First 100 Days: Talk The Talk
Are you new to the world of making movies and TV shows? Are you confused by all the slang used on set? Don't worry, because in this article we will teach you some of the most common terms in the field. From "Back to One" to "That's a Wrap!", this article explains what different terms and phrases on a movie or TV production set mean and how they are used. We give clear, short explanations of each term, making it easy for newcomers to understand and follow along on set. We not only explain what each term means, but also give tips on how to use them effectively and efficiently on set. We also point out some of the most common mistakes people make when using these terms, so that people who are new to the language can avoid being embarrassed or confused.
This is the third part of a 4-part series that is designed to provide a jump start to those with fewer than 100 days on a professional set. It is important in any industry to understand the procedures and etiquette of the greater workflow so that you can immerse yourself in any department you choose. In the television and film industry, in particular, you will be a fish out of water without the basic knowledge of how things work on set. We will work to define some common terms, the rules of the trade and some tips to help give you the edge to navigate your next professional film set and get that call back for the next one.
In this part, we will teach you some of the most common terms in the field. From "Back to One" to "That's a Wrap!", this part explains what different terms and phrases on a movie or TV production set mean and how they are used. We not only explain what each term means, but also give tips on how to use them effectively and efficiently on set. We also point out some of the most common mistakes people make when using these terms, so that people who are new to the language can avoid being embarrassed or confused.
Back to One
A direction given to actors and relevant crew to return to their starting position or the beginning of a scene.
The process of determining and rehearsing the movements and positions of actors on a set, in order to create a visual composition that enhances the scene.
A call to indicate that a rehearsal is about to start.
A final check by the makeup and wardrobe departments to ensure that the actors look their best before filming begins.
A direction given to the sound and camera crew to start recording.
Used when you have to cross an active camera lens to get to where you’re going. This way the operator or director knows that when the screen goes dark it was due to a person walking past the lens and not a technical malfunction. It’s best to avoid crossing the camera lens, if possible.
A signal to the cast and crew that the last shot of the day is next.
Say Points or Hot Points when you’re carrying something long, like a c-stand, speed rail, tripod, etc. so that other crew members can avoid not just you, but also the equipment you’re carrying.
Used to announce that you are about to walk around a close-quarters corner so you don’t run into anyone.
The process of dismantling and removing props, equipment, and set pieces from the set. Also used by the lighting department to let others know they are about to turn on a light (so don’t look directly at it!).
A direction to remove something from the set or production. Also used commonly as an alternative to “cancel that request”
A direction given to the camera operator to either pick up or set down their cameras before or after a short break.
A direction given to the transportation department to prepare for the departure of the cast and crew.
A term typically used by the DP or Director to say “stop” or “that’s good” to a crew member as they are making minor adjustments to a lighting element or prop position.
A call to indicate that it is time for a break for lunch.
And we’re back
A direction given to the cast and crew to resume filming after a break.
A verbal cue from the camera operator to the AC that they have the slate in frame and focus so that the AC can “mark” the take with the slate. In turn, the AC will say marking or A-Mark (for A-camera), B-Mark (for B-camera), etc. or A-B-Mark if both cameras can see the slate. You might also hear common mark to indicate all cameras see the slate at the same time.
On the day
Refers to the point in time in which changes or adjustments made to the script, blocking, or other elements are…on the day of filming, or whenever you actually roll on that scene.
Lock it up
A direction given to the crew to secure the set and prevent unwanted noise or interruptions during filming.
That’s a wrap!
A call to indicate that filming for the production is complete.
Listen out for these phrases on your next set and be confident that you have an idea of what’s actually going on. If you have more industry jargon you think we should include, let us know in the comments below.