ho do you need to make a movie?
Depending on the size and scope of the vision, you may need a lot of trained professionals. And you’ll need all of their contact information organized neatly in one place.
Because you’ll need to keep in constant contact with everyone. And keep everyone in constant contact with each other. In today’s post, we’re going to review all the essential components of a professional film production crew contact list.
1. What is a film production crew contact list?
There are many different film crew positions, under many different departments. Organizing everyone's info into one database becomes critical to success.
Current and future success. Because anyone you work with today could be someone you'll want to work with tomorrow.
A film production crew contact list may start off for one project. But from there it can grow into a database of everyone you've worked with.
If you’re using a production management solution, that database will be neatly organized and easily shareable. For this post, we’ll be using StudioBinder screenshots to illustrate the points, but these are universal insights you can apply to any film crew list template.
2. Manage your film production contacts online
Whether you’re using StudioBinder or Google Sheets, the first thing to do is to start adding the names to a contact list online.
Because you can access it from anywhere and easily share it with others. For these reasons we don't recommend offline solutions like a rolodex or desktop excel template.
With time, and more projects, this will go from being a crew list for one project, to being your go-to database. This is why it’s very important to approach contact lists like a long-term investment.
After all, it’s all in who you know.
At some point, your lists are going to start to get long. When this happens you'll want to use the search feature to find someone fast.
Start typing their name in the search box and you'll find them.
MESSAGING FILM CREW CONTACTS
3. Check availability by messaging departments
A good film production crew database works for you.
For example: Say you’ve got a new project and the director wants a recommendation for a good DP? Remember the guy who did such a great job on that project 2 years ago?
Find him in your database of film crew contacts. Find the phone number, reach out and see if he's free for a meeting.
If you’re using StudioBinder to manage your contact database, you can send a message right within the dash. The message will be styled nicely with your project header for that added touch of polish.
Here's an example of a bulk message you can send to a selection of contacts in one-go. Each message will be sent to the individual not the list. In other words, they won't see the CC list.
Why does this matter?
Let's say you're readying a shoot and you're looking for an audio mixer to join the shoot. Just go to your contact list's Audio Department, select all of the sound mixers catalogued there, and blast out a message like the following:
Even though it's a message sent to multiple film crew contacts in a single department, they won't know it.
...And you won't look like you're shopping around (even though you are).
4. Create custom lists for key production crew
StudioBinder automatically catalogues all film crew contacts into departments based on the role you've assigned to each.
However, as your database grows over time, you’ll want to further organize contacts into buckets. To do that, you can create a custom lists and assign contacts into them.
For example, you may want to create a custom list for Vendors you’ve work with. That way you have easy reference to find them again on future projects.
Also consider creating a custom list for the production company contacts you’re working with.
Do you have a client for this shoot? Do they have other executives and assistants you need to CC on every change or update? Make a custom list for the client and their team.
Select all....compose message....send.
I'd definitely consider adding a list for post production too. The post process will need a whole new team of artists and technicians. You can sub-group them in convenient ways as well.
5. Be more efficient with tasks and files
Another useful feature of managing your film production crew contact list in StudioBinder is the ability to create and assign tasks.
Each task is a card and can house within it oodles of details such as sub-tasks, due dates, file attachments, comments and teammates you can assign the card to. Task cards can be created right on the contact list via the sidebar on the right side of the page.
That way it's contextual.
Try creating a task card to keep track of something as simple and necessary as actor release forms.
Here I created a card to do just that:
If you click on the generated card, you can add more details.
Now we're able to assign this task to another user. And we can choose anyone on the film production crew contact list to be responsible for collecting the talent releases.
For this task we’d probably want to choose the production coordinator. Though it could be an appropriate task for any number of film positions (crew deal memos).
You can make a list of sub-tasks for every person in your cast that needs to provide a release form.
Then, as the releases come in, check the boxes to keep track. You to choose a due date for this task card to ensure you wrap up all of the tasks on schedule.
You can actually track all your paperwork with this feature.
6. Putting a face to a name
As you shoot more and more, and your contact list expands, it gets harder to put a face to a name.
Back in StudioBinder, you can upload a photo for every contact which will make it easier to jog your memory down-the-road.
Profile photos are especially useful when distributing contact lists to those who have to interface with people on set such as PA's and the production department in general.
Images not only make it easy to identify cast and crew when you're on set, but it also ensures you get everyone's name right.
Which is a touchy subject for certain talent and film crew members. Can not stress this enough especially when working with difficult people on set.
Here we have our brand new contact added, complete with a photo.
BONUS: Basic Film Crew Terminology
8. List of the most common film production crew positions
Bonus section by popular demand! For our final section we’re going brush up on some basic film crew terminology.
When you open your film production crew contact list you'll need to add new contacts. As a result, you’ll need to develop a strong understanding of production crew positions and their departments.
StudioBinder makes the process much easier by providing a comprehensive film production crew positions list (and their short names). Right off-the-bat, this removes the memorization headache and spelling errors from the equation.
The list of jobs on set could go on forever. Try counting the job titles and hierarchies in film credits the next time you go to a movie.
We’ll go over an abridged list of film crew jobs on set here. Remember, every project is different, so every video/film crew is different.
Productions bundle their film crew positions into departments. This will be true on the budget, the call sheet, sometimes the schedule. It can also be true on your film production crew contact list:
Film crew hierarchy can get a little complex, but remember that each department will have a “key” or a leader. Remember the keys, and you’ll remember the departments.
One these titles might belong to you!
The production department may also have the First Assistant Director (1st AD), and any more AD's required. An AD will make your schedule, and make sure you make your days.
The longer the film crew list, the more AD's you'll need. Along with them you'll have Production Assistants.
The head of your camera department will be your Cinematographer, aka the Director of Photography (DP). The rest of the camera department will depend on the production requirements.
A 1st AC (assistant camera) is standard. Usually so is a 2nd AC. One of them may be the “Focus Puller,” and in the days of shooting on film you'd have a “Loader.”
Shooting digitally means you'll more likely have a DIT, or digital imaging technician. They'll handle the media you record and log it, transcode it etc.
You may want to let your DP suggest his or her own camera crew. Camera crews often work together, and have certain shorthand.
Whoever you hire will now live on in your StudioBinder production crew positions list. Which means you'll easily be able to reach out to them next time you are crewing up.
GRIP AND ELECTRIC (G & E)
Grips handle on-set safety and equipment like flags for example. Electrics handle the lights, generators (gennys) or anything you plug in.
On a smaller set you may only need those, plus what is sometimes called a “Swing.” That means a person or two who can do both G & E work.
There are strict union guidelines about who from which department can touch which gear in a film crew. Be mindful of these things even when you're not on a union shoot.
Production sound could be a one-man job, but more likely than not you'll have a Sound Mixer and a Boom-Op at the very least.
Good sound people with their equipment are hard to find. And many a filmmaker will tell you that quality production sound is what separates the men from the boys.
This group led by the Production Designer, may also include an art director and a prop master. But the department can get very large if you've got big sets.
You could have set builders, carpenters, and painters. Usually your production design team gets hired by the Production Designer and Art Director.
But it's wise to track every person in your film crew and keep them in your film production crew positions list.
HAIR AND MAKE-UP
You may have one person for each of these tasks. Or many for each. Like everything in your film crew, it'll depend on the scale.
A long list of Locations Managers and locations themselves are a great asset in any film production crew contact list. You never know what your next project may need, and how hard it may be to find.
It's not uncommon for locations fall through, and you'll have to find a replacement in the 11th hour. Or something might get hairy on set and you'll need the number of the manager or a liaison.
The locations department expands beyond the list of film crew jobs on set; some of them will be remote. But typically you’ll find a location person, or at least a rep, on the actual set.
In any event, it's best to make a separate group for these contacts.
There are many more film crew positions available within StudioBinder. The service makes it convenient to search and assign crew positions with a few clicks.
Film Crew Booking Sheet
So in summary, how do you create a good film production crew contact list?
Collect everyone’s contact info in one place. Group them by department and project. Add tasks and task management. Track progress. Get in touch as needed.
And then, after you've wrapped, use your contact list again to invite everyone to the premiere.
Manage talent & film crew contacts, all in one place.
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