Assistant Director Department Certification Course

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  • This course is open for 12 weeks
  • 18 lesson series
  • Certificate of completion
  • 4 hours, 25 minutes of video
  • Industry-Leading Instructors



The first assistant director (or 1st AD) is a member of the assistant director department, also referred to as the production department. The assistant directors manage the day-to-day operations of the set, ensuring each department, crew person, and actor are where they need to be for filming to continue.

If the producers are tasked with getting all the people, equipment, and resources to the set, it’s the assistant directors who manage them on set, always ensuring each production day wraps on time and within budget. From planning the shooting schedule to coordinating with each department, the assistant directors are a vital team to efficiency on a movie set.

While this course covers the duties and responsibilities of the assistant directors, it starts with the role of a production assistant, an entry-level position that will give you access to nearly every department on a film set. It’s the gateway into a film industry career and a notable rite of passage that almost everyone has taken. This course will teach you how to become a production assistant, and most importantly, how to succeed as one.

In this self-guided online course, you will learn the duties and responsibilities of the assistant director department, including:

  • The roles of each member of the assistant director department
  • How to properly break down a script
  • How to develop a shooting schedule
  • How factors such as turnaround time, pushed calls, meal breaks, and union guidelines affect the schedule
  • How to effectively manage the set
  • How to interface with each department on set
  • How to complete on-set paperwork and reports
  • How a scene is shot - from the initial blocking to the tie the camera rolls
  • How to direct extras
  • The role and expectations of a production assistant
  • How to break in as a production assistant

This course is taught by the assistant director team from Titanic, Avatar, Real Steel, Night at the Museum, Stranger Things, Logan, and dozens of blockbuster Hollywood movies ad TV shows. You will learn from the very professionals who may hire you in the future, making their insights valuable and relevant.



Your instructors include:

Josh McLaglen

Producer, 1st Assistant Director

Josh is the producer of "Avatar," the X-Men movies, "Logan," "Real Steel," and, as James Cameron's 1st AD, ran the sets of "Titanic," "Avatar," and dozens of other Hollywood blockbusters.

Jody Brockway

Emmy-Nominated VP of Production, NBC
Jody managed NBC Studio's made-for television movie department, with credits including "Christmas Cupid," "Snowglobe," "Identity Theft," "Maiden Voyage," "Rush of Fear," "Cruel Justice," and "The Ron Clark Story"

Eve Light Honthaner

Production Coordinator
Eve's credits include "Titanic," "Tropic Thunder," "Joy Ride," "Just Married," "In Dreams," and "The Game"

Maria Battle-Campbell

Second Unit Director/Assistant Director
Maria's credits include "Avatar 1, 2 & 3," "The Island," "Stranger Things," "Serenity," "Real Steel," "X-Men: First Class," "Transparent"

Mike Musteric

Second Unit Director, 2nd Assistant Director
Mike's credits include, "Logan," "Avatar," "Enemy of the State," "X-Men: First Class," "Stranger Things," "Real Steel," and "Lost"

Johanna Jensen

1st Assistant Director

"Law & Order," "Adventures of Brisco County Jr.," "Northern Exposure"

Stephen Marinaccio

Line Producer
Stephen worked with James Cameron on "Aliens of the Deep," and numerous features, including "Marco Polo," "The Darkest Hour," and "13 Hours"
The lessons
  • Beginning Pre-Production

    Once the script is complete, learn the overview of the process of prepping the project to go to camera.
  • Breaking Down the Script

    Learn to properly break down the script,  line the script, techniques for breaking down each scene, how to use scene breakdown forms, and how assistant directors and line producers should manage the breakdowns from other departments on the project. 
  • Scheduling the Production

    Learn to determine the number of shooting days needed to shoot your film, how to determine the shooting order, manage day and night shoots, account for turnaround time, and the benefits of shooting consecutive shooting days.
  • Scheduling the Day

    Learn how to schedule company moves, meal breaks, learn the productivity arc of a shooting crew, how to work with the director’ shot list, skills for managing a shoot running over schedule, how to generate a one-line schedule, and how to create call sheets.
  • How to Create a Call Sheet

    Learn how to create and distribute a call sheet.
  • How to Use a Daily Production Report

    Learn how to use the Daily Production Report
  • How to Use a Day-Out-of-Days

    Learn how to use a Day-Out-of-Days form.
  • Directing Extras

    Learn how to find extras, the right way to direct them, how to cheat them on set, liability concerns and how to avoid them, logistics on the shooting day, and the most common problems filmmakers encounter when working with extras
  • 1st Assistant Director

    Learn the job responsibilities of the 1st Assistant Director.
  • 2nd Assistant Director

    Learn about the responsibilites of the 2nd Assistant Director in pre-production and on set.
  • 2nd 2nd Assistant Director

    Learn the duties and responsibilities of the 2nd 2nd assistant director in pre-production and on set
  • Production Assistants

    Learn the duties, responsibilities, and expectations of production assistants on set.
  • How to Shoot a Scene

    Learn the process of how to shoot a scene: blocking, light, rehearse, tweak, and shoot.
  • Blocking Actors

    Learn how to block the actors, what story cues to look for, how to drive the blocking emotionally, and how to work with the actors to get the best physical performance possible.
  • Basic Coverage

    Learn the basic template for shooting the action in a scene - the master, coverage, inserts and cat-in-the-window shots, learn how to vary shot size to increase coverage, break the standard, plan for the edit, and ensure you get the coverage you need.
  • Advanced Coverage

    Learn how to craft a oner, create a psychological impact for each shot, create compelling establishing shots, manipulate the pacing and rhythm of a scene, determine the opening visual, and enhance transitions from one scene to the next.  
  • Shooting the Rehearsal

    Asking the cast and crew to shoot the rehearsal may seem like a time-saver on set, but is it?
  • About this Course

    This lesson provides instructions on how to make the most out of this course.