The composition varies, depending on the scope of the project

In principle there is not one single AD system, as the terminology differs slightly between the UK and the US systems and the team constellation varies according to the scope and complexity of the project. Nevertheless there is a DISTINCT structure and chain of responsibility that is almost identical worldwide.
The fundamental difference to the German system does not only lie in the fact that the shooting schedule and the complete process of Pre-Production, including all appointments, is generated and managed by the AD department, but also in the AD’s responsibility for the whole communication with agencies and actors.

In the AD system there is no “1. Aufnahmeleitung”. However, there are departments such as Unit, Transport and Location. The range of duties of the Location Department is similar to that of the “Motivaufnahmeleitung”.

In the vast majority of countries outside Germany (with the exception of Austria and France) films are shot with the AD system, irrespective of the project scope. The constellation of the AD team is normally in accordance with the requirements, budget and focus of the project.

However there is always a 1st, 2nd, 3rd AD.




Pre-Production – brief outline:


1st AD

see job description 1st AD


2nd AD

The tasks during Pre-Production are dependent on the complexity of the project. The 2nd AD is responsible for the complete communication with the cast and their agencies, including management of their blocking dates. Furthermore s/he arranges rehearsals, training sessions, time schedules etc. In a small team, the 2nd AD also takes care of extras casting and fittings. S/he should attend the tech recce in order to discuss all relevant information with regards to cast trailers, green rooms for the extras and the division of space and responsibilities at the base etc. with Unit Management or Location Management.


3rd AD

Starts work shortly prior to shooting and should attend the tech recce. If at all possible, s/he should also attend rehearsals and fittings.


Production Coordinator

We are just listing tasks, which overlap or complement those of the AD Department, in order to avoid any misunderstandings and in the interest of clarity. The other functions and responsibilities of the Production Coordinator are not listed here.

Organises cast travel and accommodation in consultation with the 1st AD and 2nd AD, manages cast contracts and deal memos, and sends and distributes lists to the cast.


Location Manager

Manages his/her own budget and is responsible for EVERYTHING to do with the set: permits, roadblocks and barriers, parking spaces, ensuring locations are accessible for prep and strike, organises tech recces etc.


Shoot – brief outline:


1st AD

see job profile 1st AD


2nd AD

see job profile 2nd AD

The 2nd AD remains at the base bar a few exceptions. S/he greets the cast in the morning, takes them to the costume or make-up rooms and monitors the timeframes. S/he manages the complete work with actors and extras at the base and supervises costume changes throughout the day. S/he makes the call sheets for the following day and is responsible for smooth lines of communication in the background.

However, the 2nd AD is not responsible for trailers and their electricity, heating etc. This is within the purview of the Unit Department.


3rd AD

Works on set. S/he coordinates the processes according to the 1st AD’s instructions, looks after the cast, directs the extras, organises barriers in collaboration with the Unit and Location departments and remains in constant contact with the 2nd AD with regards to costume and make-up changes and the transport of cast and team to the set and the base respectively. S/he is NOT responsible for barriers, parking spaces and electricity on set or at the base, nor is s/he the contact person for location owners. This is within the purview of the Locations department.



For a project of this scope at least 2 PAs are required. They work at the disposition of the 1st AD, 2nd AD and 3rd AD. They are responsible for lock-offs and cues, help the 3rd AD with directing the extras, if necessary, fetch drinks for the cast and accompany the cast to the set or the base respectively etc. Depending on the scope and the requirements of the project, it might be advisable to deploy an additional PA at the base, in order to look after the cast there and to coordinate costume and make-up changes.


Additional Crew

Depending on the scope and requirements of the project – be it a complex location, the transfer from one location to another, many actors or extras on a certain day of shooting – it is possible to book additional help by the day.


Unit Department

The Unit department is responsible for parking, organising the base, as well as heating and electricity. They also unlock and lock all trailers, plan the location transfers and organise them in collaboration with the Location department. Furthermore the Unit department puts up easy-ups, patio heaters etc. for the team on set. They also organise the transport of equipment from the base to the set and book additional vehicles, trailers, cherry pickers, working platforms etc.


Location Department

The Location Department is responsible for the communication with the location owners and the local residents. They organise parking facilities for the technical trucks and the team, technical spaces and green rooms for the cast and signpost these and the set. The Location Department is also responsible for roadblocks, barriers and lock-offs of non-team members.


Transportation Department

In general there is a Transportation Captain, who is the contact person for the 2nd AD and makes the disposition of vehicles and drivers with him/her. On smaller projects one of the drivers might take on this position.


For a project of this scope the AD constellation listed above would be extended by the following positions and the individual departments might need to be bulked up with additional staff.


2nd AD Crowd
The 2nd AD Crowd relieves the 2nd AD, by taking on all tasks relating to extras. During prep s/he already takes care of all bit player and extras castings, takes on the scheduling and budgeting of bit players and extras and organises doubles, stand-ins and any additional staff. The 2nd AD Crowd plans and organises all fittings etc. for extras, doubles and stand-ins. During the shoot, s/he takes care of the coordination and direction of the extras.


The mid-sized AD team would have to be extended by the following positions:


The mid-sized AD team would have to be extended by the following positions:


3rd AD Base

When there are large cast numbers, the 3rd AD takes on all the work with the cast at the base, so that the 2nd AD is able to concentrate on the day-to-day management and on planning the
following shooting day. The 3rd AD Base supervises all make-up and costume times and fills in the

time sheets and SAG sheets (on international projects).
Please see the Job profile for further details.



3rd AD Crowd

The 3rd AD Crowd assists the 2nd AD Crowd and organises and supervises fittings and training sessions. During the shoot, the 3rd AD Crowd is responsible for taking care of the extras and directing them.  In this constellation, the regular 3rd AD’s priorities are to look after the cast and the processes on set and only gets involved in directing on extremely busy days. Therefore the 3rd AD effectively becomes the 3rd AD Floor.