1399749942The Two Faces of January © 2014 Timnick Films, StudioCanal, Working Title Films

Third Assistant Director (Third AD)

Film | High End TV | TV
Personality type:

The lowdown

  • Supporting the First and Second ADs on the set or location
  • Directing extras or vehicles appearing in the background of the shot, especially in large crowd scenes
  • Conveying messages and relaying information to cast or crew on the set or location, usually by radio link

Is this role right for me?

To do this role, you will need to:

  • have excellent organisational and time-management skills
  • have common sense and initiative
  • take and carry out instructions with enthusiasm and efficiency
  • be diplomatic and patient when co-ordinating and directing large groups of extras
  • be highly-motivated
  • excellent communication skills
  • relate to a wide range of people
  • have good organisational and administrative skills
  • work effectively under pressure
  • be flexible and resourceful
  • know about the relevant health and safety legislation and procedures

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

The main function of the Third Assistant Director is to manage the movement and activities of background artists (extras).

Thirds co-ordinate the extras to arrive at the right time and place for filming. Once the extras are on set or location, Thirds prepare and cue them, and sometimes also direct them in any required background action.

They must also supervise and look after the extras – they may be on standby on the set or location all day, despite only being needed for a short period.

Thirds may have to keep members of the public out of shot and off the set or location, so that they don't interrupt filming, cast or crew.

Thirds may also liaise with the Location Manager, and may be given responsibilities with regard to the security and locking up of studios or locations after filming has taken place.

Firsts or Seconds may also provide Thirds with specific information to add to the daily progress reports before they are sent to the production office.

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

Will I need a qualification?

You don’t need a formal qualification to become a Third 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 becoming a Third Assistant Director.

Where might the role take me?

After a number of years, you can progress to Second Assistant Director and then First Assistant Director.


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