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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.
A UPM is usually hired by a film producer or television producer, and is responsible for managing the production and regulating the costs of delivering the expected film or television show on budget at the end of principal photography. Typically, a producer will oversee all the cost-related decisions, including above-the-line expenditures (especially during pre-production). However, the UPM is responsible for the more detailed planning and execution of the below-the-line costs (primarily for physical production). The film's director will select important department heads (keys) or support personnel related to their work, including the casting director, cinematographer, costume designer, production designer, and film editor. For below-the-line matters, the UPM often negotiates deals (for location, equipment, etc.) and hires the remaining crew, typically on the recommendation of the keys and/or based on prior experience with trusted individuals.
The UPM frequently does not have any direct responsibilities with the creative direction of the film's narrative, although in some cases they will and can be consulted. Many budget decisions affect the creative direction of the project. They are to support the director's artistic vision on a daily physical production level.
Before principal photography begins both the producer and UPM work to secure as many of the production elements as possible, including a workable schedule and budget. Usually from a production office during pre-production, they may later divide their time between the office and the set while the film is being shot. An on-set trailer may also be used as a makeshift production office. Like nearly all members of a film crew, UPMs will typically remain on the shoot until the end of principal photography and can return if there are any reshoots. It is not atypical for a UPM to work 80-100 (or more) hours per week while a film is in production.
In the US, a union UPM is represented by The Directors Guild of America. Certain conditions must be adhered to on a union shoot in order to remain in good standing with the DGA. These include expected salary rates, working hours, overtime penalties, required meals and other related criteria.
Highly experienced UPMs bring great value to a project for their strategic and creative problem-solving skills. These individuals will positively affect the film's budget as well as the final outcome and quality of the film on multiple levels.
The UPM, under the supervision of the employer, is required to coordinate, facilitate and oversee the preparation of the production unit or units (to the extent herein provided) assigned to him or her, all off-set logistics, day-to-day production decisions, locations, budget schedules and personnel. Without limitation, among the duties which the Employer must assign to the UPM or First Assistant are the supervision of or participation in the following:
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.
"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 and the rest of the crew, or production team.
In North American filmmaking a key grip is a senior role for an experienced professional on every set. Their responsibilities are extensive and range from supervising grip crews, assessing what equipment is necessary for each shooting location, coordinating the transportation of this equipment and its set up, arranging the general movement and positioning of the camera and collaborating with the director of photography. The key grip relies on the best boy as their foreperson to supervise the grip crew.
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.
Art director is the title for a variety of similar job functions in theater, advertising, marketing, publishing, fashion, film and television, the Internet, and video games.
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 film director is often confused with assistant director but the responsibilities are entirely different. The assistant to the film 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.
Filmmaking is the process by which a motion picture is produced. Filmmaking involves a number of complex and discrete stages, starting with an initial story, idea, or commission. It then continues through screenwriting, casting, pre-production, shooting, sound recording, post-production, and screening the finished product before an audience that may result in a film release and an exhibition. Filmmaking occurs in a variety of economic, social, and political contexts around the world. It uses a variety of technologies and cinematic techniques.
Principal photography is the phase of producing a film or television show in which the bulk of shooting takes place, as distinct from the phases of pre-production and post-production.
Second unit is a discrete team of filmmakers tasked with filming shots or sequences of a production, separate from the main or "first" unit. The second unit will often shoot simultaneously with the other unit or units, allowing the filming stage of production to be completed faster.
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 has 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.
Film budgeting refers to the process by which a line producer, unit production manager, or production accountant prepares a budget for a film production. This document, which could be over 130 pages long, is used to secure financing for and lead to pre-production and production of the film. Multiple drafts of the budget may be required to whittle down costs. A budget is typically divided into four sections: above the line, below the line, post-production, and other. The budget excludes film promotion and marketing, which is the responsibility of the film distributor. Film financing can be acquired from a private investor, sponsor, product placement, film studio, entertainment company, and/or out-of-pocket funds.
A dialect coach is an acting coach who helps an actor design the voice and speech of a character in the context of an on-camera, stage, radio or animation voiceover production. The dialect coach often does original research on dialects and speech patterns, prepares training materials, provides instruction and works on lines with the actor. A dialect coach will give the actor feedback focusing on issues of credibility, consistency, and clarity. A dialect coach may also be employed to help comedians hone impressions of celebrities, to train non-actor public speakers in vocal character and delivery, or to help singers improve in diction and attain a balance between tone and articulation, especially when singing in a second language.
A production report ("PR") is a filmmaking term for the form filled out each day of production of a movie or television show to summarize what occurred that day. There is no standard template for a production report, and each show usually has an original template, often created before production begins by one of the assistant directors ("AD"). Besides superficial differences, most forms record the same information and are simply a series of blank tables created in Excel printed double sided on a legal sized sheet of paper. The purpose of this form is to keep track of a production's progress and expenses and to help determine what salary is owed to the cast and crew. It is finally sent to studio executives and is permanently filed to serve as a legal record.
A line producer is a type of film or television producer who is the head of the production office management team during daily operations of a feature film, advertisement film, television film, or TV program. A line producer usually works on one film or episode of a TV program 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.