HOLLYWOOD TERMS

The following glossary is a contribution by Stephanie Groll a San Francisco-based editor and freelance writer. She was recently cast as a stand-in for Joan Cusak in the Movie A Smile Like Yours.

To get along behind the scenes of a movie, you have to speak the language. The following terms are a sample of things that clutter the set, mysterious crew titles, and other pieces of indecipherable nomenclature.

Action: As in "Lights, camera, action!" Lights and camera translate to "Speed," but "Action!" is really what directors say this at the beginning of every take. Then actors do their thing and the director says "Cut," to signal the end of the take.

Art Department: Any person who contributes to the look of the movie. Positions include production and set designers, art and set directors and their assistants, property master and her assistants, and swing gang.

Assistant Cameraman: In Hollywood, most people have an assistant to do the grunt work. The Cameraman's assistant loads the film, prepares the dope sheets, and may even snap the clapper.

Assistant Director (AD): This must be a frustrating position. The first AD is one step away from the movie's artistic visioneer, but must do all kinds of paperwork to track the filming progress and prepare call sheets.

Automatic Dialogue Replacement (ADR): Actors often re-record portions of their dialogue when the production track has too much background noise or to change the way a line is delivered. Also called looping. Postcards from the Edge with Meryl Streep has a great illustration of this process.

Back Projection: Remember the fake-looking car travel scenes in I Love Lucy? That live action was filmed in front of a moving background projected on a screen behind them.

Best Boy: You've probably noticed this one in the credits, but never knew that it referred to the second in command of a group, usually of the lighting technicians or electrics. Females in the position are still called "Best Boys."

Billing: Stars get their egos stroked relative to the size, position, and order of their names in the publicity bill and the opening credits.

Bit Part: Tiny roles of little importance that last for one scene. Bit parts are quite often played by the friends and family of the movie's producers.

Black Comedy: This is the type of movie that makes you laugh at subject matter that is actually very serious.

Blacklist: The film makers and actors on this metaphorical list have personal, social, political, or religious beliefs that cause them to be discriminated against. McCarthy added heavily to it with his 1950's communist witchhunts.

Body Double: Not to be confused with stand-in or stunt double. This person's body (or parts thereof) is filmed to appear onscreen in place of the actor's body.

Boom Microphone: This microphone attached to the end of a long pole allows the boom operator to stay out of shot while recording the actor's dialogue.

Call Sheet: Tells the actors who will be needed for which scenes and what time they should show up. A 6:30 a.m. call time is not unusual.

Cameo: Check out The Player for a slew of cameos-famous actors who wouldn't normally play in bit parts.

Camera Crew: The clapper-loader, camera operator, assistant cameraman, director of photography, focus puller, grip, key grip, dolly grip, additional camera are all directly involved with operation of the camera.

Camp: Exaggerate clichés and drama to the point of ridiculousness and you have a campy film.

Cast: Actors who appear in a given movie.

Chute Cowboys: The skydiving snowboarders on the Mountain Dew commercials are chute cowboys or experienced parachutists who do stunts with with parachutes.

Cinematographer: Also called the director of photography (DP). Makes sure the director's wishes are filmed accordingly. This was the guy who asked me to do my thing over and over while he conferred with the director about their lighting needs.

Clapboard: This slate has Information identifying the take is written on it. You'd recognize it as the black and white striped board that someone holds in front of the camera while the guy says "Take two." In reality, they say "speed" to let the sound guys know when the film is rolling at full speed (24 frames per second). They use the clacking sound to synchronize the audio and visual tracks.

ClapperLoader: The person who claps the slate also loads the film magazines into the camera.

Color Timing: Differing film stock and cameras can cause color variations on the final print, so it must be color timed.

Continuity: Since one scene can be shot from several angles and on different days, some details may not remain consistent throughout. Who caught the little boy by the window in Three Men and a Baby?

Continuity Report: Lists the filming details to keep each scene self-consistent. Typically recorded are production and crew identification, camera settings, environmental conditions, the status of each take, and exact details of the action that occurs.

Costumer: The evil people who dressed me up like a clown.

Craft Service: Everybody loves the Crafty who stocks a table with snacks all day long. This is where I got the $1,000 doughnut. I never saw Lauren or Joan grazing at craft service.

Crew: Whoever works on the production of a movie but doesn't appear onscreen. Don't confuse them with the "Filmmakers," or senior members of the production team.

Cut: Two words... Ed Wood.

Denoument: The part after we've seen the movie's climax, when all the loose ends get tied up.

Director: Director is to producer as editor-in-chief is to publisher. The artist and the financier. For one to do their job well, the other must too.

Director's Cut: The movie version over which the director has total artistic control. We don't usually get to see this one, but sometimes it released separately. Blade Runner, as the Director's Cut, was rereleased in the early '90s.

Dolly: The camera sits on this rolling platform to capture moving shots. A blatantly obvious example is when Spike Lee used a dolly to create the walking scenes in Jungle Fever.

Dolly Grip: A grip that moves a dolly, sometimes on dolly tracks.

Dope Sheet: The scenes from the script that have already been shot are recorded on this list.

Dutch Tilt: It's a fancy name for a shot filmed with tilted camera. Orson Welles loved this method.

Extra: These people have nonspeaking roles that usually show up in crowds or the background of a scene. It doesn't matter if they can't act because they don't get the chance to. Some of the extras on my movie were randomly picked off the street for their "normal" looks, but most were beginning actors seething with the desire to be discovered. Those were the ones who kissed my ass. The poor things thought that being Joan Cusak's stand-in gave me the power to grant them a successful career.

Film Magazines: A reel of film stock in a camera. It holds about 15-25 minutes of film.

Focus Puller: S/he who pulls the camera into focus during filming.

Gaffer: Chief lighting technician.

Generator: The Genny is often used when the movie is shot at a location that doesn't have enough electricity to support the equipment.

Greensman: Sets up the vegetation on a set and keeps it from wilting. I'd like a personal greensman in my home.

Grip: Grips have fabulous biceps because they spend their days lifting and adjusting the production equipment.

Hardtop: Slang for indoor movie theater.

Hold: One scene is shot from many angles. Each angle is shot in multiple takes. It would be very expensive to develop all of the film that gets shot, so some takes are kept (held) but not developed (printed). Used in a sentence, it would sound like this: "Cut! Print 2 and 4, hold on 3." or develop take 2 and 4 and store take 3.

Hot Set: I don't care if you think the chair would look better in the corner, if the set is still being used (hot set), it has to remain undisturbed.

Key Grip: The chief of the grips. He and the gaffer work closely.

Blocking: Before filming a scene, someone has to decide where and when the actors should move. Stand-ins should stick around for the blocking so they know what's up.

Letterboxing: A film's entire width can't fit on the viewing area of a TV screen, so they shrink it, in it's original proportion, till it does. It's all in the name of preserving the shot composition.

Lighting: Setting up and tearing down the lighting takes up more time than any other company operation. If done correctly, it can make old people look young, or cause sunlight to shine through windows from a midnight sky.

Location Shooting: Instead of constructing a church for the wedding scene, we filmed on location at one that already existed.

Location Scout: How cool would this job be? They get to tromp around taking Polaroids of filmable locations like where to stash a corpse.

Ozoner: Slang for drive-in theater.

Pan: The rotation of the camera when Stephanie and Danny were pinwheeling in the dance studio in Saturday Night Fever. The camera also pans at lower speeds.

Pre-Production: Everything that goes into planning the filming from location scouting to casting to set construction.

Producer: See definition for "director."

Production Assistant (PA): Ambitious Pas are always in motion and take their jobs very seriously. They stop traffic, play gopher, and do other random things as a way to get their foot in the door of movie production. From this position, they can move to any department... lighting, directing, producing, set designing, and more.

Property Master: OK, when I'm not scouting locations, I'd like to be a prop master. They're responsible for using somebody else's money to buy all the props for a movie. That sounds great as long as I'm not working on a movie that takes place in a pencil making factory.

Screen Actors Guild (SAG): Actor's union. Movie productions are either SAG or non-SAG and only SAG members can work on a SAG film. SAG Members are protected by certain rules that the studio must abide by (ex. they must be served a hot meal every eight hours).

Screen Extras Guild (SEG): Members are extras and are covered by similar protections as those in SAG.

For more words visit The Internet Movie Database at: us.imdb.com/Glossary



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