Learning Set Lingo: Tips for a Production Assistant

set lingo

[Post Updated August 7, 2018]

Set Lingo! Walk onto a film set for the first time and you will quickly realize there is an entirely different language you must learn to communicate effectively with those around you.

Here is a list of general set lingo. Be sure to check out Walkie Lingo as well.

Film Set Terminology

Above-the-Line: Producers, Directors, Actors, Screenwriters and all the people who have “creative” input.

A.D.: Short for Assistant Director. If you’re a set P.A., he or she will probably be your boss. For more info go here.

Apple Box: A wooden box used for many different things.  Sizes include;  full apple, half apple, quarter apple, and pancake.

Base Camp: Sometimes located away from set. This is where the trailers, parking, and meals are usually located.

Below the Line: Everyone not “Above-the-Line.”  This is the crew and makes up most of the production. (Interesting Note: I think the budget for “Below-the-Line” and “Above-the-Line” usually evens out to about the same. Which is depressing).

Bogies: Unwanted people in the shot, usually pedestrians, are called “Bogies.”

C-47 or Bullet: A wooden clothespin.

Camera Op or C.O.: Short for Camera Operator – For more info go here.

Crafty: Nickname for the craft services table.  This is where all the snacks and drinks are.

Crossing: It’s polite to say this to the Camera Op if you’re crossing his frame.

Cube Trucks: Large white trucks with lifts that look like cubes. Each department usually has their own. E.g. The Production Cube.

Day for Night: When planning on shooting a night scene, during the day on stage.

D.P.: Short for Director of Photography or Cinematographer.  For more info go here.

Fire Watch: A duty that involves keeping watch over the film equipment while the rest of the crew takes lunch or shoots in a location where they don’t “have eyes” on the equipment. (For a PA, this usually means you get to skip the line and get food first!)

Honeywagon: Portable trailer with bathrooms and dressing rooms.

Hot Points: If someone yells this, move out of their way. They are probably carrying something pointy and/or sharp.

Genny: Short for the generator which supplies power.  Usually on a truck.

Lanyard: The thing around your neck that says you’re part of the production and have permission to be on set.

Last Looks: Usually yelled by the A.D. to Hair, Make-up, and Wardrobe to hurry the eff up with the talent.  Shooting NOW! (or as one commentor who didn’t appreciate my humor put it “Last Looks = the call for hair, makeup and wardrobe to make final additions/adjustments after seeing the talent in position with all other departments set.”

Layout Board: Large strips of cardboard or other type of board used to protect floors on location.  Sometimes people use carpeted mats as well.

Locations: Short for Locations Managers. See more here.

Lockdown: Term for standing around making sure people don’t walk onto the set during takes

Abby Singer: Aka “The Abby” — Term from the second to last shot of the day.

Martini Shot: Aka “Martini” – Term for the last shot of the day.

Pass Van: Short for Passenger Van.  These vans drive people where they need to go.

Pictures Up: A warning that they’re ready, and the camera is about to start rolling.

Pop-Up: Short for the Pop-Up tents all around set.  Usually, each department will have one to shade people and equipment.

Production or the P.O.: Short for the Production Office. This is where you will find the Production Manager and the Coordinators for various departments…usually.  Also where you fill out paperwork and time cards… etc.

Props: Any item on set that is touched by an actor, in accordance with what is written in the script.  Otherwise, it is a set decoration.

Rolling: When footage is being shot.

Settle in: See “Pictures Up.”

Show: Whether it be TV or a Feature, everything is called a “Show.”

Talent: Actors, Models, Musicians — People being filmed on camera.

Transpo: Short for transportation.  These are the guys who drive everything.

Traveling: If someone is outside of the location, or walking to set, they are “traveling.”

Video Village: A camp of monitors and chairs.  This is where the video feed from the camera goes so that producers, directors, and other above-the-line people can watch what is being shot.

Hot Brick: Term used for a charged walkie battery.

Cold Brick: Term used for a dead/dying walkie battery.

I will update this set lingo film set terminology list periodically. Feel free to comment and add more set lingo!

Also, check out:

Walkie Talkie Lingo: Tips for a Production Assistant

Walkie Talkie Lingo

A PA without a walkie is a talking sandbag. – Unknown AD

[Post Updated August 7, 2018]

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT FILM SET WALKIE TALKIE LINGO

As a production assistant, you are going to be on the walkie a lot. You will quickly find that there is a specific walkie talkie lingo that you must learn if you don’t want to look and sound like a complete idiot in front of the entire crew. Let me attempt to explain how some of this works. It’s pretty straightforward. Also be sure to check out my article on Film Set Lingo.

When you first get your walkie:

If you are given a headset, plug it in. Turn the walkie on. You do this by turning the nob on top. Make sure you are on the right channel. Usually, you will be on channel 1, but be sure to check with your supervisor to confirm this (usually one of the assistant directors or a key PA). Hit the talk button and say your first bit of walkie talkie lingo: “Radio Check” or “Walkie Check.” Someone will then respond over the walkie: “Good Check”.  This means they heard you on the other end and everything is working correctly. If no one responds to your walkie check, something probably isn’t working. Either your headset is broken, or it’s not connected all the way, or you’re on the wrong channel, or the battery in the walkie is dead (check for the green light!).

Channels:

Different departments are on different channels, but the main channel will almost always be channel 1. Channel 2 is usually left open for one-on-one conversation. If you need to have a private conversation or a conversation that lasts more than a few seconds, you should issue (or will be issued) the following instruction in walkie talkie lingo:  “Switch to 2” Then, you (or the person you’re speaking with) should respond with: “Switching”, or, “Copy, Switching to 2”.  When the private conversation is over, one of you should issue the term: “Back to 1″ to which the other person should respond with: “Copy that, switching back to 1”.

The reason it is done this way is that only one person can be speaking on a single channel at a time. You don’t want to be jamming up the main channel that people need by having a long conversation, and you don’t want to annoy people with conversations that they don’t want to hear.

(Also, on that note – No goofing off over the walkie. Unless you want the AD to take it away from you and make you look like a child in front of the entire crew.)

Frequently check in by issuing a “walkie check” to make sure you are on the right channel if you haven’t heard anyone talking for a long time. You could accidentally be on the wrong channel, or your battery could have died.  The last thing you want is to be stuck out on “lock-up” duty for an extended period and have the crew forget to come to get you for lunch.

Remember to keep fresh batteries on you or somewhere close – at all times!

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT WALKIE TALKIE LINGO LIST:

“Does anyone have eyes on _____” – Term used when trying to find someone who doesn’t have a walkie.

“____ to ____” – Term used when requesting someone’s attention: “John to Bill.”

“Go for _____” – Term used when acknowledging a request: “Go for Bill.”

Copy/Copy That – Term used to indicate that you understand the instructions or tasks you’ve been given. Make sure to respond EVERY TIME, that way people know you heard them.

“10-1” – Term used when someone is in the restroom: “Going 10-1” or, “Where is Mary?“, “10-1“.

“What’s your 20?” A term used when attempting to locate someone: “Bill, what’s your 20?

“Flying In” – Term used when bringing someone, or something, to the set. The someone/something “flies in.”

These are some of the more frequently used “walkie talkie lingo” terms.

If anyone else has more on set walkie lingo, let me know, and I’ll add it to the list!

Also, check out: