When you hear the terms above the line and below the line, it’s usually in reference to the production of a movie. But this is actually a misleading use of these terms.

The below-the-line costs are actually above the line in relation to everything else on a film’s budget except for the production costs themselves.

The phrase above or below the line refers to the way that money is spent (or allocated) when producing a film.

The line refers to the budget sheet, which has columns for each department with room below each column for transactions.Once all of this information is organized, anyone who is interested can see how much has been spent and how much remains.

That said, if someone is looking at your film budget from the outside, they’ll have no idea what the term “above the line” means and will assume that it has something to do with where the money was spent.This isn’t entirely inaccurate; it just isn’t very precise.

above the line film positions

What Are above the line film positions?

There are many different kinds of job opportunities on a film set. Some of them are known as above the line positions, while others are below the line. The term refers to the budget, or the amount of money that is allocated for the project.

Above-the-line costs are those that occur early in the filmmaking process – before filming begins. Below-the-line costs are those that occur during or after filming has begun.

Above the line film positions involve much of the creative and management aspects of filmmaking. In general, these positions include:

Director: oversees the creative aspects of the production and interprets the screenplay for onscreen presentation

Producer: oversees all aspects of a production, including raising funds and hiring key personnel

Screenwriter(s): writes the screenplay; screenplays may be based on original ideas, existing works or adaptations of existing works

Cinematographer: oversees shooting, including lighting, camera operation, and framing



In the film industry, above-the-line (ATL) and below-the-line (BTL) costs are production budget items. A standard rule of thumb for these budgets is that they represent 70 percent of a film’s total budget.

Below-the-line refers to anything else that directly affects production; this includes equipment rentals and crew wages for those working on camera or in sound design. Below-the-line budgets typically make up 30 percent of those costs.

What Is Above The Line In Film?

The above-the-line costs on a film production are the costs paid to actors, directors, producers, and writers for their work. 

The A-list consists of big name, top talent that generally has a significant impact on the success or failure of a film. They include the director, producer, writer, and lead actors.

These are the people that get paid the most in a film production nd are generally considered to be the most important contributors to a film’s success. A-listers often have special terms negotiated into their contracts that require that they be paid residual income or even a percentage of box office profits, after they’ve been paid their initial salaries.

The B-list includes those who contribute significantly to a film’s success but aren’t the top talent in a project. This would include supporting actors and actresses, as well as secondary crew members such as editors and cinematographers but not key grips or best boys.

Occasionally you’ll find more than one member of the B-list getting paid above scale in order to satisfy an actor’s agent who wants his client to get as much money as possible for their work.

Who Is Above The Line And Below The Line In Film?

These terms were coined by the movie industry to differentiate between actors who got paid more than $500,000 per movie from those who earn less. It’s also used to describe roles in film, but we’re going to talk about this in terms of actors.

The below-the-line crew on a movie set includes everyone else who works on the film besides the actors and director. They will be listed in the credits as production staff, assistant directors, and other such titles.

Above-the-line talent is everyone billed above the title of the movie, including the writer(s), director, and actors. 

In the early days of Hollywood, there was no such thing as above-the-line or below-the-line talent.

This was mostly because there wasn’t really an industry as we know it today until just after World War I. Before then, movies were little more than a novelty show or a Vaudeville act played out on film.

The term above-the-line refers to anyone involved in the creative process behind a movie, including screenwriters, producers, and directors. Below-the-line refers to anyone working behind the scenes, such as editors, camera operators, and production assistants.

Are Cinematographers Above The Line?

Above-the-line means nothing other than that you are more likely to be paid more money than someone below-the-line on an union film set. That’s all.

It has nothing to do with skill, experience, or talent.

Cinematography is included in the creative and technical aspects of motion picture photography. The cinematographer selects the camera, film stock, lenses and filters, and lighting while understanding each one’s limitations.

The cinematographer makes decisions regarding the mise-en-scene and how to translate the script into visual terms and how best to represent them in an entertaining but understandable way on screen. 

The line between cinematography and directing can be very thin; some would say that both jobs are equal in their importance in bringing together all of these elements.

The same argument could be made for just about any role involved in filmmaking. However, one reason that there can be confusion about whether a cinematographer is above or below-the-line is because their hiring is not always handled by a traditional production company or studio.

Some independent filmmakers hire their own crews and come up with their own financing for distribution, including paying them out of their own pocket if need be. 

What Is The Hierarchy Of A Film Crew?

The hierarchy of a film crew is based on who’s in charge and who reports to who. If a crew member doesn’t do their job, the project can be in serious trouble.

But if you have a strong team with good leadership, it can be a great experience. The key is to remember that everyone is part of the team, but not everyone is part of the hierarchy.

Most directors have other roles in production as well. They are responsible for casting, hiring, budgeting, and scheduling.

They also are responsible for communicating with producers about whether or not the script needs to be changed or if any changes need to be made to stay on schedule or within budget.

Producers are very involved with day-to-day operations of the film from raising funds to hiring cast and crew members. They are responsible for communicating with directors about whether anything needs to change in the script.

The director of photography works with the director to create an overall visual style for the movie, including lighting choices and camera angles. 

Titles are also very important as they denote what level of responsibility each member holds. The higher up in the hierarchy you get, the more responsibility and stress goes with that title.

So let’s take a look at what the hierarchy of a film crew is and how to become one.


What Are The Different Jobs On A Film Set?

There are many different jobs that you can do on a film set. Some are glamorous and some not so much, but all of them are necessary for the production to run smoothly and for a great final product to be made.

The first thing to understand is that there is no single film crew. Different productions have different needs, which means the crew might be made up of people with different skill sets, depending on what the producers are looking for.

The most traditional film crew will include: 

  • Production Assistant (PA)
  • Director of Photography (DP) 
  • 1st Assistant Camera (1st AC/Focus Puller)
  • 2nd Assistant Camera (2nd AC/Loader) 
  • Gaffer
  • Key Grip
  • Best Boy Electric
  • Dolly Grip
  • Electrician
  • Sound Mixer
  • Boom Operator
  • Script Supervisor
  • Location Manager
  • Unit Production Manager (UPM)
  • Producers and maybe one to two actors

The different types of jobs on a film set are varied, and most of them occur behind the camera. The people who work on the other side are called actors or actresses; they are the essential element of films, because they bring awareness to the story.

Directors are mainly responsible for bringing out the best in their actors, ensuring that everything is running smoothly and watching for errors.

Coordinators make sure that everything is ready before filming starts, including costumes and props. They maintain a schedule for each day’s principal photography and prepare call sheets for cast and crew members.

On bigger films with more crew members, a second coordinator may be hired to help out with the scheduling duties.

Screenwriters are responsible for writing dialogue and coming up with character backstories. 

A script supervisor has many responsibilities depending on where they work, but they typically handle continuity issues such as making sure that every scene unfolds in an identical manner with regards to props, costumes, or lighting.

They also make sure that nobody improvises lines or changes dialogues during shooting without having it cleared beforehand.

Is a Film Director Above The Line?

A lot of people think the term above-the-line is a bit of a joke, but when it comes to Hollywood accounting and the world of film production, it’s absolutely no laughing matter – it can make or break a movie.

The director has signed on the dotted line, but they don’t have to worry about raising or providing funds to shoot the film – all they have to do is direct! 

They are above-the- line because they have a guaranteed payment, unlike many other people involved in making a movie who are paid overtime as a percentage of what has been lent against their contract (see below).

The term was created by the Hollywood unions to designate who was covered under their agreements. The different branches of the industry had a difficult time negotiating who was covered under their various agreements.

Once they agreed to use the phrase above-the-line to describe those positions that were covered, everything fell into place very easily. Actors, directors, and writers are considered above-the-line because they were covered under union agreements.

Everyone else was below.

Is a Film Producer Above The Line?

An indie producer is considered an above-the-line producer because they have to make all of the financial decisions on a movie. A movie producer who gets a studio or outside financing will be known as a line producer because they are on the line if their budget is exceeded.

The producer of an indie film has to pay for everything (cast, crew, and budget) out of their own pocket so they must be able to make all of the financial decisions themselves. 

A script supervisor will track all continuity during production which involves making sure that all props, set dressing, and actors’ hairstyles stay consistent throughout production.

They also help manage the paperwork required by unions and guilds in order to get paid when shooting on location or with unionized personnel. 

Is a Line Producer Above The Line?

Whether or not a line producer is above-the-line or below it may depend on the project. 

They ensure that all departments are effectively communicating with one another and meeting deadlines. They also make sure that they are pulling their weight and that everyone stays on schedule and within budget.

Line Producers also research potential set locations and props. They work with each department to make sure they get the resources they need.

Line producers also make sure that directors and producers stick to their budgets. They do this by closely monitoring expenditures in each department and making adjustments if necessary.

The next time you’re in class or watching a film, take note of how many different people have the title of line producer. Each one will have a slightly different list of responsibilities.

Is a Video Editor Above The Line?

A below-the-line video editor is one that works strictly in the background. They will not be seen by the viewer but they do help to create a great product.

Just like an above-the-line video editor, a below-the-line video editor helps to create something memorable. However, this type of video editor is typically underpaid and overworked.

This means that they don’t always have time to give you what you want. While an above-the-line video editor is one that creates a product or helps to create your product.

You will see them in the finished product and they are usually highly paid for their work. When it comes to hiring a below-the-line video editor and/or an above-the-line video editor it is important that you know how much money you are willing to spend.

Both types of editors can help you bring your vision to life but only one of them is likely to give you exactly what you want. If you want your vision, then perhaps an above-the-line video editor is for you.

On the other hand if you are willing to work with someone who will get pretty close then a below-the-line video editor might be right for you.