So You Want To Be A 1st AD? - Raindance

Young people sometimes ask me whether I think they have it in them to be a Director or Producer. These questions are impossible to answer, as there are any number of different types who might make good above-the-line professionals. You might think, for instance, that film-makers ought to be extroverts. Well, in this piece, Elliot Grove has detailed what introverts bring to film-making.

One on-set job that’s considerably easier to assess your suitability for is 1st Assistant Director. If you aren’t familiar with this position, Creative Skillset provides a job description. My assessment is very quick. It takes just one question.

When you say you’ll be (present/finished/etc in) five minutes, what do you actually mean?

1. I will be five minutes.

Were I not going to be five minutes, I wouldn’t have said I’d be five minutes.

2. I will do my utmost to be five minutes, and will feel sorry if I fail.

However, there are any number of things outside my control that might happen in the next five minutes. If I find that I will not be able to make the five minute deadline, I will inform you in plenty of time to adjust your schedule.

3. I will be seven or eight minutes.

You’ll never notice. After all, you’re busy with whatever that is you’re doing there.

4. I will be a short, unspecified amount of time.

Five minutes isn’t literal. Everybody knows that.

5. Who cares?

I just said that to get you off my back. Sheesh!

If you answered 1, you mean 2. There are no guarantees in life. and you will have to accept this before attempting to become a 1st AD. As much will quickly become obvious when lights start falling over.

If you answered 2, congratulations – you have the makings of a 1st AD. Pat yourself on the back in the three seconds that you’ve allotted to do so. Bonus points if you’re now grumbling about how incomprehensive this assessment has been.

If you answered 3-5, a career awaits in package delivery.