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First Time AD


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#1 Kenny Williams

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 09:43 PM

So I've been a number of different sets as Director,Producer,Grip, Sound, Gaffer etc. I've been on set with some good AD and some bad ones. I'm gonna be on a six-day shoot in a few days. I've done all the pre production work already, but I was wondering how should I start the first day? What should I bring? I'll have a clipboard with copies of the script, shooting schedules, and call sheets. If anyone has experience in this position I'd really appreciate it. I don't know why I am so nervous about it. It's the most important job on set and I've been trusted to do it with no experience.


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#2 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 09:00 AM

 It's the most important job on set and I've been trusted to do it with no experience.

I'd suggest to the director that they may want to draft a shot / setup schedule.   The more you know about how much they actually want to do in a given day, the more you can predict and know when you're ahead or behind.    That list should be qualified with "essential" shots and "nice to have" shots.  So that you don't miss anything important if you fall behind and need to cut stuff.


Edited by Michael LaVoie, 25 July 2017 - 09:05 AM.

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#3 Kenny Williams

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 09:25 AM

I'd suggest to the director that they may want to draft a shot / setup schedule.   The more you know about how much they actually want to do in a given day, the more you can predict and know when you're ahead or behind.    That list should be qualified with "essential" shots and "nice to have" shots.  So that you don't miss anything important if you fall behind and need to cut stuff.

It is a student project I'll be graduating soon, so it'll be the last project I do for free. It's just this is really the only job I don't have much experience in


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#4 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 10:01 AM

Like you said, it's perhaps the most important job on set. And it's a really hard job to do well. I can tell within about 10 mins of meeting an AD if they're going to be good at it. It's a very fine balance between being a General, a psychologist and being a loner. In my opinion, I think the best ones are the ones who take charge and treat it as being a General. But not a screaming general, just an inner force that comes out without you ever having to raise your voice. And like any good leader, you'll respect your men and not be afraid to change tactics if a better one gets suggested. Once in an interview with John Milieus he said: "I see myself as a General, but that means I'll wait until the back of the line until everyone has eaten before I eat". That kind of sums the approach for a good leader (not that you have to do that, but it's a good analogy). And also my reference to being a loner - you're not supposed to be overly chummy with everyone, just enough humanity so that they know you're looking out for them and everybody on set. Overly chatty and friendly AD's I rarely find that good. There needs to be a respect there.

 

Good luck.


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#5 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 10:09 AM

Planning.

 

You should know where we should be at every point. I've almost never worked on anything of more than a few days, but if I ask "what are we doing at half past three next tuesday afternoon," there should be an answer to that in a folder somewhere.

 

Know what we're doing now, what we're doing in ten minutes, and what we're to have done by the end of the day. Agree this with the director without having a discussion about it in front of everyone else, whether that means putting it down on paper the previous month, the previous day, or the previous minute.

 

And if things go wrong and we're in deep shit, handle it. Particularly on a student shoot, everyone's there to have worked on a production that gets finished, so if we have to edit the dialogue on the fly and blast off what should have been an afternoon's work in ten minutes, find a way to make the resulting edit make sense, do whatever you need to do, but deal with it, without appearing ruffled.

 

P


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#6 Phil Connolly

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 02:09 PM

There seems to be two schools of 1st AD shouty or calm, try to be the latter. 

 

Herding actors is worse then herding cats - so manuvering them has to be done subtly - because they still have to be in the right frame of mind. 

 

Ultimately your trying to achieve the best version of the story on time, on budget, safely. Ultimately its about good judgment, slavishly pushing the schedule through in a way that compromises the production for the sake of efficiency. The best 1st AD's contribute to the storytelling because they understand what is important to the story and hence worth giving the time too vs what isn't needed. When your behind and you have to cut elements - being able to help decide what elements to keep and what to cut are a big plus.

 

As a director when I've had a great 1st AD its been a joy not just for the organising drill master stuff. But those moments when you can't see the wood from the trees or having a crisis of faith, the dop is off in a huff, the actors are away smoking, you need your first to help ground your vision. The best first I've had on a film could be considered a true collaborator. 

 

Its generally traditional for the camera department and AD department to be at war(Dop always needs 10 minutes more to adjust things, 10 minutes is actually 30 mins etc...). The best first AD's have excellent DOP managing skills 


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