When it comes to filmmaking, there are a lot of strange terms. Learning the lingo is a rite of passage that every filmmaker has to go through. Let’s take a look at some of the stranger filmmaking terms out there and figure out what they mean.
Abbey Singer refers to the second-to-last shot at a specific film location. It was named after Abbey Singer (pictured above, far left), a famous production manager who would alert his crew two shots before the set needed to be collapsed.
Basically it’s a 1K fresnel light.
A baby on a film set can also refer to a small set of tripod legs. Tripod legs come in all shapes and forms, but if you are wanting to put your camera extremely close to the ground, you’ll want to go lower than what most standard tripod legs will allow. To do this you will want to use a baby, or small tripod legs, to get low-angle shots.
Best boy term comes from a time when film crews were small and you needed an extra hand from a studio next door. They generally would send their Best man for the job. Usually best boys work in either electric or grip department.
On a film set, a C47 is simply a clothespin. The origin of why it came to be called a C47 is somewhat fuzzy. Some say it was named after the C47 airplane because of it’s versatility. Others say they were named after the bin in which they were stored. No matter the origin, a C47 is one of the most-used tools on a film set. Typically they are used to clamp filters to the barn doors of lights, but they can also be used to hold up fabric or prank unsuspecting crewmembers.
A cheeseplate is a metal plate with holes designed to serve as a multipurpose utility bracket for various film related accessories. While cheeseplates come in all shapes and sizes, they are almost always used to create camera rigs. The holes allow the user to mount screw-based devices easily.
A clapper is a board used for syncing and identifying a shot in post. A clapper is most notably the most iconic accessory on any movie set. Typically a clapper will have a place to write the scene, take, and shot with some other information like production title, director, and DP.
Short for a cucoloris light modifier. A cookie is a device used to mask light patterns onto a background. Cookies can come in all shapes and sizes, but they’re almost always placed on a stand separate from the actual light source. They’re called cookies because their hole patterns look like a chocolate chip cookie.
On a film set, a dead cat is a fuzzy cover that goes around the end of a boom mic to block out wind distortion. Also known as a wind muff or a mic cover. The name fits the accessory perfectly, as its furry exterior makes it look just like a dead cat. Rode currently sells a Dead Wombat that is slightly larger than a traditional dead cat.
Type of light that gives an even wide spread.
Chief of lighting.
Camera that actually records very high frame rates that you most often use for achieving super slow motion footage.
No, a juicer isn’t a kitchen appliance or muscular person. In film, a juicer refers to an on-set electrician. A juicer is one of the most important roles on set, as there’s typically a lot of power required to operate all of the various pieces of equipment associated with shooting a film.
Key grip is the main individual responsible for the camera movement rigging such as dollys, cranes, jibs, etc.
Turn off all the ambient light not being used for filming.
When a filmmaker is talking about legs, they’re typically talking about the legs of a tripod. On most professional tripods, the head and the legs can be easily separated. Professional tripod legs are usually made out of carbon fiber, as they are light, tough, and good in extreme conditions.
A Martini, or Martini Shot, is the final shot before wrapping the set for the day. It’s supposedly called the Martini shotbecause the next shot would be taken out of a glass, aka post-wrap drinking. It’s also been said that in the early days of Hollywood, stars would begin their post-wrap party a little early and start drinking martinis during the last shot. When you hear the term martini said on set, it brings about as much joy as a couple of real ones.
Specifically a type of tungsten light that happens to have a red body that tends to get hot after striking on.
Run and gun is a term used to describe a style of filmmaking with very little production equipment besides a camera. Run and gun is typically used in documentary-style filmmaking, as filmmakers aren’t always given the luxury of a controlled set. With cameras quickly progressing in dynamic range and sensitivity, it is becoming increasingly popular for indie filmmakers to utilize a run and gun approach to their craft.
Type of microphone that has a very directional capture area.
Soft sticks occurs when you slate in front of the actor’s face in such a way that you don’t scare him.
Sticks is another word for tripod on a film set. If someone were to say grab the sticks, they would be referring to both the legs and head of the tripod.
On a film set, stinger refers to a single extension cord. A stinger refers to any size of extension cord. Typically on a film set, stingers will be black instead of the bright orange cables found at local hardware stores.
To strike on a film set simply means to turn on a production light or series of lights. While it is less common in modern filmmaking, every now and then you might hear someone yell “striking” when turning on a light. However, some argue that it is much better to simply say “mind your eyes, light coming on.”
Slate at the end of the shot.
A function on a camera or EVF to help determine exposure.