During pre-production, the Second Assistant Director works closely with casting, extra casting and locations; goes on tech scouts ("technical" scouts are when specific department heads are taken to selected location sites to ascertain requirements needed to prepare for shooting at that location); helps with breakdowns and clarifies all needs in as much detail as possible. She makes sure everything is ready, call times are issued and all paperwork is in order and packed for the set. During principal, she's responsible for the cast, stand-ins, extras and photo doubles, making sure they're where they're needed when they need to be there. She takes care of all on-set paperwork, coordinates the schooling of minor cast members, works closely with casting, liaisons with the production office, issues work calls, checks cast members in and out, orders extras and supervises the second, second assistant director, PAs and interns working under his supervision. A Second's rear rarely sees the top side of a chair. They're the first ones to report to set at the beginning of the day, the last to get lunch and the last to leave once wrap is called.
Second Assistant Directors usually move up to become First Assistant Directors. Some Firsts are perfectly happy to retain that position throughout their entire careers, because when working on a fairly regular basis, the salary and benefits are terrific. Those who do move up tend to become UPM/line producers, producers, second-unit directors, directors and production executives. Working as an AD is a great way to learn while amassing an extensive network of contacts.
Was this article helpful?