Who’s Who on Set & Stage
If you’ve just landed your first professional acting role—congratulations! You’re likely brimming with excitement to get started. But before you walk on set for your first day, it’s important to have all your terms and titles straight. In acting, whether on stage or on a set for a film or television show, there are a lot of important people to know and recognize. In a prior article, we discussed a glossary of helpful terms. In this article, we will breakdown the people you need to know.
You definitely don’t want to mistake a director for a producer, or a stage manager for a production coordinator. If you’ve heard a lot of these terms but are unclear of the specific functions of the important professionals you’ll meet in show business, then read on. Here are the roles and descriptions you should know before your first time on set or stage.
Agent: Represents an actor or other professional and is responsible for negotiating contracts and other orders of business.
Assistant Director: Assistant to the director, often called the A.D.
Assistant Stage Manager: Assistant to the stage manager.
Art Director: Manages all the design aspects of a film.
Camera Operator: Operates cameras.
Cast: The complete collection of all actors and performers in a production.
Casting Director: Selects candidates for a production’s cast.
Cinematographer: Captures and arranges the visual images in a film through recording, lighting, lenses, camera angles, and more. Also referred to as director of photography.
Company Manager: In the case of a traveling theater company, the company manager is responsible for performers’ pay, representation, and general management.
Costume Designer: Constructs and sources all items related to clothing and costumes on set.
Crew: All the professionals involved in a production, aside from the actors.
Director: The coordinator of every aspect and decision in a production.
Ensemble: A group of performers in a production.
Executive Producer: Provides or organizes funding for a production.
Extra: An actor in only background, non-speaking roles.
Field Representative: A representative of the union present on set to ensure that standards are met.
Fight Director: Similar to a stunt coordinator, but for the stage. They organize and oversee all combat scenes in a production.
Film Editor: In post-production, this is the person who puts all the shots of a film together into a coherent final product.
Grips: Members of the crew who move around equipment on set.
Lighting Designer: Organizes the lighting in a production.
Line Producer: Keeps track of a film’s budget or manages the day-to-day aspects of a set.
Location Manager: In charge of finding all locations for filming, involving scheduling and payment.
Principal: Actors with speaking roles.
Producer: The individual involved in the business, financial, and legal aspects of a production.
Production Designer: Makes all decisions relating to a film’s visuals, design, costumes, makeup, and more.
Production Coordinator: Keeps track of all logistics on a set, especially regarding equipment and booking.
Production Manager: Ensures production is on schedule and within budget, and ensures health and safety requirements are met.
Production Sound Mixer: Manages all the sound recording done in a production, as well as choices related to the sound design and capture.
Prompter: During a stage production, this person follows along with the text of a play and is ready to remind an actor of their lines.
Screenwriter: The person who creates the script for a production.
Script Supervisor: Ensures that a script is followed and continuity is maintained in filming.
Set Designer: The designer or architect of all structures and settings.
Stage Crew: Keeps track of all objects and props. Also known as stage hand.
Stage Manager: Oversees the backstage operations.
Studio Teacher: On-set teacher, responsible for the schooling of young performers in a production.
Stunt Double: The trained actor who takes another actor’s place in scenes of action, combat, or physical risk.
Stunt Coordinator: Manages all stunts in a film, including the casting of stunt doubles.
Unit Nurse: The medical professional on set who sees to the cast and crew's health and wellness.
While this is not a comprehensive list, it is meant to serve as a broad introduction to the important roles in every production. Now you’re ready for your first day on set—break a leg!