Filmmaking Has A Lot Of Credit To Pass Around
There was a time, not long ago, when the closing credits that follow movies were predictable and relatively brief.
You got your writer, director, cinematographer, your cast of characters, technicians and finally song credits.
Today, everyone wants a slap on the back.
Drivers, caterers, personal assistants all get their names on the credit crawl that scrolls across the screen as the audience gets up to leave.
For “Independence Day,” the closing credits take seven minutes and include 115 actors, 32 stuntmen, 15 sound editors and 24 modelmakers, along with myriad grips and gaffers, sculptors and hairstylists, software engineers and scene painters.
With movie productions becoming more complicated and technical, and craftspeople of every description demanding and getting their due, movie credits are likely to get even longer.
To help you better understand the credits sequence, we’ve provided this glossary of terms, compiled with help from the book “Gaffers, Grips, and Best Boys” by Eric Taub.
ADR mixers: ADR is short for additional dialogue recording. A mixer works with actors to “loop” or post-dub dialogue that wasn’t adequately recorded during production. The director is usually present during ADR sessions.
ADR supervisor: Supervises rerecording process, works with director to spot scenes and dialogue that require rerecording.
Best boy: Gaffer’s assistant. Supervises lighting crews, orders lighting equipment. Term probably derives from fact that person in this position was the “best” boy, capable of keeping rest of crew in line.
Boom operator: Operates long adjustable pole with microphone at end and holds it close enough to record sound but high enough to stay out of camera frame.
Camera operator: Runs the camera, taking instructions and visual concepts from director of photography.
Casting director: Seeks out and suggests actors best suited to film, sets up meetings for director and producer to interview actors.
Director: The buck stops here. Oversees all creative aspects of film, works especially closely with writers, actors, production designer and director of cinematography to coordinate thematic and visual approaches. Ultimately leaves his or her stamp on finished film.
Director of photography: Interprets director’s vision in visual terms. Designs lighting, frames shots, directs camera moves.
Dolly grip: Sets up and operates the dolly, a four-wheeled piece of equipment that allows the camera to move smoothly on an even track. Pushes dolly for camera operator.
Electrician: Finds source of electricity on location, taps into it or sets up independent electrical generators.
Executive producer: Usually the person who secured financing to get film produced. Not involved in day-to-day production.
Focus puller: Refocuses lens as actors move closer to or farther from camera.
Foley artist: Works in soundproof recording studio, uses various materials and props to simulate sound effects - walking on gravel, for example - and synchronizes them to screen image.
Gaffer: Sets up and/or designs lights, shapes a location or set to fit the needs of the director or director of photography. Term originated in European carnivals, where gaffers herded costumers inside tents. Gaffer’s tape is the thick black tape used to adhere cables and wires to floors and carpets.
Grip: Manipulates various equipment stands and sets up light-diffusing material in front of lamps.
Lead person: Also known as assistant set director. Locates and purchase materials and artifacts with which to decorate the set.
Line Producer: Sometimes called production manager. Oversees day-to-day needs and meets nuts-and-bolts challenges of productions.
Location manager: Scouts out locations for shooting with an eye to geography, time period, visual themes and story.
Modelmaker: Creates computer-generated three-dimensional objects.
Nursery man: Supplies plants to the set.
Producer: Brings a film to fruition, usually relieving director of hiring, administrative and logistic responsibilities. Often options literary property, signs director and stars and persuades studio to finance or “green-light” the film.
Production designer: Supervises visual concepts. Designs sets and color schemes, chooses materials and overall look.
Second unit director: Shoots atmospheric or secondary footage in same style as director so that scenes blend effortly with those supervised by director.
Script supervisor: Follows script during shooting to guarantee continuity. Ensures that actors use same lines and make same physical movements in a scene as it is shot from various angles.
Set decorator: Finds appropriate objects to place within a set. Reports to production designer. Usually has interior-design background.
Sound designer: Oversees all audio elements of a film.
Sound effects editor: Designs, reshapes and enhances sound in post-production. “Babe” had five sound effects editors.
Sound mixer: Head of on-location sound recording team, which includes boom operator and third man.
Stand-by painter: Touches up physical objects within a scene to prevent unwanted reflections or colors during shooting.
Stunt coordinator: Choreographs and maps out locations where stunts will be performed.
Supervising editor: Edits film footage, often during production but primarily in post-production, working closely with director.
Third man: Handles all sound-related cables. Also called cable person.
Traffic manager: Coordinates shipment of feature film prints, video masters, slides, dialogue lists, posters and other material necessary for a licensee to properly market and release a movie in a particular area.
Unit publicist: Oversees publicity during shooting of film, writes news releases, arranges interviews or news conferences.