Learn the Lingo: 15 Weird Filmmaking Terms
From cheeseplates to deadcats, let’s take a look at some strange filmmaking terms.
When it comes to filmmaking, there are a lot of strange terms. Learning the lingo is a rite of passage that every filmmaker has to go through. Let’s take a look at some of the stranger filmmaking terms out there and figure out what they mean.
Other Names: CP-47, 47, Peg, Ammo, Bullet
On a film set, a C-47 is simply a clothespin. The origin of why it came to be called a C-47 is somewhat fuzzy. Some say it was named after the C-47 airplane because of it’s versatility. Others say they were named after the bin in which they were stored. No matter the origin, a C-47 is one of the most-used tools on a film set. Typically they are used to clamp filters to the barn doors of lights, but they can also be used to hold up fabric or prank unsuspecting crewmembers.
Other Names: Electrician
No, a juicer isn’t a kitchen appliance or muscular person. In film, a juicer refers to an on-set electrician. A juicer is one of the most important roles on set, as there’s typically a lot of power required to operate all of the various pieces of equipment associated with shooting a film.
Other Names: Martini Shot
A Martini, or Martini Shot, is the final shot before wrapping the set for the day. It’s supposedly called the Martini shot because the next shot would be taken out of a glass, aka post-wrap drinking. It’s also been said that in the early days of Hollywood, stars would begin their post-wrap party a little early and start drinking martinis during the last shot. When you hear the term martini said on set, it brings about as much joy as a couple of real ones.
On a film set, stinger refers to a single extension cord. A stinger refers to any size of extension cord. Typically on a film set, stingers will be black instead of the bright orange cables found at local hardware stores.
When a filmmaker is talking about legs, they’re typically talking about the legs of a tripod. On most professional tripods, the head and the legs can be easily separated. Professional tripod legs are usually made out of carbon fiber, as they are light, tough, and good in extreme conditions.
Sticks is another word for tripod on a film set. If someone were to say grab the sticks, they would be referring to both the legs and head of the tripod.
Other Names: Baby Stick, Baby Legs
A baby on a film set is a small set of tripod legs. Tripod legs come in all shapes and forms, but if you are wanting to put your camera extremely close to the ground, you’ll want to go lower than what most standard tripod legs will allow. To do this you will want to use a baby, or small tripod legs, to get low-angle shots.
Other Names: Striking
To strike on a film set simply means to turn on a production light or series of lights. While it is less common in modern filmmaking, every now and then you might hear someone yell “striking” when turning on a light. However, some argue that it is much better to simply say “mind your eyes, light coming on.”
A cheeseplate is a metal plate with holes designed to serve as a multipurpose utility bracket for various film related accessories. While cheeseplates come in all shapes and sizes, they are almost always used to create camera rigs. The holes allow the user to mount screw-based devices easily.
Abbey Singer refers to the second-to-last shot at a specific film location. It was named after Abbey Singer (pictured above, far left), a famous production manager who would alert his crew two shots before the set needed to be collapsed.
Other Names: Cucoloris
A cookie is a device used to mask light patterns onto a background. Cookies can come in all shapes and sizes, but they’re almost always placed on a stand separate from the actual light source. They’re called cookies because their hole patterns look like a chocolate chip cookie.
Run and Gun
Run and gun is a term used to describe a style of filmmaking with very little production equipment besides a camera. Run and gun is typically used in documentary-style filmmaking, as filmmakers aren’t always given the luxury of a controlled set. With cameras quickly progressing in dynamic range and sensitivity, it is becoming increasingly popular for indie filmmakers to utilize a run and gun approach to their craft.
Other Names: Wind Muff, Mic Cover
On a film set, a dead cat is a fuzzy cover that goes around the end of a boom mic to block out wind distortion. The name fits the accessory perfectly, as its furry exterior makes it look just like a dead cat. Rode currently sells a DeadWombat that is slightly larger than a traditional dead cat.
Other Name: Film Slate, Clapboard, Slate, Clapperboard, Slapperboard, Time Slate, Board
A clapper is a board used for syncing and identifying a shot in post. A clapper is most notably the most iconic accessory on any movie set. Typically a clapper will have a place to write the scene, take, and shot with some other information like production title, director, and DP.
Know of any other weird film terms? Share in the comments below.