Dictionary of Terms
There’s a word for that
Sides, bible, candy glass, hero, call sheet – all of these terms can be unfamiliar to someone just entering the industry
As with any industry, there is jargon. As crew members are often spread out over a wide geographic area, radios or walkie-talkies are used to communicate amongst each other and unique language and acronyms have been developed for this purpose.
There are also good online resource and dictionaries available. In the meantime, have a look through the terms below, see if you can use them in a sentence when you are next at work!
10-1 – Short for “Going to the honey wagon”; a trip to the bathroom.
7p/15p – short for a 7 or 15 passenger van
The 40 – a 40 foot equipment trailer
Above-the-line -Writers, Directors and Producers and lead Performers who are generally paid a set negotiated fee, not an hourly rate.
Action – Cue for cast to commence performing the sequence of the scene. Often includes commencement of other activities such as camera movement.
Back to First Marks – Instruction for performers to return to their first positions; also referred to as “Back to Ones.”
Background action – Cue for background performers to commence performing the sequences of the scene. Usually called slightly before the main action call.
Bankable talent – Name actors that major distributors and buyers know hold value and will bring fans to view content. Also known as name talent.
Below-the-line – Below-the-line workers are responsible for the technical and physical aspects of the filmmaking craft. They transform the vision and script developed by above-the-line creators into material reality, creating and capturing a visual representation of that story as a digital asset.
Bird’s Eye View – a camera from above
Blocking – First run-through with performers, generally before they go into hair, makeup and wardrobe.
Butt Cans – Metal cans for cigarette butt disposal.
Butt Sweep – Sweep the site, including around unit trucks and entrances.
Call sheet – The call sheet is the daily schedule created by the Assistant Director and approved by the Production Manager, which is based on the Director’s shot list.
Call Time – The time at which production personnel are required to report to work. Call times can be individual to each worker. General crew call is the time at which the majority of the crew is required to report to work.
Camera check (digital) – In digital image recording, this is also a “chip check” equivalent to checking the gate.
CGI – Computer-generated imagery.
Check the gate (film) – Old term referring to camera assistant checking the film gate inside the camera for debris. If the gate is clean, the company can move onto the next shot.
Circus – Base camp where the trailers are located (hair, makeup, wardrobe, honeywagon, star trailers, etc.).
Clear the frame – This means you can be seen in the camera lens and should move away.
Continuity – Making sure that all details are consistent from shot to shot and from scene to scene
Coverage – Angles on or portions of the master.
Crane shot – Mounting platform on a crane that allows high-angle camera shots.
Crew – A group of people hired to produce a film or motion picture
Crew Park – Parking area designated for cast and crew to park personal vehicles while at work.
Cut – Stop cue for scene; camera and sound stop. Typically called by the Director.
Day call Employee – hired on a day-by-day basis.
Day for Night – Using special camera lenses, lighting and film stock to create a night look during the day.
Dolly and dolly track – Platform on wheels with a mount for a camera that can be pushed for smooth shots. The track is the rails that the dolly runs on.
Demo-taping: a short video used to promote a project, this component is important when pitching and seeking out funding.
Domestic production – Motion picture productions that are controlled by British Columbians, and more broadly Canadians, generating intellectual property that results in copyright ownership of the finished motion picture product, generating ongoing revenue for the individuals or corporations controlling the intellectual property.
Exterior – Outdoor shot
Extras – Performers hired to provide background action; also known as the “background performers”
Eyeline – The direction an actor is looking. Clearing the eyeline of all non-scene-specific items and personnel is vital for the actor to remain in character and not be distracted by outside influences.
Final touches – Cue to departments for final adjustments before shooting.
Final Draft: The last draft of script or relevant materials, this step is taken after additional notes, feedback have been put into consideration for the re-writes.
Fire watch – A security position at a camera position that is not in use, generally during a lunch break.
First marks/first positions – Start position of scene for all cast and background performers.
First team – Refers to the main cast or stunt performers. Also used as a call for them to the set.
Force Majeure – In motion picture, cancellation of work calls or suspending production because of an unforeseen circumstance beyond its reasonable control. Some examples may include natural disaster or injuries to key cast.
Foreign production – the manufacture of creative content for a copyright owner located outside Canada.
French hours or Pacific Northwest hours – An 11-hour day which includes a one-hour meal period before the shift begins, or a one-half hour meal period before the shift begins and two fifteen-minute non-deductible breaks during the rest of the shift. Generally used when the schedule needs to complete a location within a certain amount of time and daylight would otherwise be compromised.
Genny – The generator that provides necessary power.
Get me a half apple and a pancake – A phrase used to ask for two sizes of plywood boxes which function as risers.
Going Again – Repeat the same shot.
Going again/back to ones – Same shot again/return to your start position.
Grace – A term used when asking the unions to continue shooting past the designated break for lunch by 2/10th of an hour (12 minutes) after which meal penalties are incurred.
Green/Blue screen – Chroma green or blue colored backdrop behind action so CG images can be placed in post.
Hair in the gate – Debris in the film gate.
Hero – Featured element that is the primary (prop, wardrobe, vehicle, etc.).
Honeywagon – Washroom trailer, dressing rooms and AD room.
Hot Set – The set is ready for shooting and must remain exactly as is for continuity.
Interior – Indoor Shot
Lift – A raising platform/crane used mainly for high angle shots and lighting for exterior night shots.
Lighting/setup – Follows blocking; technicians set lighting and grip equipment with stand-ins instead of the cast / stunt performers.
Location(s) – A place where some or all of a film or television series is produced, in addition to or instead of using sets constructed on a movie studio backlot or soundstage. In filmmaking, a location is any place where a film crew will be filming actors and recording their dialog.
Lock It Up Short for “Be quiet and get ready for cameras to roll”; a cue for PAs to stop vehicle or pedestrian traffic and be alert for interfering noises.
Main unit – Primary shooting unit, main cast and director.
Master Wide – shot from start to end of a scene.
MOS – Camera is rolling but not recording sound. There are many origin stories behind this abbreviation.
MOW – Movie of the Week. Feature length film produced for television broadcast, not for theatrical release (into movie theatres).
Moving on – Complete with last shot and now will adjust for the next shot or scene.
ND – Means “Non-Descript” may also refer to set element generally cars or background pieces in a shot. Can also refer to “Neutral Density”, a type of filter used in the camera department.
New deal – Completion of previous shot, moving on to the next shot or scene.
Outline: a general framework of the project.
Physical Production – Describes the actual filming phase of the project and differs from animated production. Physical production takes place on location or in sound stages.
Pick-up – Re-filming part of the scene from a specific point in the action. Could also refer to a shot recorded after principal photography is completed.
Picture’s up – Rehearsal is complete; cameras will roll on the next action.
Pilot – A television program made to test audience reaction with a view to the production of a series
Polish/Packaging: The process of completing and finalizing your materials so they’re ready to be presented to major stakeholders, producers, funders and other relevant bodies.
Production – The conversion of the creative ideas of the screenwriter and director into a finished film.
Purpose-built stages – Custom space for film and television production that is built from the ground up which is different from a conversion stage whose structure served a previous purpose.
Pushed and pulled call – “Push” and “Pull” may be stamped on a call sheet after it’s been printed to indicate a revision in the call times. A push moves the call time later, while a pull refers to an earlier call time.
Rehearsal – Follows lighting/setup; main cast run through scene without camera rolling.
Re-write: The process of receiving notes and feedback to pursue rewrites in terms of the screenplay and/or necessary documents (I.e pitch deck, treatment, series bible)
Research: Research is important to gain a greater understanding of the project’s subject matter and/or story. The act of gathering information that is relevant to the project so the applicant can properly tell the story in an accurate and tasteful manner (works for both factual and narrative).
Roll camera – Cue for camera operator to start recording images.
Roll Sound – Cue to the sound mixer to begin recording sound.
Rolling – Film and sound are rolling, action is about to begin. Be quiet and still.
Room tone – Sound recording of the location where you have been shooting without camera rolling.
Second team – Refers to the Stand-Ins who replicate the main cast’s position and blocking on set for the purposes of lighting. Could also be used as a call for the stand-ins to come to set.
Second unit – Secondary shooting unit, often remote from main unit with photo doubles or stunt doubles.
Set-ready – An industry term that is a proxy for familiarity of the operating principles of a motion picture production (whether location or studio-based). Familiarity would encompass an awareness of set etiquette (ie: complete silence when camera is rolling; maintaining distance from the camera and Performers and respecting the hierarchy of roles on set) and set safety (awareness of cables, equipment, moving vehicles and practical effects)
Show call – Employee for run of show, generally on a weekly contract.
Sound stage – A soundproof, hangar-like structure, building, or room, used for the production of theatrical film-making and television productions. Desirable for it’s controlled environment
Speed/Sound Speed – Response heard from Sound Mixer after “Roll Sound”, meaning that the machine is up to speed.
Stand By – Hold your positions for a temporary delay, and be prepared for rolling.
Star Wagon – Mobile dressing room for actors
Studio – Generic term with several meanings: can be a work location as in an animation studio, or shorthand for a sound stage or the term to describe the major entertainment conglomerates who create a sell content to global audiences: Warner Brothers, Disney, NBC Universal, Sony and others.
The Abby – The second-to-last shot of the day, coined after 1st AD Abby Singer, who consistently said it was the last shot when it wasn’t.
The Window or Martini shot – The last shot of the day.
Tow or Process shot – Generally used to film actors driving a car. Car is on a tow rig or process trailer to simulate driving enabling the actors to converse without actually having to drive.
Treatment : A treatment a detailed summary of a movie’s story, including each major scene. It is written in prose form, and it is generally necessary when pitching a film to a studio.
Turn Around – Reversing the camera angle 180 degrees. This is not to be confused with crew turnaround, which is the required rest period between workdays.
Video Village – An area or tent for the DOP, Script Supervisor and Director to watch the camera frame
We’re on the Move – This means that the entire unit is finished at that location and is about to move to the next location.
What’s your 20? – Short for “Where are you?”
Wild Track – Recording specific dialogue or sounds without the camera rolling, for editing purposes; also “wild lines.”
Window – Shot Last shot before wrap, can also be called the “Martini Shot”.
Work trucks – Equipment vehicles.
Wrap – The end of the shooting day.