If you've just finished editing your project and are scratching your head over how to make the film credits, then fear not!

We have created a comprehensive guide of everything you need to know about movie credits, how to order them, and who has to appear when.

If you want to learn more about making movies in general, you can learn all about it in our article on the basics of filmmaking.

movie credits clapper board

The importance of movie credits

While most of us have probably gotten used to skipping the film credits because the streaming services are too busy sending us onwards to the next movie. But the closing credits serve a purpose, albeit a little obvious and simple. They are there to credit every single person who helped in the making of the film.

The list of hundreds and hundreds of people that usually go on for minutes makes sure that everyone gets recognition for their hard work.

Most of us will probably just look at it and see different names we don't recognize. But the people who appear are watching it closely to spot their name when it comes through.

The movie credits essentially work as evidence for the contribution of the people, and it is useful for any producer who were impressed with the different aspects of a film.

If the set design or cinematography was exceptional, a film executive can easily use the movie credits and find out who was responsible for just that.

It is required by U.S. law to list every person involved in the production in the film credits. Before that, movie credits were not a requirement or something that the film companies bothered to do.

That is especially true before the digital era. The reason is that when movies were shot on celluloid every second of the movie required more film, literally. So there was money to spend on saving the minutes of the film roll.

closing film credits

Opening film credits vs closing film credits

While movie credits are now required by law, there are differences in whether it's in the opening credits or closing credits.

It wouldn't make for a very satisfactory viewing if you had to watch through ten minutes of film credits before the movie had even begun.

Opening credits

For the opening credits, you typically see the production companies' names. They typically have an animation of their own, like MGM and their lion roar or paramount and their star-studded mountain.

This is usually followed up by the movie title and the names of the leading cast, producers, director, and other key staff. Essentially all of the people and companies with a lot of creative control or influence in the film.

It is typically overlayed on a b-roll that is important to the movie, but usually without too much dialogue to avoid overstimulating the audience.

Closing credits

The closing credits come after the conclusion of the movie, and this is where the full list of credits is shown. Here no person is shaved off, and every single company, person, government institution, and more that helped bring the movie to life is credited.

Back in the 80s and 90s, this is also where some movies used to show bloopers alongside the list of credits. An example of this could be the iconic bloopers of Rush Hour.

Some movies have decided to show extra content after the credits are over, to encourage people to watch through the closing credits, which is efficient in the cinema where you can't fast-forward.

The most notable movies are from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where almost every single film has an extra scene or two after the credits.

3 Tips to decide on the order of your film credits

Deciding on the order of the credits can be a challenge, but there are a few standardized ways to do this, to make it easier for you.

We have gathered three tips to make it easier for you to order your movie credits.

1. Organize your credit list according to department

To make sure that there is some sort of a system in your credits, you can organize people in the various departments they belong to.

That means having all of the costume designers appear in the same section, the casting crew in another, and so on. Then you can arrange each section hierarchical, so you have the lead costume designer first, and their assistants appear below them.

This makes for a good flow in your list of credits, and it also makes it easier to make sure that you remember every person if you go by the department.

2. List credits from least to most important

Let me start by saying that everyone in movie production is important regardless of their role. There are just some people who can be classified as more important than others when it comes to the success of a movie.

Typically those are the directors, writers, producers, and actors. The most common way to order your credits is to put the actors first, then the director, writers, producers, and so on.

Determining who is most important is up to you, but it typically comes back to who had the most creative influence on the film. Sometimes actors will have a clause in their contract that determines when they appear in the credits.

There's a reason Marlon Brando is listed first in The Godfather (and won an academy award for Best Actor) despite having significantly less screen time than Al Pacino.

3. Start with studio or company names

When the opening credits roll, you typically start with the studio or companies that funded the movie.

This is usually also a contractual obligation, but it also works great considering many film studios have their own opening animations/videos as mentioned earlier.

It would ruin the flow if you saw the MGM lion roar in the middle of the opening credits.

hollywood film credits

Who should be included in your movie credits?

So who exactly has to be included in the movie credits? That's the real question. We have listed every person that should be credited.

However, if you have a special department that is not listed here, you should still credit them if they played a part in the making.

Opening film credits

The opening film credits are where the most "important" contributors are listed. They are as follows.

  • Distribution company
  • Production company
  • Director/Filmmaker
  • Lead cast
  • Supporting cast
  • Producer(s)
  • Writers
  • Casting director
  • Composer
  • Costume designer
  • Associate producer(s)
  • Editor(s)
  • Production designer
  • Director of Photography
  • Executive producer(s)

Closing film credits

In the closing film credits, you typically start by listing off the most "important" contributors again, they are as follows.

  • Director/Filmmaker
  • Lead cast
  • Supporting cast
  • Producer(s)
  • Writers
  • Casting director
  • Composer
  • Costume designer
  • Associate producer(s)
  • Editor(s)
  • Production designer
  • Director of Photography
  • Executive producer(s)
closing movie credits

Closing credits “below the line”

Now that all of the "important" people are mentioned, you have all of the "below-the-line" credits, which is basically everyone else who worked on the movie. They are as follows.

  • 1st assistant director
  • 2nd assistant director
  • Unit production manager
  • Stunt department
  • Choreographers
  • Stunt performers
  • Second unit
  • Production department
  • Grips
  • Best boys
  • Electricians
  • Sound producers
  • Wardrobe designers
  • Art department
  • Hair and makeup department
  • Everyone else classified as production crew
  • Postproduction department
  • Assitant editors
  • Colorists
  • VFX editors
  • Foley artists
  • Music credits (including everyone involved in the making of the music)
  • Catering and craft services
  • Title design
  • Special thanks to (for everyone that are relevant)

Lastly, you have to include all of the shooting locations, company logos, and institutions involved as well as the governments that allowed you to shoot, sound mixing studios, copyright and any type of disclaimer.

Who decides the order of the movie credits?

The names that have to appear in the movie credits are decided by the different unions and film guilds in each respective country, but the order is not as strict.

However, most production companies or distributors typically have a say in the order of the credit appearances.

There are also contracts for everyone involved that have an influence on who appears first in a movie, as well as how a person is credited.

ending film credits

Up next: Explore VFX

Now you're prepared to put the finishing touches on your movie and distribute it to the world. Hopefully, this article helps the film credit process go a bit smoother.

Do you want to take your movie production to the next level, you might want to add some VFX to it! Learn all about VFX and what it is right here.

How long are movie credits?

Movie credits typically last for 7-9 minutes depending on how many people were involved.

How to make movie credits?

To make movie credits you simply have to credit every person involved in the making of a film.

When did movie credits move to the end?

The first movie to put movie credits at the end was Star Wars in 1977.