The director has the main creative responsibility for the film. He or she is normally involved in the project from an early stage and participates in hiring the heads of departments, the casting process, and working with one or more writers to perfect the script. During filming, directors direct the actors, supervise the activities of the crew, and decide which takes to print. Directors often remain involved after shooting ends, working with the editor and other postproduction personnel to ensure that the film is completed in accordance with their design.
Because the director's scope of responsibility is wide and diverse, he or she normally has several assistants, each with designated roles. During preproduction, the first assistant director breaks the script down into shots and prepares the shooting schedule. During production, he or she conveys the director's instructions to the cast and crew, coordinating their performance in order to keep pace with the schedule. The second assistant director is responsible to the first assistant director. His or her many duties may involve the preparation of call sheets and the distribution of scripts. The second second assistant director, or third assistant director, focuses on such floor duties as managing the movement of extras. This can be an enormous task, as in Gandhi (1982), which used an estimated 300,000 extras.
The script supervisor, or continuity girl, keeps track of the progress of filming and any deviations from the written script. He or she also helps the director remember the details of shots that have already been made, ensuring that details such as hair and makeup remain the same from one shot or scene to the next. In order to do this, a detailed continuity report is maintained.
Specialized crew members may be employed to assist the director in eliciting the desired performances from the actors. They include the choreographer, who designs any dance sequences, the dialogue coach, who trains the actors in the creation of appropriate accents or dialects, an animal trainer, who coaches the animal actors, and a wrangler, who handles babies, animals, or other participants, such as vehicles, that do not respond to verbal instruction. A stunt coordinator is responsible for designing stunt work and ensuring that
Many films use a second unit, headed by a second unit director. This self-contained subsidiary crew comes complete with all the personnel required for filming. It is normally used for shooting such material as street scenes that do not feature the main actors.