What is a Unit Publicist & What’s Their Role on the Set?
The Unit Publicist is responsible for providing vital conduit in between the various members of production, cast, crew and media as the film shoot takes place. This role is also sometimes referred to as UP for short. The UPs work with several members of the team to ensure that publicity is procured and that all press strategy for film shoots, and other details are in place to ensure specific release of any press coverage that will be helpful to the film without jeopardizing publicity when the film is actually released.
Unit Publicists oversee the unit press and publicity budgets to remain on track under the direction of the producers. They work on a freelance basis and are generally hired for the duration of the shoot. The UP may be employed after the shoot to work with distribution publicity in some cases depending on film budget and various other factors.
Unit Publicist Job Responsibilities
The responsibilities of the Unit Publicist generally include ensuring that press release provides up to date information about the film shoot without offering any details that would take away from publicity after film distribution. They work several weeks prior to the principal photography, usually a month or two in advance, to issue a press release that provides information about the film to select press. This ensures the proper details regarding the shoot, cast, crew and other valuable information are included and properly traded in print to the appropriate press.
The UP works with the producer and may also work closely with talent agents to arrange visits to the set on shoot days so that specifically selected journalists can view and report to their magazines, region or national newspapers, and other forms of broadcasting media.
The UP ensures that actors and the appropriate directors or other crew members are available on shoot days when journalists are present. This way they can provide colorful details as to the liveliness of the film set, the upcoming happenings and other valuable details that will make for an exciting story. UPs liaise with the 2nd assistant director to ensure actor schedules are in line with any last minute changes to set or crew and that they align with the arrival of the journalists that are responsible for reporting on the set.
The UP may also work closely with several other crew members including costume, production, writer, director and individual cast members. Therefore they must have strong communication skills. They are leaders that work well under pressure and have a strong understanding of press and journalism. Many UPs worked as journalists once or have a very strong network of journalists and magazine professionals in their pocket.
Unit Publicist Skills
The skills of the unit publicist include strong communication and people skills necessary to work well with a diverse set of people and the demands of journalists. These individuals often prepare schedules for press and must have a strong understanding of how journalism works as well as how publicity works and how production works. This allows them to tie all three together and gain exposure for the film.
The UP must also have the following essential skills:
- Ability to communicate in writing or vocally.
- Ability to work with diverse groups of people.
- Strong understanding of work history, publications, journalism and publicity.
- Understanding of actor contracts.
- Ability to adhere to last minute changes or updates.
- Ability to write long and short synopsis of the film, crew, or the details.
- Strong leadership skills.
A.Starr PR uploaded a video talking about why it’s so vital to have a Unit Publicist: