What’s with the AD?

Last night we screened ‘I’ve Got This Idea For A Film’ to the new students in Dublin. Once the film finished, one of the students asked about how the role of the Assistant Director would be different in Birmingham? I spoke about how Andrew Brown was never an Assistant Director, but my assistant, but maybe it didn’t translate to the rest of the crew. The First Assistant Director (1st AD) has overall AD responsibilities and supervises the Second AD. The “first” is directly responsible to the director and “runs” the floor or set. The 1st AD and the unit production manager are two of the highest “below the line” technical roles in filmmaking (as opposed to creative or “above the line” roles) and so, in this strict sense, the role of 1AD is non-creative.

Andrew Brown


Andrew Brown went through a crazier time than most on the 72 in Melbourne, and it is depicted as such in the documentary. It therefore surprises me that the most interest that I get when people for the 72 is in the role of the Assistant Director. I think it is because people want to eventually be a director and therefore see it as a good training ground. However the skill sets are quite different, and I see the traditional role of the Assistant Director to simply be the shit bits that a director doesn’t want to do. It is bizarre that it carries so much fascination for people. 

We haven’t made a decision on the organisational structure yet as we’ll wait until the script arrives to work that out, but when we do, we’ll make sure that whoever goes into a similar position within the production doesn’t have to go through the same stresses that Andrew did… although the fact that people enquire about such a role after seeing the documentary suggests that perhaps it is the stress that they are signing up for. 

Strange people. 



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