Naked Gun 2 1/2 Credits

How to Choose Your Credit

Larry writes in about choosing the proper credit:

I just worked on a show as a PA and the director said I could have an AD credit instead if I wanted, because the crew was so small (6-7 people) that’s what I ended up actually doing. This is the second show where I’ve been hired as a PA but basically been AD, only last time I was stuck with the PA credit.

Should I take her offer to be listed as AD? I realize this wasn’t real experience as an AD, it was more like a strange combo of PA and AD. My resume is still short enough at this point that I don’t want to lose that PA credit, and I don’t want to have this possibly irrelevant AD credit on there when I apply for more PA jobs (definitely do not feel like I’m qualified to apply for AD at this point). But also it might look good to have a higher position on there? I don’t know. Do you have any suggestions?

Nobody makes the jump from production assistant straight to assistant director.1

For those of you who don’t know, an assistant director is not a director’s assistant. The 1st AD is a department head, in charge of running the set, keeping everything on time, and managing the logistics of a hundred of people working in concert to execute a singular artist vision. So don’t call him an assistant to the director.

Kinda like this.

Arbitrary Credits

On big productions, credits for the above-the-line cast and crew credits are determined by their respective unions, sometimes through arbitration. Below-the-line credits are technically “at the discretion of the producer,” but really, that’s so they don’t get in trouble for forgetting a 2nd unit rigging day player or something. Generally, you get the credit for the job you did.

On small productions, that’s not necessarily the case. A smaller crew means some people may have to fill multiple roles. If you’ve ever heard the term “griptician,” you know what I mean. Grips and electrics are two separate (and important) departments, but they get lumped together under tight budget constraints.

Another consequence of low budgets is, they can’t always afford the most experienced crew. They’ll hire a camera assistant as their DP, or an assistant make up artist to do their effects make up. And… sometimes they’ll hire a PA to be the AD.

Taking Credit

Sometimes, it’s a good idea to take a better title. You want your resume to show you steadily climbing the ladder. You start as a general-purpose PA, then a PA for a specific department, then progressing through the various levels within that department.

But in Larry’s case, now’s not the time.

Why? Because there are several layers between a PA and a 1st AD. You have to earn hundreds of hours as a PA (or enter the DGA trainee program), before becoming a 2nd 2nd. After a while, you get promoted to 2nd AD, and, after many years, 1st AD.

If your resume is full of PA credits, or worse, your resume isn’t even full at all, yet, a 1st AD credit is going to stand out. Not in a good way. It’ll look like you don’t know what an AD does, because you don’t know the difference between a courtesy credit bump and the actual responsibilities of a real department head. Ironically, it doesn’t make you look overqualified; it makes you look under experienced.

In these circumstances, I’d recommend asking for something like Key PA or 2nd AD. That’s not too crazy. 1st AD is just way too much.

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. Except for that one PA, Jeremy.
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One Response

  1. Depending on what job you actually did, absolutely take the opportunity to get an AD credit on your resume. And don’t doubt yourself and say you’re not ready to be an AD. Is that the direction/department you want to eventually end up in? My first ever job on a movie I was hired as a 2nd 2nd AD (or 3rd AD actually bc it was an Australian director). I had no idea what I was doing, they had to teach me how to properly put on my headset. By the end I knew so much and went on to do many 2nd 2nd jobs, eventually a 2nd AD, and eventually a first AD. Fake it until you make it as they say. Find someone you trust who you can ask questions without annoying them or getting in their way. To everyone else, do an amazing job and be helpful but not in the way. Learn learn learn. I built such a strong trust relationship with the 1st AD I worked with a lot as a 2nd 2nd that by the end of the run of the show we were working on together she let me run set so she could squeeze in some prep for her next project. Also the jobs of the 2nd 2nd, 2nd, and 1st ADs are completely different jobs/duties. I’d probably guess you could take a 2nd 2nd AD (if you were mainly helping at base camp) or Key Set PA (if you were mainly helping at set) credit. Don’t play yourself down. Get credit for the work you did, especially if the producer offered it to you! And next time apply to be a 2nd 2nd! Unless you have no interest in being an AD, then get yourself into a different department as a PA, like camera PA or something. Good luck!

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