The business of film
The business of film

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The business of film

1.1 Job roles and how they are paid

Not everyone in the production process or in the value chain receives income in the same way, or even always in one single way.

For example, some, like production crew, are paid fees over the course of the production, from production budgets, before the product is completed. These fees are mostly fixed. Others, like equity financiers, earn income from revenue streams coming from actual sales of the finished product (but only after exhibitors, distributors, and sales agents have taken their commissions and expenses from that revenue). The timing and levels of these deals vary from film to film.

Other players (like key acting talent, writers and directors) are entitled to receive both: they are paid fees during production, but then also share in revenue when certain levels of income are reached and equity investors in primary positions are paid off (they may also receive separate fee deferral payments at some stage during the recoupment schedule). These kinds of ‘profit participations’ are a standard part of industry compensation structures.

This is a departure from ‘conventional’ industry value systems, where a supplier company would only be paid a flat fee for providing goods or services, and would not also expect a share of the manufacturing company’s profits. This staged introduction of profit shares, sometimes at different moments during the recoupment process, might interfere with the clarity of the accounting process and even the long-term profitability of the production company or film financier; as well as making the profitability and return on investment (ROI) of an individual film much harder to quantify.

What do they do?

Beyond the director, producer, camera operator and so on there’s an army of people working on the project. What do they do?

Described image
Figure 1 Film-making in action

Activity 1 Work duties in film

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Look at the list of jobs below. Make some notes in the boxes provided about what you think their key duties and responsibilities might be.

Job titleResponsibilities
Production accountant
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Locations manager
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Prop master
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Production designer
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Director of photography (DoP)
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Gaffer
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Assistant director
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Camera operator
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Key grip
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Script supervisor
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Discussion

The main job roles are summarised below.

Job titleResponsibilities
Production accountantResponsible for keeping track of all costs incurred on the production; reports to Line Producer regularly on costs incurred so far and how those costs compare to what should have been incurred according to the budget
Locations managerResponsible for finding all locations, getting approval of the Director and other key creatives, and contracting for the rights to use the location in line with the locations budget
Prop masterResponsible for making sure all the props are secured in line with the budget and are available on set when needed
Production designerResponsible for overall look of the film in terms of objects that are shown on screen and sets and locations
Director of photography (DoP)Responsible for the overall look of the film in terms of lighting and camera movement
GafferOverall responsibility for the lights – their availability, maintenance and placement on set
Assistant directorResponsibility for the schedule and for putting out a daily ‘call sheet’ that indicates what scenes will be shot on that day and what cast are required
Camera operatorResponsible for the camera and its movement on set when shooting
Key gripOverall responsibility for light stands, camera stands and rails on which the camera moves
Script supervisorResponsible for keeping track of what parts of the scenes have been shot and which parts are still to shoot, and also for ‘continuity’
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