TV or film assistant director

AD
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Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would organise and plan everything on set, leaving the director free to deal with the creative side.

You would be known in the industry as an 'AD'. Most productions use a team of assistant directors, with a 1st AD, at least one 2nd AD and possibly one or more 3rd ADs, each with different tasks.

1st ADs have the greatest responsibility. In this job you would do much of the planning before production begins, and you would manage the set during filming. As a 1st AD, you would:

  • Work with the director to decide the order of shooting
  • Plan a filming schedule, taking into account the director’s ideas and the budget
  • Oversee the hire of locations, props and equipment
  • Help recruit the cast and crew
  • Make sure that filming stays on schedule
  • Supervise a team of 2nd and 3rd ADs and runners
  • Try to keep the cast and crew motivated
  • Be responsible for health and safety on set

2nd ADs support the 1st AD and make sure that their orders are carried out. As a 2nd AD, you would:

  • Produce and give out call sheets (lists of timings for the following day's shoot)
  • Be the link between the set and the production office
  • Deal with paperwork
  • Organise transport and hotels
  • Make sure that cast members are in make-up, wardrobe or on set at the right time
  • Find and supervise extras on productions where there is no 3rd AD

3rd ADs assist 2nd ADs, 1st ADs and location managers on set. As a 3rd AD, you would:

  • Make sure extras are on set at the right time and place
  • Brief the extras and give them cues
  • Direct the action in background crowd scenes
  • Act as a messenger on set

Working conditions

Hours

Your working hours could be long and irregular, according to the demands of each production. They may often include evenings and weekends.

Environment

You could work in TV/film studios or outdoors, depending on the production.

Travel

Work may be anywhere in the UK or overseas, so working conditions will vary depending on where the production is being filmed.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Working as part of a team
  • Taking the lead
  • Using computers
  • Finding solutions to problems
  • Budgeting
  • Planning and organising
  • Time management

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

Keep track of your skills in your account and find the jobs, opportunities and courses that suit you.

Click here to view / add your skills

Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on Apprenticeships.scot.

Qualifications

There are no set qualifications required to enter this role.

The key to becoming an assistant director is to get practical experience of the production process, and also to develop a network of contacts in the industry.

Employers are usually more interested in your experience, enthusiasm and initiative than your formal qualifications.

Although it's not essential, it can be helpful to study film, video or media production before you look for work, especially courses that include practical skills and work placements.

You can enter some Technical Theatre National Certificate or National Qualification courses (SCQF 2-6) with no formal qualifications but most courses ask for National 4/5 qualifications (SCQF level 4/5).

You can enter Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF level 8) with National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers or equivalent qualifications.

To enter a relevant degree (SCQF level 9/10) requires a minimum of four highers or a relevant HNC/HND.

Useful subjects

  • English (required by many courses)
  • Media studies
  • Social studies

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that show understanding of the industry, creative, management and production skills such as Skills for Work Creative Industries (SCFQ level 4) or relevant college or university qualifications such as a Higher National Diploma in Creative Industries: Television (SCFQ level 8).

There are also a number of industry bodies that can offer relevant training and qualifications such as the British Film Institute.