Actors Equity Association (AEA/ Equity) – A union that has jurisdiction over performers in live stage productions in theaters, such as Broadway and community theater.
A.D. – Assistant Director.
Agent – A representative of talent, petitioning on behalf of the talent for work within the entertainment community.
American Federation of Television and Radio Artist (AFTRA) – A union that has jurisdiction over performers in live and taped television and radio, which may include soap operas, sitcoms, newscasts, talk shows, award shows, radio broadcast and music recordings (albums, CDs).
Attachment – Talent (actor, director) that has committed to being in/working on a film. When producers/agents are shopping around a script they may say “So and So is already attached” to up the ante.
Back-end – Deferred payment of fees and/or percentage of net profits paid to certain above-the-line players once a film turns a profit.
Blocking – Working out the action before filming begins, including where the characters should be, and the camera angles.
Breakdown – The listing of the projects currently being cast. The breakdown contains the producer, director and casting director. Casting Directors send out breakdowns – information about the project being cast – so that agents and managers know to submit their clients for possible auditions and roles. There are many sites that offer breakdowns in order to connect casting directors with actors and agents.
Callback – A follow-up audition, after they have narrowed down the competition.
Call Sheet – The daily schedule of a given production, listing “call times,” actors involved and scenes.
Cast – A collective term for the actors appearing in a particular movie.
Casting – The process of hiring actors to play the characters in a script. The lead roles are typically cast by the director or a producer, minor roles and bit parts by a casting director.
Casting Director – A person responsible for selecting actors to play roles. Some casting directors specialize in selecting extras.
Cattle Call – An open casting or audition to which masses of people respond.
Character Actor – An actor who specializes in playing a particular style of character, often stereotypical, offbeat, or humorous.
Choreographer – A person who plans and directs dance sequences within a production.
Cinematographer – Responsible for elements viewed through the lens, the cinematographer works closely with the director to create appropriate shots and organize the visual elements of a scene (props, extras, lighting, etc.).
Close Up – A shot in which a character or item takes up a large portion of the frame. Often used for dramatic effect, or to highlight emotion or something to which the audience should be paying attention.
Commercial Agent – an agent that represents talent for television commercials. This is not to be confused with a print agent which represents models for commercial print ads.
Commercial Modeling – Otherwise known as Print Modeling, this is modeling done for print advertisements, catalogs, etc.
Countercross – A shifting of position by two or more actors to balance the stage picture.
Cross – The movement by an actor from one location to another onstage.
Cue – The last words, action, or technical effect that immediately precedes any line or business; a stage signal.
Day Player – An actor who is paid a flat daily rate and generally only has a few lines in the production. Characters that appear in only one scene are generally played by day players. This is sometimes a “step up” for an extra who is asked to read a line on-set.
Dailies – As the film is shot, production and development units view footage the following day. This film stock is known as ‘dailies.’ The producer, director and various studio department heads critically analyze the previous day’s results, looking for any visible problems, from wardrobe to set dressings and performances. In theory, dailies depict the progression of the film in relation to the course of production.
Development – Development is the process of advancing a story from idea to green-lit script. At its core, development is an editing tool for the screenplay, allowing entities that oversee the project’s process to mold it into the necessary form. As a contemporary notion, however, it’s become an expansive portion of the above-the-line procedure that includes many elements. The development process spreads into casting, production, and even distribution. The main tasks of an executive working in this field include the acquisition of material, advancement of the screenplay, and packaging.
Director – The principal creative artist on a movie set. A director is usually (but not always) the driving artistic source behind the filming process, and communicates to actors the way that he/she would like a particular scene played. A director’s duties might also include casting, script editing, shot selection, shot composition, and editing. Typically, a director has complete artistic control over all aspects of the movie, but it is not uncommon for the director to be bound by agreements with either a producer or a studio. In some large productions, a director will delegate less important scenes to a second unit.
The Director’s Cut – It’s industry standard and a guild requirement to leave a director alone with the print until they’ve finished the first version of the film. Although a studio selects the laboratory, sound transfer facility, optical house, and other facilities of the kind, the director is provided six weeks to complete the version or ‘cut’ they prefer.
Directors Guild of America (DGA) – A guild representing motion picture and television directors and assistant directors.
Distributor – From studios to exhibitors, the distributor sells viewing rights for a finished film. Somewhat of an intermediary function, distribution creates initial revenue for the source that financed the project. Its basic function is to sell the viewing rights of a motion picture to specifically designated areas. Based on the elements involved in the feature, the costs of these rights vary and are just a fraction of the income for distributors. Others include merchandising, television, and video. In each case, however, the distributor’s main source of revenue for a film comes from how well it plays. Although they sell exhibition rights, the main source of income derives straight from the box office.
Dubbing – The technique of combining multiple sound components into one. The term is also used to refer to automatic dialog replacement of a new language.
Editor – The editor cuts the film. Using an Avid and/or digital splicing mechanisms, the editor orders individual scenes into a complete, coherent story. The director and producer usually, with approval from the studio, hire this key position. Editors, like directors and writers, are chosen for the genre in which they are most proficient.
Executive Producer – A producer who is not involved in any technical aspects of the filmmaking process, but who is still responsible for the overall production. Typically an executive producer handles business and legal issues.
Extra – A person who appears in a movie where a non-specific, non-speaking character is required, usually as part of a crowd or in the background of a scene. Extras may be recruited from the region of the shoot location or through an agency. Contrast with non-speaking role.
Feeding – Giving lines and action in such a way that another actor can make a point or get a laugh.
Film Stock – The physical medium on which photographic images are recorded.
Foil – An acting role that is used for personality comparison, usually with a protagonist or main character.
Frame – An individual picture image which eventually appears on a print.
Greenlight – When a project receives a greenlight, the funding entity approves it for production. In order for this to happen, the script must be ready to shoot and major elements, such as the stars and directors, must be in place. Once the project is given the ‘go,’ the producer and their team assemble cast, crew, and other necessary elements to make the film.
Independent Producer (Indie) – Autonomous of the studio system, independent producers not only develop material, but secure financing (studio and non-studio) to make their movies.
Line Producer – The hands-on manager of a film set, the line producer organizes the practical aspects of production. Although the job’s stability is less speculative than creative producing, like most industry jobs, it remains primarily freelance work. Line producers and production managers are responsible for budgeting, scheduling and implementation.
Log Line – A brief summary of a script, novel, or manuscript that gives the basic premise in 2-3 lines.
Looping – The term used to describe an actor matching his or her voice to picture.
Manager – Known for paying special attention to both a client’s personal and financial needs, the manager assists in administrating an artists’ personal business. Agents and managers share many of the same functions, but tend to fill very unique rolls. Managers usually work with smaller client lists, as they’re known for providing more focused attention on the growth and development of a clients’ career. Managers focus less on business negotiations and more on placing the client in a position to have negotiations arise. The recent trend of managers shifting into producer roles, may be viewed as an extension of their involvement in a client’s life under the terms of a specific project.
Method Acting – A style of acting formalized by Konstantin Stanislavsky which is believed by some to create more realistic performances. Essentially, the theory requires actors to draw experiences from their own personal lives that correlate to the character they are playing – an extremely demanding process emotionally. In some cases, “method” actors take the theory even further by arranging events in their private lives to resemble the lives of their characters.
Milk – To draw the maximum response from the audience from comic lines or action.
Monologue – A scene or a portion of a script in which an actor gives a lengthy speech without interruption by another character.
Networking – Often referred to as ‘schmoozing,’ networking is the act of building a personal slate of business contacts and relationships. The process of developing these relationships comes from an array of communicative activities ranging from phone conversations to business meals to meeting recommended professionals. As is the case with most businesses, networking is a key element to surviving every realm of the entertainment industry. Since much of the movie making business is project to project, relationships created in networking situations often lead to a professional’s next job.
Pilot -The first episode of a television show or cable show used as a “test run” amongst networks and producers before the show is greenlit.
Pilot Season -The time between around January to about May when pilot episodes are filmed and tested and possibly given the greenlight to begin production.
Pitch – The meeting held between key players of a film or broadcast literary work. In most cases, this is where the writer(s) attempt to ‘sell’ their product to the producers by explaining why their product should be made by that company into a motion picture.
Post-Production (Post) – Once principal photography wraps, post-production begins. ‘Post’ is where the project goes from hundreds of hours of film to a hundred minutes of story. The post team edits the film into a two hour story, loops in necessary dialogue, adds sound design and music, works in visual effects, and reshoots scenes requiring further work. Notoriously, post-production can either save or kill a project. Much like developing a script, it’s important to have a solid post-production crew.
Pre-Production – Prior to principal photography, the production team and the director use pre-production to assemble the key elements of the movie. The producers settle on a budget, create shooting schedules, and scout locations. The casting director fills acting roles, the camera team works out their shots, physical production dresses sets and designs costumes, and the unit production manager hires the rest of the crew. Also in this period, the director storyboards, rehearses, and makes any final preparations for shooting. Aligning these elements makes this one of the most important parts of a film’s creation.
Principal Actor – an actor with speaking lines.
Principal Photography / Production – Production is the actual shooting of the film. Also known as ‘principal photography,’ cast and crew formally map and shoot scenes. In order to do this, they weave individual talents into a single, functioning entity, in order to create a core concentration of footage for editing.
Print Work – commercial modeling work done for ads in magazines, newspaper ads, internet and direct mail pieces and for packaging on products.
Producer – The producer’s job is to successfully turn a story idea into a film. The true creator of the project, the producer engages in all aspects of the filmmaking process. They develop with the screenwriter, collaborate with the director, and make key decisions at every stage of production, including casting, editing and composition of music. Producers usually work on a contractual basis and run companies staffed with teams to assist in development and production.
Production Company – The production company acts as central headquarters for all stages of production. They range in size from a single person to over twenty employees and commit to duties ranging from the inception of an idea to making sure the final print is delivered to the theater on premiere night. Their core functions, however, are to assist the headlining producer in developing scripts, attaching talent, and running the day-to-day production activity. Although a handful of production companies fall under corporate studio umbrellas that cover their overhead, most work on a project-to-project basis, much like the artists.
Residuals – Fees paid to performers for the reuse or re-broadcast of TV shows, films and commercials. Principals earn residuals but extras do not. Usually you must be a member of the Union to receive residuals.
.Role Scoring – The analysis of a character.
SAG – the Screen Actors Guild. SAG is an actors union.
Set – An environment used for filming. When used in contrast to location, it refers to one artificially constructed. A set typically is not a complete or accurate replica of the environment as defined by the script, but is carefully constructed to make filming easier, but still appear natural when viewed from the camera angle.
Screen Actors Guild (SAG) – This union has jurisdiction over performers in most productions recorded on film, and may include commercials, films, television shows, student films and industrial films.
Screen Test – A form of audition in which an actor performs a particular role on camera, not necessarily with the correct makeup or on the set.
Script – The screenplay. Different mediums have different standards, all of which, if done imaginatively and effectively, can be broken. General industry rules are as follows — Pages: Depending on the genre, average length ranges from 105 to 120 pages. Font: Courier or New Courier; Times New Roman is usually accepted, as well. Spacing: Single space when describing action or a person’s continuing dialogue; double space between new action lines and/or character dialogue. Screenwriting programs: Final Draft, Movie Magic, Script Thing, Dramatica Pro, Scriptwright, Movie Master, etc.
Shooting Schedule – The shooting schedule is the production bible. Including everything from rehearsal times to effects set-ups, the shooting schedule helps manage the daily events on set.
Short List – Short lists contain consensus candidates in the decision-making process. The list displays second/third tier results in the whittling of acting, directing, writing and other key crew decisions.
Sides – Half-sheet pages of a script which contain the lines, cues and business of one character. An excerpt of a script given to auditioning actors. The side generally has an important bit of dialogue giving the actor insight into the character and showing the director/casting director if the actor has the ability to convey the character’s emotions, background, etc through that particular dialogue during their audition.
Slate – To slate your name (and age, if a minor) on camera; used as identification on the audition tape.
Slug Line – A header appearing in a script before each scene or shot detailing the location, date and time that the following action is intended to occur.
Station 12 – The department of SAG that confirms an actor’s union membership and dues status.
Stand-In – A person who has the same physical properties of a particular actor, and takes their place during the lengthy set-up of a scene. This allows the actor to prepare for the filming itself.
Taft-Hartley – A federal statute that allows a non-performer to work in a union position without having to first join the union. It is in effect for 30 days from the first day of employment, after which the performer must join the union.
Tag Line – The last speech in an act or a play, usually humorous or clever.
Take – A single continuous recorded performance of a scene. A director typically orders takes to continue until satisfied that all of his or her technical and artistic requirements for the scene have been met.
Taking the Stage – Giving the actor the freedom to move over the entire stage area, usually during a lengthy speech.
Talent – While talent usually refers to actors, it can also refer to writers and other artistically contributing members of a production. In studio terms, “attaching talent” is the key to moving a project forward.
Teleplay – A script written to be produced for television.
Teleprompter – A type of camera in which the performer can read his lines right off the camera lens; usually used for daily shows and news broadcasts where hosts have little time to memorize lengthy scripts.
Tempo – The speed at which the action of a play moves along.
Theatrical Agent – an agent that represents talent for television and film work.
Top – To build to a climax by speaking at a higher pitch, at a faster rate, or with more force and greater emphasis than in preceding speeches.
Tracking Group – A security-protected internet community of development executives who
Trailer – An advertisement for a movie which contains scenes from the film. The name derives from the fact that these advertisements used to be attached to the end of a newsreel or supporting feature. Doing this reduced the number of reel changes that a projectionist would have to make.
Treatment – Similar to an outline, a treatment is one of the first steps in developing a project. It adds depth to character and story by filling in missing blanks. The treatment’s main purpose is to tell the complete story before setting it in script form. Most are written in prose and range from ten to twenty pages. The treatment is the best place to hammer out initial story and character problems. Unless a script is sold on spec, most buyers require a treatment (or very detailed) outline from its writers before commencement of the actual screenplay. If financed independently, the treatment’s often a part of the initial fundraising package.
Unit Production Manager (UPM) – An executive who is responsible to a senior producer for the administration of a particular movie. UPMs only work on one film at a time.
Upgrade – an upgrade occurs when an extra on set is given speaking lines in a scene (usually last minute), and the actor (former extra) is now guaranteed full union pay. This happens more often in films than in television. In right to work States there is no guarantee of upgrade in rate unless negotiated.
Voice Over – Indicates that dialogue will be heard on a movie’s soundtrack, but the speaker will not be shown. The abbreviation is often used as an annotation in a script.
Walk-On – A small acting part which has no lines.
Wrap – To finish shooting either for the day or the entire production.
Zed Card – A composite of photos printed on a 6″ x 8″ card, used by models. Also sometimes called a ‘comp card.’