Tribe Trivia 23: Gaffers, booms and A.D.’s

We’re going to take a wee look at some of the people behind the scenes…

What does the Unit Manager do?

This is the wonderful person that makes sure that there is enough milk, coffee and tea for the week and actually makes the coffee and snacks for all the cast and crew. They make sure that everyone gets something and that the area is kept clean and tidy.

What is a gaffer?

A gaffer is an electrician basically. He/she works closely with the Director of Photography to make sure that each scene is lit properly. The gaffer is the head of the lighting department and instructs the group of technicians as to which light to use to make the correct light that is needed.

What is a grip?

A grip works with the camera department. He/she sets up the track that the camera moves on and places the marks on the floor that the actors have to stand by so that the focus is correct. The grip also moves the camera along the tracks and helps with holding the cables out of the way.

What is a boom operator?

A boom is a large fluffy microphone that is held above the actor to make sure that dialogue is picked up and recorded. Often in movies and television shows, the boom can be seen right at the top of the picture. This shouldn’t happen but you’d be amazed at the amount of times you can spot it! The boom can also cast a shadow across the back of the set or on the actor’s face so the operator has to move the boom very carefully to avoid this. The boom operator also has to study the lines of dialogue that are to be performed that day so that they know exactly where to move the boom and at what stage, from actor to actor. This can be quite a task when there is a large group shot.

What does an A.D. do?

In television productions, there are several A.D.’s. In broad terms, the First Assistant Director (A.D.) is the boss of the set. He/she is in charge of the general safety of everyone on set and makes sure that everyone is working when they should be. The First A.D. is the one who shouts Action and Cut and speeds everyone along with their work, ensuring that the correct amount of scenes are shot and that the schedule is progressing as it should.. The First A.D. travels out with the Location recce team to make sure that the locations are suitable for filming.

The Second A.D. employs all the extras required for filming, schedules scenes that are to be shot and works closely with the First A.D to ensure that everything is running smoothly.

The Third A.D. is in charge of making sure that the cast are where they should be at all times and that they arrive on set in time for their scenes.

What do Wardrobe Standby stand by?

These are the people that stand by and dress the stars! They are in charge of making sure that the costumes are clean and ready to be worn. They also have to be aware of any changes of costume for different scenes that are to be shot that day. They help the cast into any difficult clothes (all that leather, lycra and zips!) and make sure that the cast are warm/cool enough in the studio and on location. Sometimes thermals have to be worn if filming takes place in the winter!