Assistant Director (2nd)

What do Assistant Director (2nd)s do?

The Second Assistant Director is the first assistant director's right hand person. The Second AD's main function is to ensure that all the first AD's orders and directions are carried out. Seconds have two main responsibilities during production: they prepare and draw up the 'call sheet' (a document detailing daily filming logistics, which is distributed to cast and crew), under the supervision of the first; and they oversee all the movements of the cast, ensuring that the principal actors are in makeup, in wardrobe, or standing by on the set at the correct times.

On smaller productions, on which there is no third assistant director, Seconds may also be responsible for finding and looking after background artists (extras). Most Seconds also assist the first in liaising between the set or location and the production office, updating key personnel on the timings and progress of the shoot.

Responsibilities:
On each day of a shoot, Seconds must prepare and draw up the next day's call sheet, (which involves confirming the details of who needs to be on set and at what time, the transport arrangements, extras required—, etc.). These details must be approved by the production office before the Seconds can distribute the call sheet to the cast and crew. Ensuring that everyone knows their 'call time' (the precise time they will be required on set) is a key responsibility — any delay to filming due to bad time keeping negatively affects the day's schedule and budget, and is considered unprofessional and extremely inefficient.

Once the day's filming has begun, Seconds must ensure that all actors are ready for filming when they are required, which entails coordinating any transport requirements, as well as makeup and wardrobe timetables. In some cases, Seconds may also be in charge of finding extras, sometimes in large numbers at short notice, and coordinating their transport to, and activities on, the set or location.

Skills:
Seconds must have excellent organizational and time management skills to coordinate arrangements and to make efficient plans. First class communication and interpersonal skills are also essential, as Seconds must deal with a large number of people, convey messages and give instructions clearly, concisely and confidently. Cast members may be under pressure to learn script lines, or to hone their performance, and need to be dealt with tactfully and diplomatically at all times.

Paying close attention to detail and always attaining very high standards of efficiency are vital skills for successful Seconds. To foster the confidence of first ADs, Seconds must consistently offer capable support and assistance. As the work is on a freelance basis, and involves long and unsocial hours, Seconds must be extremely motivated and always flexible.

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Job description sources include (but are not limited to) imdb.com, skillset.org and wikipedia.