We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a First Assistant Director?

Jessica Ellis
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Musical Expert is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Musical Expert, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

If you ever visit a film set, you are likely to see one person running around barking orders and generally keeping everyone moving. It is a common mistake to assume that this person at the center of a flurry of activity is the director. In fact, the person charged with running the set is called the first assistant director, or first AD.

In filmmaking terms, the first AD is typically considered one of the most important members of the crew. Instead of contributing to the creative aspect of filmmaking, the first AD is your best bet at actually assuring that the film is made on a day to day basis. Any film production that tries to move forward without a competent first assistant director is likely to end up in a scheduling nightmare.

On a film set, a director is charged with communicating with the actors and the cinematographer in order to film each shot. A first assistant director typically ensures that all production elements are ready on schedule, or is able to inform the director about any possible delays that may slow production. A good AD will allow the creative team the ability to focus on their work while ensuring that the budgetary and practical needs of the production are met. First assistant directors also typically work with the director and cinematographer to create a realistic daily shooting schedule. Accurately judging how much time a particular scene or sequence will take is a vital part of the assistant directing job.

Although there is no formal path to becoming a first AD, some basic qualifications are necessary. Assistant directors frequently do a difficult tightrope-walking act between producers, directors and the cast and crew. An even temper and positive response to stress is extremely important. Moreover, aspiring assistant directors must excellent time-management and multi-tasking abilities.

If you are interested in becoming a first assistant director, first gain experience working as a production assistant or runner. This valuable work will give you time to observe the workings of a film set while gaining contacts within the industry. Practice your ability to break down scripts and prepare shooting schedules by volunteering as an assistant director with student film productions. Just be aware: a first assistant director is not to be confused with an assistant to the director. Your job is not to be fetching coffee for the director; it is to ensure that his actors are in costume and makeup on a set that is lit, safety-checked and ready to be shot.

The job of a first assistant director is nearly invaluable, but often thankless. Many directors and producers started their careers in this difficult job, including Alfred Hitchcock. While the hours may be long and the frustrations plenty, a first AD can rest assured that not only are they essential to the film-making process, but also they are gaining huge amounts of experience that will help them to reach their career goals.

Musical Expert is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for Musical Expert. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.
Discussion Comments
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
Learn more
Musical Expert, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Musical Expert, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.