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Film Lingo You Need to Know…Stat

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If you’ve booked a role on a film, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the lingo on set before your first day so you can feel more comfortable and avoid asking questions that leave you feeling awkward.  Here are some common film terms to commit to memory:

Call time. You will be given a call time before the day you’re set to arrive on set, generally the night before.  This is the time you must be on set or at the location and ready to work.  Make sure, however, you check all methods of communication you have had with the crew to see if the call time changes along the way.  Then, give yourself plenty of time to arrive and get there early so you can prepare before its time to roll tape.  If you miss your call time or you show up late, you may be cut from the project or unable to book future gigs with the director.

Action. This is the director’s cue for acting to begin.  This is not the time you should put your phone away or stop talking to your friend.  You should always be alert and prepared on set.

Cheat. A cheat is a special shot that involves switching up a camera angle.  If you’re in a cheated shot, you’ll be asked to move to one side to get the required angle, and you’ll be told where to stand.

Dirty shot. This means there is some physical intrusion like a body part of another actor that need to be moved in order to give a sense of distance between two actors.  It may also be used to create a power differential between roles, and you may have to cheat your height in order to accomplish this.

Rolling. Action is about to begin, and the camera has been turned out, so it’s go time!

Standby. This means you must hold your position for a temporary delay and be prepared for rolling.  Do not break character.

Cut. This signifies the end of a take and a call to stop the action.  Never stop before you hear ‘cut.’ 

Wrap. The director is satisfied with the work and the shoot is finished.

These are important terms for any film actors to understand in order to know exactly what to do and when to do it without having to stop the crew along the way.  Get comfortable with the lingo as soon as – or even before – you land the gig.

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