Film & TV Terms


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.

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”.

Blocking: The movements of an actor within a scene. Camera blocking is the movement of the camera within the scene.

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.

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.

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.

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.
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Picture Car: Any vehicle that is on screen in a movie.
Principal Photography: The main shooting dates of a film with the lead actors present.

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)

Script supervisor: The main job of the script supervisor is to oversee the continuity of the film. For each take they note the duration, the action of the actors, camera information like the type of lens that was used, and director’s comments. They also make sure that the 2nd AC and the location sound recordist’s slates match.

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