If you’re going to be part of the movie industry, you’ve got to know its lingo. Here are a few terms that will help you on your way!
Animatronics: The area of special effects in which realistic puppets are created to make creatures of all kinds come to life through the use of remote controlled motors, pneumatics or other motion control devices.
Best Boy: The best boy is second in command to the chief of a department, such as lighting or special effects. The term originated in England and originally referred to the crew head’s son, who would learn his father’s trade.
Green Screen: The green screen is a key component of special effects. Actors film scenes in front of a green screen in a studio and an appropriate background can be dropped in later. The resulting shot is seamless and can make it appear that the actor is high in the mountains, in a moving car or standing next to a dinosaur.
Slate: A small black and white board containing information about the production such as its title, scene and take number, the production company making the film, and the director and cameraman’s names. A stick at the top of the board is clapped against the bottom part in order to create a reference mark for the sound and film editors who will synchronize the footage in post-production.
Composite: A single image that results from layering two or more images together, such as in the creation of special effects.
Continuity: The painstaking effort to make sure that a film flows smoothly after final editing, that actors, sets, costumes and props look exactly the same from shot to shot within a scene, and that the script is followed so the story is properly told.
Craft Service: Craft service is the area on a movie set where cast and crew can find food, drink and first aid for the duration of that day’s shoot.
Dailies: Dailies refer to unedited footage from a day’s film shoot. The footage is shown to key people, including the director, producer and lead actors, who help determine if it is suitable for use. Dailies can also be called “rushes.”
Dolly: A platform with wheels that contains a mount for a camera so that the camera and its operator can move smoothly when shooting the action within a scene.
Extra: A person who appears in a production in a non-speaking role, maybe in a crowd scene or in the background of a shot.
Foley Artist: This technician works in a recording studio to create background sound effects (footsteps, breaking glass, creaking doors, etc.) that are added to a film. The position is named for movie soundman Jack Foley.
Gaffer: A gaffer is the manager of electrical and lighting needs on a film shoot. The term is derived from “gaff”a long stick used to light the candles that illuminated the stage in early British theatrical productions.
Grip: Grips provide muscle on a film set. They set up and break down sets, dolly tracks, lighting stands and other pieces of equipment.
Honeywagon: A honeywagon is a portable trailer, which houses bathrooms, dressing rooms and office equipment used by assistant directors on set.
Looping: The often costly and technically challenging act of re-recording an actor’s lines in a recording studio so that they perfectly match the images shown on screen.
Method Acting: A performance technique that requires an actor to totally immerse himself in a role by adopting the same mental and physical state as the character he’s portraying. The method was developed by renowned Russian director and acting teacher Constantin Stanislavsky.
Pre-Production: The details that have to be handled well in advance of filming, such as casting, hiring of production staff, establishment of a shooting schedule, location scouting and securing, financing and script revisions, which sometimes take years to accomplish.
Post-Production: After completion of filming, the process of putting the film into its final form, including audio and visual editing, packaging, marketing and distribution.
Set dresser: A crew member who enhances the set with props, rugs, artwork and other forms of décor and works to ensure the continuity of each set from scene to scene.
Wrangler: A person who is responsible for managing extras, animals or livestock prior to or during a shoot.