On set key terms

Not sure what something means? Learn the lingo and terminology.


This is the Principal Actors cue to start.
Assistant Director (1st)
Easily mistaken for the director since they are normally the person doing all the shouting and giving everyone their cues. They are the person in charge when you are on set. Listen very carefully to what they say.
Assistant Director (2nd)
Normally your first point of contact, but not always on the set as they are often at the Unit Base planning ahead. The 2nd AD is responsible for making sure all members of the Cast and Crew are in the right place at the right time. They liaise with the Agency about background requirements.
Assistant Director (3rd)
On set, the 3rd AD is the person who will be looking after you. He/she liaises with the 1st and will be the person giving you instructions on where you should go.
Assistant Director (Crowd)
On bigger productions there may be a separate AD to look after the Supporting Artistes.


Background Action
This is your cue to start.
Americanism. An open air part of the studio where sets can be constructed.
Union that represents Supporting Artistes. Stands for the Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematographic and Theatre Union.
Best Boy
The first assistant electrician, assisting the Gaffer.
Type of light.
Sometimes called Greenscreen or chroma-key. Filming takes place against a blue or green background. The background can then be replaced by a different location.
Body Cast
You may be asked to go to a body cast. A cast will be made of part of your body or even your whole body.
The pole that the boom operator holds attached to an overhead microphone.
Broken Lunch
Under the FAA agreement it is an additional payment if you are not given a meal break within a set time.
Buy out
On certain jobs you may be offered a Buy Out of rights, instead of repeat fees.


Call Sheet
A daily report normally produced by the 2nd AD. Given to the crew so they know what is being filmed that day.
Call Time
The time you must report to your given location. You must be on time.
Camera right and Camera left
Describes the view from the cameras point of view. If you are told to move camera left and you are facing the camera you would move to your right, and visa versa.
Casting Director
Responsible for casting the Actors.
Check the Gate
Checking a part of the camera to ensure no unwanted objects such as hairs have gone across the lens.
The paperwork given to you when you arrive. You must get it signed before you leave to ensure you get paid.
Clapper Loader
The person who loads the film into the camera.
Also called the slate. Used to mark each take by number and help the editor synchronize sound and vision.
Close Up
Shot of a person, the camera would be only on their head.
Confirmed Booking
This is a firm commitment to work on this day. Do not take another job on that day.
A sequence filming over more than one day, or more than shot. It is therefore essential that nothing changes to upset the continuity of the scene.
Continuous working day / night
A filming day or night where you will not be given a meal break, but a running buffet is provided while filming continues.
Costume Fitting
You may need to have a costume fitted before filming. You may also be asked to go to a wig or prosthetics fitting if they are going to change your appearance.
Craft Services
Tea, Coffee and water station
Crane Shot
The camera may pan up at great height. A crane is used to lift the camera into the air.
Crowd Base
On bigger calls this is where you will be asked to report.
This is your cue to stop. You will then often be asked to return to your first positions.


Dining Bus
A place to eat, but could also be used as a Holding Area
Director of Photography (or Cinematographer). Works with the Director supervising the Camera and lighting department to set up the shot. They are responsible for determining the look of the film, in terms of style, rather than just the process of recording it.
A person used when the Actor is not available. Usually from long distance or from behind, or for a part of the body such as hands and feet.


Union that represents Supporting Artistes.
Establisher Shot
A general view of any location or building.
Eye line
The direction you are required to look in shot.


Film Artistes Association. Part of BECTU
Featured Artiste
Another name for an actor.
Final Checks
Hair and make-ups last chance to get everything right.
First Positions
Sometimes referred to as Number Ones. You will be given a starting position for each take of a scene.
Focus Puller
The person in charge of the lens on the camera.
From The Top
To start the scene from the beginning


Head electrician.
Something that covers a light to create different effects.
Crew members involved in building platforms, laying tracks or helping out blacking out for night shoots.


Hair and Make up ready
To arrive with your hair and make up done ready to go as per instruction
Hold the Red
Another take is about to happen.
Holding Area
Similar to Crowd Base, a place where a group of you will be waiting before being called onto set.
Honey Wagon
The toilet.


Close-Ups of importance. e.g. a hand picking up a gun.


Not filming at a studio? Filming will take place here.
Long Shot
Full length shot with some of the background.
Look-alike Double
An artiste who is used because they have a strong physical resemblance to an Actor.


Master Shot
Wide shot that covers the main action throughout.
Mid Shot
Shot of the top half of the body.
An additional payment paid under some Equity agreements if more than one episode of a production are recorded in one day.


Filming through the night. No set hours but could start as early as 4pm and finish as late as 7am.


The camera moves from left to right, or right to left.
Pencilled Booking
A provisional booking, yet to be confirmed. Sometimes you may be given a heavy pencil. This is more likely to happen but still not confirmed.
Pick Up
A small part of a scene which has been missed or needs to be reshot that the crew will go back to complete.
Production Office
The headquarters behind the set, usually headed by the Production Manager.
Any object you may be given in addition to your costume that is movable, such as a sword or rifle.
An artificial body part, applied in the make-up dept.


Red Light and Bell
A red light and bell will be sounded (usually in a studio) before filming is about to happen. Also, Save the Red, marked by two bells, means filming has stopped.
Another type of light.
This is when you rehearse a scene before filming.
Repeat Fee
Featured artistes sometimes receive a fee every time something is shown.
Moving the camera to a different position.
Reverse Shot
A 180-degree angle from the last position of the camera.
Rolling/Roll Camera
See Turning Over/Turning.
Runner or PA
Can be instructed do anything at all to support the ADs and Production Office. From collecting people to and from the set to taking lunch orders or picking up faxes.
A first look at what has been filmed on a given day.


Second Unit
A completely separate crew, filming different scenes to the Main Unit, often Insert or Pick-Up shots.
Where filming is taking place.
Shift Call
Not a full days work. Only used under the FAA agreement it is a maximum of four hours work.
The call sheet and script for the day -condensed.
Signed Off
You have your chit/Voucher signed by an AD and you are free to leave
At the studios an enclosed space where the set is constructed.
Another name for electrician.
Special FX
Special effects can be anything used in shot such as fire, wind, rain or snow.
The Camera has reached its required speed.
Split Day
A shifted day in hours. For example a mid morning start and a late evening finish. Pay is still a standard day.
An explosive charge to create the effect of a bullet or small explosion.
Stand By
This is a warning that filming is about to commence.
Stand In
A person used in place of an Actor to set up initial lighting and camera. Usually of a similar height age and skin tone to the Actor.
A harness that allows the camera to be attached to a camera operator. This reduces or eliminates the unsteadiness of the motion by the operator.


Filming of a particular sequence. This will be repeated until the director is happy.
The camera moves either up or down.
Tracking Shot or Dolly
The camera moves smoothly forwards or backwards by running on tracks.
Turning Over/Turning
This means the camera is about to roll.


Unit Base
This is where the production team will base itself on any given day when on location.


Walk On
A step up from a supporting artiste, someone the viewer is more likely to identify as an individual, who may have a few words to say.
Wild Track
A recording of atmospheric sound.
This indicates the end of the filming day.