How to become a great first AD?

Everyone knows the director of a film, or who’s acting in it.
But does anyone know who the Assistant Director (AD) is?
Although the role doesn’t get much spotlight, it is crucial for the smooth running of a shoot & avoiding delays (and the costs associated with them).

Since so much money & responsibility rides on the shoulders of the first AD, it’s important to do the job well and that is why we’ve compiled a list of pro-tips for aspiring and experienced ADs alike.

Follow them & you’ll be on the way to becoming the best at your job.

1) Add enough buffer time to your schedules

Even the best-laid plans can go wrong. As the first AD, it’s important to factor in delays and
last-minute issues. This is especially important if you’re working with a less experienced
According to, even a 15-minute contingency to every scene can pay off, and for a crew with not enough experience, at least 30 minutes of buffer time is required.

2) Utilize downtime to finish smaller, quick tasks
For example: If the crew is waiting for actors to finish makeup, find something that can be
done in the meantime. Maybe get some useful B-roll or capture the establishing shot that you

3) Start shoot days with a 5-minute huddle

Go over the shooting schedule with your core team (producer, director, DOP, sound mixer &
other key departments). This is a good way to ensure a problem-free shoot day or
anticipate problems, and if multiple issues rise up in this meeting, you might have to reassess or
restructure your schedule accordingly.

4) Focus on 4 important questions: that are

Is everything on schedule?
What should be finished next?
Is there anything that the crew can start prepping for?
Is any scene breakdown needed right now?

As the first AD, it’s easy to get lost in the microscopic details of the shoot but at the same time
it’s important to keep a constant big picture view of how the shoot is going.

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