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A Day in the Life of a Digital Filmmaker

By June 6, 2022January 31st, 2024Digital Filmmaking

The filmmaking industry is comprised of several jobs and roles that assist in the creative, administrative, and technical pursuit of making films. Each of those roles can change depending on the work environment and the type of film being made. To understand what a day in the life of a digital filmmaker is really like, it’s important to look at how common film jobs change with each type of film, work environment, and project specifications like budget.

A day in the life of a film director

Digital film directors are often the creative and administrative leads on a set. Their duties involve overseeing the production process, which can change based on the size and type of project. For big-budget projects with large film crews, professional actors, and multiple production phases, the director may take on a heavy managerial role, delegating even the filming of various scenes to assistant directors and camera crews.

Being positive and able to set aside frustrations is huge because you need good morale on set.

On these large projects, their schedules can be hectic, attending production meetings, reviewing the previous day’s footage, and monitoring the overall status of the project. This might include managing talent and ensuring crew and support staff are happy and focused as well.

“It’s really important for everyone on set, but especially directors, to have the right attitude on set,” said Romone Reeves, a graduate of Villa’s digital filmmaking program. “The going gets tough sometimes; there are fires that need to get put out, and the director has to figure out how to extinguish those so the project can continue. Being positive and able to set aside frustrations is huge because you need good morale on set.”

The director plays a major creative role, whether they’ve written a particular film or are taking another writer’s script and bringing it to life according to their directorial vision. This means they work closely with the production team from pre-filming through editing to ensure their creative vision is executed. They also make decisions on casting, script editing, camera positioning, the logistics of filming, and editing.

A day in the life of a film writer

Great writing is at the heart of any great film or documentary. Writers are responsible for generating elements of a film script. This includes the story, dialogue, and any actions portrayed in the film. They craft any characters involved and outline the transitions from one scene to the next, along with the camera shots needed. Writers may also work collaboratively with other teams and departments to meet goals.

Good writing is more than just coming up with an interesting plot. Often engaged and observant people, writers have a knack for being able to immerse audiences in a rich, dynamic world filled with characters or subjects that are real and relatable. Without good writing, a film would lack the necessary ability to connect with viewers on a deeper level or keep them entertained throughout the film.

A day in the life of a film editor

Editors are responsible for taking each of the different components of a digital film and putting them together to create the final product. Therefore, film editing takes a wide variety of skills. Editors must know how to use the digital software and online platforms involved in processing and editing footage. They also need to have good storytelling skills and understand how the various elements of a film, many of which they apply themselves in post-production (like special effects), come together to entertain and convey meaning.

Editors must also have good communication skills and exceptional attention to detail, having to work with various production teams to generate the final product. On a given day, they may work with directors, crew members, special effects technicians, and graphics professionals. They may also need to delegate responsibilities to team members, monitor editing budgets, and meet deadlines.

A day in the life of a film production assistant

It takes a special person to be a PA. They need to know how to be social at the right times and quiet at others, almost like being everywhere and nowhere when needed.

Production assistants, also called PAs, provide support on-set. Their days are defined by which teams or departments they’re working with. This can mean doing a huge variety of tasks and supporting other film crew members with theirs. These tasks can range from taking notes at meetings and organizing materials to delivering important documents.

“We have a joke on set that PA stands for ‘practically anything,’” Romone said. “PAs don’t really work for a specific department on set like everyone else does, so they end up working with everyone and doing a lot more than just getting lunch orders.”

On-set production assistants can work regular hours but also are asked to jump in and help other teams when needed. This could mean arriving early or staying late on set. Responsibilities can change daily, even hourly, and often require juggling different tasks. They may be asked to do more physical jobs like helping set up lighting and sound equipment, acting as a stand-in for actors on set or in costume departments, or performing more administrative tasks like documenting on-set activities and writing emails.

Production assistants often benefit from working closely with team leaders, which can include creatives like editors and directors. During times of crisis, they can be asked to move from a support role to the lead, deploying the knowledge and skills they acquired working in different positions on set to solve problems.

According to Romone, being a production assistant offers a lot of room to move up in the industry, especially with the right attitude.

“It takes a special person to be a PA. They need to know how to be social at the right times and quiet at others, almost like being everywhere and nowhere when needed,” he said. “Working with so many different people, it’s very possible a PA can end up working other gigs by making good connections with certain departments and being willing to take on whatever task is asked of them.”

Explore Digital Filmmaking at Villa

If you’ve ever wondered what a day in the life of a filmmaker would be like or are interested in working in film, Villa Maria College is the place to be. A BFA in digital filmmaking from Villa can help prepare you for a career in film or television. Or, check out one of our certificate programs for short-term, hands-on courses in on-set jobs.