1399749630The Imposter © 2012 Picturehouse Entertainment

Second Assistant Director (Second AD)

Film | High End TV | TV
Personality type:

The lowdown

  • Being the First Assistant Director's right-hand person
  • Preparing and drawing up the 'call sheet' (a document with daily filming logistics, distributed to cast and crew)
  • Overseeing the cast, ensuring that the principal Actors are in make-up, in wardrobe, or standing by on the set at the correct times

Is this role right for me?

To do this role, you will need to:

  • have excellent organisational and time-management skills
  • be an excellent communicator
  • relate to a wide range of people
  • be patient and tactful
  • work effectively under pressure
  • be flexible and resourceful
  • pay close attention to detail
  • be very efficient
  • be capable
  • be extremely motivated
  • know about the relevant Health and Safety legislation and procedures

What does a Second Assistant Director (Second AD) do?

The Second AD's main function is to ensure that all of the First AD's orders and directions are carried out.

On each day of a shoot, Seconds must prepare and draw up the next day's call sheet, (which involves confirming the details of who needs to be on set and at what time, the transport arrangements, extras required etc.). These details must be approved by the production office before the Seconds can distribute the call sheet to the cast and crew.

Ensuring that everyone knows their 'call time' (the exact time they will have to be on set) is a key responsibility – any delay to filming due to bad time-keeping negatively affects the day's schedule and budget, and is considered unprofessional and inefficient.

Once the day's filming has begun, Seconds must ensure that all Actors are ready for filming, which means co-ordinating any transport requirements, as well as make-up and wardrobe timetables.

In some cases, Seconds may also be in charge of finding extras, sometimes in large numbers at short notice, and arranging their transport to, and activities on, the set or location.

Seconds work on a freelance basis and the job involves long and unsocial hours.

Will I need a qualification?

You don’t need a formal qualification to become a Second Assistant Director, however it is a very competitive industry and new entrants often have higher level qualifications.

If you are considering taking a film production course in higher education, the following courses have been rigorously assessed by the film industry and awarded the Creative Skillset Tick for the high standard of education they provide and the degree to which they prepare you for a career in film: 

Film production courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick

You should take regular health and safety training courses to keep this knowledge up-to-date. 

You will need a full driving licence.

What's the best route in?

You can expect to start your career by getting work experience as a Runner on a film set or in a production office before working your way up through Third Assistant Director.


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