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What is a Film Crew?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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A film crew is a group of people which works on the production aspect of a film. Film crews are differentiated from actors in that they support the production of a piece without actually appearing on screen (except by accident), and the members of the crew are also separate from the producers, who handle the intellectual property and distribution aspects of production. There are a number of positions on a film crew, ranging from the prestigious roles to scut work, and a good film crew is key to producing a high quality film, commercial, television show, or any other sort of filmed piece.

There are a number of broad departments within a film crew, each with specific responsibilities and players. As a general rule, these departments work closely with one another to ensure that the film has a polished, consistent, professional look and to create a piece which matches with the vision of the producer and director.

The production department on a film crew consists of the producers, director, and their support staff, including second units, stunt coordinators, continuity supervisors, and choreographers. This department handles the creative aspect of the film, working together to create and realize a vision, and they also handle the day to day needs of production, through production assistants who organize everything from facilities rental to catering services. Also included on the production team is the front office staff.

Many people in the production department of a film crew have worked in other departments, to gain a thorough knowledge of all of the positions on a film crew. This deeper understanding of the way other positions on the crew work can be extremely helpful when they issue orders and directives.

The art department is responsible for the look and feel of the film, realized through sets, props, landscaping, and so forth. A production designer typically supervises this department, working closely with the director. For the look of the actors, the hair and makeup and wardrobe departments work on costumes and physical appearances, typically consulting with the lighting and design teams to make sure that the actors look their best.

The production sound division of the film crew handles the sound recording during production, while the sound crew works on incidental music and post-production sound. Camera crews are responsible for the physical filming, along with lighting, assisted by the grips, riggers, and gaffers who actually position and manipulate the lighting on set while meeting other electrical needs. In post-production, editors and visual effects crews put the finishing touches on the piece, ensuring that it looks perfect before distribution.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseTour researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon263407 — On Apr 24, 2012

Which movie has used the biggest crew?

By Mor — On May 22, 2011

I remember when the Lord of the Rings was being filmed in New Zealand that there were reports of complaints from the overseas crew about how they were being mistreated.

Turns out it was because the film crew catering was only sandwiches, instead of something fancier. I don't know if it was true or not, but film jobs do seem to be quite glamorous and you never hear about people in even the lowest paid positions having trouble paying the bills. I mean, I know they work really hard, but it seems like a good industry to go into.

By indigomoth — On May 20, 2011

Some of the most fun I've ever had was working on a small film crew for one of the 48 hour film making competitions. I'm sure in professional or large film productions, roles are all clearly defined, but we all just pitched in and did what had to be done, and the film crew jobs often overlapped with acting roles or vice versa.

We didn't win anything, but it was still worth it, just for the fun and the steep learning curve. I would highly recommend it for anyone who is interested in starting work behind the scenes in films. And who knows? If you win something it will make a good addition to your resume.

By anon152740 — On Feb 15, 2011

A film crew has plethora of functions and jobs from pet stylist to cinematographer, incorporating location scouts, and a lot of specialized camera equipment and accessories.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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