2nd assistant director

2nd Assistant Director

aka: 2nd AD

The 2nd AD is the key assistant to the 1st assistant director. Together they work in the AD department to help the director organize both cast and crew during filming. This job role is admin based and requires strong organization and scheduling skills. 

On this page, you can find a complete 2nd AD job description. We’ll also discuss the job role skills, education, pay, and career route options.

What is a 2nd Assistant Director?

The 2nd assistant director is the 1st assistant director’s right-hand person. They help the 1st AD organize and schedule the entire film production. You can find them in the production office leading their team to keep the film on time, on budget, and on schedule.

The job role of a 2nd AD is non-creative and requires strong admin skills. Although they don’t work on set, the 2nd AD plays an integral role in keeping this film running. Many 2nd AD’s also step up into higher roles such as 1st AD and producer.

What Does a 2nd Assistant Director Do?

It takes a lot of work to organize a film set. Both director and producer need a lot of help keeping track of the crew and schedule. The 2nd Assistant Director helps them coordinate the film and schedule changes from the production office. 

In particular, their main task is to create the call sheet. The call sheet lets people know the filming schedule and their call times. It must be prepared daily and distributed to all crew members. They also oversee the talent and extras during filming. Occasionally they will work on set helping the 1st AD. 

In essence, it’s an admin role that requires good communication skills. First, let’s look at what a 2nd AD does within each production stage.

Job Description

The 1st AD or producer hires the 2nd AD in early pre-production. To begin with, they read the script and create a script breakdown. One of their first tasks is to make a list of supporting artists and hire people for these roles.

Next, they help the 1st AD throughout pre-production to schedule and organize the film shoot. Typically tasks include hiring transportation and managing location recces. Most importantly, they help set up the production office and hire any production management staff.

During filming, they stay in the production office unless the 1st AD is unable to work. Their main task is to keep the film on schedule and create daily call sheets. Finally, when the film wraps, they close the production office and organize all paperwork. 

Pre-production Duties

The 2nd Assistant Director is hired by the producer or 1st AD. First, they must complete a script breakdown and list the supporting artists. Then, they help to hire and manage the supporting artists. 

Their duties change per job, but mainly they assist the 1st AD with whatever tasks are needed. For example, organizing table reads, rehearsals, location recces, and hiring transportation. The notable job of the 2nd AD is to create, distribute and update all call sheets. 

  • Complete a script breakdown
  • Find and book supporting artists
  • Help the 1st Assistant Director
  • Create and update call sheets

Production Duties

Once filming starts, they work mainly in the production office. To begin with, they manage the supporting artists, in addition to this they will organize transport. After that, they work between all departments, ensuring everyone knows of any schedule changes.

Also, the 2nd AD backs up the 1st AD if they need further help on set. Occasionally they will direct background extras. Most importantly, the 2nd AD creates daily call sheets and gives them to a runner to hand to everyone at the end of each day. 

  • Update the call sheet daily
  • Make any schedule changes
  • Organise cast, transport, and crew
  • Help the 1st Assistant Director

Education and Skills

The 2nd AD doesn’t need a degree, but taking a course in film and TV might help you understand the role more. There are also many short courses you can take, as well as workshops. The job role requires you to fully understand the filmmaking process and everyone’s job role on set. So, the more general knowledge you have, the better. 

Like all job roles, you will need to network in the industry to find work. Producers will hire people they know and trust before hiring online. So, it’s important to meet people working in the film industry by helping out on many projects at the start of your career. 

2nd Assistant Director Skills:

  • Strong organization skills 
  • Teamwork and leadership
  • Admin and scheduling
  • Ability to work under pressure 

Career Route

The 2nd assistant director is a below-the-line job role in the film industry. Most people start as office runners and then gradually take on more responsibilities. This route lets you see how other 2nd ADs tackle problems and lead the production office.

Another route is to start as a 2nd AD or production manager on low-budget film sets. Then work your way up into higher-budget productions. However, there is a risk that you won’t learn how people run the production office on high-end sets. 

Some people enjoy the 2nd AD job role, although there is the opportunity to step up from this role into other positions. Many 1st ADs and producers have worked previously as 2nd ADs. The job role will also provide you with an all round knowledge of making films.


The 2nd AD is a self-employed freelance job role. As a result, you must find your work and negotiate your pay rate per project. If you are part of a union or guild, they can help you determine your working rate. Keep in mind office runners start on minimum wage. 

The Directors Guild of America provides a starting working day rate of $274. So, if you work six days a week on a feature film with a budget of $1 million, you will receive approx $1,644. However, the higher the budget of the production, the more you will get paid. 

Finding Work

At the start of your career, you can find an entry-level job on film job sites. The entry-level jobs for 2nd AD are PA and runner. However, it is helpful to find work specifically within a production office. You might also find work full-time for a film or media company.

When it comes to finding consistent 2nd AD work, you will need to network in the industry. Producers and 1st ADs will hire who they know and trust first. So, make contacts within the industry as you work up towards your job role. If a producer likes you, they will ask you back to work on more film projects. 

US 🇺🇸UK 🇬🇧
UTA Jobs ListScreenSkills Jobs
The UTA Jobs list advertises entry-level work in LA and throughout the US. Remember that the entry-level position for the 2nd AD is production office assistant or runner. In addition, they list paid training placements and internshipsScreenSkills is a charity that provides industry news, training, and resources for the UK film industry. As well as, having regular training opportunities they also now have a jobs board for professional production positions.

Wrapping Up

To sum up, being a 2nd Assistant Director can be an excellent route to producing and directing work. It gives you a chance to manage all roles on set and discover what it takes to make a film. It’s a role best suited for highly organized or enjoy working with people.

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