The 3rd Assistant Director, also known as the TAD, has the main responsibility of assisting the 1st Assistant Director and the 2nd Assistant Director. The following list outlines the responsibilities of the 3rd but know that this list can grow depending on the size of the project and the amount of background talent being used.
Skills Required of a 3rd Assistant Director:
- Communication: No matter which role you are playing within the AD department, you need to be a great communicator. If all of the AD’s are keeping in communication with one another then the day should run quite smoothly. As the 3rd you want to know when you need to have background ready and when you need to have them traveling to set. You need to communicate with the 1st when you are on the floor, maybe directing traffic or background talent. You will also need to communicate with the background performers, you may have a lot of bodies to deal with, you need to keep them focused and together, let them know what is going on and when.
- Organization: This again is a skill required to work in any position within the AD department but as the 3rd Assistant Director you need to organize your time as well as organize people. There are shoot days that might employ hundreds of extras and background performers, on these days it is up to you to organize and work with them. You will more than likely have help on these days but it is up to you to keep everything together and moving. Part of staying organized is keeping in communication with your 1st and 2nd, know when and where you need to have your talent and get them there as efficiently as possible.
- Confidence: As the 3rd you will be dealing with a great deal of people on any given day. You may be organizing crowds of hundreds. You need to be the voice in charge, you need to lead with confidence. If you are quiet or confused in any of your directions then the talent with be too. Be authoritative, give clear and concise directions, call on the help of production assistants if necessary.
- Patience: Keep your cool, things are going to get stressful and sometimes pretty hectic. Be patient and stay calm. If you panic or stress then so will everyone else. Your confidence and patience needs to transfer over to everyone else, they need to feel like you know what is going on and that they can come to you for direction.
Tools Required of a 3rd Assistant Director:
- First Aid Training If you want to work in the AD department you should be trained in First Aid and CPR. Although there are times when a medic will be on set or an appointed safety officer is around, it is standard for the 1st AD to have first aid training. As a 3rd, if you are looking to work your way up to 1st, then you too should be trained.
- Smart Phone: It is important for you to have access to the internet. You may need to check weather or make calls at anytime. If the 1st needs to know anything, you should be the one to find out for them. Having the internet in your pocket will save you.
- Set Bag: Much like the set box of the 1st AD, you should have a bag or box with you, you may be on standby with extras all day. You should have a First Aid Kit, water, a Multi-tool, some snacks, tape, pens and markers. Anything you think will help you do your job better should be in that bag.
- Proper Footwear: This is true for any job on a film set but as the 3rd you will probably be doing a lot of back and forth, you will be traveling extras from holding, you might be directing traffic, you will be going to the production office and back to set all day. Wear comfortable shoes and always have an extra pair in your set bag.
- Walkie Talkie: The walkie talkie will be provided by the production but remember to always have it on you, get one at the top of the day and keep it on you all day, have an extra battery on you and remember to communicate all necessary information with the appropriate departments.
Responsibilities of a 3rd Assistant Director:
- Background Talent: Typically the 3rd Assistant Director will be responsible for the background talent, they may have to sit with them on standby for most of the day but when it is time to go they need to get them to set. Once on set the 3rd may be responsible for directing the background talent.
- Communicate with the 1st and 2nd AD’s: You need to work with the 1st AD, communication is key, you do not want to show up on set with 50 background performers an hour before the 1st is ready for them. Keep in communication with the 2nd who will have all the necessary timing for talent and background.
- Lock It Up: While on set you may need to stop traffic, vehicles as well as pedestrians, from going through a shot. You will help the 1st lock up the set and make sure everyone knows when they are about to roll.
- Assist the 2nd: If there is a day without any background performers then you will help out the 2nd with anything that may be needed, you may have to travel talent to set or communicate timing with the 1st AD.
- Step in for the 1st: If the 1st needs to step off of set for any reason, maybe just for a bathroom break, you may need to step in for a few minutes. There are many reasons the 1st may need to step off the floor, be prepared to step in and keep things moving while the 1st takes a moment.
- Work with the Production Assistants: You will want to work with the production assistants as well, if you need help with anything they are there for you and the AD team. If you see PA’s with nothing to do try to task them with something. On smaller sets you may be tasked with more, there may be less PA’s and you might have to fill in from time to time.
- Use Your Walkie: Always have your walkie on, you will need to communicate on all channels, when lunch is called, when wrap is called etc. Sometimes we forget about our walkie’s and end up running all over the place trying to find people or locate items. Use your walkie, it will make your life easier. When making announcements, be sure to go to all channels in use and relay the information. Not everyone is on channel 1.
As a 3rd Assistant Director be prepared to do anything that the 1st or 2nd ask of you. You are a key member of the production team and will help to make sure that things run more smoothly. Keep your eyes and ears open and be ready to jump in at any time. Don’t wait to be asked to do something, take initiative and work hard. A hard working 3rd Assistant Director will be noticed and may get to step up to 2nd or 1st on the next job.