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"Below-the-line" is a term derived from the top sheet of a film budget for motion pictures, television programs, industrial films, independent films, student films and documentaries as well as commercials. The "line" in "below-the-line" refers to the separation of production costs between script and story writers, producers, directors, actors, and casting ("above the-line") and the rest of the crew, or production team.
The top sheet of any creative project's budget serves only as an at-a-glance reference to a fully detailed and attached main budget document, which features total expenses including federal, state and local taxes, as well as insurance within the entire production, and or production incentives. This painstaking task is usually assigned to the Production Manager or UPM of a productionand should be completed before principal photography begins for any project.
Some below-the-line film and television film crews operate in pre-production, production, or post-production stages of filmmaking. For example, the film editor may work solely in the post-production stage of filming but they might also work throughout the production, editing the film as it is shot and advising the director if and when additional shots or scenes are needed. The boom operator, on the other hand, is mostly on set during filming because they have to pick up the dialogue of the actors as well as ambient noise when the scene is being recorded.
This particular type of film crew usually belongs to a guild or union. Some of the unions and/or guilds that represent below-the-line crew include: I.A.T.S.E., The International Cinematographer's Guild (an IATSE organization), The Teamsters, Motion Picture Editors Guild, Animation Guild, and the Motion Picture Sound Editors.
It is usually the case for the "below-the-line" crew to work for hourly wages, as opposed to a set wage, or negotiated contractual wage on the front, or back end of any given project. These set workers are responsible for a number of many other unsung, and demanding tasks that must be completed to achieve the common goal of creating a film, or television program. These positions could be considered "less glamorous", and the unmentionable part of filmmaking. However, many dedicated and hard working individuals have made a good living with "below-the-line" job positions, whether it's in independent filmmaking, and or for a major film studio.
Within the many entry-level positions available to gain knowledge of the industry, such as Lighting technicians, grips, wranglers, stunt performers, property masters, ADR, foley, set painters or any stagehand etc., one could gain knowledge and skill of these, and many other key positions within the film industry. Many schools and or nonprofit organizations are set up to train the youth and other interested individuals to better prepare and teach a trade that may not otherwise be available within the traditional school system. These organizations teach about film and video terminology, equipment, and life skills, a must for today's highly competitive entertainment market.
Below-the-line crew refers to everybody else including:
Most of these crafts people are considered variable cost in the budget. Meaning, if you cut a scene from the script, potentially, you don't have to build that set, or paint it or dress it, etc.
Film editing is both a creative and a technical part of the post-production process of filmmaking. The term is derived from the traditional process of working with film which increasingly involves the use of digital technology.
A film crew is a group of people, hired by a production company, for the purpose of producing a film or motion picture. The crew is distinguished from the cast, as the cast are understood to be the actors who appear in front of the camera or provide voices for characters in the film. The crew is also separate from the producers, as the producers are the ones who own a portion of either the film studio or the film's intellectual property rights. A film crew is divided into different departments, each of which specializes in a specific aspect of the production. Film crew positions have evolved over the years, spurred by technological change, but many traditional jobs date from the early 20th century and are common across jurisdictions and filmmaking cultures.
A film producer is a person who oversees film production. Either employed by a production company or working independently, producers plan and coordinate various aspects of film production, such as selecting the script; coordinating writing, directing, editing; and arranging financing.
Electrical lighting technicians (ELT), or simply lighting tech, are involved with rigging stage and location sets and controlling artificial, electric lights for art and entertainment venues or in video, television, or film production.
In film and television, the production designer is the individual responsible for the overall aesthetic of the story. The production design gives the viewers a sense of the time period, the plot location, and character actions and feelings. Working directly with the director, cinematographer, and producer, production designers have a key creative role in the creation of motion pictures and television. The term production designer was coined by William Cameron Menzies while he was working on the film Gone with the Wind. Production designers are commonly confused with art directors as the roles have similar responsibilities. Production designers decide the visual concept and deal with the many and varied logistics of filmmaking including, schedules, budgets, and staffing. Art directors manage the process of making the visuals, which is done by concept artists, graphic designers, set designers, costume designers, lighting designers, etc. The production designer and the art director lead a team of individuals to assist with the visual component of the film. Depending on the size of the production the rest of the team can include set decorators, buyers, dressers, runners, graphic designers, drafts people, props makers, and set builders.
A production assistant, also known as a PA, is a member of the film crew and is a job title used in filmmaking and television for a person responsible for various aspects of a production. The job of a PA can vary greatly depending on the budget and specific requirements of a production as well as whether the production is unionized.
The role of an assistant director on a film includes tracking daily progress against the filming production schedule, arranging logistics, preparing daily call sheets, checking cast and crew, and maintaining order on the set. They also have to take care of the health and safety of the crew. The role of an assistant to the director is often confused with assistant director but the responsibilities are entirely different. The assistant to the director manages all of the directors in development, pre-production, while on set, through post-production and is often involved in both personal management as well as creative aspects of the production process.
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada, known as simply the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees or IATSE for short, is a labor union representing over 140,000 technicians, artisans, and craftspersons in the entertainment industry, including live theatre, motion picture and television production, and trade shows in the United States and Canada. It was awarded Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre in 1993.
Filmmaking is the process by which a film is made. Filmmaking involves a number of complex and discrete stages including an initial story, idea, or commission, through screenwriting, casting, shooting, sound recording and pre-production, editing, and screening the finished product before an audience that may result in a film release and an exhibition. Filmmaking takes place in many places around the world in a range of economic, social, and political contexts, and using a variety of technologies and cinematic techniques.
A production company, production house, production studio, or a production team is a business that provides the physical basis for works in the fields of performing arts, new media art, film, television, radio, comics, interactive arts, video games, websites, music, and video. Production teams consist of technical staff to produce the media. Generally the term refers to all individuals responsible for the technical aspects of creating a particular product, regardless of where in the process their expertise is required, or how long they are involved in the project. For example, in a theatrical performance, the production team includes not only the running crew, but also the theatrical producer, designers and theatrical direction.
Television crew positions are derived from those of film crew, but with several differences.
The set decorator is the head of the set decoration department in the film and television industry, responsible for selecting, designing, fabricating, and sourcing the "set dressing" elements of each set in a Feature Film, Television, or New Media episode or commercial, in support of the story and characters of the script. The set decorator is responsible for each décor element inside the sets, from practical lighting, technology, art, furniture, drapery, floor coverings, books, collectables, to exterior furnishings such as satellite dishes, Old West water troughs, streetlamps, traffic lights, garden furniture and sculptures.
Location scouting is a vital process in the pre-production stage of filmmaking and commercial photography. Once scriptwriters, producers or directors have decided what general kind of scenery they require for the various parts of their work that is shot outside of the studio, the search for a suitable place or "location" outside the studio begins. Location scouts also look for generally spectacular or interesting locations beforehand, to have a database of locations in case of requests.
A script supervisor is a member of a film crew who oversees the continuity of the motion picture including wardrobe, props, set dressing, hair, makeup and the actions of the actors during a scene. The notes recorded by the script supervisor during the shooting of a scene are used to help the editor cut the scene. They are also responsible for keeping track of the film production unit's daily progress. The script supervisor credit typically appears in the closing credits of a motion picture. Script supervisors are a department head and play a crucial role in the shooting of a film. It is the script supervisor's job to monitor the camera shots, seeking to maintain coherence between the scenes.
The location manager is a member of the film crew responsible for finding and securing locations to be used, obtaining all fire, police and other governmental permits, and coordinating the logistics for the production to complete its work. They are also the public face of the production, and responsible for addressing issues that arise due to the production's impact on the community.
A production coordinator is a unionized position in stagecraft under the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and is governed in Los Angeles by Local 871.
In the cinema of the United States, a unit production manager (UPM) is the Directors Guild of America–approved title for the top below-the-line staff position, responsible for the administration of a feature film or television production. Non-DGA productions might call it the production manager or production supervisor. They work closely with the line producer. Sometimes the line producer is the UPM. A senior producer may assign a UPM more than one production at a time.
Articles related to the field of motion pictures include:
A line producer is a type of film producer who is the key manager during daily operations of a feature film, advertisement film, television film, or an episode of a TV program. A line producer usually works on one film at a time. They are responsible for human resources and handling any problems that come up during production. Line producers also manage the budget of a motion picture and day-to-day physical aspects of the film production.
This glossary of motion picture terms is a list of definitions of terms and concepts related to motion pictures, filmmaking, cinematography, and the film industry in general.