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As a 2nd AD, Alina is an expert at time management. She is responsible for creating the call sheet and coordinating schedules to ensure a smooth production day. We had a conversation with her about her experiences on set including what’s great and what’s challenging about her role.

Louisville Film Society: How did you get into filmmaking as a career?

Alina Verenich: I actually went to college for Journalism and Broadcasting! In one of my Freshman year classes, Luke Pennington told me I edit more like the film class students and that I should go explore those classes. That’s when I realized film was really what I wanted to do all along. I had been making little videos in and out of school my whole life along with writing stories and being creative. I just never realized movie making was an option.

What is the particular craft you’re involved with on-set?

I’m currently a DGA 2nd AD (Directors Guild of America, 2nd Assistant Director). Like most roles in the industry, it varies slightly as the budget increases. More or less, I am in charge of the cast and background, and making sure everyone knows the plan. I schedule director meetings, costume and hair & makeup fittings tests, and rehearsals. This mostly happens during prep. 

Then I help make sure that the schedule the 1st AD makes is possible by knowing all the intricacies of the other departments and what they will need (i.e time and manpower) to make things possible. For example, if I know a SPFX (special effects) prosthetic will actually take 3 hours instead of 2, I’ll help come up with solutions with the 1st AD so as to not waste any time on set. I also make the call sheet that gets sent out every night. This has all the information any crew member would need to know, along with the cast. So it’s very important there are no mistakes! When scheduling the call times of the cast I have to figure out how long each actor will take getting ready and how we can get them through the works in as little time as possible and synced up with when the set will be ready. This gets tricky when you have 4 hair and makeup people needing to get 8 cast members ready and 2 of them need morning fittings and there are 50 background people waiting to get their wardrobe approved. Everything is scheduled to the exact minute so when things go wrong, you can show the producers where and when (every minute something goes wrong is money out of the producers pockets). In between all of these things, I just solve problems as they come up…. an actress is having a meltdown in her trailer… someone wants to change the script… a homeless man is stalking our trailers – I’ve seen it all.

Then come all the rules. I need to know all the SAG and IATSE rules (turnaround times and when they can differ from the usual, pre-call approvals, meal penalties, etc.). I let the team know what we can do according to these rules and we make decisions together on the following days. 

Do you have ambitions to move into another role?

As of right now, I want to keep being a 2nd AD. Eventually, I may go into producing (that’s what a lot of AD’s end up doing when they get too tired of ADing). During the strike I actually worked on some very small TUBI movies as a producer and production supervisor, so I learned a lot of new skills.

What type of project would you be most excited to work on?

I just want to work on something that will mean something to someone. I know that’s vague, but most of us work on things that don’t matter and aren’t even good. I always use Minari as an example because I know the 1st AD! We were both 2nd 2nd AD’s on a movie in Oklahoma years ago! Minari was a low budget movie with people who loved the job and loved the script and it showed on the screen. 

What’s the best and worst part of your job?

Best part of the job is seeing my plan come to fruition and making everyone happy with the decision. Worst part of the job is waking up at 3 am sometimes to work at 4 am. Also, because I look young, a lot of producers think I am an assistant and not the person they’ve been emailing for the past month. 

What’s been your most memorable project you’ve worked on? What was that experience like?

My most memorable project so far has been on the set of Summer Camp last spring. Most of the movie took place at an actual summer camp in North Carolina, which was absolutely beautiful! Each department had their own cabin to work out of and even had little golf carts. The crew all ate lunch together in the big mess hall and it really felt like we were actually living through a summer camp. It was the biggest movie I had 2nd AD’d, so the pressure was on! One fun scene we shot was the opening with over 100 kids ‘arriving to camp’ and they dressed me and the other PA’s in camp counselor uniforms so we could be in the scene directing the background kids where to go. I got to tell little girls to do cartwheels and other kids to run around and another group to play tag. It’s an experience these kids will remember forever and I think that’s important for us adults to think about when working. 

How did you get involved in the project?

An AD I work with often had interviewed for the job and planned to bring me on as his 2nd AD. He ended up taking another job, but threw my name in the mix anyway. I interviewed with the 1st AD and UPM, showed them my resume, and soon enough I was on a plane to NC!

What are 3 things you can’t live without on set?

Comfortable shoes, a nice pen, and my clipboard with all my stickers on it.

What advice or insights do you have for others who want to do what you do?

My advice for others is to really focus on how others are acting/working around you. Pick up on the lingo and how people speak to their department heads. Watch how they deal with problems and how they’re solved. Know when to speak up and when to let others make the mistake. And most importantly, tell people what you want to do. More people are willing to help you out than you think!

What’s something you wish more people knew about filmmaking?

I wish more people understood that people on set really do become family. We work 12-16 hour shifts, back to back, and sometimes for months at a time. We miss holidays and birthdays and weekend hangs. The pressure on set sometimes feels like you’re going through the trenches with this tight knit group who you are leaning on to get through the day. It becomes way more than just a job at that point.

To explore Alina’s previous projects and what she’s currently working on check out her IMDB here.

Elizabeth West

Elizabeth West is a film fanatic who loves deleted scenes and elaborate tracking shots. She is an alumna of the WKU Film program.