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!).
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!