Glossary of Terms

The cue that is shouted when the camera starts rolling


Designs and constructs sets for the production designer. This person needs to odye well-versed in a variety of art and design styles, including architecture and interior design. He or she works with the cinematographer to achieve the right look for the production.

Responsible for the care and maintenance of the camera and all of its associated pieces and parts. The first AC works closely with the camera operator and the director of photography at the cameras, while the second AC loads the film and runs the slate. A director of photography will often have a favorite AC with whom he or she prefers to work.

An assistant to the director, the first AD runs the set, plans the cost-efficient scheduling of locations and talent, schedules the days’ shooting and is responsible for carrying out the director’s instructions. The First AD plans a shooting schedule by breaking the script into sections that can be filmed in a single day and in the most efficient order. During filming the AD manages the set, helps line up shots for the director, calls for quiet on the set and coordinates the extras. The assistant director is often a member of the Directors’ Guild of America.

The second assistant director (second AD) is a liaison between the production manager and the first assistant director. Usually works with the cast and crew and handles paperwork, including call sheets (who needs to be on the set and when), actors’ time sheets, production reports and is usually the person in charge of production assistants. This person also helps the First AD place extras and control crowds.

The top assistant to the producer, usually the intermediary between the Producer and the shooting crew.

Background is the term for the non-speaking extras seen in the background of a scene.

There are actually two separate best boy positions — the best boy/grip and the best boy/electric — who are second in command to the key grip and to the gaffer. The best boy/grip is in charge of the rest of the grips and grip equipment. The best boy/electric is in charge of the rest of the electricians and the electrical equipment.

The physical movements used by actors in a scene




Union rules state that the body make-up artist apply any make-up below the actor’s breastbone, or above the elbow.

A firm commitment to a performer to do a specific job

The boom operator is a sound crew member who handles the microphone boom, a long pole that holds the microphone near the action but out of frame, allowing the microphone to follow the actors as they move.

A detailed listing and description of roles available for casting in a production.

Responsible for buying or renting props, furniture, costumes and other items on behalf of the Art Department.

An offer of full payment in lieu of residuals, when the contract permits




Production term for daily listing of shooting schedule, scenes and cast involved

The time you are due on a set

A follow-up audition

Runs the camera during shooting. On low-budget films, the DP may also serve as the Operator. The camera operator is responsible for keeping the action in frame, and responding quickly to the action as it unfolds.

Responsible for supplying actors for the film. Works with the producer and director.

Often known as an”open call,” a large open audition

Camera term for a tight shot of the shoulders and face

An unrehearsed reading of a scene, usually at auditions

Percentage of a performer’s earnings paid to an agent’s managers for their services

The costume designer creates all the costumes worn by the cast on a production. This person contributes to the overall look of the film, as well as the style and interpretation of the film’s characters.

The people responsible for coffee, beverages and snacks on the set. They also perform various small chores.

Screening of footage before it is edited

A day player is an actor hired on a daily basis. This actor only has a few lines or scenes. The day player must be notified that they are finished by the end of the day; otherwise they are automatically called back for another day of work.

Controls the action and dialogue in front of the camera. Translates the written word into visuals and dialogue. The director is responsible for all creative aspects of a movie. The director usually helps hire actors, decides on locations and plans the shots before filming begins. During filming the director oversees the actors and crew, sets up shots and keeps the movie on schedule and on budget. The director is usually hired by a producer, unless he or she is also producing the film.

Responsible for the”look” of the film; works with the lighting director to set-up shots and camera moves. The DP has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that each scene is properly recorded on film. Sometimes called the cinematographer. The DP directs the lighting for each scene, helps frame shots, chooses lenses, selects film stock and ensures that the visual look of the film conforms to the director’s vision. The cinematographer usually does not operate the camera on set (this is the duty of the camera operator).

Prepares the camera dolly and associated hardware, and operates the dolly during the shoot.

To add items/props to the set

Cuts the film and splices it together. There is usually more than one editor on a large project. The editor works with the director in editing the film. The director has the primary responsibility for editing decisions, but the editor often has significant input in the creative decisions involved in putting together a final cut of a movie. The editor often starts work while the film is still being shot, by assembling preliminary cuts from the daily footage. Increasingly, editors work on computerized editing consoles without touching the actual film.

A member of the electrical department; reports directly to the Best Boy.

The company responsible for employment taxes and unemployment benefits

Arranges financing and tries to keep the project on budget, but may not be directly involved with the day-to-day productions of the film. This is sometimes conferred upon a studio executive who works with several projects simultaneously. Increasingly the executive producer credit is given as a perk to a powerful actor’s agent or spouse, or some other person who made the project possible.

SAG staff member who ensures contractual compliance on a set




The film loader is a member of the camera crew in charge of loading and unloading the camera’s film magazines. The film loader also keeps the loading room in good, clean condition.

A sound effects artist who works on a special”Foley” stage where sound effects are recorded to match visuals such as doors closing, feet walking, and window breaking.

Works with the DP and the lighting director to light the scene. Handles the equipment. The gaffer is the chief electrician on the set, and is responsible for lighting the set according to the instructions of the cinematographer.

Overtime after the 16th hour

Works with both the electrical and camera departments. Trained lighting and rigging technicians who put in lighting set-ups, move set pieces and equipment around and rig camera mounts. Handle lighting equipment needed to diffuse and shape light at the direction of the DP The”Key Grip” is head of the department.

A contractual obligation for a performer to be available for work

Set payment by an advertiser to retain the right to use a performer’s services, images or likeness on an exclusive basis

The key grip is the chief grip on the set. Grips create shadow effects with lights and operate camera cranes, dollies and platforms as directed by the cinematographer.

The leadman answers to the set designer and heads the swing gang (the people who set up and take down the set) and the set dressing department.

Responsible for keeping the film’s costs down. Approves expenses, including locations, actors, and crew. The line producer supervises the movie’s budget. This includes unique expenses like a star’s salary as well as daily costs like equipment rentals. The production manager reports his or her expenses and needs to the line producer.

Scouts locations and negotiates use agreements with property owners. Works with the transportation captain to make sure there is enough parking at the location; works with local officials to coordinate shooting schedules, and is responsible for the condition of the locations after shooting is finished. The location manager reads the script, decides what locations are necessary for the film, then scouts for them. After locations are chosen, the location manager acquires all the permits and permissions necessary for filming.

Searches for the perfect locations, both in terms of artistic and logistic considerations. Often becomes the location manager once production has begun.

An in-studio technique matching voice to picture (Also known as ADR)

Takes care of all sound levels in a studio, on location and in post-production. Head of the sound department.

The actual time after which you have changed out of wardrobe and are released

A camera shot which sweeps from side to side

An added take because of a problem with a shot

A point of view shot; camera angle from the perspective of one actor

A performer with lines or special business which advances the storyline

The person who brings the entire project together and oversees all aspects of production. In the early stages, the producer may choose a script, hire a director, help in casting and find a place to shoot the project. Once cameras are rolling, the producer makes sure the project comes in on time and on budget. May also become involved in the editing and post-production phases, as well as marketing and distribution.

Entry level”gopher” position, this person assists with any odd jobs or errands needed on and off the set. The job can include holding back onlookers, getting coffee, answering phones in the production office, escorting actors to locations, acting as a stand-in while a short is worked out, or performing any other tasks required to make the production run more smoothly. The PA performs small but essential tasks for the cast and crew.

Works with the Director to achieve the overall look of the film from an artistic design perspective. Supervises set construction, scenery, costumes and any other item that will appear in front of the camera.

Makes the business deals, including hotel/housing, crew hiring, equipment rental and budget management. The PM works with the AD on scheduling and review production reports. The PM signs checks.

The production office coordinator (POC) handles the production’s office duties and stays behind when a production goes on location. He or she coordinates the crew, makes sure paperwork gets done and answers the phone. The POC also puts together new versions of the script as changes are made.

The production sound mixer (or recordist) records sound during filming. This person is also responsible for mixing the various soundtracks into the film’s composite soundtrack, which is then put onto the film with either a magnetic or optical stripe.

The team of the director, camera crew, lighting department, sound crew, electrician and everyone else who works on the shoot.

The property master finds, maintains and places on the set all essential props for a scene. A prop is a moveable item that is essential to a scene.

Minimum payment for services under Union contracts

Writes a script, either from an original idea or from an existing book or story. The term”Written By” in the credits is a Writers Guild of America designation meaning”Original Story and Screenplay By.” The writer creates and shapes an original story, or adapts a book, play or other work for use on the big screen. A script may go through many writers, so the Writer’s Guild of America must often determine who gets screen credit as the Writer.

Monitors the script during shooting, making sure there are no continuity errors and that the film can later be cut together in postproduction. Keeps track of how many takes are made of each shot and scene, how long they ran and who was in them, and makes detailed notes about what took place, such as; was her hat on or off? Was the glass half full or empty? Provides detailed reports to the production team and the editors. This is important so scenes can be recreated if they need to be re-shot.

The second unit director heads the second unit — a separate production crew that shoots sequences not involving the main actors. These can include background shots at remote locations, shots used for special effects and scenes that are not essential to the plot.

The set designer takes direction from the art director about the look of the set, and then plans its technical construction.

The set dresser is responsible for everything on a set except props that are essential to the scene. The set dresser selects items like drapes, artwork, bed linens, dishes and anything else, to make the set a realistic environment.

Pages or scenes from a script used for auditions

Parent’s right’s under Union contracts to be within the sight of the child performer at all times

An employer who has agreed to produce under the terms of a union contract

A board (usually black and white) placed in front of the cameras at the beginning or end of each take of each scene, identifying the scene and take numbers.

A member of the production team who takes the place of the actor while the director, DP and camera operator set up the shot.

The story editor supervises several story analysts who work for the studios. The analysts read screenplays, books and other literary efforts looking for potential movies. The analyst then writes”coverage” (a synopsis) of the material. The story editor reviews the coverage and passes on promising prospects to the studio bosses for possible development into a motion picture.

Stages the stunts and works with the stunt players. Responsible for the safety of all involved in the filming of a stunt.

A federal statute that allows 30 days after first employment before being required to join a Union

Makes sure everyone gets to the location. Responsible for all vehicle movement and parking. All drivers report to the transportation captain.

The transportation coordinator makes sure that actors, crew and equipment have some way of getting to the location shoot. He or she coordinates the use of everything from limos to semis. The transportation captain reports to the coordinator.

Assists the production manager or the company’s business manager with the day-to-day financial operations of the shoot. Sometimes also functions as a location scout.

The unit publicist makes sure the media are aware of a production by sending out press releases, arranging for interviews of cast and crew, setting up on-set visits and organizing media kits, which include publicity pictures, video and audio clips and plot summaries.

Operates a small video system called a video tap that records everything the camera is recording. This allows the director to see what the camera operator sees thus assuring that the shot looks the way it was planned to.

The visual effects director’s job varies according to the needs of the production. Sometimes the visual effects director helps with effects on the set. But he or she could also be called upon to supervise separate teams of effects technicians working away from the set.

Board-approved permission for deviation from the terms of a contract

Not to be confused with the costume designer, the wardrobe department handles the costumes on the set. The costumer, or wardrobe person, takes care of the costumes on the set, keeping them in good, clean condition, and making sure the right actor gets the right costume.

A legal document required to allow a child to work, issued by various state or local agencies

Finishing a production