Terms from inside the industry.
Working in the movie industry brings its own language. At Fueled Creative we run around like a family, but we also work really hard. Part of being in this family and working in the movie industry involves knowing the terminologies. Like most companies Fueled has their own inside terms and custom nomenclature. Here is a little look behind the curtain at our common language.
Corporate Cool: Raising the bar on the perception of mono tone dull corporate video by adding in depth sight, professional sound, visual effects, and emotion
Fueled Creative: You provide the spark, we provide the fuel to move your ideas and business position forward
Documentary for Nonprofits: Usually a narrative story telling style that allows viewers to become deeply familiar with an organizations commitment and goals.
VFX- Or Visual Effects:The process by which imagery is created outside the context of a live action shot in film making
Aerial shot: Not to be confused with air to air photography; an aerial shot is photographs from a above vantage point taking by a flying object or aircraft.
Short Film: A short film or (short) is any motion picture not long enough to be considered a feature film. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences defines a short film as an original motion picture with a running time 40 minutes or less including credits.
Music video: Typically a commercial video featuring a performance of song dramatized and stylized by the performer.
Above the Line Costs: Budgets that cover the major creative participants behind a project like, Writes, director, producer, and actors.
Adaptations: Derivative works, when a motion picture is based on a book, the movie is based on a book.
Aspect Ratio: (A.R) The proportion of picture width to height.
Back End-Profit: Participation in a film after distribution or production costs have been recouped.
Below the Line Costs: The technical expenses and labor such as crew, camera equipment, and set construction.
Box Office Receipts: What the theater owner takes in from ticket sales to customers at the box office. A portion of the revenue is remitted to the studio, or distributor, in the form of rental payments.
Color Correction: Changing tonal values of colored objects or images by use of light filters.
Contrast: The density range of a negative or print and the brightness range of lighting a scene.
Cross over film: A film that is initially targeted to a narrow specialty market but achieves acceptance in a wider market.
Deal Memo: A letter or short contract
Depth of Field: The distance range between the nearest and farthest objects that appear in sharp focus.
Dubbing: The addition of sound either music or dialog, to a visual presentation through a recording process to create a soundtrack that can be transferred to a synchronized visual representation.
Final Cut: The last stage of the editing process. The right to final cut is the right to determine the final version.
Gross Box Office: Total revenue taken in at a theater box office.
Indemnify: Reimburse, to restore someone’s loss by payment, repair, or replacement.
Master: The final edit and completed film from which copies are made.
Off Hollywood: American independent films made outside the studio system.
Regional release: As opposed to a simultaneous national release, a pattern of distribution whereby a film is opened to one or more regions at a time.
Release Print: A composite print made from general distribution and exhibition after final print has been approved.
Remake: A new production of a previously produced film.
Rough Cut: A preliminary assemblage of footage.
Shooting Script: A later version of the screen play in which each separate shot is numbered and camera directions as indicated.
Sleeper: An unexpected hit. A film that audiences fall in love with and make a success
Treatment: A prose account of the story line of a film. Usually between 20 to 50 pages this comes after an outline and before a first draft screenplay.
PRINCIPALS: Sometimes on a film you will have little contact with the principal actors and sometimes you may have a bit more contact. In any case, it's good to be prepared once you do start working with actors on a day-to-day basis. When the actors for a film are cast, they sign a contract that has certain negotiated perks (size and kind of trailer, specific makeup person and/or hairdresser, certain working hours, etc.) Usually the 2nd 2nd AD runs base camp. If you are helping to run base camp you will become very aware of their perks and their personalities. Actors usually are highly sensitive individuals. Each show is different. Sometimes you will have the good fortune to work with actors who not only are talented but are nice people as well. Sometimes you will work with those who are completely absorbed in themselves. It is a lonely, fishbowl world with people pressing their noses up against the glass. Give them their space. If they need you, they'll let you know.
DAY PLAYERS: Day players may be big stars (cameos) or not such big stars, (up-and-comer). If you are assisting the 2nd 2nd AD in base camp, the day players can sneak up on you on the call sheet if you are not paying attention. If you practice that good habit of reading the call sheet and scenes every day before work, you will have no problem. Sometimes there will not be a room for them in base camp and every-one has to scramble in the morning to find room in the trailers. Day players will usually sign their SAG contract on the day that they work. The production office will usually send the contracts out to the AD department on the set. If you are on a nonunion show and are running base camp you will need to make sure the office sends out the paper work on the day for your day players. They may only work one day on the entire film so make sure their paper work is handled on that day. This goes for stunties (stunt day players) too. The actress should fill out her paperwork which should be included in the nightly pouch to the office.
STAR TREATMENT: Certain stars are accustomed to being treated a certain way. Some stars surround themselves with their entourage; others will be totally obscure and the only time you will see them is when they come to the set. When dealing with stars, I think it is best to treat them as you would treat everyone else, because they are like every-one else. Pay attention to their needs. Keep them warm, fed, dry and away from pesky people. Keep a set of sides handy in case they forget theirs. Keep water nearby and remember their favorite snacks. Do not sit in their chair—or anyone's chair—ever.
During emotional or violent scenes, keep your distance. Actors have to get all worked up for heavy duty scenes and you do not want to break their concentration.
AGENTS: When agents visit, they come to see their clients (the actors and actresses) and see that they are being treated well. Point them in the direction of their client, the phone and fax machine, and they will be fine.
THE STUDIO: Every so often the executives from the studio ("the suits") will make an appearance on the set. You will be able to spot them a mile away. They are usually in business suits standing amazed at how dirty and busy we all look. Treat them the same way you do the actors. Find them a chair to sit in and make sure they know where the phone and fax machines are.
These are the folks that green-light and red-light pictures every day. They write checks for millions and millions of dollars. They are the investors and they like to come out to the field to see how their investment is doing. People on the crew may get a little uptight when they are around because everyone likes to look good and strut their stuff. Do not get in the way. Smile, listen and learn.
EXTRAS: If you are working in LA, people can do extra work full time and make a living at it. Most of them are regulars and you will get to know them. They are used to the routine and know how a set runs. Out of town, it will more than likely be a first time experience and one they will never forget. If you give them information about how the set works and how long they may have to wait, you will have a good bunch. Have fun. If you make it fun for them and keep them included in what is going on, hopefully they will enjoy themselves. Making movies should be fun for everyone involved.
DIRECTOR: Responsible for translating the written word into the visual medium. The director's vision of the film guides what the final product will be in terms of look, feel and sound. Many times, the screenwriter and the director are the same.
SCREENWRITER: Responsible for the telling the story. Sometimes present on the set for revisions and story integrity. Without the screenwriter, there would be no screenplay and, therefore, no movie.
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: They are attached to the project either because they own the rights or they found the story, or they have been hired by the studio to oversee the project. Sometimes it's part of another crew member's deal to get a producing credit.
PRODUCER: Develops the project and screenplay into a workable shooting script. Instrumental in bringing the optimum cast and crew together.
LINE PRODUCER: The line producer is responsible for bringing the project in on time and on budget. They make most of the spending and logistical decisions on the set. Ideally, they help the director get what he or she wants. It is not their job to be liked. Their job is to oversee how the money is spent. On films with smaller budgets the line producer and UPM will be the same person.
UNIT PRODUCTION MANAGER: The unit production manager (UPM) signs most of the checks and money requests. Has an intimate knowledge of every single line of the budget. The UPM hires and fires crew members; and approves schedules, call sheets and production reports.
1ST ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: First ADs are in charge of running the set. They are responsible for keeping a certain pace during shooting. They communicate to the crew what is happening and what will happen. They also conduct safety meetings. With input from the producers, the UPM and the director, the 1st AD creates the shooting schedule. They are responsible for making any schedule changes and for keeping the show on schedule. They oversee and direct the background artists.
2ND ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: The second assistant director makes sure that everyone has a call time and knows when and where to be at work. He sets the background; prepares the call sheet; disseminates information from 1st AD to AD team and the rest of the crew. In general, 2nd ADs have to be great communicators.
SET PA: Says "YES." Run around handing requests from their respective departments
PRODUCTION OFFICE COORDINATOR (POC): The production office coordinator (POC) is a direct link to the UPM and usually works as the UPM's right hand. The POC runs the production office. They are one of the first crew members to be hired, and one of the last to finish. A great resource, they filter all the paperwork that one production generates. They can answer most of your questions and are an integral part of any production. They handle phones, pagers, rooms, travel arrangements, crew lists, deliveries, film shipments, copiers, time cards, out times, Fed Ex, call sheets, wrap reports, dailies and wrap beer. They can be a fabulous support system.
ASSISTANT PRODUCTION OFFICE COORDINATOR (APOC): The assistant POC is the POC's right hand person. Often they have responsibility over a certain area, such as handling all travel arrangements.
PRODUCTION SECRETARY: Usually in charge of distribution of printed matter, the production secretary has great phone etiquette and great copying skills.
OFFICE PA: Assists the production office staff with whatever needs doing. This is also a great entry level position as well as a great place to learn about the different departments.
ACCOUNTING: The money folks. The number crunchers. Do your time card and remind the crew to do theirs. Turn your petty cash in on time and this gang will love you.
SCRIPT SUPERVISOR: This very meticulous and detail-conscious person keeps track of all things that happen during each shot. The script supervisor also tallies all coverage that is done for each scene. She maintains a log of what scenes are still owed; times the length of each shot; and makes sure the continuity is maintained from scene to scene. She also notes if the actors change any dialogue during the scene.
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY (DP): Also called the cinematographer, the DP is responsible for the overall look of the film. He coordinates with the director and the camera crew. He gives them the f-stop and light readings. He also choreographs the shot with the director. He works closely with the head electrician (gaffer) to get the best lighting arrangement for the scene.
CAMERA OPERATOR: The operator is the crew member who puts his eye to the viewfinder and shoots. His view through the lens of the scene helps with the choreography of the shot.
FIRST ASSISTANT CAMERA: His job is to make sure the camera is in focus during the shot.
SECOND ASSISTANT CAMERA: He begins (or ends) each scene by clapping the slate (AKA sticks) on which is written information about the production, the director, the producer, the scene number and the take. Helps make focus marks. Helps measure the distance between the subject and the camera.
STILL PHOTOGRAPHER: Captures the action of the film, the actors and crew with a still camera. [Note: On union films no one is permitted to photograph the action except the still photographer].
GAFFER (CHIEF LIGHTING TECHNICIAN): The head electrician (AKA the gaffer) who coordinates with the DP to create the shadows and light for the film. He is the head of the electric department and oversees the crew of electricians.
KEY GRIP: It is the key grip's responsibility to work with the gaffer and the DP to rig, support, flag and otherwise facilitate the shot. Grips are usually the strongest men and women on the set.
BEST BOY: Although this job often goes to a woman and is officially known as "assistant chief lighting technician" or "assistant key grip," the common name for the job is "best boy." He or she is second in command to the gaffer or the key grip.
DOLLY GRIP: A member of the camera department, dolly grips are in charge of moving the dolly on which the camera sits for a certain kind of tracking shot.
ELECTRICIAN: Under the direction of the chief lighting technician (the gaffer) these crew members provide the lights, set them up (rig) and dismantle (strike) them.
GRIP: These strong crew members rig, lift, haul, lug, and many other things involved in setting up for a shot.
SOUND MIXER: This person is responsible for the capturing production sound of the movie. Sometimes they park themselves as far as their cords will reach so as to be away from the hustle and bustle of setting up the shot. Often they attach small microphones with battery packs to actors in order to capture sound that might otherwise be impossible to record. The sound mixer often uses a device that enables the sound mixer and other crew members to hear what the actors are saying.
BOOM OPERATOR: This is the person who holds the microphone on a long pole called the boom. They hold the boom as close to the actors as possible, without letting the microphone drop into the shot. They have strong arms!
VIDEO ASSIST: This person provides video playback at video village for the director and DR This way they can see what they are about to shoot or what they have just shot. The video cables attach directly into the camera.
PRODUCTION DESIGNER: The head of the art department who is responsible for coordinating the overall look of the film according to the director's vision. He works closely with the director when choosing locations and deciding upon set design.
ART DIRECTOR: The second in command of the art department (and often the head of the art department on smaller budget pictures), the art director does most of the hands-on designing of the sets. The art director works hand-in-hand with the production designer and the director.
SET DECORATOR: The member of the art department who acquires all the materials needed for the set (couches, dishes, paintings, photographs, clothes in the closet, coasters, candlesticks, and so forth).
SET DRESSER: Responsible to the set decorator, the on-set dresser takes care of the items that were acquired for the set. If the items need to be polished or aged, it is the set dresser's responsibility.
ART DEPARTMENT: The art department is composed of the production de-signer, the art director, the set decorator, the set dresser, the drafters, the artists, and others. For production assistants wanting to work in a physically creative area, being a set PA in the art department is a good place to start.
KEY HAIRSTYLIST: These crew members are in charge of giving actors a particular "look" for the film, and for maintaining that look throughout each shooting day.
KEY MAKEUP ARTIST: This crew member works to give the performers their special makeup "look" for the film, and for maintaining it each shooting day.
COSTUME DESIGNER: The costume designer works with the director as well as the production designer to create a style of dress for each character. Many times this means having each piece of clothing designed and fabricated. Other times, it means coordinating buying the appropriate clothes.
WARDROBE SUPERVISOR: The wardrobe supervisor oversees the clothing. They also are instrumental in purchasing the necessary clothes for the actors. If you are cold, they can loan you a jacket and if you rip your jeans running after some dog that is about to walk into the shot, they always have safety pins.
SET COSTUMER: Handles the actors' clothing while on the set. Checks them immediately before the camera rolls.
SPECIAL FX: These specialized crew members build and control any special effect (smoke, steam, fire, snow, ice, explosions, breakaway glass, rain, wind, fake walls, bombs, sparks and so forth). Often times they are part of a team or group from a separate company that has been hired to do all the special effects (mechanical or physical).
VISUAL FX: The magic of movie making happens quite often here. Need a canyon, skyscraper, volcano, star ship fleet, large audience or just your basic run-of-the-mill ICBM explosion? Okay! Bring in the visual FX team. They start with little or nothing in terms of images and, with computer graphics, virtually create something out of thin air—or thin micro-chips, anyway. Visual FX also covers blue screen, green screen, motion control, rear screen projection, miniatures, composites, computer graphics and plate shots. The future is here. They make it far more interesting!
EDITOR: Editors can and have played a very big role in the final version of a picture. It is a fascinating career and there are some very good books written regarding editing, should you decide to pursue this avenue. The editor harmoniously pieces together the story by taking all the raw footage and assembling it either on film or digitally.
ASSISTANT EDITOR: This member of the editing team logs and tracks all the raw footage and helps the editor assemble the film.
LOCATION MANAGER: This is one of the very first people hired on a project as prep begins. After reading the script and reviewing the budget, the location manager or location scout looks for the most ideal location to shoot each scene. Once the di-rector has chosen his locations, the Locations Department makes the maps and signs that lead to the location. They are the liaisons between the community and the film company, and are amazing diplomats.
STUNT COORDINATOR: Usually a member of the Screen Actors Guild, the stunt coordinator is in charge of designing, choreographing and running all stunt sequences. All the stunt performers on a show will report to the stunt coordinator. It is not unusual in a big action picture for the stunt coordinator also to be the second unit director.
STUNT PEOPLE: The people with enough fear to understand how dangerous what they are doing is.
CATERER: Where would we be without these people? Boy, is it nice to have a good hot meal after a grueling day of work.
CRAFT SERVICE: This is where the crew finds itself snacking between meals. Find out what your ADs favorite snacks are and make sure that the craft service person keeps them stocked. Nothing worse than a hungry AD . . . except a hungry and wet AD with a dead battery.
MEDIC: The medic, or first aid person, takes care of all your bumps. scrapes, headaches, red eyes, sniffles, sneezes, coughs and other ailments. They are also proficient in CPR.
EXTRAS COORDINATOR: This person, or firm, is responsible for hiring and tracking all the extras needed for the film. These folks have a great eye for "real people."
TECHNICAL ADVISER: These specialists provide detailed and accurate information on specific careers that may be explored in the film. Military advisers, butterfly specialists, volcanologists, ballerinas, astronauts, marine biologists, inmates, heart surgeons and pianists are all examples of technical advisers.
PUBLICIST: Often left out on smaller pictures due to budgetary limitations, a good publicist can be extremely instrumental in getting good press for a picture. They work with the local and international press and know them well. A good publicist functions as a liaison between the local community and the production. They schedule press conferences and visits to the set by members of the press. They provide the studio with updates from location as well as prepare all the press materials needed for the show.
ELECTRONIC PRESS KIT (EPK) CREW: The Electronic Press Kit people shoot video of the behind-the-scenes work and interview the key players. This foot-age is then used in all the news clips right before the movie opens.
POLICE OFFICERS AND FIRE FIGHTERS: You will usually find police and fire officials present at every set in a busy area or during fire or traffic sequences. They will help make your life easier, particularly when you are having to stop traffic or clear an area away due to a big special effects sequence.
DIRECTOR'S AND PRODUCER'S ASSISTANTS: These assistants make the lives of the director and the producer(s) a little easier. Although it sometimes seems as if they are keeping you away from their bosses, they are in effect taking care of all the small details that would prevent their bosses from the job at hand—making the movie! Anything that needs to go to the producer or di-rector should go through their assistants and not directly to them.
SAFETY CONSULTANT: This crew member oversees all safety procedures on the set, inspects sets and locations for safety hazards.
AERIAL COORDINATOR: Coordinates any flying activity to be used during filming.
MARINE COORDINATOR: Similar to the air coordinator, the marine coordinator is in charge of all work done on the water as well as water-going vessels.
The crew members listed above are primarily part of the active production. Development and post-production personnel go beyond the scope of this book.
WHAT IS BACKGROUND? Background or Extras (or Atmosphere) are people whose presence on screen makes the film appear more like real life. For example, when you stand on a street corner, people usually cross in front of you and behind you on their way to wherever they are going. Background serves this same purpose. Extras fill in the shot and create movement and life in a scene and can add some nice moments to a lifeless frame. There are times when background is inappropriate (i.e., love scenes, intense dialogue scenes, monologues).
WHERE DO EXTRAS COME FROM? Extras come from all walks of life. An extras casting company is usually hired to cast the appropriate extras for the film. Each film has a different look and different needs so the casting company will hire the right people for the film. The production company pays the extras casting company who, in turn, then pays the extras. If there are more than a few extras working, a representative from the extras casting company will help with the additional work.
WHO ARE EXTRAS? People often take work as an extra to get started in acting or because they enjoy working in and around the film-making process. Some have been doing it for years and others only a few days. It can be a tough road as an extra. The pay is low, the hours are long and there is a lot of sitting around waiting to be called in to do a scene. Extras are hired by an extras casting company that deals specifically with providing background artists. Some people take extra work as their primary source of income like the extras in LA. However, outside LA, many extras are retirees and business people. They take the job because a film has come to their town and they want to participate. Be conscious of this. Respect their interest in the business either way. It is fulfilling to get to know your extras. It is also helpful to learn their names so that when the ADs call for them, you know almost all them and can help the ADs when they have to start shuffling them around. When a movie is in pre-production, the director and the 1st AD discuss the background needs for each scene. Each film has different background needs. Some films by the nature of the script will have little or no background. Some films have a few thousand extras. If there are a lot of extras in a movie, more PA jobs are available—good! Some directors like to have a lot of extras and others prefer only a few. The 1st AD and the extras casting company discuss and decide upon the number and kind of extras that the casting company will need to provide. The casting company then begins work immediately securing the needed extras.