First Assistant Director

Help the Film Director by managing the technical aspects of filming.

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$45,000 – $112,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do First Assistant Directors do?

The First Assistant Director (1st AD or First) is the Director’s right-hand (wo)man, or rather their “right-brain" (wo)man. As the First Assistant Director, you liaise between the Director and the production department, taking care of the technical aspects of filmmaking so that the Director’s creativity can flow undisturbed. If your interests run more managerial than creative, a job as the First Assistant Director could be your spot in the film world.

Here you run the film set, co-coordinating the entire production and overseeing the cast and crew. Your job starts during pre-production, when you break down the script shot-by-shot to determine shoot order and the length of each scene. You also supervise the selection of locations and the acquisition of props and equipment.

Once in production you keep the filming schedule on track, and supervise the other Assistant Directors (2nd and 3rd AD’s) and the Runners. To do this you prepare a ‘call sheet’ – a document detailing each day’s shooting logistics. Finally, you are responsible for the general health and safety of everyone on set (no big deal).

Although during Hitchcock’s time it may have been natural for 1st AD to progress to the rank of Director, today production management has become its own area. This means that it is now more common for First Assistant Directors to transition to production management and Producer positions, than it is for you to switch back to the creative side.

Should I be a First Assistant Director?

You should have a bachelor's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Ready for a Challenge: You jump into new projects with initiative and drive.

  • Also known as: Assistant Art Director

    How to become a First Assistant Director

    Most First Assistant Directors have a Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:dfa9ca&chl=no+college+%285%25%29|certificate+%287%25%29|associate%27s+%281%25%29|bachelor%27s+%2884%25%29|master%27s+%284%25%29|&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,5,84
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