For everyone who asked… a small collection of film jargon!
Pre-production can last for several years and some films never get any further. A core group of senior people develop the script, line up actors, find finance etc.
Production starts when a film is definitely signed up and staff in all departments are taken on. This is followed by the filming period, in a studio and/ or on location and it usually takes several months to film a 2-3 hour film.
Post-production incudes editing hundreds of hours of film to fit the required length of the film, adding visual effects, sound effects, music etc. and this will also take several months.
Budget: Vast sums are needed for film production – but producers expect to get their money back very quickly e.g. the James Bond film ”Spectre” Budget $245million, took $800 million within two months of the release date.
Shot: One element of a scene, filmed from one camera and composed in relation to background, lighting etc. If two or more characters are in conversation the dialogue may be repeated several times with actors being filmed individually delivering their lines. Alternatively, multiple cameras may be used, each focussed on one of the actors.
Take: One version of a shot. The Director and the Actors will probably discuss modifications to the performance between takes – there may be several! The Director tells the continuity person which takes he liked best and others are discarded. Selected takes are reviewed during editing.
Second Unit: Film unit doing additional photography: close-ups, big crowd scenes, technical shots etc that don’t involve the main artistes.
Closed set: Access to the set is restricted to essential personnel – usually only the Director and camera crew – when filming nudity or sex scenes.
Magic Hour: Twilight hour in the morning or evening, with low angle sun.
Green Room: Relaxing area for artistes – may be a cordoned – off area of a set.
Winnebago: American motorised caravan – one each provided for leading actors, producers, directors etc to use when not required on set.
Wrap: End of day’s work – ‘Wind Reel And Print’ – from early film technology when the day’s footage had to be wound back onto a reel before being sent off for processing.
Location catering: For locations away from the studio base there is a mobile professional kitchen to provide main meals. It is unusual for there to be a formal lunch break – members of each department eat at a different time so work never actually stops. The first meal of a filming day is always breakfast – for night shoots this may be at 9pm.
Craft Services: Drinks, sandwiches and cakes for the crew – continuously available during filming – usually from a mobile unit that follows the film crew around.
Ghoster: Being paid for a full day when very little work was done. Filming hours regularly exceed what was planned and evening work sometimes runs after midnight. If this happens the crew is paid for an extra day, even if they only work for half an hour. If the extra day is the 7th successive day worked they can claim double time (a double ghoster).
Foley Artist: Person who creates sound effects to add to the film during editing – doors banging, crunching gravel, horses hooves and so on.
Dialogue coach: Person who teaches actors to speak using a particular accent – always on set to ensure correct accent.
ADR: Additional Dialogue Recording: Actors doing a voice-over to fit with their own mouth movements if filmed dialogue is unsatisfactory for some reason, e.g. a plane flying overhead during a take.
Gaffer: Chief electrician – the name comes from the gaffing hooks originally used to land fish – similar to those used to change lighting by moving the canvas that originally formed studio ceilings.
Best Boy/ Best Girl: Second in command of the Electricians / Grips department– responsible for logistics and organisation within the department.
Key Grip: Person responsible for positioning and moving the film camera for a shot.
Cable basher: Person responsible for ensuring that cables for cameras and lights don’t get trapped or tangled when the camera is moving during takes.
Dutch Head: Special attachment that allows the camera to be set at an angle to the horizontal / vertical giving an impression that things are out of balance.
C stand: Metal stand used by electrical department – often borrowed by other departments to position things that need to be seen in a particular place e.g. a tree branch.
Redheads and blondes: Different lights with specific illumination qualities.
Barn Doors: Movable flaps on the side of film lights which can be adjusted to allow a narrower or wider beam of light to be emitted.
Set: Reproduction of interior or exterior of buildings or parts of buildings – usually built of wood and plaster and supported by scaffolding.
Imperial: Feet and inches – used for set design and construction on any films that involve American producers.
Standby: Art Department representative on set during filming – stands close to the director and adjusts the set when needed due to damage or on request – with assistance of a team of riggers, carpenters, painters and greens people.
Riggers: Scaffolding erectors.
Blocking: Painting using a block of wood that has been dipped in ageing paint – used to make a finished set look old and battered.
Kettles: Special tins with wire handles used by painters for mixing and painting.
Flossing: Painting out damage on surfaces or blending into the surroundings.
Greensman / Greenswoman: Person in charge of landscape elements on set – plants, turf, mud and so on.
Dingle: Tree branch (usually not attached to a tree) – used as foreground dressing or to provide shadow during a shot.
Soft Set: Replication of part of a set in foam rubber when there is a collision involving stunt performers.
Pick point: Point of attachment for wires used to support stunt performers – the pick point is vertically above where the action takes place.
Strike: Remove and destroy set after use – but some sets are retained in storage if they may be needed for a sequel.
Hero car: The ‘star’ vehicle – usually driven by a film star.
Ringers: Duplicate vehicles that are identical to the ‘hero’ vehicle. They may have different functions depending on the storyline. If a vehicle is going to end up in any sort of water-course it has to have the engine, fuel and any chemicals or liquids removed first. This will usually mean that it has to be propelled by some sort of external force!
Technocrane: Wheeled vehicle to hold camera on sophisticated telescopic arm – used for dramatic camera moves when filming from high level, in and out of restricted spaces and so on.
Moco Rig: Motion control rig: Computer controlled mechanical contraption used to set up the same camera movement repeatedly for different takes.
Dobbin Rig: Mechanical horse used for riding close-ups.
Tuning fork rig: Used by stunt performers who are strapped into the jaws of the ‘tuning fork’ to simulate swimming, flying, weightlessness etc. Rig itself will probably be painted green and will be digitally replaced by a different image during post-production.
Picture vehicle coordinator: Person in charge of procuring and adjustments to all ‘in vision’ vehicles required during filming.
TMO: Travel movement order: Details of transport and accommodation to be provided to personnel during location filming including flights and hotel reservations.
Transport captain: Person who organises getting the cast and crew to where they need to be for filming.
SFX: Special effects: usually requiring special equipment to create rain, snow, fog, explosions, fire etc – recorded by the camera during filming.
VFX: Visual effects: trick photography, digitally added by computers after filming. This can include extensions of a set, background landscape or seascape, monsters and other characters, computer generated images, models and cloned characters (large armies for example).
Green Screen: Film cameras can be set to ignore a particular colour, so actors are sometimes filmed against a green background which is replaced in post-production by something else e.g. a space-man filmed against a green screen that is later replaced by a starry sky.
Bean Counters: Accountants – usually identifiable by a worried expression – in the past they occasionally turned up on set with big bags of cash to pacify the crew when things were going badly!
Clearances: Permission to use words, names, logos etc on graphics, sign-boards and so on.
Product placement: Agreement to use recognisable products in vision – from cars and computers to food and drink – manufacturers pay for the privilege.
Call sheet: Daily instructions for filming: names of actors who are ‘called’ and time they will be needed for makeup and wardrobe, instructions to reach location and where to park, list of special facilities required, list of scenes to be filmed that day.