Second Assistant Director

  • Second Assistant Director

The second assistant director is hired during pre-production and is an aide to the first assistant director and, by extension, the director. He or she is hired by the producer or director, with input from the first AD, and will take on the tasks delegated by the same. This position may also be referred to as the key second assistant director or additional assistant director. All ADs after the first AD are given the title of second assistant.


Along with the individual tasks assigned by the director or first assistant director, the second AD is responsible for a few specific duties. Among these is preparing cast and crew call sheets, which detail all pertinent information for that day’s schedule; this includes arrival times, locations, scenes, and who must report to set. He or she will communicate advance scheduling information to the cast and crew as necessary. This person is also the main point of contact for all extras, handling requisitions and other required documentation concerning background actors. The information collected is reviewed for completeness and submitted to the first AD and unit production manager. Similarly, the second AD will write daily production reports and complete end-of-day paperwork concerning scenes shot, notes for the next day, film and sound information, etc. Scripts and later script changes are distributed by the second assistant director, or by a production assistant under the supervision of the second AD. As the primary point of contact for the cast of extras, the second assistant director will distribute, collect, and approve background talent’s vouchers and release forms.

Skills & Education

A college degree in film and television production is recommended for a career on the directorial staff. As a second assistant director, you should be proficient in the operation of film and digital video cameras, and understand the techniques of framing and lighting a shot. A firm understanding of sound recording and mixing is also necessary. While you are not expected to be an expert on all forms of film and television technology, an intermediate level of knowledge is beneficial. As you move up the ladder in the directorial department, you should also aim to become proficient in non-linear editing and learn about the application of visual effects in post-production. Courses in entertainment business are also especially helpful, as you will be dealing with cast and crew contracts.

What to Expect

Second assistant directors can become members of the Directors Guild of America, the organization that represents directors, assistant directors, and unit production managers. It is not required that you become a member to work in the film/TV industry, but membership is necessary to be hired on shows that operate under a collective bargaining agreement with the DGA as signatories. This includes most major production companies and studios. To work toward a career as second AD, you should gain experience in the camera department as a camera operator or camera assistant. A good place to start is as an on-set production assistant. There are also limited opportunities for internships or apprenticeships through the DGA and on feature productions that agree to host interns.



Related Content

Have some feedback for our editors? Contact Us