Dear Film Fans,
I know why you really got into the business. It wasn’t because you’re a masochist for long hours or a sucker for uncertain income. You think film is sexy. Actually, you know film is sexy. And you’re right.
If you’re attracted to a career in filmmaking, it’s only natural that the people in the industry will turn your crank. But beware – there’s a hierarchy of hotness on set.
Here’s a wildly subjective ranking of roles, and what gives them different degrees of bedability. Actors have been disqualified for obvious reasons (they’re all bat-shit crazy).
16. Data Wrangler
Look, somebody had to be last. And let’s face it – most Data Wranglers have their heads buried in a laptop all day and rarely register on set. When you do, it’s usually disastrous. Being the bearer of bad news that a file is corrupt or a card won’t read is the ultimate buzz kill – even if it’s not your fault (and it usually isn’t). Sure, you can sometimes score points with actors by giving them a sneak peak at the digital dailies, but even then you’re just being used. It’s sad to say that the one job on set with zero room for error is not exactly a head turner, but at least you made the list (sorry, Craft Services).
Letter: Dear Arnaud Hemery Data Manager for LUCY
15. Production Assistant
You’re not last! It wouldn’t be fair to pick on this job, especially since so many of us have been PA’s at one time or another. Yes, it’s unglamorous and often attracts unskilled go-getters, but stick around because itgetsbetter. People usually have an eye on you (to see if you fuck up), but at least competence will get you noticed. It’s an entry level-job with big-time make-over potential.
Letter: Dear Natalie Wood Production Assistant for DOWNHILL RACER
14. Dolly Grip
Here’s a job that many people enjoy doing, but few people enjoy watching. Dolly Grip’s win “Most Likely to Flash Plumber Crack”, but are not nearly as likely to get any ass themselves. The process of laying track and guiding the camera is one that requires a lot of focus and steady work, so luckily most Dolly Grips are too busy to care what anyone else thinks. That’s worth something.
Letter: Dear Bruce Hamme, Dolly Grip for PRISONERS
13. Props Master
Being a Prop Master is only as sexy as you make it. Depending on the film, you’ll have various chances to show off your good taste and handy skills. The only problem is that once props are loaned out, most of you turn into neurotic headcases trying to keep track of everything; making sure that vintage book pages aren’t torn or that the vase in the background gets back to your grandma safely. Lack of control inevitably loses you points.
Letter: Dear Michael S. Martin, Property Master for 12 YEARS A SLAVE
12. Continuity / Scrip Supervisor
Good continuity is a total turn on, but more in a reliable relationship way. You got here by proving you have a great attention to detail, and as such, are often seated at the right hand of the director to keep an eye on loose strings. Like many relationships, pointing out inconsistencies or faults might be encouraged early on, but you also have to be okay with being regularly dismissed or overruled. It’s a tricky dynamic to have work in your favour.
Letter: Dear Ronit Ravich-Boss, Script Supervisor for THAT’S MY BOY
11. Best Boy
Like the Best Man at a wedding Best Boy is a true misnomer (shouldn’t the “best man” be the one getting married?). Second-in-command of either the Grip or Gaffer department, the term dates back to when managers would yell “bring me your best boy!” to come help with lighting or electrical. This official wingman status is often a thankless job, but at the same time, being shown favour on a big set gets you noticed. Plus, some people would probably hook up with a Best Boy just to say they did.
Letter: Dear Greg Fusak, Best Boy for BEHIND THE CANDLEABRA
10. Line Producer
Though being the money manager isn’t as sexy as it sounds, there’s some true power here, and that’s the basis for most of the appeal. Many of the department heads are likely to cozy up to a Line Producer just to try and squeeze a little extra money their way. Enjoy it. It’s the best play you have.
Letter: Dear Sarah Craig, Line Producer for TIME LAPSE
9. Unit Production Manager
What’s hotter than hiring and firing people? Well, a lot, but this is still a position that demands respect on set. Points are mainly lost by being so removed from the action when the camera’s rolling, usually holed up in a trailer somewhere crunching numbers and fixing schedules. But with the power to make or break many below-the-line careers, it’s no wonder there’s a little strut in your step.
Letter: Dear Brian Bell, Unit Production Manager on NEIGHBORS
8. Assistant Director
There have to be some cheats here, so I’m grouping all you A.D.’s together, even if the difference between a First, Second and Third is rather huge. It goes without saying that your appeal is directly related to your ranking – no one’s getting hot and bothered by a Third A.D. bossing extras around (well, bothered maybe), and Seconds are usually tucked away in the office somewhere (which at least provides an air of mystique). An effective First A.D., however, really has presence on set – even if all the yelling has more in common with a drill sergeant than a rock singer. In fact, using the band analogy, First A.D.’s are more like the drummer – making a lot of noise and keeping the rhythm of the production going. And we all know drummers get plenty of action.
Letter: Dear Lauren Wells-Jones, Casual Assistant Director for THE BABADOOK
7. Make-up Artist/Costume Designer
If there’s a cool kids club on set, Make-up and Costumes are the gatekeepers. You get a lot of face time with the stars and are the hub of production gossip. But the real appeal comes from being so hands on; cozying up with measurements and touch-ups, striking a quick level of intimacy and familiarity the actors. By extension, Make-Up Artists and Costumer Designers are usually approachable and friendly by nature. Both disciplines (combined here for simplicity) are true art forms in and of themselves, where excellence can be rewarded with an Oscar or a spot on SyFy’s FaceOff. That’s hot.
Letter: Dear Robin Matthews, Makeup Department Head for WILD
6. Boom Operator
If you don’t have a sense of humour, you can’t be a boom operator. The big rod you brandish makes you the butt end of easy jokes, but owning that absurdity goes a long way. It’s a low level position, but also the most visible one in the sound department – and the most fit. Keeping your mic out of the frame isn’t easy. Arm strength is one thing, but there’s also an agility required to keep up with hand-held moving action. For that reason, you’re hotter than you think. Plus, who doesn’t love somehow who knows how to work a pole?
Letter: Dear Valeria Ghiran, Boom Operator for THE ARTIST
Another big cheat to combine these two professions, but the same principles of attraction apply to setting up lights and laying cables. These are technical jobs that require both brain and brawn. Both land on a respectable rung of the professional ladder, and watching someone who really knows what they’re doing is always appealing. But really, this ranking is all about the belts. A lot of people wear them, but no one on set owns them like a Grip and Gaffer.
Letter: Dear Andy Mountain, Lighting Console Operator for UNDER THE SKIN
An ego monster by necessity, a director’s magnetism is a real crapshoot. Everyone on set is judging you, and expecting an answer to their question. If you make mistakes, people talk behind your back. If you act like a big shot without delivering world-class goods, word travels fast that you’re an insecure phony. But no matter what people say, you’re endowed with creative control – and that’s impossible to ignore. If you do all your homework, treat people well, and , your sex appeal is second-to-none. But more often than not, seeing the sausage being made is a pretty heavy turn-off.
Letter: Dear Marc Foster, Director of WORLD WAR Z
3. Production Designer
You could be working anywhere – drafting buildings, designing big brands, creating personal installations – but you’ve chosen to give your talents to film. The wild variety of skill sets most Production Designers and Art Directors possess make you the most interesting people on set. Most of you care as much about Neo-classical architecture as you do contemporary tech interfaces. You might not sweat as much as the Grips and Gaffer, but you don’t need to. Plus, even in jeans and T-shirt, you still seem to dress better than most people on set.
Letter: Dear Bobby Vanonen, Production Design/Art Direction for THE VALLEY BELOW
2. Stunt Coordinator
Not many sets have the luxury of a true Stunt Coodinator (or even stunt performers), but the ones that do – look out. Everyone’s eyes are on your action. It’s a rough and tumble profession, and one that, at its best, risks life and limb for our entertainment (will somebody give you and Oscar category already?). The reason it’s so high isn’t just because of the Ryan Gosling Drive factor, but the stunt makers who have really broken out, from Bruce Lee to Zoë Bell. Even when you’re doubling for a star, you’re the real show on set.
Letter: Dear Brian Smyj, Stunt Coordinator for THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES
Was there ever any doubt? If the Director is the singer of a rock band, the Cinematographer is the lead guitar. It’s where the real music comes from, and where fans know to focus their attention. As the architect of light and movement, the Cinematographer (or Director of Photography) has enough help to side step most of the drama that plagues other department heads. And even so, you’re often the hardest working person on set. Most Directors are disproportionately indebted to their Cinematographer, so they can’t begrudge the praise you get. But don’t think they aren’t jealous when an A-list movie starlovingly uses your nick-name to announce your Oscar win to the world.
Letter: Dear Chris Cassidy, Cinematographer for SIDE BY SIDE