Have you ever walked onto a film set and heard some lingo you didn’t know? Film Jams has put together a list of film set slang and some common filmmaking terms in: Film Set 101. Being on a film set can sometimes be like learning a new language, between the variety of equipment, unique filmmaking terminology, and movie set phrases. It can be an alien landscape for newcomers…luckily we’ve assembled a filmmaking terms list of (19 of) our top things to know on a film set to help you! Let’s go!
COMMON FILMMAKING TERMS
This little guy is used to clamp beadboard and attach it to a stand. It goes by many names including: Onkybonk, Quacker, Duckbill or the old traditional: Beadboard holder or clamp.
To let the crew know that you are about to roll or start filming, an assistant director or other crew member may sometimes say “Moments away.” This indicates to the actors and crew that the team is almost prepared for the next take, and literally just moments away from rolling.
MARTINI SHOT – (Classic Film Set Slang)
The Martini Shot is the last shot of the day. Typically the assistant director calls this. When the day is over, in the old days, the film crew would go have a Martini together after…..This tradition may not have carried over to all modern sets, but the term stuck and is very commonly used when filming the last shot.
If you need to use the bathroom, but don’t want to explain or if you want to do it discreetly, you can say 10-1 to your co-worker to let them know that you’ll be in the restroom if they need you. This is good form on set, in case someone is looking for you.
HOLD THE WORK!
If you’re on set, sometimes the crew may be working, or breaking down equipment, and it may make noise….so you might hear the AD say “Hold the work!” This basically means be quiet so that the team can record the next take.
Crossing in front of the camera is generally bad form, and it should be avoided as much as possible on set. However, when you can’t avoid it, calling out “crossing” is a standard on-set courtesy. If you’re going to cross in front of the camera, before doing so, you should always warn your camera operator.
When turning on a light on set, you should always warn the crew and actors by calling out “Striking” – this lets the crew know that the light is turning on, and to avoid looking at it so they don’t hurt their eyes.
Sometimes a crew member may adjust a light or camera, and you may hear the DP say, “Walk away” – what that means is that the adjustment is good, and to walk away so no further adjustments are made.
BACK TO 1!
After a take, the director or assistant director may say “Back to 1” – this means that they want the actors and crew to go back to their first mark, so another take can be recorded.
When something is arriving at set, or on its way back to set, it’s common to say something is “flying in”…It’s not actually flying it’s just on its way back. For example, when the director asks for a prop, and the Production Assistant (or PA) is heading back to set with the prop, the PA may say: “Grenade Launcher is flyin’ in!”
SLATE / CLAPPER
A slate is used to sync cameras and sound together in post. It’s also used to give other information about the production like the shooting format, whether it’s day or night, and the director’s and cinematographer’s names. In a pinch, you can clap your hands if you forget a slate or don’t have one. This will make it easier to sync up multiple cameras or if you’re recording sound to a separate system and syncing it up later in post to your camera (this is common when shooting on DSLR style cameras).
Room Tone is a short recording, typically 10-30 seconds recorded by the sound mixer in a room to capture the natural tone of the room…for example if there’s an air conditioning unit or some other type of unique tone in the room, this room tone will be used to help the editor smooth the audio when cutting the dialogue in a scene.
Video Village is the place on set where typically the director and producers will view the footage on the monitors. On larger sets this can be a whole tent full of monitors and gear, or on smaller sets, it can just be one monitor off to the side.
GEAR TERMS ON A FILM SET
Basically clothes pins, used to hold gel and other things in place on set.
An apple box is a wooden box that comes in varying sizes and can be used to prop up or temporarily support gear: everything from furniture to light stands. They can also provide temporary seats to crew members. When the apple box is on it’s long narrow side it’s Chicago position, when propped up at its tallest it’s New York, and when the apple box lays flat on it’s widest side, it’s in the LA position.
A c-stand is basically a large metal light stand most commonly found with a grip arm. It can be used to hold a variety of things: bounce cards, mics, lights, frames, etc. They’re very versatile and can be stacked for easy storage.
A combo stand is more heavy duty than a C-stand. It is used for larger lights and gear, and is often used when putting up frames or larger light fixtures outside in heavy wind.
The duck tape of film sets…it’s not sticky like duck tape, and it’s very strong. People use this for everything from attaching accessories to their camera, to holding props together, setting marks for talent, and taping down cables. Very useful!
SANDBAGS / SHOT BAGS
These bags are filled with sand or metal balls called shot and are commonly used to hold your stands in place so they don’t get knocked over by crew members or wind, etc.
COMMON FILMMAKING TERMS – WRAP UP
Well, we hope these cinema terms helped you learn some on set lingo. And maybe next time you’re filming, you can tell that PA to go grab you an Apple box Chicago style, so you can set your green M&M’s down in Video Village!
Let us know in the comments if you have other film set phrases or terms we missed. Please like and subscribe for more tips and tutorials – with new videos every Friday!
What do you think about our list of essential terms and filmmaking lingo on a set? Let us know, and thanks for watching!
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** GEAR FEATURED IN THIS VIDEO **
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If you have any questions about making films, please reach out to us in the comments. Thanks for watching our Film Set 101: Common Filmmaking Terms video!
Filmed on location at: Litewave Media in St. Petersburg, FL – Video Production Company in St. Pete, Florida.