Features and Columns · Movies

The Beginner’s Guide to Deciphering Movie Credits

Here’s your one-stop beginner’s guide to deciphering the meaning, placement, and purpose of movie credits.
Skyfall Movie Credits
Sony Pictures
By  · Published on February 8th, 2021

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay about how to decipher a film’s end credits.

Maybe this is the one year anniversary of the pandemic talking, but god I’m feeling wistful about movie credits. More specifically, I’m longing for that specific, now fatefully nostalgic, experience of sitting in a theater after the lights have come up and watching the credits roll. A quiet hum of chatter fills the air as patrons file out. Maybe your friends begin to disclose first impressions. And as the weight of the film (good, bad, or mediocre) lifts, you sit and pay your dues to that gargantuan wall of text.

In a theater, credits feel like solid proof that filmmaking takes work; that behind all the hype, diversion, and artistry is a complex and intricate machine of project management. Posters and opening credits sequences hold a different, but equally powerful, appeal. There’s nothing like seeing a film blind and discovering, as the titles roll, that it stars some unexpected big players or that the director has disowned the project and donned a pseudonym.

But, whimsy aside, the fact remains that movie credits can be more than a little complicated. What does it mean for a credit to be above or below “the line”? What is the difference between a story credit and a writing credit? And what is the deal with those actor credits couched in “with…” or “and….as…”? All this, and more, are explained in the below video. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to decipher movie credits, this is a grand place to start:

Watch “Who’s Who in the Movie Credits“:

Who made this?

Filmmaker IQ is a YouTube channel disseminating all manner of film history and know-how. Their videos range from the highly technical (what to do if your green screen footage has something green in it) to the opinionated (are superhero movies destroying cinema?). Site-creator and director John P. Hess is our narrator. You can subscribe to Filmmaker IQ on YouTube here. And you can follow them on Twitter here.

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Meg has been writing professionally about all things film-related since 2016. She is a Senior Contributor at Film School Rejects as well as a Curator for One Perfect Shot. She has attended international film festivals such as TIFF, Hot Docs, and the Nitrate Picture Show as a member of the press. In her day job as an archivist and records manager, she regularly works with physical media and is committed to ensuring ongoing physical media accessibility in the digital age. You can find more of Meg's work at Cinema Scope, Dead Central, and Nonfics. She has also appeared on a number of film-related podcasts, including All the President's Minutes, Zodiac: Chronicle, Cannes I Kick It?, and Junk Filter. Her work has been shared on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, Business Insider, and CherryPicks. Meg has a B.A. from the University of King's College and a Master of Information degree from the University of Toronto.