When you go to start work in the industry, one of the things you might not think about is having to learn a foreign language. Throughout the years, filmmakers have developed a vernacular exclusive to the industry with terms ranging from logical to downright bizzare.
The language though is part of the all-important setiquette (or set etiquette) and makes communication faster and more effective if everybody learns to use it correctly.
In Part 2 of this 3-Part jargon buster, you’ll learn some important phrases that you’ll hear from other departments who need to communicate things with you.
10-1 (Ten, One) This is a standard industry euphemism for “going to the toilet”. This can be called out over the radio to let the crew know that you’ll be unavailable for a short while or said in person to your department head. If the crew is asking for somebody who is currently on the toilet, you can say “(x) is 10-1”. You can also call “10-2” if you’re going to be a while…
10-4 / Copy
Message received AND understood. Usually said over the radio but could be said in person.
Location. As in “(x) – what is your 20?”.
The penultimate shot of the day. It is named after a First Assistant Director who would always let his crew know that they can start packing away equipment. The term is used today for the same reason.
Called at the end of lunch or as a warning that lunch is almost over. “Back In in five!”
When 100 reels of film have been exposed (or when memory cards have been filled and backed up 100 times). The crew usually get a glass of champagne for this milestone.
Dailies / Rushes
A selection of takes from the previous day watched by the director, producer and anybody else who’s invited.
Used to indicate that someone or something is on its way to set or the desired destination. You can ask for something to be flown in (“could you fly in an Apple Box”) or as a response to a request (“Apple Box flying in”) or if you know that somebody is on their way (“(x) is flying in. ETA 5 minutes”).
If somebody (or a big sign) tells you that a set is “hot” then leave it alone. It means that the art department (and sometimes camera and G/E) have got everything set up ready for filming. If you are stupid enough to go tinkering about then prepare to feel the unrelenting wrath of multiple departments.
In Lunch doesn’t officially begin until the last person has received their meal. Once this has happened, you’ll hear something like: “Last man in at 2pm. Back in and 2.30!”
The very last shot of the day, so-called because the next shot would be taken out of a glass (i.e, post-shoot drinks).
Points / Hot Points
Sets are often cramped places and have lots of tight corners. If you are carrying something long, such as a stepladder or a c-stand, call out “points” so people know to watch out. Similarly, if you hear someone call “points”… watch out!
Striking / Sparking
Called by the gaffer or an electrician to warn everybody that they’re about to turn on (or off) a light. Film set lights are powerful so don’t stare directly into one unless you’re in a hurry to make a Specsavers appointment.
Waiting On (x)
This is a favourite of the First to put pressure on a department and let them know that they’re the reason why the cameras aren’t rolling. Never be the reason why cameras aren’t rolling unless you wish to be utterly humiliated.
Another nod back to the days where films were shot on film and there were reels rather than cards, WRAP is an acronym for “Wind Reel And Print”. It is usually called at the end of the day or the whole production but could also be used to call that an actor or a prop has finished. For example, “that’s a wrap on (actor’s name)”.
CAMERA DEPT. PHRASES
This is said by anybody walking in front of the camera to warn the operator or anybody at the monitors that they’re about to temporarily obliterate the frame.
Cut-Away / Insert
A shot (usually a close-up) of a particular object that the editor can cut to.
A mark is a specific area where an actor needs to walk to in order to be in focus or to improve the composition of the shot. A mark is usually indicated by gaff tape, golf tees or T-Brackets placed by the 2nd AC. Each actor will have a different coloured mark.
A pick-up is where you only shoot part of a scene. You pick the scene up at a certain point, either at the beginning to a certain point, or from a certain point until the end. Either way, it is important that Pick-Ups are indicated on the slate, so the editor knows that there isn’t a mistake.
Called when a take wasn’t marked properly (for whatever reason) and needs to be marked again. Highly embarrassing for the 2nd AC.
Smashing the clapperboard with any force right in front of the talent’s face will result in you losing your job. Not only is it rude but you will pull them out of their acting zone. Call “soft sticks” so the editor knows he needs to listen carefully or turn the volume up and GENTLY clap the sticks.
The time between starting to set-up a shot and when the cameras are rolling.
DIRECTING / AD PHRASES
No, this doesn’t refer to locking the doors of the set. That’s the responsibility of the locations department. A lock-up means stopping everybody from coming onto set from traffic to pedestrians. This is extremely important when there are SFX in use.
A term carried over from where films were actually shot on film, “print” is a term used by the director to indicate their favourite take.
Larger productions need more than one team of people working simultaneously in order for the film to be completed on time. The main unit will usually capture the dialog-heavy sequences where the talent will need a lot of direction, and the second unit will crowd shots, stunts, panoramic vistas, etc.
A fine paid to the talent and crew if they receive their lunch break later than 6 hours after their call time (or after their NDB). Have fun explaining to the Production Manager why these are having to be paid.
NDB (Non-Deductible Breakfast)
A short (usually 15 minute) break given on the clock (lunch is off the clock and doesn’t count towards the working day), to talent or crew to align their lunch break with the rest of the crew.
A fixed sum paid to talent and crew for a meal that is not being provided on set when on a residential location.
When an individual or a department is required to come in earlier than the unit call time. Always check your own times on the back of the call sheet.
Working Lunch / French Hours
This will be stipulated on the call sheet and means there will be no set lunch time. Lunch will be available within a certain period and the talent and crew eat when they can. Bad practice in my opinion, but fairly common.
Back to One / Reset
This is called either by the director or the first, sometimes then repeated by the keys, that means the talent, camera, set dressing and props all need to be exactly where and how they were when the scene started. Sometimes this is a quick job, however if there’s stunt rigs, special effects, lots of
blood, etc, then this can take a long while.
The process where the director will work with the actors and the DOP to determine any movement within the shot, camera placement, etc. The first blocking is usually private and allows the director to work uninterrupted with the actors. There’ll then be a closed blocking where the keys will be
invited in to contribute their feedback and finally, once the blocking has been agreed, an open blocking for the rest of the crew to see what’s happening.
End Board / Tail Slate
Sometimes it is not practical to slate at the start of a take. In this instance the take will be marked at the end of the shot. It is frequently forgotten that takes need to be end-boarded so if you hear a director call “cut” and you know that it needs to be end-boarded, call “end board” or “tail slate”.
Last Looks / Final Checks
Called by the First to let department heads, in particular the art department and hair, makeup and wardrobe, know that filming is imminent and to make sure that the set and the actors are ready for a take.
Called to let everybody know that everything is ready and that the cameras are ready to roll.
The cameras are now rolling for a take. It’s time to be quiet. And quiet means silent. Microphones can pick up whispering, bottles opening, soft footsteps and your rumbling stomach.
SOUND DEPT. PHRASES
ADR / Looping / Dubbing
Stands for Automatic Dialogue Replacement and is when an actor will re-record their lines in postproduction, in sync with the picture.
Nobody can give a definitive answer on where this term came from, but it means that the shot is being recorded without sound. Loved by the boom operator who gets to rest their arms for a while.
The ambient noise of a particular set or location that will be recorded by the production sound department and is used in the edit to create a constant bed of sound to disguise cuts between dialog tracks.
Wild Lines / Wild Track
Sounds or dialogue that is recorded without picture. Think of it as the opposite of MOS.