The Ultimate Film Term Glossary
Have you ever noticed that certain industries seem to have a more complicated barrier to entry? US Politics, for example, is laced with elitism in the multitude of overly complicated terms causing the "average Joe" to feel defeated before even venturing to understand. Film, Television, Hollywood operates the exact same way. Hollywood is built like a secret society that's operating behind a password protected door.
Think of this as your living, breathing, film and television glossary. We will continue to update, build and revise. If you have a term you'd like us to add to this list, please reach out!
Understanding is sexy. Knowledge is power. Let's smash down the door.
Basic Film Terms:
This is a schedule given to the cast and crew over the course of the film’s production. It let’s every department know when to arrive on set each day, listing which scenes are being shot, and what is required to make them happen.
The black and white board or slate with a hinged top used to display information of the shot on screen. It typically contains information about the director, title of the movie, and take being filmed.
A prop, or property, is any moveable item that can be seen on a film. It could be a hat, cushion, wine glass, lightsaber, merkin, kitchen unit, tree or aircraft.
This is the script for a movie production written by a screenwriter. The screenplay contains all of the dialogue, character movements, and essential actions. The screenplay is the written blueprint of the film.
This is a list provided to the film crew the day before shooting. It describes all of the shots the director wants to get that day.
This is a single, immobile image frame from either a completed movie or a production image taken from the shooting process.
This is a sequential series of rough sketches or stills showing what will happen in the movie. It captures what the camera lens will film so that the filmmakers can outline the various shots needed. A rough visual synopsis of what will take place.
This Is a detailed summary of a potential movie’s story, including each major scene. It’s generally necessary when pitching a film to a studio.
Film Industry Terms:
ABOVE THE LINE
This is the cost of making a movie associated with the major creative talent, including the director, writer, actors, and producers. Films with special effects will also have a greater number of above the line costs than films without special effects.
BELOW THE LINE
Refers to any production costs that are not “above the line”. This can include film crew salary, publicity, music rights, and cutting together a trailer.
The platform and process of making a movie available for viewing by an audience. (i.e. Theatrical release, streaming, straight to dvd…)
This is the term used for the opaque or creative accounting methods used by the film/tv industry to budget and record profits for film projects. Expenditures can be inflated to reduce or eliminate the reported profit of the project, thereby reducing the amount which the corporation must pay in taxes and royalties or other profit-sharing agreements, as these are based on the net profit.
These are financial compensations that are paid to above the line cast/crew from additional post production revenue from reruns, syndication, DVD release, or online streaming release. Residuals are calculated and administered by industry trade unions like SAG-AFTRA, the Directors Guild of America, and the Writers Guild of America.
Fun Film Terms:
Ask Me Anything. This can be in the form of official press interviews, Zoom calls or FaceTime calls.
Behind The Scenes
Meaning that the filming of a movie, TV show, or one of the scenes is finished. “That’s a wrap, folks.”
A party held for cast and crew after the film or TV show is finished.
An online provider of entertainment (music, movies, etc.) that delivers the content via an Internet connection to the subscriber's computer, TV or mobile device. (i.e. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu)