1st AD Protocol (cheat sheet)

This is a “cheat sheet” for seasoned 1st ADs that streamlines the presentation of the information. If you click on any callout, however, a more complete description of that step will be displayed.

 ORANGE CALLS  are made over the radio and repeated by the 2nd AD. If the show does not have radios or a 2nd AD, the 1st AD should ensure that all crew members hear these callouts.

 YELLOW CALLS  are made only to on-set crew and not repeated by the 2nd AD.

MORNING MEETING

We are having the morning meeting.
Precisely at CALL TIME the 1st AD gathers the crew by the trucks for the morning meeting. The 1st AD goes over the logistics of the day and discusses any safety concerns. Meeting concludes by saying:

AD leads safety and logistics update by the trucks.

Work safely, everyone
This concludes the morning meeting. The 1st AD then gathers the Director, DP, SS, 2nd AC, and goes to set.

WORKING OUT THE BLOCKING

Clear the set for blocking.
If the Director is ready, the 1st AD asks 2nd AD to escort the Actors to set so the Directors and Actors can work out the blocking. During this time, the 1st AD manages crew staging away from set while periodically monitoring the Director.

Director confirms blocking plan on set with actors.

Are we ready to mark the blocking?
If the Director is ready, the 1st AD invites the DP, Script Supervisor (SS), and 2nd AC to set. 1st AD then oversees determination of coverage.

WORKING OUT THE COVERAGE

Director and DP test coverage plan on set with actors.

Are we ready for the New Deal?
Only when the plan is agreed upon the 1st AD calls:

NEW DEAL

We have a New Deal.
1st AD confirms all dept. heads are present. Director shows action.

Director shows the action and communicates shooting plan to all department heads.

Questions on the blocking?
Director fields queries, then shows/explains coverage.
Questions on the coverage?
Director fields questions on the plan. The 1st AD facilitates questions, making sure every department is anticipating issues. Does the plan work?

NO
Release New Deal, Troubleshoot.

YES
Proceed to…

BUILDING IT

OK, let's build it. Thank you, First Team.
2nd AD escorts Actors and Director (First Team) to base camp. 1st AD quietly gets a setup time estimate from the DP. (NOTE: No one else but the 1st AD and Director need ask about time or guess how long things will take.) From this point on the 1st AD is quietly monitoring progress and updating dept. time estimates.

Sample ways of being helpful as building happens:

  •  Let’s get the frame 
  •  Let’s get focus 
  •  Let’s get a boom line 
  •  Work quietly 
Are we ready for camera rehearsal?

NO
Troubleshoot

YES
Proceed to…

CAMERA REHEARSAL

AD (or Director) leads technical rehearsal without actors.

Camera rehearsal is up. Stand by.
2nd AD asks Director if they wish to be present. Director either comes to set or 2nd AD informs 1st AD to proceed without Director. (NOTE: if Director does not come to set, 1st AD calls “action” and “cut” instead.)
Camera ready?
Check, or confirm by non-verbal eye contact.
Sound ready?
Check, or confirm by non-verbal eye contact.
We are going for camera rehearsal...
Action is called. Technical team runs shot.
...That's a cut on camera rehearsal
How was that for camera?
Check.
How was that for sound?
Check.

BAD FOR EITHER
Troubleshoot

GOOD FOR BOTH
Proceed to…

Camera ready for rehearsal?
Check.
Sound ready for rehearsal?
Check.

NO
Troubleshoot

YES
Proceed to…

REHEARSAL

Director leads “take-ready” final rehearsal with actors.

First Team in, please.
2nd AD brings Actors and Director to set. Everything must be ready!
Everyone work quietly. First Team is on set.
Director works with actors. (NOTE: REHEARSAL MOVES DIRECTLY INTO SHOOTING. IF ANY TECHNICAL ISSUE ARISES THAT CANNOT BE SOLVED IMMEDIATELY, RELEASE FIRST TEAM UNTIL IT IS SOLVED.)
Rehearsal is up. Stand by.
1st AD waits and confirms visually when Director is ready.
Quiet, please. We are going for rehearsal...
Director calls “action” and “cut.” (This should be treated like it is a take by all set personnel. Make sure the set is locked up.)
...That's a cut on rehearsal. Stand by.
While the Director checks in with the Actors, the 1st AD checks in with camera and sound for feedback. The 1st AD relays this information to the Director, and the Director chooses to rehearse again or proceed. Are we ready to shoot?

Director decides whether to begin shooting.

NO
Call “WE ARE GOING AGAIN. STAND BY.”

YES
Proceed to…

LAST LOOKS

PD sign-off and final tweaks on everything in the frame.

Picture is up. Last looks.
This alerts the crew that we are moments away from picture. All Dept. heads make final tweaks. Last checks for hair/make-up and set decoration. Wait for PD to clear frame and give verbal confirmation “Looks are clear” before proceeding.
Camera ready?
Check.
Sound ready?
Check.
Director ready?
Check.

NOT READY
Call “HOLDING UNTIL READY”

READY
Proceed to…

PICTURE

Director leads shooting under locked-up set conditions.

We are going for picture. Lock it up.
GO time. Listen to ensure set is locked up. Be VERY sure EVERYONE is actually ready, especially the Director and Actors, before calling:
Roll sound...

For dual-system sound:

  • Sound Mixer calls SPEED
  • 2nd AC VOICE SLATES
  • 1st AC rolls camera and Camera Operator calls SPEED
  • 2nd AC calls MARKER and clacks the sticks
  • Camera Operator calls FRAME
  • Director calls ACTION, watches take, and calls CUT.

For single-system sound:

  • 1st AC rolls camera and Camera Operator calls SPEED
  • 2nd AC VOICE SLATES
  • 2nd AC calls MARKER and clacks the sticks
  • Camera Operator calls FRAME
  • Director calls ACTION, watches take, and calls CUT.

...That's a cut on picture. Stand by.
The 1st AD checks in with camera and sound to see if the take was good or if a technical issue may require another take. The 1st AD relays this information to the Director, and checks if the Director would like to go again.

NO
Repeat

YES
Proceed to…

MOVING ON

DP and AD lead technical teams to keep working.

Thank you, First Team.
2nd AD escorts the Actors (and Director if desired) off set and the crew comes in to execute the next set-up.
We are moving on to... (describe next set-up).
Move on to the next planned set-up as indicated previously during the NEW DEAL. 1st AD restates shot as previously described.

Return to BUILDING IT. Or, when the scene is complete, return to WORKING OUT THE BLOCKING. Continue until WRAP.

WRAP

Oversee wrap. Confer with Director & DP. Sign off on DPR.

IMPORTANT TIME-BASED ITEMS

START OF DAY:

First shot is off at (state time).
Recording the time of the first shot of the day and the first shot after lunch is an important item that is reported to the studio on the DPR.

MIDDAY:

That's lunch.
At exactly the 6-hour mark after first calltime Lunch must be called. If the team has already rolled on a set-up you can go into “Grace,” which means work must then be completed within 12 minutes. You cannot shoot past this or you are in meal penalty.
Ten minutes.
Ten minutes before the end of lunch the 1st AD announces this to everyone.
We're back.
This call marks the official end of lunch. All crew is required to return to work. The 1st AD should remind everyone what set-up is first up after lunch.

END OF DAY:

This is the Abby Singer.
The 1st AD alerts the crew that this is the second-to-last set up. (Be sure it actually is before announcing.) This is a morale boost as the day nears its end.
This is the martini.
The 1st AD alerts the crew that this is the last set up of the day. (BE SURE it actually is before announcing.) This is a bigger morale boost as the day nears its end.
That's a day (and/or picture) wrap for (Actor's name).
Crew applauds to thank the talent for the day’s work or for their work over multiple days on the whole picture.
That's a day (and/or picture) wrap for (Production name).
Crew celebrates a hard day’s work. “Picture Wrap” can be an emotional call after weeks of work on a feature.