If you plan on working as an assistant director full time there are a few items that you should invest in to help make doing your job easier. You don’t have to spend a ton of money, unless you decide to invest in scheduling software but the following items are must haves for anyone working in the assistant directing department in film and television.
A Watch! – You are the time keeper on set, if you are the 1st, 2nd or 3rd assistant director, you should be keeping track of the time and trying to follow the schedule. Having a cell phone isn’t an excuse to not have a watch, some sound recordists will request that all phones be turned off.
Movie Magic Scheduling – or another kind of scheduling software – The schedule is the key to an Assistant Director’s job, the 1st Assistant Director creates the schedule and then the AD department helps keep the production on time. I recommend Movie Magic Scheduling as it is most common in the industry and is also very helpful in creating almost all scheduling documents. It can be expensive so I also recommend using Microsoft Word or Excel to create your own scheduling documents. Movie Magic Scheduling is available from Amazon.com
A Smartphone or Tablet – I am an Apple user through and through, I have a MacBook, an iPad, iPod and iPhone. As an Assistant Director you need to have access to the internet, you need to keep on top of your emails as things can change rapidly during production. The iPad for me is the most compact and useful tool, it is great for taking notes on a scout, sending out production documents and checking and sending emails. You can also set up the iPad with a Wireless Keyboard and Track-pad to set up a work station on set. You can use a smartphone for this as well but for me the phone is good for quick things but it’s too small for the more important work.
A First Aid Kit- The AD department should all be trained in first aid and CPR and should be the safety representation on set, that is of course when there isn’t a medic on set. There should always be a full and properly stocked first aid kit on or near set and the AD department should know how to use what is in it.
A Good Call Sheet Template – The call sheet is the document that lets everyone on set know what is happening on a day to day basis. Every good Assistant Director should have a call sheet template that they use when working on a production. I have been working on my call sheet for years, every time I work a new job, I make changes to my call sheet. If you don’t have one yet, download my Call Sheet and start making it your own.