Exactly how big is a Hollywood film crew? Producer Stephen Follows proposed a similar question to some students in Malaysia he was training to be production assistants:
In order to give the students a sense of the scale of these productions I asked them to guess how many people worked on the movie ‘Avatar’. Guesses ranged from a few hundred up to a thousand. The actual figure (according to IMDb) is 2,984.
This got me thinking about what the number of crew members could tell us about a production.
The figures Follows comes up with are interesting (though include caveats such as IMDB’s dependency on self-reporting) and reiterate that crews are like one giant organism slowly lurching towards a creative goal. Like organisms have organs, there are different departments that each have their own role and Follows manages to break down each department’s numbers as well.
Because of how IMDB is setup, the camera department is lumped together with grips and electrics under the heading of “Camera and Electrical.” So the top three films between 1994 and 2013 with the biggest “Camera and Electrical” crews were Now You See Me (334), Iron Man 3 (260), and Titanic (230). Looking at those movies’ credits on IMDB, a lot of this is due to the fact that crew were sourced as locals from several locations and their shoots also demanded additional units for stunts, VFX, etc.
But even when accounting for IMDB’s misgivings and a healthy margin of error, Follows’ breakdown gives you a real sense of the scale Hollywood films operate at.