What is the best way to order credits?

Internet Filmmakers' FAQ

The order of the credits in the film is normally determined by three things: industry convention, the contractual arrangements the production has in place with principle cast and crew, and the filmmakers' choices.

Most films have two credit sequences: a 'main' credit sequence either at the beginning or end of the film, and a 'roll' or 'crawl', which is almost always at the end. Whether a film uses an opening or closing main credit sequence is normally determined by the filmmakers.

The main credit sequence usually contains credits for the principal cast, heads of department, and main creative contributors to the film. Which roles get a place in a main credit sequence is usually up to the filmmakers, however many contracts with key personnel will include a clause stipulating a credit in the main sequence. Industry convention also means that certain personnel will expect a credit in the main sequence, and it may cause friction if the credit is not offered.

In a main credit sequence at the beginning of a film, the typical order is as follows:

- Company Credits ('presented by' etc)
- 'A film by' (director's name)
- Lead actors
- [FILM TITLE]
- Key supporting cast
- Casting Director
- Heads of Department (e.g. Production Designer, DOP, Editor, Sound Designer etc)
- Writers
- Executive Producers
- Producers
- Director

If the lead actors are particularly famous, it is not uncommon for their credits to be 'above the title' (i.e. before the film's title is shown). It has also become the norm for the director to receive a 'a film by' type credit early in the sequence. Originally reserved for famous directors, most directors now expect this. However, it is not without controversy. Many non-directors feel that these types of credits can overly attribute the film to the director, when if fact if is the product of collaboration between a range of different creative talents.

If the main credit sequence is at the end of the film, the convention is as follows:

- Director
- Producers
- Executive Producers
- Writers
- Heads of Department
- Casting Director
- 'A film by' (director's name)
- [Film Title]
- Lead Actors
- Key supporting cast

Note that the film's title is normally shown before the cast names.

When it comes to the end credit crawl, convention dictates that cast is shown first, followed by crew, music, and finally the 'thank yous'. Cast who receive a credit in the main sequence are also included in the end crawl along with the name of the character(s) they played. Although no visual priority is given to principal cast in the end crawl, many films opt to list cast with leads and major roles first. However, some filmmakers choose to list cast alphabetically or in order of their first appearance in the film.

In terms of crew, heads of department and key creatives (e.g. the director) who received a credit in the main sequence do not typically receive a one in the end crawl.

The end crawl is normally rounded off with the copyright notice and a disclaimer stating that the film is a work of fiction.

Answer by Benjamin Craig  |  Last updated 18-Sep-2018

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