Advice for filmmakers from our partner, Backstage, casting you can trust.
Film sets are chock-full of nicknames and abbreviations. For newcomers, it can seem like filmmakers and videographers are speaking a foreign language. As a producer, I’ve found there are many filmmaking terms used on set that are beneficial to know. They’ll help you know what is being discussed while on set and to better understand those around you! Below you’ll find 20 on-set film terms & their descriptions so you can seem extra savvy next time you’re on set:
Above the line
On a budget sheet, there are individuals who contribute to the direction and narrative of a film. “Above the line” refers to these people and any expenditure related to them. Examples include screenwriter, producer, director, casting directors, and actors, among others. These are the most expensive line items; this area can make or break a movie in terms of the quality of the leaders.
Below the line
On a budget sheet, “below the line” refers literally to the “line” that separates the actors, directors, producers and writers from the remaining on-set crew. This is where the rest of the team resides as well as every aspect related to it, from food and fuel to parking and wardrobe. Where “above the line” could be considered the upper management, “below the line” refers to the team players.
In setting up a scene, an actor’s moves need to be worked out in relation to the camera. “Blocking” refers to the working out of these details. An analogy would be choreographing a dance. It’s like planning and ensuring things like the actors, extras, crew and equipment are all moving in harmony with each other. It’s to make sure that the above-the-line guys and the below-the-line guys are all on the same page. It also gives the script supervisor a point of reference for continuity on how things are supposed to go, which can alert them if something strays too far from it.
10/100 or 10/1
I’m going to the restroom. This sometimes confuses newbies on set as to why someone wouldn’t just say “I’m going to the restroom”, but apparently it’s faster and more polite and just generally accepted to say this.
This refers to the team of individuals who are involved in shooting the sections of the film that are of primary importance, typically scenes involving actors or the stars of the film. In large productions, there would typically be a first and second unit.
There is another team responsible for shooting supplementary footage. When there’s a lot to get done it can be more efficient to have a second team shoot at the same time the first unit is shooting. While the first unit handles primary shots, the second can take care of elements like horses trotting through a field, people walking in the streets, or establishing shots.
Based on the director’s shot list, the assistant director will put together a schedule that’s given to the cast and crew. It lets them know where and when they will be needed on set on any given day of filming. It’s called a “daily call sheet.” It also contains things like what’s being shot, the nearest hospital, and the weather forecast.
This is the time you need to be on set, and will be noted in the call sheet. Pre-Call is when a department or individual has a call time earlier than the crew call.
Craft Services or Crafties
At bigger shoots, this is an oasis in the desert of boring equipment trucks. The crafties food truck supplies snacks and food to the crew.
The time of day shooting is scheduled to begin for the day. Your call time may vary.
At the end of each day of shooting, the footage is assembled for the director and other staff to view each night. The purpose of “dailies” is to ensure what was shot does not contain technical issues. They are also used to get a feel for the pace of the movie, how things are going in general, what’s working and what’s not, and to monitor the overall structure.
This is a safety term used by grips to let those nearby know they are carrying some equipment, like a light stand for example with its tip pointing forward. It can also mean some heavy equipment in the vicinity that could be harmful or dangerous.
A set that is currently in use for filming or needs to be left as is because filming will return there soon. Don’t touch or move anything unless asked.
This refers to the casts’ hair and makeup. It’s used to indicate that the scene is about to be filmed and that if any final touch-ups are needed, now is the time to do them. And although it’s technically intended for hair, makeup and wardrobe, it is also a signal to the entire crew that everyone needs to ensure everything is in its proper place.
The last camera setup of the day. Announced on set so everyone knows to pack up any gear not in use.
The cameras are about to roll and shoot an actual take.
The cameras (and/or sound) are rolling to film a take. Pay attention and be quiet. On stage, this is sometimes signified by a single bell or buzzer. Double bell or buzzer means no longer rolling.
Another word for tripod on a film set. If someone were to say grab the sticks, they would be referring to both the legs and head of the tripod.
On a film set, stinger refers to a single extension cord.
This is a viewing area for directors and other production personal. It contains monitors, chairs, and the like where the crew are able to see what the cameras see. Sometimes talent will sit here in between scenes as well, or executives to see how the overall production is going. And it’s where the script supervisor lives.
As in, “it’s a wrap!” Wrap means the end of something, usually the end of the day of filming. It can be also used as wrap on a scene, actor or item.
Puerto Rican-born Producer Sevier Crespo has worked with such Hollywood heavyweights as Michael Mann and Jerry Bruckheimer. He studied production at UCLA and learned the ropes under the tutelage of Robert Townsend and director Sam Bayer at Ridley Scott’s RSA USA, Inc. Sevier has since gone on to work with such global brands as Adidas, Coca-Cola, Nike, Marlboro, Mitsubishi, NBC, and Netflix, to name a few. Tapping back into his latin roots, Sevier has worked alongside Danny Trejo in the comedy “Pendejo” and the upcoming feature “Deceived” (2017). For more information on Sevier, please visit seviercrespo.com.