FILM LANGUAGE

Adaptation

An adaptation is a screenplay which is based upon an existing piece of writing, e.g. a novel.

Aspect Ratio

The aspect ratio is the proportion between the width and the height of a frame. You write the two numbers of the aspect ratio separated by a colon. E.g. 1.6:1.

Assistant Director

An assistant director, AD, tracks daily progress against the filming production schedule, prepare daily call sheets, check cast and cre, maintain order on the set, and observe the health and safety of the crew. In the theatre, an assistant director may include anything from taking notes to actually staging parts of the play.

Audition

An audition is a sample performance by a performer, such as an actor or dancer. It typically involves the performers displaying their talent through a previously memorized and rehearsed solo piece or by performing a work or piece given to the performer at the audition or shortly before. The audition is a systematic process in which performers are selected, analogous to a job interview. In an audition, the employer is testing the ability of the applicant to meet the needs of the job and assess how well the individual will take directions and deal with changes. After some auditions, the audition panel may ask a few questions, e.g. regarding availability.

Best Boy

There are two types of best boys in a film crew: best boy grip and best boy electric, aka assistant chief lighting technician. They assist their department heads, i.e. the key grip and the gaffer. A best boy works with management of the crew, equipment, stocking, loading and unloading of trucks, coordinating with rigging crews, etc., and may cover for the key grip or gaffer during shooting. The term best boy was originally used about a master’s oldest and most experienced apprentice.

Boom

The boom is a pole with a microphone at the end, which is held close above the actors without showing the microphone within the frame. A boom operator assists the production sound mixer, who is in charge of the microphone placement.

Camera Operator

A camera operator is part of a film crew consisting of the Director of Photography and one or more camera assistants. The camera operator is responsible for physically operating the camera and maintaining composition and camera angles throughout a given scene or shot. The camera operator will collaborate with the director, director of photography, actors and crew to make technical and creative decisions.

Casting

Casting is the process of selecting a cast of e.g. actors and dancers for a live or recorded performance. The casting director considers both the talent of the individual actors and the chemistry of their combination.

Clapper Loader

The main responsibilities of a clapper loader, aka second assistant cameraman, are loading the raw film stock into camera magazines, operating the clapperboard at the beginning of each take, marking the actors as necessary, and maintaining all records and paperwork for the camera department. The name clapper loader is primarily used in the UK and Commonwealth, while second assistant cameraman tends to be used in the US. Clapper loaders have a large responsibility as they are in charge of the undeveloped negative. If handed improperly, en entire day’s work may be lost.

Classification

A rating system to help parents decide whether a movie is suitable for their children, classifying films in terms of issues such as sex, violence, substance abuse, profanity, impudence or other types of mature content. A particular issued rating can be called a certification, classification, certificate or rating. In Sweden, the following categories are used:
Btl (Barntillåten = Children allowed) – Suitable for all ages.
7 – Deemed non-harming for children of at least 7 years of age. Younger children are admitted if accompanied by an adult 18 or older.
11 – Deemed non-harming for children of at least 11 years of age. Children of at least 7 years of age are admitted if accompanied by an adult 18 or older.
15 – Not rated, means that no one under 15 years of age is admitted, may include strong violence, strong drug use, explicit depictions of sexual activity.

Director

A film director controls a film's artistic and dramatic aspects, and visualizes the script while guiding the technical crew and actors in the fulfillment of that vision. Film directors create an overall vision through which a film eventually becomes realized. This includes overseeing the artistic and technical elements of film production, as well as directing the shooting timetable and meeting deadlines. This means organizing the film crew in such a way as to achieve his or her vision of the film. This requires skills of group leadership, as well as the ability to maintain a singular focus even in the stressful environment of a film set. Moreover it is necessary to have an artistic eye to frame shots and to give precise feedback to cast and crew, so excellent communication skills are a must. Since the film director depends on the successful cooperation of many different creative individuals with possibly strongly contradicting artistic ideals and visions, he or she also needs to possess conflict resolution skills in order to mediate whenever necessary. The director ensures that all individuals involved in the film production are working towards an identical vision for the completed film.

Dolly

In order to have smooth horizontal camera movements you can use a camera mounted on a dolly, which can run on any surface but usually on a set of tracks. A camera operator, focus puller and/or camera assistant ride on the dolly. The dolly grip is a technician trained to operate the dolly.

Executive Producer

An executive producer oversees the filmmaking with regard to film finance. They are in touch with the line producer and report to production companies and distributors.

First Assistant Cameraman

See Focus Puller.

Focus Puller

The primary responsibility of a focus puller, aka first assistant cameraman, is to maintain image sharpness on whatever subject or action filmed. Focus pulling means to change the lens’s focus distance setting in correspondence to a moving subject’s physical distance from the focal plane. Alternatively, the focus puller may shift focus from one subject to another within the frame, as dictated by the specific requirements of the shot.

Foley

Foley is the reproduction of everyday sound effects which are added in post-production. These reproduced sounds can be anything from the sound of a horse’s hoofs, footsteps to squeaky doors and breaking glass. The best foley art is so well integrated into a film that it goes unnoticed by the audience. It helps to create an illusion. The props and sets of a film do not react the same way acoustically as their real life counterparts, so foley sounds are used to enhance the auditory experience of the movie. Foley can also be used to cover up unwanted sounds captured on the set of a movie during filming, such as overflying airplanes or passing traffic.

Frame

A film frame is a single image of the many which compose the complete moving picture. The term pre-dates digital filmmaking and refers the single images that have been recorded on a strip of photographic film. The term also refers to the edges of the image as seen in a camera viewfinder or projected on a screen. When a moving picture is projected, each frame is flashed on a screen for a fraction of a second (e.g. 1/24, 1/25 or 1/30 of a second) and then immediately replaced by the next one, creating the illusion of a moving image.

Gaffer

A gaffer is the chief electrician, who works with the lighting plan for the grips. The word’s origin is from the gaff used to control overhead light equipment. Another term for gaffer is CLT: chief lighting technician. The gaffer works with the DP (Director of Photography), who is in charge of the overall lighting design, and with the key grip, who works with cables, position lighting fixtures and dolly tracks.

Key Grip

A key grip, aka first company grip, supervises all grip crews is responsible for dollies, track, cranes, camera cars  and insert trailers. Before filming begins, the key grip attends location scouts and meets with the Director of Photography to determine what additional equipment (location-specific motor vehicles, dollies, cranes, mounts, etc.) will be needed, orders and preps required equipment, and transports equipment to the filming location. Once on set, the key grip coordinates with the electric and camera departments alongside the Director of Photography to control lighting and camera setup. As a supervisor, the key grip directs the crew of grips, many with specialized skills such as dolly grips, crane operators, or special equipment operators.

Line Producer

A line producer functions as the key manager during the daily operations of a feature film. Line producers work on one film at a time. A line producer is accountable for human resources and all kinds of problems possibly occurring during the making.

Producer

A film producer prepares and then supervises the making of a film before presenting the product to a financing entity or a film distributor. They might be employed by a film studio or be independent, yet either way they are in charge of the creative people as well as the accounting personnel.

Property Master

A property master is responsible for purchasing, acquiring and sometimes manufacturing any props needed for a production. The property master also works with other members of the production managing the physical appearance of the stage or set, for example they might work with the script supervisor to maintain set continuity. The property master starts working  during preproduction, where a props breakdown is developed, i.e. mapping out the logical progression of each prop throughout the story ). During physical shooting the props master maintains the logical progression by ensuring the props are positioned in their correct logical place for each scene according to the props breakdown.

Runner

Runners are used for various duties both on a film set and in the production office. They help everything to run smoothly and provide a range of support in every area of film production. It can involve anything from making tea, securing an item with duct tape of dashing off to buy a needed item. On big budget features there may be several Runners: Production Office Runners, Floor Runners, and usually one Runner assigned to each of the main departments - sound, camera, art dept and editing. Being a runner is generally an entry-level position, sometimes with very low pay, but more often than not it's on a volunteer basis.

Screenplay

A screenplay, aka script is the screenwriter’s work for a film, tv program or video game. Screenplays can either be original works or adaptations from existing pieces of writing. Along with the dialog, you describe the movement, actions and expression of the characters. Roughly, and with great variations, one page in a screenplay equals one minute of film.

Script Supervisor

The job of a script supervisor is to take notes, so that the film can be cut together realistically. The supervisor works with all departments (camera, lighting, sound, wardrobe, make-up, properties and sets) to make sure that continuity errors do not happen, by taking notes on all the details required to recreate the continuity of a particular scene, location, or action. All information is entered into a daily editor log about the action of the take, including position of the main actor(s), screen direction of their movement, important actions performed during the shot, type of lens used, and additional information which may vary from case to case, e.g. in which hand the actor held a sheet of paper, and if it was rolled op, etc. When multiple cameras are in use, the script supervisor keeps separate notes on each.

Second Assistant Cameraman

See Clapper Loader

Second Unit

The purpose of the second unit is to make most efficient use of some of the resources that are expensive or scarce in film production: actors' and directors' shooting time, sound stage usage and the cost of sets that may have been built on stages, and the money that is tied up in a film as it is being made - the quicker it can be finished, the sooner production costs can start to be earned back. Typically the first unit films the key face-to-face drama between the principal actors, whereas  a second unit may be used to film action sequences, often filmed in discrete locations, using stunt personnel rather than the principal cast and requiring significantly different filming arrangements than for ordinary scenes. Another use can be Pick-ups, after the main unit has finished on a set or location and there may be shots that require some or all of this setting as background, but doesn't require the principal actors - such as close-ups, inserts, cutaways and establishing shots.

Set

A set is a full scale scenery in which the action takes place. It is not necessarily realistic, e.g. a room will mostly have missing ceilings and walls, but must be suitable for viewing through a camera, as specified by a Production Designer or Art Director working in collaboration with the director of a production. The set designer produces scale drawings, a scale model and research about props.

Steadicam

A Steadicam is a type of camera mount strapped on to the cameraman for stabilizing the camera and making it mechanically isolated from the operator’s movements. This allows a smooth shot, e.g. even when the operator runs up a set of stairs. The Steadicam is a brand name and was invented by cameraman Garrett Brown in 1975.

Stunt

A stunt is a difficult physical feat or an act requiring a special skill, performed for artistic purposes, particularly used in action films. A stunt double representing the actor would hang off a cliff or jump out of a car, or the same effect would be created by using a model or false perspective effect. Now computer generated images has taken over some of these tasks. Certain actors are known for performing many of their own stunts, such as Harrison Ford, Tom Cruise, Daniel Craig, Viggo Mortensen and Angelina Jolie, but it is risky for the production company. If an actor gets an injury, it may set back the whole production for weeks or months.

Wrap

The term wrap is used by a director to signal the end of filming, and the film will go into post-production. After principal photography is concluded, it is traditional to hold a wrap party for the cast and crew of a film to celebrate the end of principal photography. This marks the end of the actors' collaboration (save from possible dubbing or pick-ups) on the film.