Saturday, December 13, 2008


There is a whole hierarchy that exists when crediting people who work on films and television. There is the main title sequence that contains all of the producers, actors and department heads. This can be found at either the front of the film or the back of the film, just before the end credits. Within the main title sequence there is a typical order:

Casting Director
Music Supervisor
Costume Designer
Production Designer
Director of Photography
Executive Producer

Agents can negotiate where their actor clients names are listed. They will always want their clients to have a single card, which means only one actor name appears on screen at a time. However, if all the actors had single cards, the credits would roll forever and it would no longer be deemed a strong negotiating point. So only the principal actors with the largest parts will be considered for single cards. Others will share a card or be listed in the end credit roll only. 

Actors also want to know what position they will be in. The lead actor will be in first position, have a single card, in the same size, type and duration as the others, and he or she will be listed in "above the title" position on the film, poster and any other advertising should any actors be listed "above the title". This means his or her name will be listed before the title of the film should the studio or producers decide to list actors before the title. This happens a lot when you have big name actors that can help drive an audience to the theater. The producer or studio is the one handling these negotiations and you usually find out pretty quickly what an actor expects as far as position. The agent and producer or studio will work together to figure out the appropriate position for the actor and the other department heads and producers. Sometimes it's best to list the actors in alphabetical order or in order of appearance if the roles are very similar to one another and the actors are of equal weight.

As for end credits, producers spend a great deal of time compiling the end credits. They need to make sure each department is accounted for and that each individual is accurately credited and his or her name is spelled correctly. That may seem like a minor point but when you have to credit two to three hundred people, it can become a real challenge. That's why I always put a line in every crew deal memo that says: How do you want your name listed in the credits? This way I can consult with everyone's deal at the time I am compiling the credits to ensure we have everyone's name and spelling correct. Every person on a film works extremely hard. It's only right to make sure they are credited appropriately. 

In the end credits, actors are listed first and this is where all of the principal actors (the lead actors), day players (actors who had small parts and only worked a few days or less on the film), and the extras (actors without lines) are listed. From there, each department is listed with the names of the crew who worked in the department. Following the departments, you will find the music credits and then usually a Special Thanks section where the producer likes to list anyone who helped the project but didn't work in a specific department. I usually put investors, vendors who went above and beyond, and friends and family in this section -- because let's face it, friends and family have to put up with a lot from their filmmaker-loved ones. After the special thanks, most vendors are listed and at the very end, you will find logos from the main vendors and legal disclaimers and copyright information.

Credits are a tedious but very necessary part of a film. They are held dear to those who worked on the project. Most filmmakers, including cast and crew, are fueled by an inner passion for movies (it's not always the money!) and they usually give of themselves far above what return they may receive. And the best way to make someone feel good about their contribution is to accurately credit them for their hard work. 


Anonymous said...

Ending credits on a film are in reverse hierarchy

Anonymous said...

If two people are co-directing, how should their names be organized? Is it customary to arrange them alphabetically?

Anonymous said...

If two people are co-directing, how should their credits be organized on a card? Alphabetically?

janekk said...

Organizing alphabetically is a great way to handle co-directors in the credit list.