Lilly Heidari & Susan Swavely
We pulled together terms we’ve learned while working on different film sets, including the main teams involved in production and more specific, more fun, slang. Language is important, fun, and builds community on set. Enjoy this quick guide to some of our favorite words!
Susan Swavely’s favorite words on set:
Block Shooting - shooting two or more scenes as if they were one scene.
I learned about this one while shooting in the middle of the woods. They said we were “block shooting” and I almost didn’t have the right cast where they needed to go because I didn’t know we’d need both back to back.
Martini Shot - the last shot of the night.
This is because afterward, everyone can go get martinis. My favorite post-shooting drink was always something in a cute can with all of my crew friends at the local spot. I’d have gotten a martini, though, if they had one.
Abby Singer - the second to last shot.
A very famous director who would always say it was the last shot… and then it wouldn’t be… got this slang term named after him. I like it. It’s sort of like saying “prepare to prepare.” One of my friends sent me a picture of a director I didn’t know--Abby Singer--and had to explain it to me when we were on the second to last shot.
Sides - the lines for the scenes you’re shooting today.
This is most helpful to the actors, who have to say the lines. But on one set, I made a call sheet and sides packet for everyone every day and wrote their names on each of them. I always added a smiley face.
2nd 2nd AD - the assistant to the 2nd AD
The reason this one is on the list is because it has a funny story with it. I heard that the 2nd 2nd AD is called the 3rd AD in some other countries--like England. But with a British accent, Third sounds a lot like Turd. And no one wants to be the Turd. I’m not positive if this is true or not, but I liked the story.
86 - to nix something or not do it.
86 that, a nice way of saying never mind. Or to get rid of it. I made a joke one time about 86ing scene 86. Crickets.
Crafty - the snack table on set, also, the person running the craft services table.
I worked crafty for part of my time on one set and learned that the craft table is so so important
Lunch - the meal six hours into the day.
It doesn’t matter what time it is. I have had lunch at noon and lunch at 1am. It doesn’t change what we call it.
Sound Speeds - sound is recording
I asked a friend of mine who does sound mixing why they say sound speeds--not just recording. He didn’t know, so I googled it. In old film cameras, they would have to have a second to get up to speed to keep up with the sound. A good lesson in filmmaking and life--the answers are out there.
Hot Brick - a charged battery
The PAs clip them to their belts and make sure they always had one when I needed it. I loved going over my dying walkie and asking for a hot brick. It felt like true code.
Flying In - coming in
Maybe just because this is a magical world, film, and maybe there’s a real reason. Maybe it’s because everyone moves so fast on a film set, that when Hair and Makeup is flying in they are quite literally flying. Some of the actors I worked with had wings as part of their costumes, so when I brought them to set, I’d say “cast flying in with wings.” I think everyone made the joke at least once.
Lilly’s favorite words on set:
Production office - film central
This is where the Production Manager & their assistants work during the shoot. The production office is central to the film, and other departments report to the PM if they have any needs or concerns. This is also often where regular production meetings happen. Sometimes the eye of the hurricane, always a wonderful coworking space to share tasks with teammates.
Pre-pro - Pre-production
A period of time, usually a couple weeks, before production on the film starts that allows department heads and those who work in the production office to gear up for shooting. This is a time for the PM & OPAs to coordinate logistics about transportation, housing, food, SAG paperwork, & locations. Also a time to get hyped up for the adventure that’s about to start!
Lavs - actor microphones
I ~lav~ attaching mics to actors on set!
Video village - set-up with a screen showing what’s on camera during shooting.
The director team & assistant camera monitor video village while the camera’s recording to see what the film will look like. Video village is so helpful for checking lighting, camera angles, and overall cinematography.
Script soup - Script Supervisor
This person knows the script inside & out, and they monitor continuity throughout shooting. I’m working as script soup on the next project, and I am so excited.
C-stand - a stand used in lighting modifiers and setups.
On the first set I worked on, I didn’t know what a C-stand was, and my new friends in the G&E department were so wonderful and taught me about a lot of their equipment!
Radio - a cooler name for walkie-talkie.
Slate - that clickity-clackity black and white thing that starts every scene. In post-production, editors use the slate clack to sync up audio & video.
Rolling - The camera’s recording! So please stop talking or making any noise on set. Boom mics pick up eeeeeeeverything.
Apple box - a small wooden box with infinite uses. Used to prop up set pieces & cameras, balance dolly tracks, & provide seats for workers on set.
That’s a Wrap - What you say when shooting for the project is completely over.
Learn more filmset—and walkie—words here!
And that’s a wrap on our favorite terms on set. Don't forget to review the other main terms on set:
Production Manager, Assistant Production Managers, Production Coordinators, Office PAs (all in production office), On-Set PAs (on set), & Producers (sometimes in PO, sometimes on set, sometimes remote)
Director & Director Team
Director (obviously), Assistant Director (manages shooting schedule & time on set), 2nd AD (assistant to AD), & Script Supervisor
Director of Photography (DP - cinematographer), Camera Operator, & Assistant Camera (AC)
Sound Mixer & Boom Operator
G&E (Grip & Electric)
Grips (people who transport & set up all the shooting equipment) & Gaffer (master electrician on set)
Production Designer & Art PAs
Hair & Makeup
Digital Imaging Technicians &, sometimes, editors during the shoot