses) and/or LVNs (licensed vocational nurses), although a couple are staffed by EMTs (emergency medical technicians).

• Safety: This department is responsible for the implementation and administration of a safety program formulated in conjunction with the Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Board. The program covers safety regulations that apply to all studio employees, all freelancers working on studio shows and any outside employees working at studio facilities.

• Risk Management: This department administers and oversees all studio and production-related insurance matters.

• Studio Operations (or Facilities): This department handles the running and maintenance of the studio as well as the use/rental of all studio facilities.

• Human Resources: This department governs the employment and benefits of all studio employees.

• Home Video: This department deals with all new (and old) films released on VHS and DVD. Their responsibilities include the creation of packaging designs, menus and advertising (print ads, TV spots, etc.). At some studios, the Home Video Department gets involved in DVD bonus features, while other studios have created a separate DVD Bonus Features Department. This type of work is ideal for someone who's creative and possibly has an artistic and/or a marketing background.

• Marketing: This is a busy department responsible for how a film will be sold. It encompasses the planning and creation of strategic marketing campaigns, advertising (one-sheets; billboards; magazine, TV, radio and Internet spots; theatrical trailers; etc.) publicity (generating media coverage), test screenings, product merchandising and promotions. They work closely with the studio's creative staff, producers, directors, actors, agents, managers and publicists as well as behind-the-scenes (EPK or electronic press kit) producers and crews. (Behind-the-scenes footage is used for publicity, celebrity news magazine shows like Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood and is later incorporated into DVDs). The marketing department plays an important role in creating and maintaining the star power of top industry talent. They also launch various award campaigns as well as new releases at film festivals and they liaison with outside religious, civic, cultural, political and special interest groups when it involves the release of a film that could be considered controversial or sensitive in nature.

Additional studio departments would include:

• Domestic and International Distribution (the field of International Distribution is described in Chapter 5, and domestic distribution relates to the marketing, sales, delivery and collection of films, television and video productions ["titles"] the studio represents in the U.S.).

• Transportation: This department is responsible for all vehicles used to transport crew, equipment and materials, as well as vehicles used in front of the camera and mobile trailers used for cast, wardrobe, hair, makeup, etc.

• Shipping: Pretty self-explanatory.

• Wardrobe: This is the department that handles the clothing, costumes, shoes and accessories worn by actors, extras, stunt performers and photo doubles. Department personnel may also include costume designers and those who handle alterations, tinting and dying and wardrobe restoration.

• Props: A prop is anything used or moved by an actor in a scene, and prop departments catalog, warehouse and rent out props to studio shows and outside shows shooting on the lot.

• Scene Dock: This is a storage area for set pieces, flats, windows, doorways, staircases and backdrops.

• Set Construction: This is where much of the above is made.

• Paint Shop: Where set pieces, set dressing, etc. are painted.

• Sign Shop: Where signs used for a film or TV show are designed, made and painted.

• Grip: Where grip equipment is stored and rented from, and where studio grips not assigned to a specific show are given their assignments.

• Electric: Where lights and electrical equipment are stored and rented from and where studio electricians not assigned to a specific show are given their assignments.

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