Production / Entertainment Industry Terms You Need to Know

In my last blog, I gave you a list of 40 jobs in film and television that you should know.

Let’s pretend that you’ve snagged one of those entertainment industry jobs in the matter of time it took you to read that article, because you’re awesome like that and Hollywood is totally fair that way.

Life on set can be like traveling to a foreign land; if you don’t know the lingo or what certain terms mean, you can easily get lost in translation.

Maybe you didn’t go to film school, and you don’t have any relatives or friends in the industry, or perhaps the most entertainment industry experience you have is binge-watching episodes of Entourage (which BTW, is a great resource for hearing the most realistic examples of profanity filled Hollywood rants).

Every industry uses terms, phrases and cryptic acronyms and Hollywood is no exception. Once the cameras start speeding…first of all do you even know what “speeding” means? Well, there was a time when I didn’t, but that’s why I’m going to help YOU get up to speed.

Here are some of the most commonly used entertainment industry terms you should know below.

Entertainment Industry Terms You Should Know:

Stinger – A stinger is the entertainment industry name for an extension cord. So why the fancy name? There are tons of cables and cords used on set, so “stinger” helps distinguish the difference. They are usually between 25’ to 50’ feet long.  In a completely different context, a music stinger is a term to describe a short clip of music that is used underneath a graphic bumping out of a show to a commercial or bumping back into a show from a commercial.

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Above the line – A term used for crew members that have creative input (Actors, Producers, Writers, Directors, etc.) so principal photography can begin.

Below the line – This refers to crew members who are not considered “above the line”, such as Assistant Director, Line Producer, Production Manager, Production Assistant, etc.  It can also mean production costs associated with budgetary items such as salaries for the “below the line” crew members, catering costs, and other expenditures related to day-to-day operations.

Rolling – This is the moment when filming actually begins. In other words, if you mess up, heads may be rolling.

Take – The actual scene that is being filmed, not a rehearsal. Recognized by the appearance and sound of a clapperboard.

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Hero Take – This is the take that is your number one preference.

Action – This is the beginning of a take.

Cut – This is the end of a take.

Speeding – This means the camera is rolling or actually filming.

Sound Speed – When sound begins recording

Room Tone – A 30 sec recording of the ambient sound occurring on set without any noise, people speaking or movement in general. A tool used by editors for the sound mixing process.

Closed Set – This usually means that a nude or physically intimate scene is being filmed and only key members of the crew are allowed on set.

Martini – This is the last shot of the day and afterwards, the other shots take place in the closest local bar.

Craft Services or Crafty – Not a sly or sneaky person, but this term refers to the people who serve you food, or the area where the food can be found. If you’re a PA or intern, this is also where your starting salary might be found.

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Abby – The second to last shot taken for the day.

A-Roll – The audio-only portion of what’s been filmed. Typically this refers to a track of dialogue.

B-Roll – Supplemental footage intercut with the main shot. B-roll is also used to cover portions of dialogue to demonstrate what the subject may be speaking about on camera.

Rough Cut – A rough assembly of a television show or film that may contain watermarked footage, slates (or placeholders), unfinished special effects and music, and potentially missing supplementary or key scenes.  A rough-cut edit usually includes on-screen timecode so a director / producer can make notes.

Final Cut – The final version of a film that will be distributed to theaters and delivered to consumers.

Scripty – A script supervisor whose job is to oversee the script for continuity and pick-ups.

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C47 – A clothespin, no, not highly classified CIA explosives—an actual clothespin.

Video Village – This is where the playback monitors are stationed so a Director and other crew members can watch what’s being shot and provide further direction.

Camera Ready – This means you need to show up with your hair, make up and clothing options ready for immediate filming.

Talent – The actors, actresses, and/or hosts who will appear on camera.

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Hot Point – This is important, and could save you a trip to the hospital. When someone yells “hot point” or “points”, it means they’re carrying something that has the potential to harm you, like a C Stand.

C Stand – Metal stands that are used to position flags, nets, backdrops, and other light modifiers on set. Don’t forget to use a sandbag to hold down a C-Stand if you are asked to set one up.

Sandbag or Shot Bag – A nylon bag filled with sand or steel buckshot that is used for securing the bases of light stands and set walls. Some have handles, for hanging on hooks or risers. Others have two wings, to allow draping over light stand legs. Most are made of nylon, but some are vinyl covered and waterproof.

Sticks – this refers to a tripod.

Striking –This is also important for safety. Striking is yelled when someone is turning a production light on or off. When you hear striking, it is best to turn away from the light source to avoid being blinded. The term can also mean, it’s time to close up shop for the day and disassemble all equipment and gear.

Apple Box – Oh how I wish this was a box of apples, but unfortunately, it’s not. Apple boxes are nothing more than solid wooden boxes that come in various different sizes. They can be used for anything from a place to sit, to positioning a camera.

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Juicer – No, not some random dude on steroids; it’s actually the name for an electrician

Hot Set – This means there is active filming going on. Don’t walk, make noise, or move until you hear cut.

Back In – A phrase used to signal that lunch / break is over, and it’s time to get back to work.

Pictures Up – A phrase used to alert that cameras are set up and filming is about to commence.

Checks – This is the last check of hair and make up before shooting (“rolling”) takes place.

Day Player – A crewmember who is only hired for the day, or a few days.

Crossing – You say this to camera operator if you are crossing the frame.

Genny – Not complicated, just a cool thing to call a generator.

Transpo – Short for the transportation department on set, the guys who do all the driving.

Lockdown – This is a term for making sure that people don’t mistakenly walk onto sets during takes.

Honeywagon – This is a portable trailer that has bathrooms and dressing rooms.

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Bogies – These are unwanted people in the shot, such as pedestrians.

Practicals – Any lighting source that is originally found within your shooting frame, such as a lamp, recessed lighting, ceiling fixtures, computers, and televisions. Basically anything that emits light that’s in your shot.

Magic Hour – A roughly 20-minute window when the sun is setting but the sky is still somewhat lit, casting a golden light.

Mark – A mark tells the talent where to stand or end up in the scene so that he/she is in focus. The mark is usually an “X” or “T” on the floor, applied with gaffers tape.

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MOS – This is a term that means silent filming. It stands for Motion Omit Sound. In television, this can also stand for “Man On the Street” interview.

OTF – This has 2 meanings: 1) Over-The-Shoulder: A camera angle placed above someone’s shoulder, showing only the face of the person they are conversing with; 2) On-The-Fly: An interview that is done ‘on the fly’ with little to no advance notice to capture an authentic, emotional moment.

ITM – This is another interview-style term in the entertainment industry that means ‘in the moment’ and means the same as OTF (On-The-Fly).

POV – The point of view that one sees on screen from a certain character’s perspective.

Breaking the Line – Sometimes called the “180 rule”, this term means that cameras must be kept on one side of an imaginary line or axis. This allows the audience to connect and see what the characters are seeing, as if they’re experiencing the action for themselves.

Kill – This means stop or turn off, and may refer to a light or a camera on set.

Baby Legs – A short tripod.

Dolly – A wheeled platform for mounting a camera that is often fixed to a set of tracks, providing fluid camera movements.

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Wrap – This signals the end of filming for the day. The term comes from an old studio term used for silent films. WRAP: Wind Reel And Print.

And speaking of wrap, that’s a wrap on this blog.  So put these entertainment industry words to good use, so you can be the one calling the shots in the very near future!