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What They Do – Assistant Director

The assistant director is invaluable.  He organizes every day on the set and is in charge of getting each scene ready for the director to shoot.  

On Table 47, Matt Mertens was the AD.  Several days before a shooting day, Matt emailed call sheets to everyone in the cast and crew. The call sheet shows what actors are needed on that particular day, what time they report for makeup, when the crew reports, what scenes are being shot and the locations. 

Matt and I, along with the hair and makeup artists, were the first to arrive on the set each day.  Matt and I would discuss the scenes we planned to shoot, plot the camera angles that we would need and block the scene in terms of how the actors would move.

If we had extras in the scene, it was Matt’s job to select and then place them in the background.  When the crew was ready for a scene, Matt brought the actors onto the set for rehearsal.  The AD calls for the makeup people to do last minute touchups before the camera rolls.

He gives the command for quiet on the set and then for the crew to roll camera and sound.  At that point the director yells, “Action,” and the scene is filmed.  If I was pleased and the actors or crew didn’t ask to go again, Matt would wrap up that take with the words, “Moving on!”

When a scene was done, Matt (right) would tell me if he saw anything that would necessitate a reshoot.

When a scene was done, Matt (right) would tell me if he saw anything that would necessitate a reshoot.

A big part of the ADs job is to handle the many questions and problems that come up during a shoot, leaving the director free to concentrate on getting the best work from the actors.  The AD is someone a director has to have confidence in and be able to confide in.  He’s the person a director can let off steam with, knowing it doesn’t go beyond the two of them.

Matt was the right person for the job.

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