Like any other profession, filmmaking has its own specialized lingo. Many of these terms you will only hear on set, but being familiar with them could be crucial to your success in this business. For instance, you might panic the first time you are asked to track down a C-47. Relax. We’ve got you covered.
As a public service from your friends at Lunacy, here’s some common on-set terminology you should know:
10-1 (ten-one) – Pee break. And yes, there is also a 10-2, although most people don’t feel the need to be that specific.
“Do we have enough time before the next take for our director to 10-1?”
86 it – Remove something from the set. Maybe “it” is a prop or a piece of wardrobe that just isn’t working, or it could be equipment like a light or a flag. But once the call is made to 86 it, don’t ask questions, just fly it out.
“Can we 86 the table lamp? It’s blocking the actor’s face.”
apple – Short for apple box, a multipurpose wooden box that has been ubiquitous on film sets for almost as long film sets have existed. A full apple box is 8” x 12” x 20”, but they come in a variety of sizes (half apple, quarter apple, and pancake).
“We need to raise that table into frame. A half apple under each leg ought to do it.”
C-47 – A clothespin. There are many colorful stories about how the C-47 got its name, from dishonest accountants to WWII airplanes, but the true origin is a mystery. The modern grip-clip has replaced the C-47 in many areas, but they are still commonly used to attach color correction gels to lights.
courtesy – A hood of black duvetyne fabric placed over video monitors to prevent glare.
“It was bright out so the grips set up a courtesy over video village.”
DOODs – These are charts that provide a fast reference for which shoot days the actors are working, traveling, resting, etc. It’s an acronym for day out of days, which sounds much more poetic, but is also complete gibberish.
“Can you send me the latest DOODs?”
dummy check – A final inspection of a location to make sure nothing was left behind. Usually performed after everyone insists that the area has been thoroughly cleared, the dummy check still almost always reveals something that was forgotten.
“I’m going to do one last dummy check before we load out.”
fire watch – If the meal is served away from the main set, a PA might be left behind to keep an eye on the equipment. They will have their food brought to them while on fire watch.
“Fix it in post” – A bad joke. Or maybe a serious statement made by someone who’s never worked in post.
DP: “We don’t have enough light to shoot this scene.”
Executive Producer: “Can’t we fix it in post?”
G&E – An abbreviation for Grip and Electric, the crew members responsible for handling the equipment and lighting. A good G&E team moves like a well-oiled machine and can often mean the difference between making your day or falling behind schedule. Keeping them well-fed and well-rested should be a priority for every good producer.
Glam Squad – Something out of touch ADs say when they want the Hair and Makeup Department (HMU) to hate them.
grace – After six hours of work, the crew is entitled to a meal break (even non-union crews usually observe this as standard operating procedure, and smart producers respect it regardless of union status). Running past this break could incur a meal penalty, but occasionally a First AD will ask his crew for grace, a rare exception to keep working into the meal time. On a good set the crew is as committed to getting the shot as anyone, and if the First AD and producers have been treating them right, a call for grace is usually a formality.
greek – To make a logo or label unrecognizable so as not to infringe on any trademarked material. This term is borrowed from typography where new font styles or layouts are often tested using greek or latin to keep the focus on form and not content.
“Make sure you greek the labels on all those soda bottles. We don’t have clearance for any of those brands.”
hero – This is used to refer to an object (usually a prop) that is special or significant in some way. It might just be because it is featured in a close up or reappears in multiple scenes, or it may be specially made for an effect.
“We are shooting the head chopping gag next, so keep the hero axe handy.”
“Hold the work!” – If you’re hearing this, someone has already screwed up. This is usually shouted in frustration by the First AD when someone is making noise during a take.
hollywood – The verb, not the noun, means to handhold a piece of equipment rather than set it up properly in a stand. Generally professional grips will avoid this, but sometimes hollywooding a piece of equipment, such as a reflective bounce board, is necessary.
honey wagon – The delicious name is ironical, as it actually refers to portable bathrooms. Apparently this is a holdover from the early days of cinema when sets often only had honey buckets. Remember that the next time you want to complain about a Porta-Potty.
last looks – The final opportunity for the hair, makeup, wardrobe, and set dressers to make any last minute adjustments before the camera starts rolling. Usually called by the First AD before every take.
last man – The half-hour lunch period doesn’t officially begin until the last member of the crew is served. Someone from the AD team is in charge of noting the time the last man gets his food and starting the clock to determine when the crew is back in. Incidentally, the meal during a shoot day is always referred to as lunch, whether it’s served at noon, midnight, or any time in between. Breakfast is also traditionally served before the crew call time, and second meal is a (usually hastily arranged) dinner that only takes place when a shoot day runs long.
“Lock it up!” – This is a command, usually given by the First AD or Key PA, for all the PAs to lock down traffic (both pedestrian and vehicular) in their area in preparation for a take. The PAs usually respond, Locking! This is particularly important when shooting on location in a high traffic area.
make our day – No, this isn’t a Dirty Harry reference. Making the day simply means that the production was able to get all the shots on the schedule, which is usually trickier than you’d think.
Clint Eastwood, coincidentally, has a reputation for shooting quickly and efficiently and always making his day.
“Despite a few setbacks we were still able to make our day.”
M.O.S. – Shooting a scene without recording sound. Various stories attribute the acronym to the German phrase mit out sprechen or a technical term, minus optical stripe. Regardless, it’s always a terrible idea. Even the worst audio track is better than no audio at all.
“If you shoot this scene M.O.S. your sound editor will want to murder you!”
“Moving on” – Another First AD line that signifies to the crew that the director is satisfied and it’s time to move to the next shot on the schedule.
on the day – Something that is taken care of during the shooting day, as opposed to in advance.
“No need to dress the set this weekend. We’ll have time to do it on the day.”
“Picture’s up!” – Another First AD phrase. This means everything is in place and ready to go for a take, and camera and sound will be rolling soon. Picture’s up! has also come to mean Quiet on the set!, so stop what you’re doing and don’t say a thing until you hear Cut!
“Points!” – Usually shouted by a grip carrying a large or unwieldy piece of equipment through a crowded area. If you hear Points!, watch where you’re going.
“Tail lights at [time]” – The time when the whole crew is expected to be packed up and either going home for the day or leaving for another location.
“We’ll get our last shot at 11:15, tail lights at midnight.”
walla – General crowd noise. You can purchase stock walla from sound libraries or your soundie can record it in the field.
“While we’re shooting at the park, see if you can steal some walla from the people near the zoo.”
“We’re in!” – Yelled and/or radioed by the First AD to let everyone know they are on the clock and expected to start working. This usually happens at the start of the day and again after lunch. That’s lunch! and That’s a wrap! are how they signal the end of the respective work periods.
wild lines / room tone – Sound lingo. Wild lines are usually recorded if the sound mixer is worried about the sound quality during a dialogue take. They will record the actors speaking their lines again in a more controlled environment.
Room tone is about thirty seconds of ambient sound recorded in the same environment where a scene was just shot.
Time permitting, these are both very helpful tools when sound editing the film later. But any soundie will tell you, time is almost never permitting.