Welcome to the exciting world of movie credits!
Actually, it is pretty exciting. It’s the chance for all of your cast and crew to be acknowledged for their hard work on your production. And that’s awesome. But knowing how to create a movie credits template for your project is key to that acknowledgment---and this can sometimes get tricky.
Navigating the politics and personalities that might impact how you create a credit list is a huge part of creating your credits and it isn’t always so easy.
Ever since Florence Lawrence fought to get her name credited on her films more than 100 years ago, there’s been both fluidity and tradition involved with film credits formatting.
So let’s explore that tradition and jump right on in.
We highly recommend downloading Wrapbook's template as you read through the rest of our article.
When the time comes for you to put together your list of film credits, you’ll have one ready to go.
Before we dive into the specifics of movie opening credits and the end credits order, let’s discuss some film credits formatting basics.
First things first.
Maybe you’re putting together some short film credits or indie film credits and thinking, “Eh, it’s a small cast and crew. I can easily put together the movie credits template when we’ve wrapped on post.”
What you absolutely do not want is to forget a single person who in some way, shape, or form helped out on your movie—especially if you’re putting together short film credits or indie film credits. Because we promise you, they will notice it.
And the thing is, with so many other responsibilities to manage on a production, people can easily get overlooked… The caterer, the PAs, a best boy. It happens. But if it does, you will forever disappoint – and probably insult – the person who was forgotten.
You’ve probably seen many, many movie credits examples where the end crawl goes on for 10 minutes or more. Perhaps you leave the theater or turn off the TV before they end. But to the person whose name is listed in minute nine, it means everything to have it there.
It’s never too soon to start grouping your film credits according to the department since that will be the way it’s laid out during the roll credits after the movie ends.
Put on any feature film to view a movie credits example of how it will eventually look, but what’s important to keep in mind for now is to organize your production credits by department – and don’t forget to include everyone’s title!
Are you a union production? Then be sure to check each union and guild that you’re working with to see if they have any specific rules about how their members should be listed in your film credits template.
Not to say that any of these movie credits template tips are optional, but you should pay attention to this one.
The only thing worse – or at the very least, equally bad – to forgetting someone in your credit list, is spelling their name incorrectly on the roll credits. Seriously.
And we can’t stress this enough…don’t just reach out to them once and be done with it.
Especially considering that some productions can be years in the making, often resulting in a short film credits, indie film credits, or a feature film credits list that is years out-of-date by the time you’re ready for the crawl to be made.
Even if it’s a production that’s only a few weeks in the making, life happens in the meantime. People get married. People get divorced. People suddenly decide that they want a middle initial as part of their professional name.
Make the time to reach out to everyone at the conclusion of your production to verify how they want their name to be spelled in the film credits template. And to protect yourself, have it in writing that no future changes will be made should they think twice on their decision.
Okay, let’s get into the nitty gritty of movie opening credits, shall we?
Depending on just how big your production is, you might have one or more production companies – and maybe even a legit studio! – kicking off your film credits template.
In many cases, you won’t necessarily be listing their names in your credit list. Rather, it’ll be a company logo. Take a look at any feature film from the last 10 years or so as a movie credits example, as it’s become a popular trend.
However, that means contacting those companies and making sure you have the logo they want displayed during the movie credits.
Whether it’s for short film credits or feature film credits, someone working on your production may have a contract that includes film language about their movie credits card placement.
Often this pertains to high-profile actors or other above-the-line talent who have the clout to make such a request. Many movie credits examples demonstrate this, like when you see the name Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, or Jennifer Lawrence as part of the opening credits.
It can also mean laying out your movie credits template in a particular order for directing or cinematography credits if they too are well-known in the industry.
No matter who it might be, just be sure to read everyone’s contract carefully so that there’s no overlooking any obligation when you’re creating your credits.
Yeah, that probably reads a little confusing, but hear us out.
If you open your film with movie credits, once you figure out your studio, production company, and contractual billing details, it’s time to lay out the rest of your credits.
A good way to think of how to do it is by imagining a boomerang effect – only for your film credits.
You begin with important players like the studio, production company(s), and lead cast. Then you move on to less high-profile cast and crew like the supporting actors, casting director, and composer. Finally, you swing back to the more senior crew like the editor and cinematographer. And as many movie credits examples will show you, most production credits at the top of a film will end with the director.
Seriously, choose nearly any movie credits example to see firsthand what we mean.
And as you watch it, follow along with this movie credits template example that shows how cards are typically listed.
You might find them laid out like this:
This clip from Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark is a great example of how opening movie credits are often laid out card by card:
If a person who’s part of a project has multiple roles, merge them onto a single card and place it in the order according to the one that is typically recognized as the more significant position for a film production.
For instance, if someone is both the writer and director on a film, you would typically create their card as “written and directed by” in the position allotted to the director of the movie. That being said, on a television show, the writers may come first.
Maybe you’re not reordering the cinematography credits because of a contractual obligation. Maybe it’s just a really well-known DP along the lines of Rachel Morrison or Roger Deakins who are part of a project. In such cases, you might rearrange your production credits to reflect that.
For instance, if Deakins signed onto a project with a lesser known director, it’s possible that his name would be listed last as a way to highlight the involvement of this DP who has racked up 15 Oscar nominations and two Academy Awards for his cinematography work.
Again, it’s not a certainty, but rather a consideration that the producers on a project may mull over for well-known names outside of the actors and/or director who come aboard a project.
The conversation around producers and film credits has at times been a contentious one because it’s such a broad title that sometimes is bestowed on someone who didn’t have a pivotal role in the film.
It could be a friend who loaned out a location for free. It might be someone who provided some financial support, but not enough to be a true executive producer. It could be the director’s sister who did nothing but likes the title of producer.
One of the most challenging aspects of sorting a film credits format is trying to make everyone feel appreciated – and as mentioned earlier – properly acknowledged.
Whether you’re laying out the film credits format for short film credits or feature production credits, you have multiple people to consider who worked diligently on your project.
When creating your movie credits template, carefully consider how you might position these types of production credits. While you want to keep everyone happy and your connections strong, without offending the crew who put in long hours to make the project happen.
Perhaps you’re wondering why we’re even talking about a film credits format for opening credits.
No one even does them anymore!
It’s hard to put an exact date on it, though more and more productions are going without opening credits because honestly, they’re a little redundant. And on top of that, they delay the action. Which for audiences with short attention spans, can be a problem.
Movies of yore would open with all the movie credits and then close with “THE END.”
And between the mid 20th century and the current day, many movies doubled up on both opening and closing credits.
Bottom line: It’s your call whether you want opening movie credits or not, barring only the previously mentioned disclaimers like contractual agreements or union regulations.
All right, now it’s time to jump into the movie credits template that we’re likely all familiar with. If you’re creating them for the first time or just here for a tune-up, let’s have a look at what goes into your end credits order.
Here’s one thing that’s great about including opening movie credits – they often provide the end credits order as well.
Your movie ending credits format should begin with a series of “cards” dedicated to each of your above-the-line cast and crew. In most cases, the closing credits are the inverse of the opening movie credits template.
Here’s an example of a movie end credits card order:
As mentioned, this is just one way that end credit cards may be listed for a film.
Some movies might kick off their closing credits with the stars of the film. The order of these cards is often at the discretion of those who have the most say on the film, like its main producers or director.
To better explain, take a look at the following two end credit card sequences. The first is for Christopher Nolan’s Inception, which lists many of the key crew members such as the director of photography, producers, production designer, editor, composer, and costume designer before it gets to its main stars like Leonardo DiCaprio and Ken Watanabe.
Then we have the end credit cards for Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, which follows a bit more of a traditional order. While the first few cards do focus primarily on the producing team, it fairly quickly segues into the main cast cards.
When it comes to the number and order of the closing credit cards, they’re often decided by a myriad of factors such as contract stipulations, industry prestige, and the internal decision-making of the producing team.
Once you finish deciding the order of the closing credit cards, it’s time to organize the end crawl- meaning, that moving list of names and titles following the individual cards that kick off the end credits.
This is why we encourage you to begin organizing your movie credits template just as soon as you start on a project because that end credits crawl can quite easily get lengthy.
Deep breath… Here. We. Go.
As mentioned, the end crawl will immediately follow those individual cast and crew cards that highlight the major contributors to the film like the director, cinematographer, editor, and lead talent.
When putting together your end credits crawl, you’ll first begin by listing the production team names and titles that follow in importance, such as:
Next up in your movie ending credits format, comes the cast.
Then, if relevant to your production, list any stunt personnel in your after credits as the next part of your movie ending credits format.
Rounding out the production listings in your movie end credits will be the other production departments, listed below.
For each department, you’ll start with department head, then supporting crew, and finally assistants in terms of your end credits order:
Basically, we’re going to repeat the above steps for this next section of your after credits crawl.
That means organize your movie credits template according to every post-production department and then list everyone in each department from most senior to least senior.
It’s definitely possible that you might have more post-production departments to include in your movie ending credits format. The ones above, though, are the most commonly listed in the roll credits.
We’re not done with your end credits just yet! (See why we’re begging you to start on that movie credits template sooner than later?)
We have lots more closing credits to go---in particular, all of those people and companies that deserve acknowledgement but don’t necessarily fit into a strict movie credits example.
Now the following film credits format can be rearranged according to your specifications, but here’s a common movie end credits example:
These particular credits will follow the section listing the post-production personnel.
And as with any other part of the movie end credits process, make sure to carefully lay out your closing credits according to who should receive acknowledgement in the fairest manner.
We keep talking about making your movie credits template, but how do you actually do it?
If you use Wrapbook, you already have the resources for your roll credits right at your fingertips.
Don’t waste your precious time looking up templates that may or may not be a fit for your needs. Use a template that’s customizable to work with any and every project.
While it’s important to get your movie credits right, don’t get hung up on formatting. The most important thing is to make sure you give credit where credit is due.
Lay out your opening and after credits as you go, ensuring every deserving person gets proper acknowledgment.
And here’s the thing... Nowadays, you have endless resources for your film and TV production needs. From Wrapbook’s template to those in the deepest ends of the Internet, don’t reinvent the wheel! If you’re ready to start building your crawl more and you use Wrapbook, learn how to export your cast and crew info out of the software and into your template.
At Wrapbook, we pride ourselves on providing outstanding free resources to producers and their crews, but this post is for informational purposes only as of the date above. The content on our website is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for legal, accounting, or tax advice. You should consult with your own legal, accounting, or tax advisors to determine how this general information may apply to your specific circumstances.