Exploring the 2nd Unit Director

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractResearch


There has been little academic attention paid to the contribution of the 2nd unit director in the production of feature films. Yet some of the most notable scenes and sequences ever filmed are the work of the 2nd unit director, rather than the director credited with making the film. The chariot race scene, which is arguably the most famous scene of the 1959 film Ben Hur (dir: William Wyler), was directed by 2nd unit directors Andrew Morten and Yakima Canutt. Ben Hur won eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. More recently, almost all of the freerunning/parkour chase sequence in Casino Royale 2006 (dir: Martin Campbell) was shot by the 2nd unit director Alexander Witt. Campbell provided Witt with some story boards but encouraged him to add shots and improve the action when he felt it necessary. These two examples demonstrate that the 2nd unit director can, on occasion, make a significant contribution to a film, and not just be limited to filming close-ups, inserts and cut-aways. Using the methodology of practitioner-based enquiry (Murray & Lawrence, 2000) and reflective practice (Schön 1987) and Cowan(1998) the writer will use their own experience as a 2nd unit director on the new Australian feature film The Fear Of Darkness 2014 (dir: Chris Fitchett) to explore the creative contribution of the 2nd unit director.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2014
EventASPERA Annual Conference 2014: Screen Explosion: Expanding practices, narratives and education for the Creative Screen Industries - The University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia
Duration: 17 Jun 201419 Jun 2014


ConferenceASPERA Annual Conference 2014
Internet address


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