Film Set Terms

Acting Terms Everyone Should Know

Here is a great list of acting terms and Entertainment industry terms which you will hear often on film sets, in theatre productions and in recording studios.


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Above the Line – A budgetary term for movies and TV. The line refers to money budgeted for creative talent, such as actors, writers, directors, and producers.

Academic Theatre – Theatre connected with school and having educational, rather than commercial, goals. The physical plant may be anything from a classroom or outdoor platform to a full-size proscenium arch theatre. The actors are usually drawn from theatre classes, although there may be guest performances from community members or by a professional artist-in-residence. The works produced may be well-known standards of the commercial theatre or student-written works-in-progress.

Acoustics – The science of sound as applied to theaters, relating to how sound travels and reverberates.

Acting Bug – A term used to indicate that someone of any age has been infected with a great desire to be an actor.

Acting Resume – Focuses exclusively on acting and establishes your credibility as an actor by listing your acting experience and training as well as promote you as an actor to agents and casting directors.

Action – A director’s cue to begin filming.

Actor Proof – A play or sketch that is almost impervious to bad acting. Francis Swan’s Out of the Frying Pan, a hit on Broadway in the 1940s and a staple of community and academic theatre ever since, has such ingratiating characters, such a tightly constructed plot, and so much fun and goodwill built into it that it can survive the most amateurish production.

A.D. – An assistant director, and usually part of a hierarchy, whose duties will include helping to set up shots, coordinating and writing call sheets, and directing and corralling extras.

ADR – Automatic digital recording, or additional dialogue recording.

Administration – The supervision of all financial, copyright and contractual aspects of either an entire catalog or a particular song.

Advance – Money paid before the recording or release of a song, to be deducted against future royalties of that song.

AF of M – Abbreviation of American Federation of Musicians.

Afterpiece – In eighteenth-century London theatres, a short comedy performed after a five-act tragedy, providing comic relief for the audience.

Agon – A debate. In the Prologue of Greek Old Comedy, a “happy idea” was put forth, then the merits of the idea were argued in the agon. In Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, for example, the women decide to end war by going on a sex strike. In the agon, Lysistrata and the Magistrate debate the issue. She prevails in the argument and he retreats.

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Air – The Vamp, the Verse, if there is one, and the Chorus (composed of “8s”), ending with the Rideout, constitute the component parts of the printed sheet-music copy. But there is music that exists between the sung lines (“fills”) that can be described as the “Air” in the song. If “Air” is recognized as “music without words,” the Vamp and Rideout, too, must be listed as “Air” pockets.

Airbrushing – A photographic process whereby certain flaws in a picture are gently blown off of a master print.

Air Checks – A recording made of a televised show on 3/4″ tape to be used for demo reels.

American College Theatre Festival – An annual competition of college and university productions that begins in local areas and advances to state, regional, and national festivals. Sponsored by the American Theatre Association, the festival names the best production of the year and gives awards for acting, writing, and designing.

Amphitheatre – Originally the Colosseum in Rome, now any large, oval-shaped building with no roof and tiers of spectator seats. The Colosseum was used for gladiator contests, not plays, but subsequent buildings of such shape have been designed and used as theatres with arena staging.

Anachronism – In the course of a stage production, a person or thing that is out of place chronologically.

Angel – The financial backer of a play.

Annc – An abbreviation for announcer. Often used by copy writers.

Anti-timing – A failing of some actors who seem to be too slow or too fast in responding to action or dialogue onstage.

Apple Boxes – Wooden crates that elevate either an actor, a cameo or furniture on a set.

A&R Director – Artists and repertoire; record company staffer or liaison in charge of selecting new artists, songs and masters.

Aristotle’s Six Elements of Drama – Also called the Six Elements of Tragedy. In his Poetico, Aristotle defines and discusses the six elements that make up the tragedy. Many critics have extended his definition to describe all types of plays.

Arrangement – The adaptation of a composition for performance by other instruments and voices than originally intended.

Arranger – One who adapts a musical work to particular instruments or voices.

Artist – As regards the music industry, an individual or group under recording contract.

Artists’ Colonies/Residencies – These habitats offer the originating artist (composer, writer, painter, etc.) space, time and solitude for the pursuit of creative work. In the theater field, playwrights, librettists or lyricists are the artists most often benefitting from these situations.

Assignment – The transfer of rights to a song or catalog from one copy-right proprietor to another.

Atmosphere – Another term for “extras” or “background artists”.

Audition – A formally arranged session (usually by appointment through an agent) for an actor to display his or her talents when seeking a role in an upcoming production of a play, film or television project, usually to a casting director, director or producers.

Avail – A courtesy extended by a performer or agent to a producer indicating availability to work a certain job. Avails have no legal or contractual status.

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Background – Another term for extras or atmosphere.

Back-to-One – Direction given by the Assistant Director after a take. It means to go back to the position which you were in at the beginning of the scene.

Balls – A deep and resonant vocal tone.

Beat (theater) – A pause.

Bed – The soundtrack that goes under your voice-over. It may be a bed of music or sound effects or a combination of both.

Best Boy – They are either part of the grip or electrical department. They are the right hand persons of the Key Grip or Gaffer.

Big – A term used for actors giving too much of a performance in the interpretation of their scene. It refers to expression, voice levels, and body movement.

Billboard – To emphasize or set apart a copy point is to “billboard” it.

Billing – The size of an actor’s role such as starring or guest starring. Also, where the actor’s name will be placed in the credits and if the name will be shown on the screen alone or with others.

Biography – A concise account of an artist or group’s industry related experience or background.

Bit Part – A small part, usually consisting of a few lines.

Blocking – In rehearsals, actors practice the required movements, in a pattern or along a path, for a given scene that allows them to avoid any awkward positions, such as one actor walking in front of another actor or standing with his or her back to the camera.

Blocking Stage – Rehearsing as if you were on a stage but these early rehearsals are typically held in warehouses, parking lots or someone’s living space, naturally without actual props or sets.

Blue Screen – Also sometimes called Green Screen, it is a blank screen which acts as the backdrop to live action. Any background can be laid into the background and give the impression that the live action was really happening in the context of the blue screen.

Body-Shot Picture – Subject is seen in an outfit (body suit, work-out clothes, dance attire, bathing suit) or performing a special skill/stunt (martial arts, surf boarding, skiing, dancing) that accentuates their body in some way.

Booker – An agency employee who sets appointments for talent/models.

Booking – A confirmed session indicating you have a job.

Booking Agent – One who finds employment for artists from buyers of talent.

Book Out – A call to all of your agents to let them know you are working, traveling or are unavailable for auditions or a job.

Borderless – A photograph that takes up the full space of the paper with no white edges.

Boom – The Overhead microphone used to record actors’ voices.

Boom Mic – A microphone on the end of a pole, held above actor’s heads to record dialogue.

Boot Legging – The unauthorized recording and selling of a performance of the song.

Breaking Character – Stepping out of the scene which you are doing.

Breakdown Services – A fee-based service provided to agents that offers a daily breakdown of roles for each production submitted by participating casting directors.

Breaking-up – Out-of-place laughter by an actor on stage.

Broad – An exaggerated performance.

Broadway – A major thoroughfare in New York City’s midtown Manhattan Times Square area on which many large theaters are located.

Bullet – Designation of a record listed on the charts, referring to increased record sales.

Bump Up – An upgrade in pay and billing when an Extra says a few words or other special activity in a scene.

Bus-and-Truck Tour – A low-budget tour of a play or musical, usually presented in smaller cities for a very short run.

Business Owner/Manager – A fundamental management function of an independent producer is making deals, but in doing this there are a myriad of rules, regulations and forms to navigate through.

Buskin – The thick-soled, laced, leather boot worn by actors in Greek tragedy to give them added height, and, thereby dignity; also called cothurnus.

Buyout – A one-time payment for shooting and airing a commercial.

Callback – A second audition where an actor is either presented to the producer and director or, in the case of commercials, is filmed on tape again for final consideration.

Call Sheet – The daily sheet for a production that lists all the scenes to be shot that day as well as actor and crew arrival times.

Call Time – The time you are supposed to report to the set.

Calling Service – As pertains to extras, a company that helps to book them on extra jobs.

Camera Right – When looking into the camera, your left.

Camera Left – When looking into the camera, your right.

Cans – Slang term meaning headphones.

Carnival Mass (play) – A type of work originally designed to be performed on Shrove Tuesday, the last day before Lent begins. The play uses elements of Catholic liturgy, social morality, music from the Catholic Mass, masks, puppets, and characters such as the wise-fool. Dating from the 15th century and found in many Christian cultures, the type has been newly realized in the Julie Taymor – Elliott Goldenthal creation Juan Darien.

Cast – As a noun, generally refers to the group of actors performing in a particular production. As a verb, refers to the final status of an actor that has won a role or part in a production over other competing performers.

Casting – When a casting director puts out the news that he needs to fill a certain role that requires an approximate age range and appearance such as a certain ethnicity, height, build or look. See what’s Casting Now.

Catalog – All the songs owned by a music publisher considered as one collection.

Catalog modeling – Modeling for photographs which will be used in catalogs produced by a manufacturer or distributor to sell clothing or other items.

Catharsis (Katharsis) – The feeling of release at the end of a tragedy experienced by audience members who have undergone feelings of fear and pity, shared in the troubles of the play’s protagonist, and now are set free from the emotional grip of the action. Aristotle called this cleansing the pleasure of tragedy.

Character model – A model who, while not necessarily a classic beauty, has strong or interesting facial features and selling attributes for specific products.

Character Role – A supporting role with pronounced or eccentric characteristics.

Charts – Lists published in the trade magazines of the best-selling records. These are separate charts for pop, soul, country western, etc.; musical arrangements.

Chord – Three or more notes sounded simultaneously that imply a harmonic function.

Choregus – Title given to a wealthy citizen in ancient Greece who was selected to pay for the training and costumes of the chorus in dramas.

Chorus (musical) – The Chorus is the song. A section of the song that repeats itself at certain intervals. At the turn of the century, and continuing into the sixties, Choruses were compared and shaped within thirty-two bars of music.

Chorus (theatre) – In Greek drama, the group of performers who sang and danced between the episodes of the play. The chorus also narrated the offstage action, commented on events, even moralized on them, as in Sophocles’ Antigone when the chorus first rejoices in the defeat of the Argive army, then comments that Polynices was a traitor deserving of his fate. The term “chorus” is now commonly used to designate a group of performers who sing, dance, or recite together in a production.

Chronicle Play – A play with a historical basis, told as a series of episodes rather than as a complete story with a structured plot. Shakespeare’s Richard II, based on Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles is an example.

Circle Takes – A director’s favorite or most usable filming of a particular scene. Used to expedite the editing process.

Class A Network Spot – Commercial airing at prime time on a major network. Residuals are highest for this type of spot.

Classic Drama – Formally, the drama of ancient Greece and Rome. Popularly, any play written before the present century that has stood the test of time. Actors auditioning are often asked to prepare two monologues, one classical and one modern.

Clearance – The right of a radio station to play a song.

Clearance Agency – Same function of a performance rights organization, such as ASCAP, BMI, SESAC.

Click Track – A perforated sound track that produces click sounds that enables one to hear a predetermined beat in synchronization with the movie.

Cold Reading – Delivering a speech or acting a scene at an audition without having read it beforehand.

Collaborator – One of two or more partners in the writing of songs.

Colored Pages – Pages onto which script rewrites are copied.

Commercial – Regarding the music industry, the potential to sell, or that which has mass appeal.

Commercial Head or 3/4 Shot – Used to seek a commercial agent, and on commercial auditions. The shot usually depicts the subject as perky and upbeat with bright energetic eyes.

Commission – Percentage of income paid by actors to their representative. If it is an agent, the amount cannot be over 10% for a union contract; if it is a manager, the percentage is unregulated, but is traditionally 15-20%.

Comm. – Abbreviation for “commercial.”

Common-Law Copyright – Natural protection of a song based on common laws of the various states. Was superseded by a single national system effective January 1, 1978.

Community Theater – A local theater group in a city or town.

Composer – One who writes the music to a song.

Composite – A type of head shot popular in the commercial industry which positions several different images of the subject together on one 8″ x 10″ spread giving casting directors a quick way to determine how the subject will look in different settings.

Composite card – Also known as a “comp card,” it is a grouping of 3-5 photos of a model on one sheet which includes the model’s statistics and sometimes biographical information. Used for promotional purposes, the photos should include at least one head shot and show poses which highlight the model’s best features.

Composition – A musical work; the art of writing music.

Compulsory License (Phonorecords) – Statutory mandate given to a copyright owner to permit third parties to make sound recordings of the copyright owner’s song after it once has been recorded.

Concept Meeting – A gathering of the producer, director and casting director to reach an agreement about the look and quality of each character in a script.

Conflicts – Being under contract for two conflicting products. This is prohibited for union commercials. An advertiser would never want one person on the air advertising both the company’s product and a competitor’s.

Console – The audio board or control panel that allows the engineer to direct the audio signal to the recorders, and to combine the various audio components into the final mix.

Consultation Meeting – The interview with a photographer which you have selected as a final choice which gives you a chance to ask questions regarding clothes, make up, what types of look you want to capture, etc.

Consumer Publication – Entertainment oriented periodicals written and published for a general public readership, i.e., Rolling Stone, Spin.

Continuity – Matching action in each take of a scene with the same props, dialogue, extras, wardrobe, make up, etc.

Control Booth – A glass-enclosed area full of equipment where an engineer and director sit during looping and dubbing sessions.

Coogan Laws – Guidelines created by SAG and named after child-actor, Jackie Coogan, for the work and pay schedules of children.

Co-Publishing – The joint publication of one copy righted work by two publishers.

Copy – A slang term for “dialogue” or “script.”

Copy Points – The items in a script that require particular attention, and therefore particular interpretation by the voice actor.

Copyright – As a noun, means the exclusive rights granted to authors and composers for protection of their works; a song or musical composition; as a verb, to secure protection for a song by filling the proper registration forms with the Copyright Office.

Copyright Infringement – Stealing or using somebody else’s copyrighted song.

Copyright Notice – Notice comprised of three elements:

1. The symbol of copyright, the word “copyright,” or the abbreviation “Copr.”
2. The year the song has been registered for copyright or the year of first production of the work.
3. The copyright owner’s name.

Copyright Office – Federal government department, one of whose main purposes is to file and supply information regarding copyrights.

Copyright Royalty Tribunal – A committee created by Public Law 94-553 to determine adjustments starting January 1, 1978, of royalty rates with respect to compulsory licenses for educational television, cable television, jukeboxes, and sound recordings.

Cover Record – Another artist’s version of a song already recorded.

Cover Set – Set which is always ready for shooting on a moment’s notice. If a film crew is scheduled to shoot outside, and it rains, they move to the cover set.

Co-Writing – Joint authorship of one work by two or more writers.

Craft Service – The food table on a set, or refers to the person(s) who handle the food.

Crew – Everyone on the set who is contributing to the production, in addition to the cast.

Cross Collateralization – Means of recouping the money spent on one song or recording against the earnings of another song or recording.

Crossover – A song which receives airplay in more than one market.

CU – A close-up shot.

Cue (theatrical) – A line of dialogue, actions or sound, onstage or off, that tells an actor it is time to enter, exit, move across stage, begin speaking, etc.

Cue (musical) – Another term for the talk back system in a recording studio usually conducted through headphones. It can also mean an audible or visual sign that tells you when to begin reading.

Cue Cards – The large flash cards that have an actor’s script printed on them and that are read when auditioning for a role in a TV commercial.

Curriculum vitae – Short account of one’s career or qualifications.

Curtain Up – The start of a performance, whether or not an actual curtain exists in front of the stage.

Cut (Film) – The director’s cue to stop filming.

Cut (Musical)-  To record; a recorded selection.

Cuts – Lines, speeches, songs, or any other element in a printed script left out of a particular production.

Dark Night – An evening on which a theater is not scheduled to have a public performance.

DAT – Digital Audio Tape.

Date – A recording session or live engagement.

Day-out-of-Days – Schedule made by the Assistant Director (AD) assigning time slots for when certain people or things will work on set.

Day-Player – Someone who is hired at SAG scale (minimum) for the day.

Day Shot – A specific scene in the script to be filmed or taped while the sun is out.

Delivery/Distribution Manager (film) – Once you have a distribution deal in place, “Delivery”, a technical term, is next. It consists of supplying the physical elements such as the interpositive, internegative, soundtracks, video masters, stills and slides and the legal elements such as copyright registration, rights documents insurance, copyright and title searches and talent agreements.

Demo – Short for “demonstration,” a demo can be a sample tape of a talent’s voice used to show his or her abilities.

Demo Firm – An organization specializing in the production of demo tapes.

Demo Tape – An audiocassette, audio CD or DVD recording of an actor’s voice demonstrating voice acting abilities.

Deus Ex Machina – Means “the god from the machine.” In Greek classical drama, an actual machine (a crane perhaps) lowered the actor playing the god into the center of the action so that he or she could unravel the plot complications and direct the denouement. Now the term more often denotes a play that uses a trick ending to extricate the actors from impossible situations.

Deuteragonist – The second character added to Greek classical drama. Previous to that, there were only chorus and protagonist.

Dialogue-less Commercials – Used to emphasize a visual image with the spoken words of an announcer as the only recorded sound.

Diaphragm – The lower part of the lungs, filling the abdominal space, that supports the voice when actors and singers breathe correctly on stage.

Diction – Clear, sharp pronunciation of words, especially of consonants.

Dionysian – The opposite principle to Apollonian, or, the creative, the imaginative, the spontaneous in art. Named for Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and fertility, whose festival, celebrated with drunkenness and licentiousness, is considered by many to be the birth of drama.

Director – Charged with staging a play or musical, who coordinates all onstage aspects of the production, including the performances of the actor. In television and film production, this person influences the actions of actors and action sequences during filming, and supervises editing afterward.

Director’s Cut – Film that is slightly or drastically different from the final cut that the studio ultimately releases.

Distributor (music) – Company that exclusively handles the sales of a record company’s product to jobbers and retail outlets for a certain territory.

Distributor/Distribution Arranger (film) – Independent producers are not usually involved in the distribution of films. Distribution is still the domain of the Hollywood-based major studios that generate more than 90% of U.S. box office, but there are also smaller distributors and independent sales agents who handle independent productions. There are also non-profit organizations that can lend a hand in various ways.

Donut – A type of spot that has prerecorded material at the beginning and at the end with a “hole” in the middle for the voice part. The parts can be reversed as well, with the voice being the donut and the pre-recorded material in the hole.

D.O.R. – Dance-Oriented Rock; a categorization of popular music utilized by radio stations.

Double-take – An exaggerated facial response to another actor’s words or actions, usually used for comic effect.

Downstage – The area of the stage closest to the audience.

D.P. – Director of photography, in charge of designing and lighting the shot.

Dramatis Personnae – From the Latin, meaning the characters in a play; also, the list of them.

Dramaturg –  One who studies a play to interpret it for a company of actors, answering questions about the text, the language, the period, the manners and mores of the characters, the clothing, and the customs. He or she may share in selecting plays, their revisions, or adaptations; choosing translations; writing program notes; and advising technicians.

Dramaturgy – The study and interpretation of plays with special attention to the difficulties plays from another period present for the acting company of today. Sometimes a component of playwriting MFA programs, the University of Michigan, among others, offers a doctoral program in dramaturgy.

Drive To – Monies paid to an actor by a production company for driving to location other than a studio lot.

Drop/Pick-up – Term used when an actor is dropped from, then picked-up by payroll; this can only be done when there are ten working days between the drop and pick-up work dates and can only be done one time per actor per project.

Dub – An audio or video copy. Also called a “dupe” (short for duplicate).

Earprompter – A small tape recorder system which the entire script is recorded and is transmitted to an earpiece through a loop around the neck. It is activated by a foot or hand control. Known in the industry as “the ear.”

ECU – Extreme close-up.

Editorial print – Editorial print work involves photographs used to compliment the story line of an article in a magazine.

Educational Theatre – Theatre conducted in or as an adjunct to schools. Also, theatre with a didactic purpose.

8 x 10 – The primary calling card to the people who will be calling you in for interviews and auditions, and casting you in their productions.

Employee For Hire – Contractual basis whereby a motion picture producer or company employs a composer or lyricist to create music or songs for a movie with copyright ownership to be retained by the producer or company.

Engineer – Individual who operates studio equipment during the recording of a song.

Exclusive Songwriting Contract – A contract which prohibits the songwriter from writing for more than one publisher.

EXT – Seen at the beginning of a new scene description in a script, refers to Exterior.

Exterior Shot – A scene filmed or taped out of doors.

Fabula Palliata – A play translated into Latin from Greek New Comedy.

Fabula Praetexta – An original play in Latin based on Roman legend or a historical event.

Fabula Togata – A Roman comedy, popular from about 150 to 50 B.C., having nationalistic themes and a realistic presentation.

False Start – Term used to describe a take in which the talent makes an error within the first couple of lines. The take is usually stopped, and a new take is slated.

Fashion modeling – The modeling of clothes where the clothing is the central focus of the photos, not the model. Fashion models must meet size nd height requirements to properly display clothing in runway shows and fashion layouts.

Favored Nations – An agreement which means that all terms are equal among all actors.

Featured Role – A co-starring role where you may have played a large role but weren’t necessarily the main character.

FIDOF – The International Federation of Festival Organizations.

Figure modeling – This is a form of nude modeling normally used for art rather than glamour.

Finding Your Light – An actor’s ability to sense when he or she is properly placed in respect to stage lighting.

Fire in the Hole – An explosion or gunshot is ready to occur.

First Refusal – A request to hold an actor for a given day. It is not binding for either the producer or you. It is more of a sign of interest than an availability request, and it is not as good as a booking.

First Team – The actual cast members who are being used in a given scene.

Fit models – Clothing manufacturers use fit models to test the sizing of sample garments. Fit models must match the company’s predetermined sample size exactly.

Flap – In animation, movement of the mouth. If the talking stops and the character’s mouth keeps moving, an actor will be called in to add either internally, at the beginning, or at the end of the line so that the mouth flaps match the rhythm of the speech.

Flashing – What is said when taking a flash picture.

Folio – A collection of songs offered for sale to the public.

Forced Call – Making an actor or crew member come to work without the required turn-around time.

Generation – The process whereby each time you copy a piece of film or tape it losses some clarity.

Glamour modeling – A broad term for modeling where the model’s appearance, rather than the attire or product, is the central focus.

Gold Album – Certification by the Recording Industry of America that a album has sold half a million units.

Gold Single – Certification by the Recording Industry of America that a single has sold half a million units.

Golden Time – Refers to overtime paid after working sixteen hours straight, equal to one’s daily rate every hour.

Go-see – The action of a model visiting a client to investigate what a particular assignment entails.

Green Lit – The process that follows after a script has been developed and moves into production. Production involves building sets, designing costumes, measuring and fitting actors for costumes, and rehearsals.

Green Lighted – When a studio commits to starting a project.

Grip – Someone who handles, carries, moves, and stores lighting, electrical, and other equipment on the set.

Groove – Rhythm or tempo that helps create the “feel” of the song.

Guards – These are the positions taken by the fighters at the beginning of the fight, from which they subsequently either attack or defend. Guards will be described according to which of the fighter’s arms and feet are forward and which behind, together with the position, angulation and direction of their weapon.

Ham – An actor who gives a very broad or exaggerated performance.

Harmony – The combination of musical notes to form chords that serve to enhance the melody line; the art of combining notes into chords.

“Head” Arrangements – An arrangement devised spontaneously. No chords are prepared for instrumentalists and vocalists. Instead, they read off lead sheets and an arrangement is made from various experimental styling devised at the studio.

Headsheet or Headbook – The sheet, poster or book of models’ headshots an agent sends to a prospective client interested in using one of their models.

Head Shot. An 8″ x 10″ photograph that acts as your calling card for securing television, film and theatrical work, showing your face as it actually appears. The head shot should capture your best and most unique physical features, while still remaining true to your actual image.

Heads Out – Manner in which a reel-to-reel tape is stored, with the loose end at the beginning of the tape, enabling the tape to be played immediately.

Hiatus – Time of year when the cast and crew of a television series is on vacation.

High Note – The highest note sung in a particular song which varies according to the musical key of the song.

High-Speed Dub – A tape copy that is made at several times normal speed. Often used in reference to tape duplication. High speed dubs are often less costly and have a quicker turn-around time than real time or at speed dubs. They can be susceptible to problems, so always check your dubs before releasing them to prospective clients.

History Play – A play dealing with a historical subject, such as Shakespeare’s Henry IV and Richard II, and Don Taylor’s The Roses of Eyem, the true story of the village of Eyem in Derbyshire, England. The village fell victim to the plague of 1665 and elected to seal itself off from the world to stop the spread of the disease. The play begins with the cast of over fifty villagers and ends with the handful who survived.

Hitting Your Marks – The ability to physically stop on a preset mark or put down the product in an exact spot.

Hold – When an actor is being paid, but is not working.

Hold Over – When a director decides to use an actor for an extra day not originally scheduled.

Holding Area – A place where extras are kept on a set or location.

Honey Wagon – A bank of dressing and mini-bathroom rooms attached together and pulled by a tractor trailer to a shooting location.

Hook – A phrase or melody line that repeats itself in a song; the catchy part to a song.

Hot Mike – A microphone that is turned on.

House Tape – A voice demo tape that includes short samples of all talent that includes short samples of all talent represented by a certain agent.

Hypokrites – The Greek word meaning “actor.”

Image – The casting type or quality you wish to convey and portray to the theatrical community.

Impresario – An entertainment entrepreneur.

Ink – To sign a contract.

Insert – A form of pick-up where a short segment of the script is reread from one point to another.

INT. – Seen at the beginning of a new scene description in a script, refers to Interior.

Interior Shot – A scenic shot inside a sound stage or inside a set on location.

Internship/Apprenticeship – Situations in which aspiring artists receive training and perform designated tasks in creative, administrative and technical areas. They are offered by most nonprofit theaters and by mostly all summer stock theaters.

In The Can – A phrase borrowed from the film business and used in voice-overs. When a good take is achieved, it is considered ready for processing or “in the can.” It generally means that the director has the take he wants.

In-The-Round – A theater in which the audience is seated on all four sides of a central stage.

Jingle – A short phrase of music usually accompanied by lyrics used to convey a commercial message.

Junior model – Models with a young look or who wear junior sizes; the typical measurements for a junior model is usually junior size 7 and about 105 pounds.

Label – A record company.

Larynx – The human voice box containing the vocal chords.

Laugh Track – The laughter of a live audience of a situation comedy or other television show that actors are performing in front of, that is recorded to be played back when the show is aired.

Laundry List – A long series of copy points in a script. The object for the talent is to read the points with varying emphasis so they don’t sound like a list.

Lead Role – Considered a starring role in a production.

Leader – Conductor or person in charge of the band.

Lead Sheet – A musical notation of a song’s melody along with the chord symbols, words and other pertinent information.

Leader Tape – Reel-to-Reel tape which contains songs separated by white tape for easy access.

License – As a noun, it means a legal permit; as a verb, it is to authorize by legal permit.

Lick – A brief, improvised musical interpolation.

Line Producer – Concerned with the day-to-day details of finishing a project or just keeping the project moving forward smoothly and on schedule.

Lithography – A printing process as opposed to a photographic process used to inexpensively reproduce a large quantity of headshots.

Local – A commercial airing in only one city, generally close to where it is cast.

Long-form TV – Movies of the Week (MOW) or miniseries.

Looping – The art of matching lip movements and vitality of action in a scene. Dialogue that is added in post-production on a sound stage. Groups of people who work together to provide additional dialogue for a scene.

LP – Short name for a long-playing record spinning at 33 1/3 revolutions per minute (rpm).

Lyrics – The words to a song.

Lyric Sheet – A (typed) copy of the lyrics to a song.

Lyricist – The writer of the words to a song.

Magic Hour – The time of day when the sun casts a light which DPs have referred to as magic; a choice, for a brief period of time, during which filmmakers have to shoot.

Manager – One who guides an artist in the development of his/her career. Same as artist or personal manager.

Mannerisms – Gestures, facial expressions, and vocal tricks that a particular actor uses again and again in different roles.

Mark – Exact locations of an actor’s feet on the floor during sequences of a shot.

Market – Selling place; medium where only one type of record is played (i.e., pop, R&B, E&W, Rap, etc.)

Master – The original recording. The tape from which dubs are made. Also, a finished recording of the song from which records are pressed and distributed to radio stations and record stores.

Meal Penalty – Additional monies paid if a working cast or crew member has not been fed after the six hours allotted by union contracts.

Melpomeme – The muse of tragedy, one of the nine muses of Mount Parnassus, believed by the Greeks to inspire those working in the arts or sciences.

Method Acting – An internalized form of acting that uses experiences from an actor’s personal life to help produce onstage emotion.

Mechanical Rights Organization – Collection agency for copyright owners of money earned from the mechanical reproduction of their songs.

Mechanical Royalties – Moneys earned for use of a copyright in mechanical reproductions, most notably records and tapes.

Mic – Attaching a wireless transmitter to an actor’s body or clothes to record dialogue.

Mimesis – The Greek word meaning, “imitation,” the term is used in criticism when discussing Aristotle’s theory of imitation, or the creative process. Put another way it is not merely copying behavior but representing the truth about life.

Mimicry – An actor’s ability to sound and/or look like someone else, usually a famous person.

Miming – Acting out.

Mix – The final audio product combining all the elements into one composite soundtrack. “Mix” also applies to the act of creating the mix. This is sometimes referred to as the “mixdown.”

Model release – A contract the model signs which gives the client permission to use their photograph.

Model Zed Card – A series of photographs, usually in color, printed on a two- or four-sided card used for securing modeling work.

Modulate – To change from one key to another in a song.

Monologue – A speech used by an actor to demonstrate his or her ability at an audition.

MOR – “Middle of the Road”; songs that may be classified as easy listening.

MOS – Without sound, attributed to a German director who pronounced it, “Mit out sound.”

Motif – The shortest significant melody of a song or theme.

Mouth Noise – Also known as “clicks and pops.” A dry mouth produces much more mouth noise than a damp one. Cigarette smoking also contributes to a dry mouth. The less mouth noise you have, the less editing has to be done later.

Moviola – A projection machine that reduces film to a small viewing screen.

Music Publisher – The individual or company who:

1. Screen songs and gets them commercially recorded.
2. Exploits the copyrights.
3. Protects the copyrights.
4. Collects income from performance, mechanical synchronization and printing rights both in the United States and in foreign countries.

Must Join – A situation in which an actor has used up the 30-day grace period to join a union and upon hiring for the next job must join that union as mandated by the Taft-Hartley law.

National – A commercial airing everywhere in the United States.

Neutral Demo – A demo that doesn’t sound like it’s for one particular artist, but best represents the song whereby it can be recorded by anybody.

Neoclassicism – Drama imitative of Greek and Roman classical models.

Night Shot – A scene specified in the script to be filmed when it is dark out.

Non-Linear Editing – Putting scenes together on a computer using film editing software capable of moving them around, and/or out of order, for ease in building a demo tape, or a scene in a movie or commercial.

Notes – Instructions, usually regarding changes in an actor’s blocking or performance, given after a rehearsal by the director, musical director, choreographer or stage manager.

Off-book – When an actor knows his or her lines and no longer needs to carry the script.

Off-Camera – A part for which you supply your voice to a TV spot or video presentation.

Off-Card – A union actor working on a non-union project is known to be working ‘off-card.’

Offstage – The area immediately behind or to the sides of the stage area; also used more generally to talk about an actor’s everyday life.

Omnies – In unison, sounds or exclamations extras make as a group.

On-Camera – A part in a TV spot or video production where you actually appear on screen. It pays more than off-camera voice-over, but often requires more work, as well as applying make-up.

One-Stop – Wholesale record dealer that sells the records of several manufacturers to juke box operators and record sores.

On Hold – A situation that occurs when an actor is contracted to be available for the next day’s shoot but will not have to report to the set until called.

On Location – Place other than a studio lot where filming is done.

On-or-About – A date which implies three different days, giving production twenty-four hours before and after the on-or-about date to start an actor.

Open Audition – Audition open to the public.

Open Casting Calls – Auditions open to anyone.

Option – Acquiring the rights to a story, such as a current events, true-life story, that guarantees that no one else can work with the party who sold the story. Options typically last for a year or less.

Out Takes – Parts of an original filming or taping that will not be used in editing the finished product.

Overdub – The addition of instruments or voices to pre-existing tracks.

P.A. – A production assistant who usually gophers and manages the extras.

Pace – The speed at which a scene is played.

Packager – One who selects and combines talent for shows.

Pan – A very bad review from a critic.

Pantomime – Being silent, yet appearing to talk.

Parent Union – The first professional union you join; subsequent unions are sister unions.

Parts model – Parts models are used for shoots which require photographs of a specific body part, not photographs of the whole person. An example is a model whose hands are photographed for a jewelry advertisement featuring rings.

Pausing For Effect – A deliberate pause within or between lines, used by an actor to call special attention to a moment.

Pay-per-airing – Monies paid to an actor each time a television commercial is shown.

Pen – To compose or write.

Per Diem – Money given to actors and crew when on location to cover the expense of food and other personal incidentals.

Performing Right – Rights granted by U.S. copyright law which states that one may not publicly perform a copyrighted musical work without the owner’s permission.

Performing Rights Organization – Society whose purpose is to collect monies earned from public performances of songs by users of music and to distribute these to the writers and publishers of these songs in a proportion that reflects as accurately as possible the amount of performances of each particular song.

Performance Royalties – Monies earned from use of one’s song on radio, television and other users of music.

Period – Project not set in current time period.

Period Piece – A play from an earlier time, played in the style, costumes, and sets representing the period it depicts.

Phone Patch – A session where the talent and the director are in separate locations. The session must be “patched” over telephone lines so everyone can hear everyone else.

Phonorecord – Any device which transmits sound other than that which accompanies a motion picture or other audio-visual work.

Photo Double – An actor, usually an extra, used in place of a principal actor who is either unavailable or only seen partially, and never has any speaking lines.

Photo-Offset Reproduction – Reproduction of musical manuscript by printing press.

Physical Film Producer – Once you have a script, director, cast and financing, you can then proceed to make a movie. Details and procedural steps will include: setting up a production company (if one isn’t already in place); hiring employees or engaging independent contractors; setting up accounting and payroll services, becoming signatory with the talent and craft guilds, finding location; clearing the script and title of any obstacles; while shooting, getting the best performances from cast, crew and director; while watching budgets and time; in post-production, helping to edit shot footage into the story line.

Pick – A song that has been reviewed by the trades and projected to have success.

Pick-Up – To start reading the script from a place other than the beginning. A “pick-up” is usually when the top part of the script has been successfully completed and only the end needs to be worked on. Narration scripts are usually done in a series of pick-ups. Pick-up can also be a request to read faster.

Pick-up Shot – Small parts of a scene that are re-shot, usually because all angles were not captured satisfactorily during the first shooting.

Picture Car – A car being filmed.

Pilot Presentation – A one-day shoot to give a network an idea of the look and feel of a proposed program available to be produced into a new series.

Pipeline – A listing or schedule of movie projects in some stage of production.

Pirating – The unauthorized reproduction and selling of sound recordings (i.e., records, tapes, CDs).

Pitch – To audition or sell; the position of a tone in a musical scale.

Pitching – The action a producer takes in trying to convince a studio to invest money in a project based on a concept or a script.

Platinum Album – Certification by the Recording Industry Association of America that an album has sold a minimum of one million units.

Platinum Single – Certification by the Recording Industry Association of America that a single has sold a minimum of one million units.

Playbill – A theatrical program in which an actors’ biography appears.

Playwright – The writer of the work up for production, who in theater, may wield as much power as the director, getting involved in casting and rehearsals.

Plot – Storyline.

Plough – Plow Monday. The Monday after Epiphany, or Twelfth Night (January 6). In sixteenth-century England, plays performed on Plough Monday rivaled the mummers’ plays of Christmas in popularity. In the plough plays the characters were not heroes like St. George or Robin Hood, but farm hands, and the chief incident was a death by accident, not in battle. Like the mummers’ play, the plough play was probably a survivor of primitive folk festivals.

Plug – Broadcast of a song; to push for a song’s performance.

Plugola – Secret payment to broadcasters for free mention of products on the air.

Plus Ten – The 10% commission negotiated by an agent, specifically referring to the 10% added to the base pay negotiated for the actor. (If the job pays only scale, the agent can not take a percentage unless he has negotiated the contract to be on a plus-ten basis).

Points – A percentage of money producers and artists earn on the retail list price of 90 percent of all records sold.

Post – A short form of “post production.” This is the term applied to all the work that goes into a production after the talent leaves. This includes such processes as editing, multi-tracking, music selection, adding special effects and mixing.

P.O.V. – The point of view that is filmed, usually referring to that of one of the actors.

Pre-reads – An advance reading by a casting director who is unfamiliar with an actor’s work prior to taking the actor to meet a producer or director.

Presence – An actor’s ability to command attention onstage, even when surrounded by other actors.

Press – The manufacture of a large quantity of records duplicated from a master for commercial sale.

Press Kit – A presentation including newspaper clippings, review of movie, television, musical and theater productions, a biography, headshot and resume given to the media and interested industry professionals. Also called a press package.

Principal Player – An actor with lines, paid at least SAG scale.

Print – Director’s cue that the shot was good enough to “print” or use.

Printed Edition – A song published in the form of sheet music.

Producer – The individual who oversees the making of a single or long playing record, radio, television or stage show from inception to completion.

Production – The technical aspects of the music industry, including sound systems and lighting requirements as well as video and recording process.

Professional Manager – The person in charge of screening new material for music publishers and of obtaining commercial recordings of songs in his company’s catalog.

Program Director – Radio station employee who determines which songs shall be broadcast.

Project Developer – The function in this role is to write or supervise the writing of a screenplay that can attract a director, cast and financing. If the screenplay is to be based on material owned by someone else, or is co-authored with others, the rights for it must be optioned or acquired.

Projection – An actor’s ability to use his or her voice so that it can be clearly heard in the back rows of a theater; also used in reference to the emotions an actor wishes to convey.

Project Financier – Upon securing a director and principal actor, production financing is next. Sources of independent financing are family and friends, equity investors, distributors in the form of domestic studios and foreign sales agents, banks, foreign subsidies and tax incentives. A lawyer is absolutely needed during this phase.

Project Packager – When a screenplay is finalized the film must be packaged and financing secured. The film package consists of the script, director, producer, and cast, as well as the budget and production schedule. The budget and schedule are flexible and usually can be changed and adapted as time goes by. However, it is a good idea to have a budget range in mind during the development process. But overall, the fundamental issues of this process are when and how to get talent.

Prologue – In Greek tragedy, the action before the entrance of the chorus.

Promoter – One who secures talent from an agent for the production and presentation of a performance; the primary risk taker in the event.

Proof Sheet – After a roll of film is shot and developed, it is printed onto sheets of 8 1/2 x 11 or 11 x 14 inch paper, holding up to 36 exposures. Use a photographer’s loop to check the lighting and focus.

Props – Any moveable object, from a letter to a sword, used by an actor during a performance.

Proscenium Stage – The classic theater arrangement, with a curtained stage facing an audience on one side.

Prosody – The marriage of words and music.

Protection – You may be asked to “do another take for protection.” This means that you have given the director a take she likes but she wants you to do it again to make sure it was the best. Also referred to as “insurance.”

Publication – The printing and distribution of copies of a work to a public by sole or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease or lending.

Public Domain – Unprotected by copyright due to an expired copyright or caused by an invalid copyright notice.

Publicist – A person hired to create awareness of a person or project.

Queued Up – Previewing a tape and having it set to start playing at the beginning of a scene.

R&B – Rhythm and blues; “soul” music.

R&R – Rock and Roll.

Rack Jobber – Dealer that supplies records of many manufacturers to certain retail outlets such as drugstores, variety stores, and supermarkets.

Raked Stage – A tilted performing area, usually specially constructed, with its upstage space raised higher than the downstage space.

Range – The vocal extent of a singer’s voice, from its lowest note to its highest.

Rave – An extremely good review from a critic.

Reader – Another actor who is paid, or volunteers, to help the casting office by playing all the other characters during an audition so the casting director can concentrate on the actor being screened.

Read-through – When the director and the actors sit around a table and read through the entire script to get familiar with the story, their roles, and their fellow actors.

Recall – When at the end of a work day, a production company decides to use your services for an additional day.

Recurring Role – Typically found on television shows where your character pops up from time to time in a few episodes of a regular show.

Reel Or Tape – A video tape compilation of an actor’s best work.

Regional – A commercial airing in a part of the United States.

Release (marketing) – The issuing of a record by the record company, or a film by a studio.

Release (legal) – Legal document releasing producer from liability, usually refers to talent allowing the producer to use his or her likeness on film and soundtrack.

Residuals – Also known as royalties, these are additional monies to actors (but not extras) for film, TV or commercial work airing on local television or international television stations.

Retouching – A photographic process whereby certain flaws in a picture are covered up or removed.

The Rideout – The Rideout is the music that begins on the downbeat of the last word of the song. Just as all songs have a Vamp, every Chorus comes packaged with a Rideout.

Rider (to Contract) – An addition to a performer’s union contract that outlives a special circumstance for pay, and airing privileges given to the production company by a union.

Right-to-Work – Ability to accept employment without joining a labor union, usually referring to states whose labor codes insure that right.

Right-to-Work state – In a right-to-work state, actors who have not joined a union may do both union and nonunion work. Companies cannot refuse to hire an actor because they do not belong to a union or do not want to join a union. This does not mean that a union actor in one of these states my do both union and nonunion work; union actors must still abide by union rules. The right-to-work states are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming.

Ritual – A prescribed form or ceremony. Drama began in religious ritual and now, because ritual provides structure, much present-day drama attempts to develop new rituals or revise old ones.

Road Manager – Traveling supervisor hired by artist to coordinate details of concert tours on behalf of the artist.

Rolling – Camera have been turned on and film is rolling.

Roomtone – The sound a room makes without anyone in it. Everyone has a different sound, so recording in the same room is sometimes critical when trying to match voice parts from one session to another.

Royalty – Money earned from use of the record or song.

Run Throughs – Rehearsals before the actual filming of a scene.

Runway modeling – Live modeling on a stage or walkway where clothing is the central focus of the show.

Rush Calls – A last minute call by an agency to an actor for an audition or a job.

SAG-eligible – A non-union actor who is eligible to join SAG by being cast in a principal role, being a member of an affiliated union and having had a principal role under that union’s jurisdiction, or performing three days of union extra work. Also known as a “must join.”

SAG-franchised – Status of an agent or agency that has signed papers with SAG and agrees to operate within SAG guidelines.

SASE – Means “self-addressed, stamped envelope.”

Scale – Minimum SAG daily wage for principal actors.

Scansion – The analysis of verse to show its meter.

Scene Study and Analysis – A pre-audition practice of studying a few pages of a script ahead of time.

Score – The compilation of pages of sheet music that contains all the music for a show.

Scoring – Music added to help fill scenes or dialogue cut by a director during post-production.

Screen Test – A type of audition during which an actor will be filmed performing a particular role, often not on the set or in proper wardrobe or makeup.

Second Meal – The meal served six hours after the end of lunch.

Second Take – Being taped or filmed an additional time in a scene or audition allowing an actor to change his or her performance.

Second Team – A group of stand-ins who take the primary actors’ places allowing them to rest during lighting changes and camera rehearsals.

Self-Contained Artist – An artist who writes and performs his or her own material. Also refers to artists who require no production or personnel assistance from promoters.

Session – Meeting during which time musicians and vocalists make a recording.

Session Fee – The money you are paid for the initial day’s work on a commercial. It is usually a sale amount.

Set – As a noun, the physical design of the stage area within which the actors perform; as a verb, to make permanent the way in which a scene is being played.

Set Call Time – The moment the actor is expected to be in front of the camera in full make up and wardrobe, ready to begin working.

Set Dressing – Items placed in the scene to complement the story.

SFX – Abbreviation for sound effects. Sometimes also written as EFX. or FX.

Sheet Music – The pages containing the music and lyrics to a single song, as opposed to a score containing all the music for a show.

Shoot Around You – Shooting other scenes in a script until a particular actor is available.

Showcase (theatrical) – An evening of scenes either prepared and rehearsed ahead of time or done as a cold reading for industry professionals who may cast the actors in roles.

Showcase (musical) – A presentation of new songs and/or talent.

Sibilance – A drawn out or excessive “S” sound during speech. In extreme cases, the “S” sound is accompanied by a whistle. Sibilance is annoying and a hindrance to some voice actors. “S” is a popular letter with copywriters and is found in most lines except the last one.

Sides – Designated scenes pulled out of an entire script to be used for auditions.

Signator(y) – A company which has signed an agreement with a union, agreeing to adhere to all the rules of that union, whether it be SAG-AFTRA, DGA, etc.

Signature Song – A song that is primarily associated with a single famous singer, as “Singing In the Rain” was with Gene Kelly.

Sign-in Sheet – Exhibit E SAG/AFTRA Audition Report which an actor fills out and initials upon arrival at a casting office.

Signing Out – The act of entering the time you exit an audition on the Exhibit E Sign-in Sheet.

Silent Bit – When an actor or extra performs a noticeable or required action in a scene, but with no lines.

Singing voice – Refers to the person who performs an actor’s vocal parts. This is done in the dubbing process in post-production.

Slate – An audible announcement of the take number recorded ahead of your read. The slate aids the engineer in finding the favorite takes for editing.

Small – A very subtle performance by an actor.

Single – A small record played at 45 rpms containing two selections, one on each side; record released because of the expectation by the record company that “A” side would achieve success.

Sister Union – One or more additional unions you join after the first one. The first union you join is your parent union.

Size Card – A form filled out at commercial casting sessions to inform wardrobe people of your clothing sizes.

Slate – The act of stating your name and agency on a commercial audition while being videotaped.

Slice-of-Life Commercial – A miniature play that quickly identifies a problem and just as quickly offers a solution.

Sloppy Border – A type of border surrounding a photograph that looks as though it were painted on with a paint brush and has an uneven quality.

Song Plugger – One who auditions songs for performers.

Song Shark – One who profits from dealing with songwriters by deceptive methods.

Spec – Short for speculative. It usually means volunteering your services and postponing payment until a project sells.

Spec Script – Several writers may work together to put words to an idea, and in the process create a script in hopes that someone will buy and produce the script concept. Also, a production company may hire writers to create a script from a story idea that they already own.

Speculation – The recording of a song with payment to be made to the recording studio, musicians and vocalists when a deal is consummated.

Speed – Exclamation that indicates the film and the audiotape are running simultaneously at the correct speed.

Split Publishing – When the publishing rights to a song are divided among two or more publishers.

Spokesperson Commercial – Uses an authority figure (usually very recognizable or with professional credentials) to lend credibility to a product right away.

Spot – A commercial for radio or television.

Squibs – Radio-controlled explosive pockets of fake blood attached to an actor’s body.

Stable – The roster of models an agent represents.

Stage Left – The side of the stage that is to the actor’s left as he or she faces the audience.

Stage Right – The side of the stage that is to the actor’s right as he or she faces the audience.

Standard – A song that continues to be popular for several years.

Stand-in – After a scene has been set for the next sequence of filming — moving props, checking the sound, adjusting the lighting, and arranging different camera angels — a crew of actors other than the principal ones are used to go through the actions that the principal ones will follow, such as walking through a door, sitting in a chair, picking up a object, etc.; an actor who has a similar height, build and look of the principal actor, is used (instead of using the time of the principal) where the principal is going to stand while the crew makes sure that lighting and camera angles are okay.

State-of-the-Art – Contemporary or current.

Station 12 – Report which a casting director must obtain from SAG before employing one of its actors.

Statutory Copyright – Status acquired by a composition when it is registered with the Copyright Office or is published with the proper copyright notice.

Storyboard – A frame-by-frame artist’s drawing of key scenes with the dialogue printed underneath serving as a rough plan for the way the commercial or film should appear and what camera angles the director should use.

Strike – To remove something from a set, or tear it down.

Studio (film) – Monolithic “Hollywood” entity that oversees the approval of concepts leading to the creation and production of major motion pictures.

Studio (sound) – An audio isolation room where the talent performs, with an adjoining control room.

Studio Hire – Union term for actors who work in the same area in which they are hired or reside.

Studios/Studio School – Acting schools usually founded by and built around a single master teacher and his or her vision or theory of the acting craft. They generally offer a variety of classes that can be taken in eight- or ten-week segments, or longer terms.

Stunt – A dangerous scene; alternately, a publicity event designed to call attention to a project or a particular actor.

Subpublisher – The company that publishes a song or catalog in a territory other than that under the domain of the original publisher.

Subpublishing – When the original publisher contracts his song or catalog to be handled by a foreign publisher for that territory.

Subtext – The subtleties between the lines of a scene.

Supporting Role – Usually a small role where you had some acting and speaking parts.

Stunt Pay – Additional hazard money paid to a actor or stuntperson to perform dangerous scenes.

Sweeten – The addition of new parts to existing rhythms and vocal tracks and horns.

Synchronization – The placing of music in timed-relation to film.

Synchronization Right – The right to use a musical composition in (timed-relation to) a film or video tape.

Syndication – A popular television show is sold to be broadcast in a local or regional market.

Taft-Hartley Law – A law that allows non-union actors to work under a union contract for their first role. After that, they must join the union.

Tag – A short portion of a spot, usually placed at the end. A tag may say something such as, “Available at all OfficeMax outlets through Sunday.” Tags are often delivered by a voice talent different from those in the main body of the ad.

Tails Out – Recording tape wound on a reel so that the end of the soundtrack is on the outside. A tape wound “tails out” is usually marked with blue adhesive tape, while one wound “heads out” is usually marked with red adhesive tape.

Take – The attempted shooting of a scene. The “attempted” refers to the usual circumstance in which it usually takes several takes to get the scene right from the actor, director, camera person and sound mixers standpoint.

Talent Scout – Hired by studios and casting agencies to search for fresh star talent.

Talkback – The system that allows people in the control room to talk with the talent in the studio.

Tear Sheets – An actual copy of a print ad torn out of a newspaper or magazine and put in a model’s portfolio.

Telegraphing – Broad charade-type actions used by inexperienced actors to get a point across.

Teleprompter – A machine placed in front of the lens of a camera on which an actor’s dialogue is projected. The dialogue scrolls by and is read when at eye level.

Test Audience – Special screenings used to gauge the reaction of the group, and help determine certain scenes to be dropped and new ones added.

Test Commercial – A commercial that will be aired in a small area and monitored for its effectiveness. You must be told that the commercial will be a test commercial before the audition.

Test Photographers – Photographers willing to barter their services at a reduced rate to help themselves and a new model build their respective portfolios.

Theatrical Head or 3/4 Shot – A shot that captures a view of you from your head to your knees. The shot generally does not portray the subject with a full smile, but rather an intense look, or showing attitude.

Thespis – A Greek poet (550 – 500 B.C.) usually considered the founder of drama because he was the first one to use an actor in addition to the chorus in his plays. Some theatre historians believe that Thespis was that first actor. Although none of his plays remain, some titles are known: Phorbus, The Priests, The Youths, and Pentheus.

Thrust Stage – A stage that projects outward, with the audience seated on three sides.

Time Reversion Clause – Contractual agreement in which a publisher agrees to secure recording and release for songwriter’s material within a certain period of time. Failure to secure recording and release triggers reversion of the song rights to the writer.

Top Forty – Radio station format where records played are only those contained in lists of the best-selling records.

Top One Hundred – Lists published in the trades of the topselling singles for a particular market.

Track – One of the several components of special recording tape that contains recorded sounds, which is mixed with the other tracks for a finished recording of the song; the recording of all the instruments or voice of a particular music section; music and/or voices previously recorded.

Trades – Industry newspapers and magazines read by all professionals to keep up with trends and news in the entertainment business.

Trailer – A mobile dressing room for an actor sometimes in a camper. Also known as Honey Wagon.

Transparencies – The slide form of a photograph.

Treatment – A shortened version to a full script which includes a short description of the story and the characters involved, and typically ranges from one to six pages in length.

Turnaround – Cast and crew rest time, from wrap until next day’s call time.

Two-Shot – Camera shot with two people in frame.

Type Casting – Assigning a role to an actor on the basis of his or her surface appearance or personality.

Typed-out – The elimination of an actor during auditions because of such obvious features as height, weight or age.

Under-Five (U/5) – An acting role designation calling for five lines or less on AFTRA shows. This category has a specific pay rate, which is less than a day-player.

Understudy – An actor, often playing a small role, who learns another role, so as to be able to perform it if the regular actor is ill.

Union Scale – Minimum wage scale earned in employment by members of AFTRA, AF of M, SAG, etc.

Upgrade – A pay-rate increase, usually from “extra” status to “principal” status.

UPM – Unit Production Manager.

Upstage – The rear area of the stage farthest from the audience; also used to describe an actor’s attempt to distract audience attention from what another actor is doing.

Usage Fee – The practice of assigning each city in the U.S. points based on population. An actors residuals on television commercials are calculated based on the accumulation of these points in 13-week cycles.

Vamp – All printed copies of songs begin with a few bars of music called the Vamp or Intro. It is recognizable as the first musical statement at the top of the copy and it is further identified by the absence of a logic.

Verse – The selection of a song that precedes the chorus or is the A section in AABA pattern songs. The Verse follows the Vamp and is the first vocalizing of the text of the song. The Verse seldom contains heavyweight musical material. Since it is so scored in order to give preeminence to the information contained in the lyric, most often Verses can be ad libded without effort.

Video Toaster – A popular computer editing system for actor’s demo tapes.

Voice Over – The act of providing one’s voice to a media project. Called voice-over because the voice is usually mixed over the top of music and sound effects.

Walk Through – To perform a role at less-than-usual intensity, such as during a technical rehearsal; also used critically, as in “he walked it,” for a lazy performance at a matinee.

Walking Meal – Usually second meal; company doesn’t actually stop filming, but food is provided.

Walla – The sound of many voices talking at once, such as at a party or in a restaurant. Also known as “walla walla,” this old sound effects term is derived from the idea that if a group of people got together and just kept saying “walla” over and over, it would create a good sound ambiance for a crowded scene.

Wardrobe List – The important list of clothes to wear for different styles of pictures.

Weather Day – If the weather is not right for the shoot and it does not take place, it will be postponed until the weather day. When this happens, you will receive a half day’s pay for each canceled day.

Weekly Player – Actor being paid on a weekly contract.

Wet – A voice or sound with reverb sound effect added to it.

Wild Line – A single line from the script that is reread several times in succession until the perfect read is achieved. Wild lines are often done in a series. The slate may say something such as, “This is wild line pick-up take twelve A, B & C.” This means you will read the line three times on this slate without interruption by the director. It is considered “wild” because it is done separately from the entire script. In video or film work, they are lines that occur when the camera is on something other than you. They are “wild” because it is not necessary for them to be in sync with your mouth.

Wild Spot – A commercial that runs on a non-network station, or a spot that runs on a network sation but airs between scheduled programming.

Will-Notify – A call given to actors when call time is uncertain, indicates an actor will work, but no specific call time has been determined.

Windscreen – A foam cover or fabric guard placed over a microphone to help prevent popped “P’s” and other plosive sounds. Sometimes called a “windsock” or “pop filter.”

Woodshed – To rehearse or practice reading copy out loud. This term is said to come from old theater days when actors would have to rehearse out in the woodshed before going into the theater to perform.

Workshop – A place for putting together and polishing a production. Also, a place where one can receive instruction and practice in directing, acting, and stagecraft.

Work Vouchers – A paper given to an Extra at the time of check-in. It must be filled out and turned in at the end of the day of shooting to receive wages.

Wrap – The end of the days shooting of film.

Writer’s Signature – Unique style of the writer.

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