Filmmaking Terms Glossary

Like many careers, filmmakers and film crews have their own set of terms and jargon to define their various jobs, duties, materials, equipment, positions, organisations, and much more. Here is our list of the terms you may need to know in your filmmaking career.

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Filmmaking Glossary and Film Set Terminology


180 Degree Rule: A basic guideline regarding the on-screen spatial relationship between a character and another character or object within a scene. By keeping the camera on one side of an imaginary axis between two characters, the first character is always frame right of the second character. Moving the camera over the axis is called jumping the line or crossing the line; breaking the 180-degree rule by shooting on all sides is known as shooting in the round.

180 Degree Rule

30 Degree Rule: A basic film editing guideline that states the camera should move at least 30 degrees relative to the subject between successive shots of the same subject. If the camera moves less than 30 degrees, the transition between shots may look like a jump cut, which could jar the audience and take them out of the story by causing them to focus on the film technique rather than the narrative itself.

30 Degree Rule

3D Film: Motion pictures made to give an illusion of three-dimensional solidity, usually with the help of special glasses worn by viewers. The 3D filmmaking process involves using a twin-lensed camera for filming, and images from both lenses are projected into the screens by two different projectors. 3D films work by delivering a different image to each eye, so your brain perceives depth to the picture.

3D Glasses: 3D glasses are worn when viewing a 3D film. There are three types of 3D eyeglasses that correspond to the three ways stereo frames are separated for 3D effects– anaglyph, polarized and active.

3D Glasses

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A-Roll: Includes all types of footage that feature key plot actions, talking characters, or interview subjects. A-roll footage is more often known in the industry these days as main footage, primary footage, hero footage, or principal shots.

Abby (Abby Singer/Abby Singer Shot): A term for the second-to-last shot of the day on a shoot.

Above The Line: A budgeting term used to describe professionals who influence the creative direction of a film, such the screenwriter, producer, director, and actors.

Above the Line Expenses: The major expenses committed to a project before production begins, including story/rights/continuity, salaries for producers, director, and cast, travel, living expenses, and production fees (if the project is bought from an earlier company). Everything else falls under below-the-line expenses.

Abstract Film: Non-narrative films that contain no acting and do not attempt to reference reality or concrete subjects. They rely on the unique qualities of motion, rhythm, light and composition inherent in the technical medium of cinema to create emotional experiences.

Absurd/Absurdism: Focuses on the experiences of characters in situations where they cannot find any inherent purpose in life, most often represented by ultimately meaningless actions and events that call into question the certainty of existential concepts such as truth or value.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS): A professional honorary organization with the stated goal of advancing the arts and sciences of motion pictures. The Academy’s corporate management and general policies are overseen by a board of governors, which includes representatives from each of the craft branches.

Academy Awards: An annual award given to a performer, director, technician, craftsperson, or musician of the motion picture industry for superior achievement in a specific category: judged by the voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and symbolized by the presentation of an Oscar.

Accelerated Montage: Process of shortening the video length or duration and increase the speed, in order to transmit the idea of excitement and rhythm.

Accent Light: Focuses light on a particular area or object. It is often used to highlight art or other artifacts. Common types of accent lighting includes wall sconces, floodlights, recessed lights, torchière lamps, or track lighting.

Acousmatic: Sound that is heard without an originating cause being seen.

Acoustics: The science of sound wave transmission.

Act: A main division within the plot of a film.

Acting/Actor/Actress: Any person, male or female, who portrays a character in a performance.

Action: Called out at the beginning of a take to alert the cast and crew that the take has started and the performance should begin.

Action Cut: Refers to a cut that uses on-screen motion to cover the transition, making the action appear continuous and uninterrupted.

Action Film: A film genre in which the protagonist is thrust into a series of events that typically involve violence and physical feats. The genre tends to feature a mostly resourceful hero struggling against incredible odds, which include life-threatening situations, a dangerous villain, or a pursuit which usually concludes in victory for the hero.

Adaptation: The transfer of a creative work or story, fiction or nonfiction, whole or in part, to a motion picture format. For example, the reimagining or rewriting of an originally non-film work with the specific intention of presenting it in the form of a film.

Additional Camera/ B Camera: An extra camera, often needed for complicated action sequences, stunts, or to obtain coverage faster.

Additional Photography/ Reshoots/ Pickups: Focus group or studio reaction to some shots or scenes may be bad enough to convince the filmmakers to discard them or add additional or altered scenes. In some cases, actors are recalled and parts of the movie are filmed again.

Adjusted Gross Deal/ Adjusted Gross Participation/ Gross Deal: A distribution deal where producers receive an advance in addition to a portion of the net profits of a film.

Ad Lib: A line of dialogue improvised by an actor during a performance; can be either unscripted or deliberate.

ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement): The process of re-recording dialogue by the original actor (or a replacement actor) after the filming process to improve audio quality or make changes to the originally scripted dialog.

Advance: The distance between a point on the soundtrack and the corresponding image.

Advance/Cash Advance: An amount given before receipt of services or expenditures.

Advance Screener/Screener: A film or television show available via DVD, Bluray, or streaming link sent to film critics and eligible awards voting members.

Aerial Perspective or Atmospheric Perspective: Refers to the effect the atmosphere has on the appearance of an object as viewed from a distance. As the distance between an object and a viewer increases, the contrast between the object and its background decreases, and the contrast of any markings or details within the object also decreases.

Aerial Shot: A bird’s eye view shot filmed in an exterior location in the air from far overhead via a helicopter, blimp, balloon, plane, drone or kite. It is a variation of the crane shot.

Aerial Shot

Against Type: Playing a character whose type is opposite or strikingly different from that which an actor has played previously and has become associated with by filmmakers and the audience.

Agency/ Talent Agency: Specialize by creating departments within the agency or developing entire agencies that primarily or wholly represent one specialty to get their clients work. For example, there are film and television production agencies, modeling agencies, commercial talent agencies, literary agencies, voice-over agencies, broadcast journalist agencies, sports agencies, music agencies, and many more.

Agent/ Talent Agent: A person who pitches their clients for job interviews, finds them work, negotiates their contract, and is the go-between for production and the client. In addition, an agent defends, supports and promotes the interest of their clients. Talent agents represent actors, writers, broadcast journalists, directors, producers, and key creatives.

Alan Smithee: The only pseudonym permitted for use by directors who refuse to put their name on their film when they want to disassociate themselves from the film they directed.

A-List: Refers to top actors who are paid upwards of $20 million per film. This term can also refer to producers, directors and writers who can be guaranteed to be greenlit.

Allegory: An extended metaphor; taken in film terms to mean a suggestive resemblance or correspondence between a visible event or character in a film with other more significant or abstract levels of meaning outside of the film.

Alliteration: The occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words. For example: Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

Allusion: An implied direct or indirect reference to something or someone else- through an image or through dialogue.


Alternate Ending: An ending of a story that was considered, or even written or produced, but ultimately discarded in favour of another resolution.

Ambiance: The feeling or mood of a particular scene or setting.

Ambient Light: The natural light or surrounding light around a subject in a scene; often soft light.

Ambiguity: The type of meaning in which a phrase, statement or resolution is not explicitly defined, making several interpretations plausible.

Ambiguous Space: In order to create the idea of depth, you usually have to relate it to something. Ambiguous space is the removal of those cues so the viewer doesn’t know what they’re looking at.

American Cinema Editors/ ACE: An honorary society of film editors that are voted in based on the qualities of professional achievements, their education of others, and their dedication to editing. Members use the post-nominal letters, ACE.

American Society of Cinematographers/ ASC: An American cultural, educational, and professional organization that is neither a labor union nor a guild. The society was organized to advance the science and art of cinematography and gather a wide range of cinematographers to discuss techniques and ideas and to advocate for motion pictures as an art form.

Anachronism: An element or artifact in a film that belongs to another time or place; often anachronistic elements are deemed as inconsistencies or mistakes.

Anamorphic/ Anamorphic Widescreen: Refers to a method of intentionally distorting and creating a wide screen image with standard film, using a conversion process or a special lens on the camera and projector to produce different magnifications in the vertical and horizontal dimensions of the picture.

Ancillary Rights: Film-related rights such as soundtrack rights, music publishing rights, novelization rights, stageplay rights, and merchandising rights. Merchandising, in turn, generally includes interactive games based on the film.

Angle: The perspective from which a camera depicts its subject.

Angle On: To direct, move the camera and focus on a particular subject.

Animatic: The process of animating a storyboard into a moving sequence.

Animation: The photographing and manipulating of successive drawings or positions of puppets or models to create an illusion of movement when a movie is shown as a sequence.

Animatronics: Refers to mechatronic puppets. They are a modern variant of the automaton and are often used for the portrayal of characters in films and in theme park attractions.

Anime: A hand-drawn and computer-generated animation originating from Japan. Outside of Japan and in English, anime refers specifically to animation produced in Japan. However, in Japan and in Japanese, anime describes all animated works, regardless of style or origin.


Answer Print: The first version of a motion picture that is printed to film after color correction on an interpositive. It is also the first version of the movie printed to film with the sound properly synced to the picture.

Antagonist: The main character, person, group, society, nature, force, spirit world, bad guy, or villain of a film or script who is in adversarial conflict with the film’s hero, lead character or protagonist. Sometimes termed ‘the heavy’.

Anthology Film: A single film consisting of several shorter films, each complete in itself and distinguished from the other, though frequently tied together by a single theme, premise, or author.

Anthropomorphism: The tendency in animated films to give creatures or objects human qualities, abilities, and characteristics.


Anti-Climax: Anything in a film, usually following the film’s high point, zenith, apex, crescendo, or climax, in which there is an unsatisfying and disappointing let-down of emotion, or what is expected doesn’t occur.

Anti-Hero: The principal protagonist of a film who lacks the attributes or characteristics of a typical hero archetype, but with whom the audience identifies.

Aperture: The size of a camera lens opening through which light passes. It is calibrated in f/stops and is generally written as numbers such as 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11 and 16.


Apple Box: Wooden boxes or crates of varying sizes with holes on each end used chiefly in film production. These boxes are specialized pieces of equipment belonging to the grip department, and should not be confused with simple crates, other boxes, or boxes for apples. There are 4 sizes: full, half, quarter, and pancake.

Apple Boxes- Full, Half, Quarter, Pancake

Arc Shot: A shot in which the subject or subjects are photographed by an encircling or moving camera.

Arc Shot

Archetype: A character, place, or thing, that is repeatedly presented in films with a particular style or characterization; an archetype usually applies to a specific genre or type classification.

Arm/ Grip Arm: A metal rod attached to a C-Stand.

Armorer: A member of the shooting crew who handles, maintains, and is responsible for real and prop weapon safety on set including firearms, knives, swords, bows, and staff weapons.

Arret: A French word meaning halt or stop which refers to the in-camera trick of stopping the camera, then removing or inserting an object, then restarting the camera to have an object magically disappear or appear. This is one of the earliest techniques of silent film.

Art Department: The section of a production’s crew concerned with visual artistry. Working under the supervision of the production designer and/or art director, the art department is responsible for arranging the overall look of the film

Art Directors Guild (ADG, IATSE Local 800): A labor union and local of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) representing over 3,000 motion picture and television professionals working in the United States. Members include production designers, art directors, set designers and modelmakers, illustrators and matte artists, scenic artists, title and graphic artists.

Art House: A movie theater that shows independent films, documentaries, experimental films, foreign films, low budget films, local films, and or any film considered “high brow” or an “art film”.

Art House Film: Typically an independent film, aimed at a niche market rather than a mass market audience.

Articulation Artist: A person who takes an artist’s designs and builds them in a computer, so that animators can manipulate the figures to tell the story of the film.

Artifact: A visual defect on a film image caused by limitations or the malfunction of imaging equipment.


Artificial Light: The two main categories of filmmaking light sources include artificial and natural light. Artificial lights can be either on-camera or off-camera, while natural light nearly always comes from an outside source such as the sun or a window.

Aside: Occurs when a character in a film breaks the ‘fourth wall’ and directly addresses the audience with a comment.

Aspect Ratio:  A term for how the image appears on the screen based on how it was shot; refers to the ratio of width to height of a film frame, image or screen.

Aspect Ratio

Assembly: The assembly edit is when the editor looks through all of the footage and creates a story outline. The first stage of editing, when the editor looks through all of the footage and arranges the shots in script order.

Assistant Art Director: An assistant to the art director working in the art department. Assistant art directors responsibilities differ widely depending on what they are hired for based on their skills and what is needed on a project.

Assistant Camera: A member of the camera crew who assists the camera operator. This person is responsible for the maintenance and care of the camera, as well as preparing dope sheets. In smaller camera crews, they may also perform the duties of clapper-loader and/or a focus puller.

Assistant Director: The role includes tracking daily progress against the filming production schedule, arranging logistics, preparing daily call sheets, checking cast and crew, and maintaining order on the set.

Assistant Film Editor: Aid the editor and director in collecting and organizing all the elements needed to edit the film. When editing is finished, they oversee the various lists and instructions necessary to put the film into its final form.

Assistant Production Manager: An assistant to the production manager in the production department.

Associate Producer: Someone who works closely with the producer and assists him or her in putting a TV show or film together. They serve as a producer’s right-hand and are therefore entrusted to complete a wide range of tasks.

Asynchronous: When sound doesn’t match a film’s visuals. Filmmakers use asynchronous sound to manipulate emotion and narrative.

Atmosphere: Refers to any concrete or nebulous feeling that contributes a dimensional tone to a film’s action.

Audio: All sound in a film including diegetic and non-diegetic sound. A strip of film carrying sound records in addition to the pictures.

Audio Bridge: When audio is carried over the visual transition to tie together two scenes.

Audition: A sample or test of a performance by an actor, singer, musician, dancer or other performer.

Auteur/ Auteur Theory: A critical theory that ascribes overall responsibility for the creation of a film and its personal vision, identifiable style, thematic aspects and techniques to its film director, rather than to the collaborative efforts of all involved; an auteur can refer to a director with a recognizable or signature style.

Autofocus (or AF): The feature of a camera that tries to ensure that your chosen subject is sharp within the photo. Sensors detect how far away the subject is from the camera, and this information is relayed to the lens, which then uses an electronic motor to adjusts the focal distance of the lens.


Avail/ Avails/ Availability: A production may ask actors, filmmakers, crew, or agents for their clients avails while casting or crewing. They are asking whether one is simply available during the dates specified for production before getting into any further conversation or consideration for the position. Actors often give their avail to a production as a courtesy. Avails hold no legal or contractual status in the hiring process.

Available Light: The use of naturally-existing light on location rather than creating artificial light.

Available Light

Avant-Garde: Experimental films or avant-garde cinema is a mode of filmmaking that rigorously re-evaluates cinematic conventions and explores non-narrative forms or alternatives to traditional narratives or methods of working.

AVID/ Avid Media Composer: A film and video editing software application or non-linear editing system (NLE) developed by Avid Technology.

Axial Cut: An axial cut is a type of jump cut, where the camera suddenly moves closer to or further away from its subject, along an invisible line drawn straight between the camera and the subject. While a plain jump cut typically involves a temporal discontinuity (an apparent jump in time), an axial cut is a way of maintaining the illusion of continuity. Axial cuts were fairly common in the cinema of the 1910s and 1920s.

Axis of Action: An imaginary or invisible line (or axis) that passes through two main subjects being filmed in a scene, who face each other (one is left, the other is right). Conventionally, the camera must not cross the axis of action and maintains that left-right relationship or orientation in order to avoid disorienting or distracting the viewer with a reverse angle shot.

Axis of Action

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B-Movie: A film which is produced quickly and cheaply and is often considered to have little artistic value. The term originally meant a supporting film for a double feature, often considered a genre film, in Hollywood during the 1940s and 50s.

B-Roll: Supplemental or alternative footage intercut with the main shot.

Back End: Profit participation in a film after distribution and/or production costs have been recouped.

Back Projection/ Rear Projection: A photographic technique whereby live action is filmed in front of a transparent screen onto which background action is projected.

Backdrop/ Backing: Refers to a large photographic backing or painting for the background of a scene. These large scale photos/paintings are printed/painted, hung, and lit to give the illusion of the outdoors on set, or an extension to the set.

Background: The area behind the middle ground and foreground in a shot that can often extend far into the distance.

Background Artist/ Background Stylist / Background Painter: One who is involved in the process of animation who establishes the color, style, and mood of a scene drawn by an animation layout artist.

Background Performer: background actor or extra is a performer in a film, television show, stage, musical, opera, or ballet production who appears in a non-speaking or non-singing (silent) capacity, usually in the background. For example, an audience or busy street scene.

Background Lighting: Used to illuminate the background area of a set. The background light will also provide separation between the subject and the background.

Background Music: A film score may also be called a background score, background music, film soundtrack, film music, screen composition, screen music, or incidental music.

Backlighting:  the process of illuminating the subject from the back. In other words, the lighting instrument and the viewer face each other, with the subject in between. This creates a glowing effect on the edges of the subject, while other areas are darker. The backlight can be a natural or artificial source of light. When artificial, the back light is usually placed directly behind the subject in a 4-point lighting setup.

Back Lot/ Backlot: An undeveloped area, on studio property, in an open-air, outdoor space away from the studio stages, where real-life situations with backgrounds can be filmed.

Back Projection: A photographic technique whereby live action is filmed in front of a transparent screen onto which background action is projected.

Backstory/ Background Story: A set of events invented for a plot, preceding and leading up to the plot– the history of characters and other elements that underlie the situation. It is a literary device of a narrative history chronologically earlier than the story being told. In acting, it is the history of the character before the drama begins, and is created during the actor’s preparation.

Back to One/ Back to First Marks: After a take, the 1st Assistant Director will instruct actors, extras, and pertinent crew to go back to one, meaning, to go back to the original location they started from at the top (beginning) of the scene. Simply stated, it means to do it again from the top in the same spot at your first marks.

Balance: Within a film’s visual frame, refers to the composition, aesthetic quality, or working together of the figures, light, sound, and movement.

Banned: For nearly the entire history of film, certain films have been banned by film censorship or review organizations for political or moral reasons or for controversial content. Censorship standards vary widely by country, and can vary within an individual country over time due to political or moral change.

Barn doors: The black metal folding doors an all four sides of a light that can be bent back and forth on their hinges to control where the light is directed.

Barney: A blanket or other fabric placed over the camera to reduce the audible noise from a camera.

Based on a True Story: Means much of the actual story is based on events that happened in real life. The writer may make both minor or significant changes, sometimes taking artistic license, but the core of the story remains the same.

Beat: A small amount of action resulting in a pause in dialogue. Beats usually involve physical gestures like a character walking to a window or removing their glasses and rubbing their eyes. Short passages of internal monologue can also be considered a sort of internal beat. Beats are also known as “stage business”.

Beat sheet: A document with all the events in a movie script to guide the writing of that script. The Beat Sheet lays out everything that will need to happen in each act.

Behind-the-Scenes: The off-camera goings on associated with filmmaking. Featurettes, documentaries, and fictional depictions of the behind-the-scenes goings on are also occasionally made and distributed, sometimes theatrically.

Below the Line: A budgeting term used for professionals who are involved in the production of film but do not have creative influence on the film but still influence aspects of the film through their departments. Travel expenses and craft services fall “below the line”.

Below-the-Line Expenses: All physical production costs not included in the above-the-line expenses, including material costs, music rights, publicity, trailer, and much more.

Best Boy: There are two kinds of best boys: Best Boy Electric and Best Boy Grip. They are assistants to their department heads, the Gaffer and the Key Grip (lighting and rigging), respectively. In short, the best boy acts as the foreman for the department. A woman who performs these duties may be called best girl. New terminology for this position is currently being debated.

Billing: Refers to the order and other aspects of how credits are presented for plays, films, television, or other creative works. Information given in billing usually consists of the companies, actors, directors, producers, and other crew members. Billing is most often negotiated through your agent.

Bio: A short biography of actors, directors, producers, and key creatives for use in press releases and film promotion materials. A PR representitive or other marketer for a film will ask for this from those involved on a project.

Biopic/ Biographical Film: A film that dramatizes the life of a non-fictional or historically-based person. They differ from docudrama films and historical drama films in that they attempt to comprehensively tell a single person’s life story or at least the most historically important years of their lives.

Bird’s Eye View Shot/ Overhead Shot/Elevated Shot: An elevated view of an object or location from a very steep viewing angle, creating a perspective as if the observer were a bird in flight looking downwards.

Bird’s Eye View or Overhead Shot

Bit Part: A role in which there is direct interaction with the principal actors and no more than five lines of dialogue, often referred to as a five-or-less or under-five in the United States, or under sixes in British television, or a walk-on part with no dialogue.

Black and White/ B&W/ BW/ Monochrome: A film without colour. Before the invention of colour film stock, all films were shot in Black and White, or what was also called Monochrome which refers to a film shot in one colour. Black and White is often abbreviated to BW or B&W.

Black Comedy /Dark Comedy: A style of comedy that makes light of subject matter that is generally considered taboo, particularly subjects that are normally considered serious or too painful to discuss. Writers and comedians often use it as a tool for exploring vulgar issues by provoking discomfort, serious thought, and amusement for their audience.

Blacklisting: The action of someone, a group, member/s of production or hiring authority compiling a blacklist of people to be avoided or distrusted as being deemed unacceptable for employment to those making the list. As a verb, to blacklist can mean to put an individual or company on such a list.

Blaxploitation: A portmanteau of the words Black and Exploitation. It is a subgenre of the exploitation film that emerged in the United States during the early 1970s. Blaxploitation films were originally aimed at a Black audience but the genre’s audience appeal soon broadened across racial and ethnic lines. Hollywood soon realized the potential profit of expanding the audiences of blaxploitation films.


Blimp: A fiberglass encasement used to house a camera making an audible noise so that you can not hear the sound of the camera while recording sound on a production.

Blockbuster: A work of entertainment typically used to describe a feature film produced by a major film studio. The term has also come to refer to any large-budget production intended for blockbuster status, aimed at mass markets with associated merchandising, sometimes on a scale that means the financial viability of a film studio or a distributor hangs in the balance.

Blocking: The movements of an actor within a scene; the process of figuring out where the camera goes, how the lights will be arranged, and what the actors’ positions and movements will be when the shot happens ‘on the day’.

Blooper: A short clip from a film or video production, usually an unused take, containing a mistake made by a member of the cast or crew. It also refers to an error made during a live radio or TV broadcast or news report, usually in terms of misspoken words or technical errors.

Blow-Up: An optical process in which an image or film frame is enlarged. Often refers to the creation of a 70mm print blown up from a 35mm original print.

Blue Comedy: A comedy film that is off-colour, risqué, indecent or profane, largely about sex. It often contains profanity or sexual imagery that may shock and offend some audience members.

Bluescreen: A special effects process whereby actors work in front of an evenly-lit, monochromatic (usually blue or green) background, screen, or backdrop. The background is then replaced in post-production by chroma-keying or optical printer, allowing other footage or computer-generated images (CGI) to form the background image; since 1992, most films use a green-screen.

Body Double/ Double:stand-in for an actor, often used during stunt or nude scenes.

Body Makeup: Makeup applied below the neck or above the wrists.

Bollywood/ Hindi Cinema: The Indian movie industry, based in Mumbai (Bombay) with motion pictures filmed in the Hindi language. Hindi Cinema was formerly known as Bombay Cinema.

Bomb/ Box Office Bomb: A movie which is a financial disaster.

Bookend: Refers to scenes at the beginning and end of a film that tie the whole film together by complimenting each other or finishing up a loose end created at the beginning of the film.

Boom Microphone: A long pole with a microphone on the end. The boom is extended out near the actors. Ideally, the microphone at the end should be placed in the camera’s safe area, above, below, or to the side’s of the frame.

Boom Operator: A member of the sound crew who operates the boom microphone.

Boom Shot/ Jib Shot/ Crane Shot: A high angle shot filmed on a mechanical arm like a crane or jib, sometimes with the camera moving.

Bootleg/ Pirated Film: An illegally made, copied, or sold version of a film or show sometimes recorded at a private showing, but more often illegally downloaded or copied from a legal copy of a production. A copy of a production is legal if purchased, rented, or otherwise obtained via the copyright owner.

Bottle Episode: In episodic television, a bottle episode is produced cheaply and restricted in scope to use as few regular cast members, effects and sets as possible. Bottle episodes are usually shot on sets built for other episodes, frequently the main interior sets for a series, and consist largely of dialogue and scenes for which no special preparations are needed. They are commonly used when one script has fallen through and another has to be written at short notice, or because of budgetary constraints. Bottle episodes have also been used for dramatic effect, with the limited setting and cast allowing for a slower pace and deeper exploration of character traits and motives.

Bounce/ Bounce Board: Refers to a device or board to reflect light during filming; the board is usually a large white surface made of foam or poster board.

Box Office/ Gross: Refers to the commercial success of a movie in terms of the audience size or earnings they command while the film is in theaters. Box office calculates the total earnings, separating film earning into two categories: domestic gross and worldwide gross. The opening weekend box office gross is the most important time of any film’s theatrical release as it will decide the success of the film and how many more screens a film can be seen.

Bracketing: The technique of shooting several takes of the same shot or scene using different camera settings- most often adjusting the F-stop. Bracketing is useful and often recommended in situations that make it difficult to obtain a satisfactory result with a single setting, especially when a small variation in exposure parameters has a comparatively large effect on the resulting shot.

Breakdown/ Script Breakdown: A detailed list of all items, people, props, equipment, etc required for a shoot on a day-by-day basis. Recording such lists aids in continuity and allows optimization of the time of actors and the crew.

Breakdown: Aging props, wardrobe, sets, set dressing.

Bridging Shot: A shot inserted in a film to indicate the passage of time between two scenes. For example, a series of newspaper headlines or calendar pages being torn off.

British Academy of Film and Television Arts/ BAFTA: An independent trade association and charity that supports, develops, and promotes the arts of film, television and video games in the United Kingdom.

British Film Institute/ BFI: A film and television charitable organisation which promotes and preserves filmmaking and television in the United Kingdom.

British Society of Cinematographers/ BSC: A British cultural, educational, and professional organization that is neither a labor union nor a guild. The society was organized to advance the science and art of cinematography in the United Kingdom.

Buddy Film: A subgenre of the adventure and comedy film genre in which two people are put together and are on an adventure, a quest, or a road trip. The two often contrast widely in personality, which creates a dynamic onscreen pairing.

Building/ Building a Scene/ Building to Climax: Using filmmaking techniques like increased tempo, speed, rhythm, or emphasis to build a crescendo until the scene hits its climax.

Berufsverband Kinematografie/ German Society of Cinematographers/ BVK: A non-profit professional association of German freelance cinematographers and directors of photography and their collaborators, founded in 1980.

Bumper/ Stinger: Refers to short pieces of music or motion graphics usually lasting no longer than fifteen seconds and are used during intros, outros, and transitions. For example, the short pre-film segment showing the studio’s logo before the film starts is a vanity card studio bumper.


Butterfly/Butterflies: A large overhead frame with a sheet of fabric used to shape, control, and diffuse light. This includes flags, nets, and diffusions. In general, butterflies are used only for very large materials (6′ x 6′ or greater), while smaller sizes are usually sewn onto portable frames. Butterflies are often called for by their dimensions, which are standard: 6x 6, 8×8, 12×12, and 20×20.

Buzz: Refers to hype or excitement about a film, television show, director, actor, producer or other film creative.

Buzz Track: Helps to alleviate any unnatural silences in film. It is a soundtrack that contains low background noises. This term is not frequently used. It has largely been replaced by ambient sound or room tone.

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Call Sheet: A daily page sent out by the 2nd Assistant Director that states what scenes are happening that day as well as what time specific departments need to be on set by.

Call Time: The time that each person is expected to start work on a film set, as seen on the call sheet.

Cameo/ Cameo Role/ Cameo Appearance: A small character part in a play or movie, played by a distinguished actor or a celebrity. These roles are generally small, many of them non-speaking ones, and are commonly either appearances in a work in which they hold some special significance (such as actors from an original movie appearing in its remake) or renowned people making uncredited appearances.

Camera: A device for recording images.

Camera Angle: The camera angle marks the specific location at which the movie camera or video camera is placed to take a shot. A scene may be shot from several camera angles simultaneously. This will give a different experience and sometimes emotion.

Camera Blocking: The movement of the camera within the scene.

Camera Crew: A group of people who are involved in the operation of a film camera. A camera crew captures the action.

Camera Movement: Alters the relationship between the subject and the camera frame, shaping the viewer’s perspective of space and time and controlling the delivery of narrative information. The camera height and angle, the distance to a subject, and the composition of a shot may change during camera movement, as the framing travels above, below, around, into, and out of space. Types of camera movement are distinguished by their direction and the equipment used to achieve motion.

Camera Operator: A professional operator of a film camera or video camera as part of a film crew. The DP may operate the camera themselves, or enlist the aid of a camera operator or second cameraperson to operate it or set the controls.

Camera Right/Camera Left: These refer to the direction from the way the camera is facing. This means that if a prop needs to be moved “camera left” and you are facing the camera, you actually need to move the prop to the right.

Camp/ Campy: Absurdly exaggerated, artificial, or affected in a usually humorous way. Camp aesthetics disrupt many of modernism’s notions of what art and film can be and what can be classified as high art by inverting aesthetic attributes such as beauty, value, and taste through an invitation of a different kind of apprehension and consumption. Camp art is related to and often confused with kitsch and things with camp appeal may be described as cheesy. John Waters is a good example of someone known for their campy films.

Can/ In the Can/ Reel: A dated term from when films were only/mostly shot of film stock carried on reels stored in round, metal or plastic film canisters. The colloquial term, In the Can means the scene, shot, or film is completed, recorded, and canned.

Canadian Society of Cinematographers: A non-profit Canadian trade organization with over 500 members whose mission is to promote the artistic creativity and required skills for cinematography.

Candlelight: Lighting that is provided by candlelight, to provide a warm hue or tone, and connote intimacy, romance, and harmony through its soft light.

Capsule Review: A capsule review or mini review is a form of appraisal, often associated with film journalism, that offers a relatively short critique of a specified entertainment production.

Caricature: A character appearing ridiculously out of proportion because of one physical, psychological, or moral trait that has been grossly or broadly exaggerated; a caricature often portrays a character in an unrealistic, stereotypical fashion.

Cartoon: A motion picture or television show using animation techniques to photograph a sequence of drawings rather than real people or objects.

Cash Cow: A film that makes a lot of money over a long period of time for the company that sells it, often money that is used to support the company’s other activities. Often it’s a type of franchise that’s been popular for so long that they seem to be grandfathered into the industry and always turn huge profits including those made from significant merchandising sales. For example, Star Wars, Star Trek, and Indiana Jones would be considered cash cows.

Cast: The group of actors who make up a film or television show, or other entertainment production.

Casting/ Casting Call: In the performing arts industry such as theatre, film, or television, casting, or a casting call, is a pre-production process for selecting a certain type of actor, dancer, singer, or extra for a particular role or part in a script, screenplay, or teleplay.

Casting Couch: The casting couch is a euphemism for the practice of soliciting sexual favors from a job applicant in exchange for employment in the entertainment industry, primarily acting roles. The practice is illegal and is now most closely associated with the illicit activities of Harvey Weinstein who is now serving time in prison for his behaviour.

Casting Director: Most films employ a casting director to find actors to match the roles in the film. The job of a casting director is to know a lot about a lot of actors, so that they can advise and present to the director the best of the available talent. Casting directors are highly influential and are usually on the project because the director trusts their judgement; they are also the ones who decide who the director sees for the role.

Casting Society/ CSA: Founded in 1982 as a professional society of about 1,200 casting directors and associate casting directors for film, television, theatre, and commercials in Canada, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa, and the United States. The nonprofit organization announced the name change from Casting Society of America to Casting Society on February, 2022. Members use the post-nominal letters CSA when credited for their work.

Catchphrase: A phrase or expression recognized by its repeated utterance. Such phrases often originate in popular culture and in the arts which typically spread through word of mouth and a variety of mass media. Some become the trademark or signature of the person or character with whom they originated, and can be instrumental in the typecasting of a particular actor.

Caterer: A person or company who provides the main meals for cast and crew either on set or on location.

Catharsis: During a film’s climax, the audience may experience a purging or cleansing of emotional tension, providing relief or therapeutic restoration.

Cautionary Tale: A literary term referring to a narrative that follows the same structure as tales told in folklore to warn its listener of a danger. There are three essential parts to a cautionary tale, though they can be introduced in a large variety of ways. First, a taboo or prohibition is stated: some act, location, or thing is said to be dangerous. Then, the narrative itself is told: someone disregarded the warning and performed the forbidden act. Finally, the violator comes to an unpleasant fate, which is frequently related in expansive and grisly detail.

Cel/ Cel Animation: A transparent sheet on which objects are drawn or painted for traditional, hand-drawn animation. Actual celluloid (consisting of cellulose nitrate and camphor) was used during the first half of the 20th century, but since it was flammable and dimensionally unstable it was largely replaced by cellulose acetate. With the advent of computer-assisted animation production, the use of cels has been all but abandoned in major productions. Disney studios stopped using cels in 1990 when Computer Animation Production System (CAPS) replaced this element in their animation process, and in the next decade and a half, the other major animation studios phased cels out as well.

Celluloid: A class of materials produced by mixing nitrocellulose and camphor, often with added dyes and other agents. Once much more common for its use as photographic film in filmmaking before the advent of safer methods came to be.

Censorship: The process of determining what can or can not be viewed by the public. Film censorship is carried out by various countries to differing degrees, often by a ratings board, sometimes as a result of powerful or relentless lobbying by organizations or individuals. Films that are banned in a particular country change over time.

Certificates/ Ratings: Various countries or regions have film classification boards for reviewing movies and rating their content in terms of its suitability for particular audiences. For many countries, movies are required to be advertised as having a particular certificate or rating, forewarning audiences of possible objectionable content.

CGI: Computer Generated Imagery or Images; a term referring to the use of 3D computer graphics and technology to create filmed images, special effects and the illusion of motion.

Character: A person or other being in a narrative. The character may be entirely fictional or based on a real-life person, in which case the distinction of a fictional versus real character may be made.

Character Actor: Largely a supporting actor who plays unusual, interesting, or eccentric characters. The term, often contrasted with that of leading actor, is somewhat abstract and open to interpretation. In a literal sense, all actors can be considered character actors since they all play characters, but the term more commonly refers to an actor who frequently plays a distinctive and important supporting role. Character actors are generally well-known and recognizable by the audience, by appearance if not by name.

Character Colour-Coding/ Character Colour Motif: When a creator of a work introduces a large number of characters at once, such as at the beginning of a work, they have to find a way to distinguish them and make them memorable in the audience’s mind. Sometimes by giving each character a specific color motif, the audience can quickly associate one color with a character and tell the characters apart with only a glance.

Character Study: The analysis or portrayal of the traits of a character or an individual in a creative work where the plot and narrative come secondary to the character. Also referred to as a brief narrative or sketch devoted primarily to the underlying study of a character.

Checking The Gate: Taking off the camera lens and examining the film plan for scratches; this happens after every camera set up and is usually done by the 1st AC.

Chemistry/ Screen Chemistry/ On-Screen Chemistry: A way of saying two actors show sparks of apparent attraction, or are perceived to be well paired by the audience. There is a certain extra thrill from watching such pairings on screen. For example, Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga were said to have great chemistry in the 2018 film A Star Is Born.

Chiaroscuro: the combination of the two Italian words for “clear/bright” and “dark”; refers to a notable, contrasting use of light and shade in scenes; often achieved by using a spotlight; this lighting technique had its roots in German Expressionistic cinematography.

Chick Flick: A slang term, sometimes used pejoratively, for the film genre catered specifically to women’s interests, and is marketed toward women demographics. They generally tend to appeal more to a younger female audience and deal mainly with love and romance. Although many types of films may be directed toward a female audience, the term “chick flick” is typically used only in reference to films that contain personal drama and emotion or themes that are relationship-based (although not necessarily romantic, as films may focus on parent-child or friend relationships). This term is often considered derogatory and is now used sparingly.

Child Actor: Generally applied to a child acting on stage or on-screen. An adult who began their acting career as a child may also be called a child actor, or a former child actor.

Chimera/ Softbox: The Chimera Softbox are designed to handle such large-scale lighting jobs as commercials and motion pictures. Their increased depth allows the full-flood beam of a large Fresnel fixture to fill the front diffusion screen of the Lightbank and deliver a beautiful, translucent quality of light.

Choreographer: A choreographer conceives, creates, and directs dance and movement in a wide range of performance contexts, including dance, theater, film, television, opera, and live events. The choreographic process may employ improvisation for the purpose of developing innovative movement ideas.

Choreography: The art or practice of designing sequences of movements of physical bodies (or their depictions) in which motion or form or both are specified. Aspects of dance choreography include the compositional use of organic unity, rhythmic or non-rhythmic articulation, theme and variation, and repetition. In general, choreography is used to design dances that are intended to be performed.

Chroma Key: A visual effects and post-production technique for compositing (layering) two images or video streams together based on colour hues (chroma range). The technique has been used in many fields to remove a background from the subject of a photo or video- particularly the newscasting, motion picture, and video game industries. A colour range in the foreground footage is made transparent, allowing separately filmed background footage or a static image to be inserted into the scene.

Chyron: A text-based graphic that overlays video content, such as television shows and movies. Chyron is the general name for any graphic that is superimposed over a video or live broadcast. While a chyron is usually placed at the bottom of a frame, it can appear anywhere within the frame.

Cineaste: Refers to a film/movie enthusiast or devotee.

Cinema: A place where screenings occur. Also refers to film itself as an art form.

Cinema Audio Society: The Cinema Audio Society was formed in 1964 for the purpose of fostering community among mixers, educating and informing the general public and the motion picture and television industry about good and effective sound usage, and to achieve deserved recognition for sound mixers as major contributors to the field of entertainment.

Cinema Verité: A method or style of documentary and narrative filmmaking with long takes, no narration and little or no directorial or editing control exerted over the finished product; used to loosely refer to a documentary-style film or minimalist cinema; popularized in the 1950s French New Wave movement; now widely used (often inappropriately) to refer to the popular, artsy trend of using hand-held camera techniques.

Cinematographer/ Director of Photography/ DOP:  The person responsible for the photographing or recording of a film, television production, music video or other live action piece. The cinematographer is the head of the camera and lighting crew and would normally be responsible for making artistic and technical decisions related to the image and for selecting the camera, film stock, lenses, filters. The study and practice of this field is referred to as cinematography.

Cinematography: The art of motion picture and television photography.





Clapboard/ Clapperboard:


Clean Audio:

Clean Dialogue:



Clip/ Film Clip:

Close Captioned:



Cold Open:

Colour Consultant:

Colour Film/ Colour Stock:

Colour Temperature:

Colour Timing:

Colourisation/ Colorization:

Colourist/ Colorist:


Comedy Film:

Comic Relief:

Coming-of-Age Film:

Command Performance:

Completion Bond:


Composite Print/ Synchronized Print:


Composition: Refers to the arrangement of different elements (i.e., colors, shapes, figures, lines, movement, and lighting) within a frame and in a scene.


Computer Animation Production System/ CAPS: A proprietary collection of software, scanning camera systems, servers, networked computer workstations, and custom desks developed by Disney and Pixar in the late 1980s. Although outmoded by the mid-2000s, it succeeded in reducing labor costs for ink and paint and post-production processes of traditionally animated feature films. It also provided an entirely new palette of digital tools to the filmmakers. Today, most animations are made with computer-generated imagery (CGI).

Concert Film:


Construction Coordinator:

Contemporary Film:

Continuity: Making sure that locations, extras, props, and the actions of actors are similar enough from one take to another so that they will cut without issue in the editing room.

Continuity Report:

Contrast: Refers to the difference between light and shadow, or between maximum and minimum amounts of light, in a particular film image; can be either high contrast(with a sharp delineation between the bright and dark areas) or its opposite low contrast.


Coogan’s Law:




Costume Designer:

Costume Supervisor:



Coverage: The process of making sure that every scene has a variety of shots to make sure that the editor has enough film to be able to cut the scene together.

Cowboy Shot:

Craft Services: Provides food and drinks to the crew on set, not to be confused with catering, which refers to the hot meals given to the crew.

Crane Shot: A camera shot taken from a large camera dolly or electronic device (an apparatus, such as a crane), resembling an extendable mechanical arm (or boom), that can raise the camera up in the air above the ground 20 feet or more; the crane allows the camera to fluidly move in virtually any direction (with vertical and horizontal movement), providing shifts in levels and angles; crane shots usually provide some kind of overhead view of a scene.

Crawl: Refers to superimposed screen titles or text intended to move across, up, down, or diagonally on the screen.

Creative Consultant:

Creator/ Series Creator:


Crew/ Crewmembers:





Crowd Shot:




Cue Card:


Cutaway Shot:


Cyclorama/ Cyc: The curved, seamless, floor-to-ceiling backdrop or background used in studio sets.

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Dailies: The immediately processed, rough cuts, digital files or exposed film, without edits for the director, producer, or key crew to review, to see how the film came out after the day’s (or previous day’s) shooting; more commonly in the form of digital dailies; aka rushes used to determine whether there is a need to re-shoot.

Day-for-night: A technique for using shots filmed during the day to appear as moonlit night shots on the screen, by using different lenses, filters, special lighting and underexposure.

Dolly: A piece of equipment on wheels or a track that creates fluid camera movements. A dolly could be anything  as low-tech as a wheelchair or as high-tech as a studio dolly using hydraulics. Usually the camera operator and assistant ride on the dolly; the crew member who operates it is called a dolly grip.

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Green-screen: A special effects process whereby actors work in front of an evenly-lit, monochromatic (usually blue or green) background, screen, or backdrop. The background is then replaced in post-production by chroma-keying or optical printer, allowing other footage or computer-generated images (CGI) to form the background image.

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Hot Set: A location or studio that is in use for filming – even if the camera isn’t rolling. You shouldn’t lounge around or touch anything on a hot set because it may disrupt continuity.

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MacGuffin: Coined by Alfred Hitchcock to describe an item, goal, or piece of knowledge that seems very important to the characters in the film but is actually inconsequential.

Martini Shot: The last shot of the last scene of the day.

Mise en scène: “Putting in the scene” in French; refers to the composition and arrangement of visual elements within the frame of film, including costume, set décor, lighting, and character positioning.

MOS: A universal abbreviation for “Mit Out Sound”, which means there will be no audio on a take.

Motif: Refers to a recurrent thematic element in a film that is repeated in a significant way or pattern; examples of motifs – a symbol, stylistic device, image, object, word, spoken phrase, line, or sentence within a film that points to a theme.

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Picture Vehicle: Any vehicle that is on screen in a movie.

Principal Photography: The main shooting dates of a film with the lead actors present.

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Rate: A fixed price paid or charged for your goods or services.

Recce: A slang word for reconnaissance meaning an inspection or exploration of an area to gather information. (Mostly used in the European film/tv industry)

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Second unit: A smaller or “skeleton” crew of filmmakers who film any shots without the main actors; this can include aerial shots, scenery, or crowd shots.

Sides: A small script that only contains the pages that will be filmed that specific day.

Squib: A small device that replicates a bullet wound, usually by squishing a capsule of fake blood.

Steadicam: A mount that is worn by the camera operator that allows for the camera movement to be separate from the operator’s movement, meaning a smooth shot can be created even while the operator is running and the camera movement is not held to the limitations of a dolly or tripod. It is important to know when a Steadicam is being used on set because most of the time, that means that most of the set will be shown.

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