One of the biggest differences is the fact that the AD-Department is an independent department and consists of a 1st AD, 2nd AD and 3rd AD at the minimum. RAs (ADs under the German system) however, are members of the Directing Department.

In the AD system the shooting schedule is exclusively compiled by the 1st AD. Furthermore AD department handles the planning of the pre-production and the complete communication with agencies and actors.

The big advantage is that all information is consolidated within one department, rather than being spread out across several departments. In addition, the structuring of the shooting days, their timing and the organisation of the on-set processes is managed solely by the 1st AD.

In the AD system there is no Unit Manager. However, there are departments such as Unit, Location and Transportation.

A well functioning AD Department is an essential pillar of any production, as it provides structure, security and efficiency – both for the production and for the director.

The AD system is prevalent and well established globally. In contrast, the RA system is unknown outside Germany, which can cause friction and confusion. As the individual tasks are not clearly defined, this inevitable leads to questions and discussions: What are the tasks of the RA? What are the tasks of the Unit Manager? Whose task is it to compile the shooting schedule? Who is responsible for the content of the call sheets? Who is responsible for the actors? For safety on set? Who is tasked with keeping an eye on the production requirements?


In the international AD system these questions do not arise as the responsibilities, tasks and processes are very clearly defined. Therefore it is very important to use the correct terminology. 1. RA cannot be translated to 1st AD and the 2. RA does not fulfill the tasks of a 2nd AD.


In order to be able to talk about an AD project the following prerequisites must be met:

1 | The shooting schedule is the responsibility of the 1st AD

2 | The call sheets are compiled exclusively by the 2nd AD

3 | There is a 1st AD, 2nd AD and 3rd AD on the project

4 | The communication with the agencies and all liaison with the actors is in the hands of the AD Department.

5 | The ADs are beholden to both the Production department and the Directing Department. However, they are not the Director’s assistants.

6 | There is a Unit Department and a Location Department (with or without Set Manager) in place, as well as a Transportation Department.

> Please also see the heading ‚AD Constellations‘


Therefore the AD job titles should only be used if the shoot genuinely conforms to the Anglo-Saxon system. Even if you have the self-image, the bearing or the expertise of a 1st AD, please call yourself 1. RA, if you are working under the German system. This will create clarity and trust.
Furthermore the ADU aims to strengthen and valorise the job profile of the RA. The common image of the „assistant to the director“ is out-dated; after all the RA also takes on logistical and economic responsibility.

The same goes for the 2. RA. Please don’t call yourself 2nd AD if you have been working under the RA system. This is a totally different job title with a significantly different set of tasks and responsibilities.

The ADU aims to contribute to more clarity and structure. To this end, we ask all members to use all job titles solely according to the job profiles as laid out by the ADU – both in your CVs and on Crew United.