Film Set Lingo
By Evan LUZI
This “dictionary” of sorts is far from cumulative and in no part definitive as crews in different regions have their own set of terms. It is, however, what I know to be common and can help you speak like a pro on set
General Production Slang
Abby Singer – Second-to-last shot of the day. Named for a crew member who would always alert his crew of the second-to-last shot of a setup, scene, or the day.
Apple or Apple Box – a solid wooden box that comes in standardized sizes (from largest to smallest): full, half, quarter, pancake
Back In – phrase meaning lunch and/or any break is over and work has begun again
C47 – a clothespin
Crafty – craft services area and/or person
Day Player – a crew member hired for only one day or a handful of days worth of work
Furnie Blanket – a furniture blanket or sound blanket
Gary Coleman – a small C-stand
Hot Points – yelled when carrying something with the potential to hit somebody like dolly track or a C-stand. Usually said when going through a narrow hallway, doorway or around a corner
Juicer – an electrician
Last Looks – phrase to call in hair/make-up to give a final touch-up to actors before a scene is filmed
Last Man – phrase that refers to the last person to get their food at lunch; usually used because lunch should not officially start until the last man has gone through
Magic Hour – the time right before sunrise/after sunset in which the sky is somewhat dark but still illuminated. Often lasts only 20 minutes despite its name
Martini – the last shot of the day
Pancake – a size of apple box; see “apple”
Picture’s Up – phrase to alert all on set that cameras are almost set to start rolling
Scripty – the script supervisor
Sides – a half-sized script that contains only the scenes being shot that day
Sparks – an electrician; see “juicer”
Stinger – an extension cord
Talent – actor(s) or actress(es)
Video Village – the area in which viewing monitors are placed for the director and other production personnel. Referred to by this name because of the propensity to fill with people, chairs, and overall “too many cooks in the kitchen”
Speak the Language
Like any job, there is short-hand and slang thrown about on sets, but the difference in this profession is how prevalent it truly is. The idea behind it is speed and efficiency.
Knowing the right term or slang for something can be the difference between someone who’s respected on set and someone who is snickered at during lunch.
Camera Department Slang
With each department, however, there is a large subset of lingo thrown about between the crew. This is especially true for camera assistants, loaders and cinematographers who not only have to know every piece of a camera, but come up with nicknames or abbreviations for them as well.
1 & 2 – usually used as short-hand by the director of photography (DP) to mean the first mark and the second mark of a camera move
Air – compressed canned air
AKS – an abbreviation used to refer to a miscellaneous collection of tools or equipment. Stands for “all kinds of stuff” or “all kinds of s***”
Babies – small tripod legs; also baby sticks, baby legs
Chammy – an eyepiece chamois used to cover the eye-cup of the viewfinder; made of cloth or animal skin.
Crossing – phrase used to inform the camera operator when you walk in front of the lens
Dirt – a sand bag
Ditty Bag – refers to a toolbag used to store the essentials for a camera assistant that is often carried around with the camera or lenses
Dumb Side – looking in the same direction as the lens, the right side of the camera
Dutch – to tilt the camera diagonally at a canted angle
EVF – Electronic View Finder
Gaff – gaffer’s tape
Hard Tape – a metal tape measure
Jam – to sync, usually timecode
M.O.S. – to shoot without any sound being recorded; refers to Minus Optical Strip or Minus Optical Sound
Portcap – the cover for the lens hole on a camera
QRP – quick release plate
Sand – a sand bag
Second Sticks – a call made by/to inform the 2nd assistant camera (AC) that the clap of the slate sticks was not properly
captured the first time and is needed again
Shammy – an eyepiece chamois. See “chamois”
Sharps – focus, used as a noun.
Smart Side – looking in the same direction as the lens, the left side of the camera
Softie – the first AC or focus puller
Soft Tape – a cloth tape measure
Tap – the monitor or viewing system connected to the camera
T-Stops – similar to f-stops, t-stops are the measurement of light coming into the lens while compensating the amount of light lost within the lens
Like any job, there is short-hand and slang thrown about on sets, but the difference in this profession is how prevalent it truly is. Part of being successful in the camera department is being able to use these terms to communicate effectively with everyone from the loader to the director of photography.
Walkie Talkies and Radios
There is one aspect of film sets that everyone must deal with at some point though and that is radio communication. Specifically, walkie talkies. It may seem like a no brainer – talk like you would talk normally – but there is actually a general set of guidelines as well as specific phrases that are integral to clear and professional radio communication on set.
Common Phrases and Terms
10-1 – to go to the bathroom “number 1”
10-2 – to go to the bathroom “number 2”
10-4 – understood the message
20 – location; as in, “what’s your 20?”
Copy – used to show that a message was heard AND understood
“Eyes on…” – said when a person or object is spotted. Can be a question, “Does anyone have eyes on the camera tape?” or a statement, “I’ve got eyes on Steve.”
Flying In – said when a person or object is on the way to set
“Go for [name]” – a call or response for somebody specific on the radio.
Radio Check – a call that warrants a response such as “good check” if heard by another crew
Stand By – used to let another person know that one is too busy to respond at the moment
Walkie Check – see radio check
Best Practices to Follow
Always use your name to identify yourself when first communicating (see: “Go for”). Radios aren’t like telephones where it’s one person on the other end – there are tons of people who it could be.
Make sure you realize that other people could be listening to your channel. That means if you need to talk to someone privately you should move to another channel, or even better, ask them to meet you somewhere.
While oftentimes crew are wearing ear pieces, it is still polite to lower your voice over the walkie if you know they are rehearsing or otherwise.
Always “copy” a command when you hear it or acknowledge it in some way. Silence on radios worries people because they assume you couldn’t hear them.
If someone higher up than you runs out of a battery or their walkie breaks, give them yours and go find a working one.
Walkie talkies and radios are an invaluable tool on set because it keeps the chaos and atmosphere quieter while allowing crews to be more efficient. The terms and phrases used may seem odd or unnecessary but they are so widely used that only a newbie would be caught saying otherwise.
Again, as has been a theme with this series, other crews will have different sayings or slang they use and everybody on set has to be ready to adapt.
Start with these basics and get to know the crew and everything will be A-OK. 10-4.