Working as a 2nd Assistant Director

As the 2nd Assistant Director, your first responsibility is to report to the 1st AD. The 1st will be the person you always report to and help directly. The 2nd Assistant Director is more of a behind the scenes person, you don’t spend much time on the actual floor unless you are checking in with your 1st, stepping in for them so they can take a moment to themselves or if they have to speak with someone in a private manner, which cannot be done over the walkie-talkie.

Skills Required of a 2nd Assistant Director

  • Organization. Much like the 1st AD, you need to be highly organized. You are taking care of call sheets, schedule changes, talent and background talent as well as communicating with your 1st and 3rd. Prioritize your tasks and keep focused, you may be asked to do multiple things at once. Know when you need to ask for help, production assistants are there to help.
  • Good Understanding of Scheduling. As the 2nd assistant director you will be making changes to the daily schedule for the 1st AD as changes arise, you need to have a firm understanding of the way that your 1st works and you need to be able to make the necessary changes. This also means that you should have a good understanding of Movie Magic Scheduling, which is the leading software in film scheduling. If you are not using MMS then you need to be comfortable using Word and Excel, as they are commonly used for scheduling as well. Movie Magic Scheduling is available from Amazon.com 
  • Strong Communication Skills. As the 2nd assistant director you are the main source of communication between the office and the set. You need to be in communication with hair and makeup, wardrobe, your 1st and your third, as well as anyone else who may need something from you. You need to clearly let people know when talent is in hair and makeup, you need to announce when talent is traveling and you need to keep any background talent together and organized. You may be in communication with several departments at once, so keep focused and relay the appropriate information to the right people.
  • Delegate. Some sets won’t have a production coordinator, they may have a production manager but they may also be acting as the producer. There are many kinds of scenarios where people may be wearing many hats on one production. If you are the 2nd assistant director don’t be afraid to delegate responsibilities to the production assistants and interns if there are any. If people are wearing multiple hats then that means you will probably need extra help. If you see people not doing anything try to find them a task.

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