Welcome to our Film & Television Dictionary, Letter A. This is still a work in progress, but below is the first section of our film dictionary. Our goal was to create the most in-depth film and television dictionary the interweb has ever seen! This dictionary will always be added to and worked on. If you have a suggestion for the dictionary, get in contact with us.
Film & Television Dictionary, Letter A
Abby Singer: Known as the second-to-last shot of the day. This term comes from the name of a famous 1st Assistant Director who would warn the crew of the last two shots before moving on or ending the day. This originated from working in early Television, where the crew would constantly be on the move throughout the day. Check out Abby Singer’s credits on IMDB.
Above the Line: Costs to the production that involve the main creative elements. Example: the Writer, Producer, Director, Talent.
“A” Camera: When shooting with 2 or more cameras, the main camera is referred to as “‘A’ Camera”
Ace: A 1k or 1000 Watt light.
Action: A command for the talent, crew and/or background performers to start their performance. Example: Background action, dolly action…
A.C.T.R.A: Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Actors. Check out the ACTRA Website.
A.D. Box: Also known as a Set Box. A box used to store paperwork, walkie batteries and other Assistant Director tools that are regularly needed on set.
Ad Lib: When the actor improvises a scene or dialogue that is not in the actual script.
A.D.R.: Automated Dialogue Replacement or Additional Dialogue Replacement. Re-Recording dialogue in studio to replace or improve the audio that was recorded on the day of filming.
Aerial Shot: A shot that is taken in the air from a plane or helicopter. More recently, smaller drones have replaced planes and helicopters for many Aerial Shots. Check out some drones on Amazon.
Agent: The person who represents a performer in exchange of payment. An agent usually works on behalf of their client to promote and represent their best interests. They will usually handle the majority of all interactions between the client and the employer, production company or movie studio.
Alan Smithee: Name used when a director’s wants their name removed from the film’s credits. Check out Alan Smithee’s IMDB Credits Here.
Ambient Noise: Also known as Room Tone. This is a recording of the sound in a room to use as an underlying audio track in editing. Room Tone or Ambient Noise is generally recorded after completing a scene in a location before moving on to the next.
Animatronics: Special effects that deals with remote controlled puppetry of various things.
Aperture: The small hole made by the iris that lets light through a lens.
Apple Box: Wooden boxes that come in full, half and quarter sizes. Used by grips to elevate actors, build, rig and more. Often times, when an apple box is called for the grip is meaning a full when they just say “apple box”, if they require a size other than a full, they will say it.
ARRI: The largest manufacturer of professional motion picture equipment in the world. Check out ARRI’s official website.
Art Director: The art director is generally second in command in the art department and reports directly to the Production Designer.
A.S.C.: American Society of Cinematographers. Check out The A.S.C. website.
Aspect Ratio: The height to width ratio of a film or video image.
Assistant Director (A.D.): The right hand of the director and the person that keeps the crew moving. Learn more about what an Assistant Director does here.
Assistant Locations Manager: Also referred to as the ALM, the Assistant Locations Manager works under the Location Manager and oversees a location during the shoot. They are responsible for things like parking, garbage, delegating location PA’s and making sure that the location is restored to it’s original state before the crew leaves.
Associate Producer: The Associate Producer is sometimes hard to define but this credit is generally given to someone who has had a hand in producing an aspect of a production, but not fully considered a producer. Sometimes this credit can be given as a special thanks to a person who provided something important to the production of a film, or helped the production in some way without having a major role in the production.
Audition: An audition is essentially an interview for actors. The actor performs sides for a Casting Director and the Director in order to display their talent and skill as an actor and their understanding of the script or scene. Auditions can often result in callbacks for second and 3rd auditions as the Casting Director and Director whittle down their favorites in order to find the perfect person for the role.
Auteur: This term is used in reference to a Director that is a true author of their film. It stems from the “Auteur Theory” created by French critics in the 60s and was given to directors such as Kurosawa and Hitchcock. The theory states that a film reflects the true creative vision of a director. Modern Auteurs include directors such as, Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson, Paul Thomas Anderson, Terrence Malick & Martin Scorsese.
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