Sh*t you may hear on set: A film term glossary

By Jardine Miles

Establishing Shot

4 min read

Mar 01, 2022

I’m not gonna lie, when I was told that I’d be going on set for the first time I was ever so slightly (hot) bricking it. Even though I wasn’t gonna do anything other than hanging around, watching, and taking some pretty photos for our socials I didn’t really know what to expect.

Long story short, I had nothing to worry about but like any industry, there were some moments where I was like ‘what the hell did they just say?’ Usually, I could work it out through context, and if not it was usually referring to a light or something to do with a light, so I didn’t really need to worry about it.

Now, if you’re on set with us we take a more ‘say what you mean and make it accessible’ type of attitude, so you probably won’t hear many of the following terms. But on other sets knowing this kinda thing may get land you a wry smile from a DOP for doing your homework — and who doesn’t want that.

This is by no means is this a complete list, mostly because that makes for a very boring blog. If you want something a bit more definitive you can check out this blog.

Equipment

Biscuit

A camera base plate.

Dead Cat

A fuzzy cover that goes over the end of a boom mic or blimp windshield to reduce wind noise. 

Hot Brick

A fully charged battery.

Legs or Sticks

A tripod.

Stinger

A long cable.

C-47

If you’re from across the pond if someone asked you for a C-47, to be honest, they’re being a bit of a dick as they could just as easily say ‘peg’. It’s a term that is mostly used to check how green someone is to the industry… so don’t let them catch you out 😉

C-47 = Peg. Smart people use simple language and all that.

Apple Box

Similarly, if someone asks you for an ‘apple box’ it may be another test. But a slightly easier one, as at least it’s still a box.

They’re like the swiss-army knife of filmmaking and are used for all sorts of things from putting the camera on them, helping with rigging grip equipment and lighting equipment, or even just for directors or talent to sit on.

Redhead 

They’re a type of light. Often they have an open face with a red casing and are around 800W. They are used for lots of different things including lighting large areas and creating fill, so you’ll probably spot quite a few around the set. 

Blonde

A bigger and more powerful redhead. This time with a yellow casing. 

Areas on set

​​Crowd Base

Also known as the ‘holding area’. Where the cast/talent waits before being called onto the set.

Hot Set

A set that is being used for filming, or one that needs to be left the same for filming later. Basically, if you hear something being described as a ‘hot set’ don’t touch anything.

Video village

Far away from the camera as possible, usually with a little reference monitor. This is where you’ll likely find the client and those ad agency types. 

Shootin’ the shot

Blocking

The process of running through a scene before filming to decide where the talent will move and where lighting and cameras should be placed.

Picture’s Up

Everyone is where they need to be, and there is something worth looking at on the monitors. Also, an indication that shooting is gonna happen soon.

Slate

Call to include the clapper board in the shot. You know that black and white thing that makes the clacky sound that helps sync audio.

Hold the Red

Another take is about to happen. So don’t move (pls).

Check the Gate

Call to take off the lens and check there aren’t any blockages/hairs/other gross stuff between the lens and the sensor/film that would make the footage unusable.

New Deal

Everyone is happy and ready to move on to a new camera set up for that scene. 

Flag on the Play

Once ‘new deal’ been called and someone then realises something is wrong then they will call ‘flag on the play’ which means that everyone needs to pause, work out what went wrong and potentially reshoot. 

Abby Singer Shot

The second last camera setup of the day. Gives you a bit of time to start packing stuff (and put beers in the fridge).

Named after this dude who used to say ‘this and one more’ a lot

Martini Shot

The last camera setup of the day. Definitely start packing anything not in use now. Go get a martini. 

Other Useful Expressions

10/100 or 10/1 

Going for a piss. Basically a polite way of letting people know where you’re going. See also ’10/2′ which means that you’re probably gonna take a little longer.

Crossing

I mean, don’t walk in front of the camera if you can avoid it. But if you do, call ‘crossing’ to warn people.

DFI 

Stands for Don’t Follow Instruction i.e. “I know I just told you to do something. I don’t need it anymore, please don’t do it”

DFI is just quicker. 

That’s hopefully enough to give you a start. If you do find yourself on set and panicking because you can’t understand anything… call 10/2 and just google it in the bathroom. It’s fine, you’ll pick it up.

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