HowToFilmSchool’s Film Set Walkie Talkie Etiquette Guide

The Walkie Talkie can be one of the most import tools used daily on a film set. They can ease communication between the crew, various departments and help Assistant Directors run the set. An Assistant Director without a walkie talkie is like a hockey player without a stick. With all that power comes…Walkie Talkie Etiquette.

If you haven’t checked it out yet please have a look at our guide to film set etiquette. It goes hand in hand with walkie talkie etiquette.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind when using your walkie…

Walkie Talkie Etiquette

General Guide Lines:

  • Treat your walkie with respect. They are very expensive and in many cases will come out of your pay if you break or lose one.
  • Stay on your channel and do not mess with other departments. Occasionally you will have to speak to someone outside your department, for longer conversations be sure to go to the chat channel with them as to not clog up their channel.
  • When speaking into your walkie wait a beat after keying before you begin to speak. Many people have a habit of hitting the button and speaking at the same time, this usually causes your first few words to be cut off.
  • Be aware of your walkie and it’s buttons. Sometimes you might be carrying something or even standing around and accidentally key it. This is something you really want to avoid. A queued walkie is very anoying, it also clogs up your channel making it hard to communicate.
  • This is another one on walkie awareness. You need to also be very aware of your dials. Most walkie-talkies have an on/volume dial and a channel dial. Often times depending on how you wear your walkie you can accidentally switch channels or turn your volume down. It’s good to get into the habit of checking your dials from time to time. If in a situation where you think you’ve bumped your channel dial and are unsure/unable to check you could just do a quick walkie check and listen for the right voices, ask directly about being on the right channel or very quickly switch all the way down to channel 1 and count up from there back to your channel.

Walkie-Talkie Lingo:

Walkie lingo on a film set is very similar to military or trucker lingo, but has some major and minor differences

  • 10-1 (10-100): Standard washroom break. Although this falls under more than just walkie etiquette and is more a common set etiquette. ’10-1′ or ’10-100′ simply means your going to the bathroom.
  • 10-2 (10-200): Longer break…Not as common as 10-1, but still used from time to time. Some people are a little embarrassed about using, but we’re all human. Don’t be embarrassed.
  • Upgrade: This one isn’t standard, but I find it works well. Often times you ask for a 10-1 and sneak off for a quick pee to then realize you have to do more than just pee…a lot of the guys I work for just ask for an upgrade. “Mind if I upgrade that 10-1, sir?” This tell your boss you wont be as quick as a 10-1.
  • Copy or Copy that: Acknowledging that you have received the information, understand and are doing it.
  • Walkie Check: Is said when you first turn on your walkie. Someone will reply to you with ‘Good Check’ this means your microphone is working properly and are being heard clearly.
  • Going off Walkie: This is what you say when you are talking off you walkie or will not being able to communicate. It’s very important to let everyone know that you wont be available.
  • Standby: Used when someone tries to communicate with you but you are too busy to reply, you simple say Standby
  • Standing by: This is great to use when you’ve completely a quick task, like panning a light and are standing by it for any further instructions.
  • Iggy for John: ‘Iggy’ being your name, ‘John’ the name of the person you are wanting to communicate with. See responding to that call below.
  • Go for John: When someone calls for you over the walkie you respond with “Go for *your name here*”. This tell them that you have heard them asking for you and are awaiting instructions.
  • What’s your 20: This means ‘where are you?’. Often times asked before given a task.
  • Eyes on John: ‘Eyes on’ is used when you’re looking for someone or something. Sometimes you will hear something like “Does anyone have eyes on my wrench” or “Does anyone have eyes on the boss?”
  • Flying in: This tells other that you are flying in to set or bringing something in.

What I have seen a lot of  department heads who work on very indy projects do is get their own walkie talkies. Now keep in mind that these will be nowhere near the quality of the ones pictured in this post, but they are still pretty damn good at a decent range. You can get some pretty good walkies on there are sets of 2 and 3. Think about it next time your going to be on set!

Now, lets move on the the rest…



Currently a Digital Producer for a Television Production Company. Igor also works as a Cinematographer & got his start in the industry as a Gaffer.

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