7 Useful Film Terms Actors Need To Know

Actors may not need to know all the jargon of film speak, but it’s helpful to know at least a few. It’ll make your set experience a more pleasant ride, you’ll understand more of what’s happening around you, and it’ll help set run smoother.

Here are a few terms I found incredibly helpful.

1. New Setup/ New Deal/ Moving On

This is something you’ll hear the 1st AD (Assistant Director) shouting for the whole crew to hear. It means the current shot setup is complete and the director is ready for a new setup. The cameras are going to be moving, the lighting may need to change, and sound will probably have to find a new place to stand. It means the set is about to erupt into a chaos of activity and for you, the actor, it’s time to go back to the green room.

The AD or director will come to collect you, but in case they get held up by one of the crew, this is your chance to take initiative and remove yourself from the chaos. Not only will it help the crew to set up faster, but it’ll also help you to have more time to focus on the role you’re there to play.

2. 10-1 / 10-2

Remember when you were a kid and you told your parents you had to go “Number One”. Yup, same deal; 10-1 is going pee and 10-2 is going poo. Wow. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.
Why is this important? Everything you hear on set is to aid communication between departments. So when you, as the actor, need to go 10-1 or 10-2 the 1st AD needs to know so they can account for your absence. Don’t worry, it’s not something you need to shout for the whole set to hear, only the 1st AD needs to know.

3. Quiet On Set

This should be obvious, but I’ve been surprised by how many times people just don’t get it. When you hear the AD’s shout, “Quiet on set.” It really means it’s time to be quiet. As an actor, it may be that you’re still having a conversation with the director when this is said, but when you hear it, do your best to quiet down and get ready for a take.

4. Getting Focus

If you’re a great observer, you may overhear the camera department saying they’re getting focus. This means the eye of the camera is making sure you look crystal clear. Do what you can to stay still for them. If you’re wearing glasses, take them off and look straight down the lens, the Cam Op or AC will think you’re the bee’s knees.

5. Martini Shot

Again this is something you may overhear from the AD. It means this is the last shot and you’re done. It literally came into existence because it referred to the post drinks the crew would go out to get after work.

6. Wide Shot

If you’re not familiar with all the different types of shots, I highly recommend you do so. It’ll help you to know when to give that SMASHING performance, and when to wait. The wide shot is to get coverage. It’s to make sure they set the tone

7. Going Again

When you hear this don’t go far, in fact it may be most beneficial for you to get into the starting point or “First position” so that when the camera starts rolling you’re already set again for the next take.

These are just a few terms that could help make your life on set a bit easier. The biggest recommendation I can give you is to familiarise yourself with everything you can that has to do with film. If as an actor you can put yourself into a film school, do it, it’ll help you feel more confident and comfortable on set.

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  • Charis Joy Jackson

    Producer, Director, Writer, Actress

    Charis Joy Jackson is a writer, director, producer and teacher working with The Initiative Production Company. During the day she makes movies and in her spare time is writing a novel. She's a self-proclaimed nerd who wishes she could live in Hobbiton. You can follow her on Instagram @charisjoyjackson

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