Industry Terms

Above-the-line – Creative talent such as actors, directors, producers, and writers OR the part of the budget which includes costs and fees associated with the above talent.

Actors Equity Association (AEA/ Equity) – A union that has jurisdiction over performers in live stage productions in theaters, such as Broadway and community theater.

A.D. – Assistant Director

AFTRA – The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.  Aftra is a union.

Agency – The corporate umbrella that houses licensed entertainment representation. Agencies work on commission, taking a set percentage of the revenue received by the artist they represent. Agencies now also find revenue through alternate sources, such as packaging television. In the case of most large entities, the agency takes the commission; while their individual agents may receive a year-end bonus reflecting the income they brought to the company.

Agent – A representative of talent, petitioning on behalf of the talent for work within the entertainment community. Agents, by law, have the right to both solicit employment and negotiate terms for the artists they represent. Not to be confused with manager.

American Federation of Television and Radio Artist (AFTRA) – A union that has jurisdiction over performers in live and taped television and radio, which may include soap operas, sitcoms, newscasts, talk shows, award shows, radio broadcast and music recordings (albums, CDs).

Animation – The process of creating the illusion of motion by creating individual frames, as opposed to filming naturally-occurring action at a regular frame rate. Includes computer generated animation, claymation, and time lapse. Contrast with motion capture, rotoscoping.

Associate Producer – Although this credit alludes to a variety of things, the associate producer usually acts as a supporting producer. According to theIndependent Feature Film Production Guide, “the associate producer may fulfill virtually all of the standard line producer functions.” This credit is sometimes given to the UPM or the first AD for contributions that go beyond the usual duties. A production manager who supervises a film from the stage of pre-production to post-production may also receive the credit.

At Rise – Who and what are on stage when the curtain opens.

Attachment – Talent (actor, director) that has committed to being in/working on a film. When producers/agents are shopping around a script they may say “So and So is already attached” to up the ante.

Back-end – Deferred payment of fees and/or percentage of net profits paid to certain above-the-line players once a film turns a profit.

Below-the-line – Collectively refers to all the workers on a film crew that are not considered “above-the-line” (creative) talent; ALSO refers to the part of the budget that includes costs and fees associated with these cast and crew members (as well as materials, props, sets, locations, catering, vehicles, office, legal, etc.)

Blocking – Working out the action before filming begins, including where the characters should be, and the camera angles.

Breakdown – The listing of the projects currently being cast.  The breakdown contains the producer, director and casting director.   Casting Directors send out breakdowns – information about the project being cast – so that agents and managers know to submit their clients for possible auditions and roles.  There are many sites that offer breakdowns in order to connect casting directors with actors and agents.

Breakdown Script – A detailed list of all items, people, props, equipment, etc. required for a shoot on a day-by-day basis. Recording such lists aids in continuity and allows optimization of the actors’ and crew’s time.

Callback – A follow-up audition, after they have narrowed down the competition.

Call Sheet – The daily schedule of a given production, listing “call times,” actors involved and scenes.

Camp – A form of comedic parody where the clichéd conventions of a dramatic form are deliberately exaggerated to the point of ridiculousness. Often unfairly used to describe superhero films and shows. The TV series “Batman” (1966) is a prime example of this form of comedy.

Cast – A collective term for the actors appearing in a particular movie.

Casting – The process of hiring actors to play the characters in a script. The lead roles are typically cast by the director or a producer, minor roles and bit parts by a casting director.

Casting Director – A person responsible for selecting actors to play roles. Some casting directors specialize in selecting extras.

Cattle Call – An open casting or audition to which masses of people respond.

Character Actor – An actor who specializes in playing a particular style of character, often stereotypical, offbeat, or humorous.

Choreographer – A person who plans and directs dance sequences within a production.

Cinematographer – Responsible for elements viewed through the lens, the cinematographer works closely with the director to create appropriate shots and organize the visual elements of a scene (props, extras, lighting, etc.).

Clapboard – A small board which holds information identifying a shot. It typically contains the working title of the movie, the names of the director and director of photography, the scene and take numbers, the date, and the time. It is filmed at the beginning of a take. On the top of the clapboard is a hinged stick which is often “clapped” to provide audio/visual synchronization.

Close Up – A shot in which a character or item takes up a large portion of the frame. Often used for dramatic effect, or to highlight emotion or something to which the audience should be paying attention.

Completion Bond – Insures motion picture financiers that the film will be shot as promised in the financing and distribution agreements and protects against budget overruns.

Commercial Agent – an agent that represents talent for television commercials.  This is not to be confused with a print agent which represents models for commercial print ads.

Commercial Modeling – Otherwise known as Print Modeling, this is modeling done for print advertisements, catalogs, etc.

Concept – The concept is the meat on the idea’s bones. Taking what may initially be an abstract notion, the concept instills the beginning of the story and characters. Most concepts range from a single sentence to several paragraphs, and usually establish the basic direction of where the story and characters will eventually lead.

Composite Print – During the editing and processing of film (not digital) a technician, called the ‘negative cutter,’ splices the film. During this process, the negative, untouched since it was first developed, is cut to exact specifications. This is called the ‘work print.’ The stock is then combined with the film’s scoring track, and they are printed together to produce the composite print.

Coverage – The critical analysis of a screenplay, manuscript, or other form of literary material for consideration to be represented, purchased or optioned. Written by professional ‘readers,’ the first part of a coverage usually includes specifics about the screenplay (i.e. title, author, submission date, genre, circa, and location). The bulk of the rest of the analysis then provides log line, summary of the action, and a critical response to the material. At all major studios and agencies, executives use coverages to weed out bad material, provide notes, and help shape general opinions.

Covering Agent – A covering agent is responsible for tracking all open assignments and projects in various stages of development and production for the studio they’ve been assigned.

Countercross – A shifting of position by two or more actors to balance the stage picture.

Cross – The movement by an actor from one location to another onstage.

Cue – The last words, action, or technical effect that immediately precedes any line or business; a stage signal.

Day Player – An actor who is paid a flat daily rate and generally only has a few lines in the production. Characters that appear in only one scene are generally played by day players. This is sometimes a “step up” for an extra who is asked to read a line on-set.

Dailies – As the film is shot, production and development units view footage the following day. This film stock is known as ‘dailies.’ The producer, director and various studio department heads critically analyze the previous day’s results, looking for any visible problems, from wardrobe to set dressings and performances. In theory, dailies depict the progression of the film in relation to the course of production.

Denouement – The concluding scenes of a movie where the story elements are finished and the characters’ status after the climax is shown.

Development – Development is the process of advancing a story from idea to green-lit script. At its core, development is an editing tool for the screenplay, allowing entities that oversee the project’s process to mold it into the necessary form. As a contemporary notion, however, it’s become an expansive portion of the above-the-line procedure that includes many elements. The development process spreads into casting, production, and even distribution. The main tasks of an executive working in this field include the acquisition of material, advancement of the screenplay, and packaging.

Development Executive – An above-the-line executive who focuses on the development of story and screenplay. Basic duties include discovery of material, progressing the script toward screen, and attaching talent to projects. Over the course of a normal day, “D-People” deliver notes on screenplays, meet with up-and-coming writers, directors and actors, make lists of potential attachments, and push to get a green-light on slated projects.

Director – The principal creative artist on a movie set. A director is usually (but not always) the driving artistic source behind the filming process, and communicates to actors the way that he/she would like a particular scene played. A director’s duties might also include casting, script editing, shot selection, shot composition, and editing. Typically, a director has complete artistic control over all aspects of the movie, but it is not uncommon for the director to be bound by agreements with either a producer or a studio. In some large productions, a director will delegate less important scenes to a second unit.

The Director’s Cut – It’s industry standard and a guild requirement to leave a director alone with the print until they’ve finished the first version of the film. Although a studio selects the laboratory, sound transfer facility, optical house, and other facilities of the kind, the director is provided six weeks to complete the version or ‘cut’ they prefer.

Directors Guild of America (DGA) – A guild representing motion picture and television directors and assistant directors.

Distributor – From studios to exhibitors, the distributor sells viewing rights for a finished film. Somewhat of an intermediary function, distribution creates initial revenue for the source that financed the project. Its basic function is to sell the viewing rights of a motion picture to specifically designated areas. Based on the elements involved in the feature, the costs of these rights vary and are just a fraction of the income for distributors. Others include merchandising, television, and video. In each case, however, the distributor’s main source of revenue for a film comes from how well it plays. Although they sell exhibition rights, the main source of income derives straight from the box office.

Dope Sheet – A list of scenes from the script that have already been filmed, or a list of the contents of an exposed reel of film stock. An accurate dope sheet is the responsibility of the assistant cameraman.

Dubbing – The technique of combining multiple sound components into one. The term is also used to refer to automatic dialog replacement of a new language.

Editor – The editor cuts the film. Using an Avid and/or digital splicing mechanisms, the editor usually orders individual scenes into a complete, coherent story. The director and producer usually, with approval from the studio, hire this key position. Editors, like directors and writers, are chosen for the genre in which they are most proficient.

Executive Producer – A producer who is not involved in any technical aspects of the filmmaking process, but who is still responsible for the overall production. Typically an executive producer handles business and legal issues.

Extra – A person who appears in a movie where a non-specific, non-speaking character is required, usually as part of a crowd or in the background of a scene. Extras may
be recruited from the region of the shoot location or through an agency. Contrast with non-speaking role.

Fade – A smooth, gradual transition from a normal image to complete blackness (fade out), or vice versa (fade in).

Feeding – Giving lines and action in such a way that another actor can make a point or get a laugh.

Film Grain – The tiny particles of light-sensitive material on film stock that record images. Finer grains give higher image quality, but coarser grains allow a faster shutter speed. Graininess is an artifact which results from the use of coarse grains, and gives images a slight mosaic appearance.

Film Stock – The physical medium on which photographic images are recorded.

Financial Core – the right granted by the Supreme Court and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rulings that allow workers (not just actors) to NOT join the union, and still work union jobs.

Financier – The financier is a non-developing financial provider for a film. Simply, financiers are usually money sources looking to invest in complete, packaged scripts. Although they have the ability to bring a significant amount of a movie’s budget, financiers are often money people looking at the bottom line – does the project have marketable elements already in place? Unlike most developing studios, these money sources move from script to screen quickly, however, most of the initial footwork must already have been done.

Floatin – Term used to describe a script circulating the open market, not yet having been purchased.

Foil – An acting role that is used for personality comparison, usually with a protagonist or main character.

Foley – The art of recreating incidental sound effects (such as footsteps) in synchronization with the visual component of a movie. Named after an early practitioner. Foley artists sometimes use bizarre objects and methods to achieve sound effects, e.g. snapping celery to mimic bones being broken. The sounds are often exaggerated for extra effect – fight sequences are almost always accompanied by loud foley added thuds and slaps.

Frame – An individual picture image which eventually appears on a print.

Gaffer – Chief lighting technician. The head of the electrical department.

Greenlight – When a project receives a greenlight, the funding entity approves it for production. In order for this to happen, the script must be ready to shoot and major elements, such as the stars and directors, must be in place. Once the project is given the ‘go,’ the producer and their team assemble cast, crew, and other necessary elements to make the film.

Grip – A person responsible for the adjustment and maintenance of production equipment on the set. Their typical duties include laying dolly tracks or erecting scaffolding.

Group Administrator – The point person for a tracking group, the administrator’s duties include compiling members, managing interactions on the board, and setting up events for the group to meet and greet. When there is a problem on the board, the group administrator is the fist line of defense. They’re also the person responsible for introducing possible new members.

Hip Pocket – Description of a person or project being developed by an employee, outside of their respective organization’s clearance. In the agency world, hip-pocketing is the representation of unapproved artists. In production, it’s the development of unapproved material.

High Concept – A term used to designate the studio marketing value of a piece of material. High concept scripts and stories usually possess a “hook” that allows the studio to focus an ad campaign around. These hooks range from a one-line plot description with broad audience appeal (the true ‘high concept’), to the twisting or remaking of a classic story with high name recognition, such as “Robin Hood” or anything Shakespeare. In either case, the high concept should be simple and thrilling enough to evoke audince interest through the viewing of a simple one-sheet ad.

Honey Wagon – A vehicle/trailer/truck containing dressing rooms and restrooms.

IATSE – The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees union.

Independent Producer (Indie) – Autonomous of the studio system, independent producers not only develop material, but secure financing (studio and non-studio) to make their movies. Although they fill the same basic roll on and off the set as a ‘creative producer,’ indies surviving on a per-project fee must keep they’re overhead light and company size within their personal budget.

Line Producer – The hands-on manager of a film set, the line producer organizes the practical aspects of production. Although the job’s stability is less speculative than creative producing, like most industry jobs, it remains primarily freelance work. Line producers and production managers are responsible for budgeting, scheduling and implementation.

Log Line – A brief summary of a script, novel, or manuscript that gives the basic premise in 2-3 lines.

Looping – The term used to describe an actor matching his or her voice to picture.

Management Company – The umbrella under which a group of managers function as a single incorporated entity. Long known for small client lists and focused attention on development of clients, management companies in the last decade have, in most cases, shifted their role in the market. Today, most management companies perform dually as client representation and producer. When setting up client projects, management companies extract their standard commission. When that project goes into production, however, the manager, in most cases, returns the commission and receives producer fees and credit. Unlike licensed talent agencies, the law’s vague definition of the manager’s role allows them the freedom to both manage a roster of clients and produce a slate of films.

Manager – Known for paying special attention to both a client’s personal and financial needs, the manager assists in administrating an artists’ personal business. Agents and managers share many of the same functions, but tend to fill very unique rolls. Managers usually work with smaller client lists, as they’re known for providing more focused attention on the growth and development of a clients’ career. Managers focus less on business negotiations and more on placing the client in a position to have negotiations arise. The recent trend of managers shifting into producer roles, may be viewed as an extension of their involvement in a client’s life under the terms of a specific project.

Method Acting – A style of acting formalized by Konstantin Stanislavsky which is believed by some to create more realistic performances. Essentially, the theory requires actors to draw experiences from their own personal lives that correlate to the character they are playing – an extremely demanding process emotionally. In some cases, “method” actors take the theory even further by arranging events in their private lives to resemble the lives of their characters.

Milk – To draw the maximum response from the audience from comic lines or action.

Monologue – A scene or a portion of a script in which an actor gives a lengthy speech without interruption by another character.

MOS (Stands for “Mit Out Sprechen”) – A loosely translated German phrase meaning “Without Sound,” or more commonly defined as meaning “Motor Only Sync.” MOS is used to indicate that a film segment has no synchronous audio track. Omitting the sound recording from a shot can save time during a take.

Networking – Often referred to as ‘schmoozing,’ networking is the act of building a personal slate of business contacts and relationships. The process of developing these relationships comes from an array of communicative activities ranging from phone conversations to business meals to meeting recommended professionals. As is the case with most businesses, networking is a key element to surviving every realm of the entertainment industry. Since much of the movie making business is project to project, relationships created in networking situations often lead to a professional’s next job.

Open Assignment – This term refers to projects in search of writers (either for rewrite, adaptation or a first draft on an already established idea) or directors. Usually open assignments are projects a company is looking to assign a rewrite and/or get into production.

Option – When a creative entity, such as producer, artist, or studio, discovers a property and evaluates the rights status, they will, in most cases, attempt to negotiate an ‘option’ for the rights. An option is the right to acquire ownership of an intellectual property for a pre-determined amount of time. Size of the option payment often determines length of the agreement as well as how many forms of the rights will be included in the deal. While most option payments are subject to negotiation, script deals often work out to an even percentage of the purchase price. During that time, the buyer often attempts to getr the seller to finish developing the material, or package together other elements of the film. If a buyer exercises their option to acquire the remaining rights within in the designated time, they pay the remainder of purchase costs.

Outline – The outline breaks down the major beats within the story. Like a map without street names, the outline focuses on structure over character. Its main function is to establish each of the major scenes and illustrate where plot twists and reveals take place. At its core, the outline should expose, in limited detail, the story’s beginning, middle and end.

Packaging – Still a term most professionals link to television development, packaging is the linking of external elements such as directors, actors, and other writers, to a project without an offer. Since bad scripts, even with solid offers backing them, usually find it hard to attract major stars, automatic credibility comes to a project garnering artist support without money. With each new major element attached, the project moves closer to production, making it a more valuable commodity. Large agencies, management companies, and producers with artist relationships take special advantage of this process, as they can provide direct links from projects to talent. As the role of studios, distributors and financiers shift, packaging an element to an existing piece of material becomes an even more important process.

Pilot -The first episode of a television show or cable show used as a “test run” amongst networks and producers before the show is greenlit.

Pilot Season – The time between around January to about May when pilot episodes are filmed and tested and possibly given the greenlight to begin production.

Pitch – The meeting held between key players of a film or broadcast literary work. In most cases, this is where the writer(s) attempt to ‘sell’ their product to the producers by explaining why their product should be made by that company into a motion picture.

Post-Production (Post) – Once principal photography wraps, post-production begins. ‘Post’ is where the project goes from hundreds of hours of film to a hundred minutes of story. The post team edits the film into a two hour story, loops in necessary dialogue, adds sound design and music, works in visual effects, and reshoots scenes requiring further work. Notoriously, post-production can either save or kill a project. Much like developing a script, it’s important to have a solid post-production crew.

Pre-Production – Prior to principal photography, the production team and the director use pre-production to assemble the key elements of the movie. The producers settle on a budget, create shooting schedules, and scout locations. The casting director fills acting roles, the camera team works out their shots, physical production dresses sets and designs costumes, and the unit production manager hires the rest of the crew. Also in this period, the director storyboards, rehearses, and makes any final preparations for shooting. Aligning these elements makes this one of the most important parts of a film’s creation.

Principal Actor – an actor with speaking lines.

Principal Photography / Production – Production is the actual shooting of the film. Also known as ‘principal photography,’ cast and crew formally map and shoot scenes. In order to do this, they weave individual talents into a single, functioning entity, in order to create a core concentration of footage for editing.

Print Work – commercial modeling work done for ads in magazines, newspaper ads, the Internet and direct mail pieces and for packaging on products.

Producer – The producer’s job is to successfully turn a story idea into a film. The true creator of the project, the producer engages in all aspects of the filmmaking process. They develop with the screenwriter, collaborate with the director, and make key decisions at every stage of production, including casting, editing and composition of music. “The best creative producers are an artist in their own right,” says Linda Buzzell, the author of How to Make It in Hollywood. They may be the first involved with a project and the last off the project, which means a producer works on the same project many years after the idea originally sparked. The industry’s true entrepreneur, producers usually work on a contractual basis and run companies staffed with teams to assist in development and production.

Production Company – The production company acts as central headquarters for all stages of production. They range in size from a single person to over twenty employees and commit to duties ranging from the inception of an idea to making sure the final print is delivered to the theater on premiere night. Their core functions, however, are to assist the headlining producer in developing scripts, attaching talent, and running the day-to-day production activity. Although a handful of production companies fall under corporate studio umbrellas that cover their overhead, most work on a project-to-project basis, much like the artists.

Production Designer – The production designer researches and creates the look of the film, from sets to costumes, working with individual project managers in the stylization of the physical elements.

Production Executive – A member of the development executive family, production executives focus their duties on both getting potential movies set-up at financing sources like studios and distributors, as well as pushing existing, ‘set-up’ projects toward a green light. Usually more aggressive than studio executives, production execs tend to fill the role of the classic entrepreneur, in order to secure claims to material in the competitive market place of first-look and financing deals.

Production Manager (PM) – Instrumental in most principal activities of preproduction and principal photography, the production manager helps coordinate and execute scheduling, budgeting, and script breakdown. Working with the director and producers, the PM also helps coordinate scenic logistics and actor scheduling before and during production. A true utility role, they help assure that all pre- and production activities run as smoothly and on time as possible.

Production Secretary – The production secretary functions as an expeditor and communicator, helping coordinate scheduling and solve unexpected administrative problems.

Purchase Agreement – A legal contract, the purchase agreement outlines terms and fees for transfer of rights from one holder to another. This agreement usually includes publication, television, video, dramatic, merchandising and other viewing rights. During the negotiation process, the buyer usually attempts to secure as many viewing rights as possible within a single deal. In turn, the seller will often try to adjust the purchase agreement and restrict the producer in order to inflate the value of the rights. In the end, terms are negotiated in relation to individual deals.

Reel – A strip of film wound on a metal wheel. Typical reels hold 15-25 minutes of film.

Residuals – Fees paid to performers for the reuse or re-broadcast of TV shows, films and commercials. Principals earn residuals but extras do not.

Rights – ‘Rights’ are the expressed, granted permission by the owner of a particular work to an intended buyer for the utilization of their property in the profitable redistribution of that material. The permission, if granted, may entail the right to employ the work in the designated medium in which it was intended for redistribution. Additionally, the Copyright Act protects the owner of a property from unauthorized use of that material.

Ring Up – To raise the curtain.

Role Scoring – The analysis of a character.

Rotoscoping – An animation technique in which images of live action are traced, either manually or automatically.

SAG – the Screen Actors Guild.  SAG is an actors union.

Sample – The sample screenplay is the representative piece of writing for a particular artist that an agent/manager solicits in order to fill an open writing assignment. Most samples are already set up at a studio, or made it to the screen. In either case, the reader looks for examples from that artist which will best fit the description of the assignment. An available screenplay can be used as a sample, but usually only if absolutely necessary.

Set – An environment used for filming. When used in contrast to location, it refers to one artificially constructed. A set typically is not a complete or accurate replica of the environment as defined by the script, but is carefully constructed to make filming easier, but still appear natural when viewed from the camera angle.

Screen Actors Guild (SAG) – This union has jurisdiction over performers in most productions recorded on film, and may include commercials, films, television shows, student films and industrial films.

Screen Test – A form of audition in which an actor performs a particular role on camera, not necessarily with the correct makeup or on the set.

Script – The screenplay. Different mediums have different standards, all of which, if done imaginatively and effectively, can be broken. General industry rules are as follows — Pages: Depending on the genre, average length ranges from 105 to 120 pages. Font: Courier or New Courier; Times New Roman is usually accepted, as well. Spacing: Single space when describing action or a person’s continuing dialogue; double space between new action lines and/or character dialogue. Screenwriting programs: Final Draft, Movie Magic, Script Thing, Dramatica Pro, Scriptwright, Movie Master, etc.

Shooting Schedule – The shooting schedule is the production bible. Including everything from rehearsal times to effects set-ups, the shooting schedule helps manage the daily events on set.

Short List – Short lists contain consensus candidates in the decision-making process. The list displays second/third tier results in the whittling of acting, directing, writing and other key crew decisions.

Sides – Half-sheet pages of a script which contain the lines, cues and business of one character.  An excerpt of a script given to auditioning actors.  The side generally has an important bit of dialogue giving the actor insight into the character and showing the director/casting director if the actor has the ability to convey the character’s emotions, background, pov, etc through that particular dialogue during their audition.

Slate – To slate your name (and age, if a minor) on camera; used as identification on the audition tape.

Slip – A script that a representative forwards to someone in secret, sometimes (in the case of agents) before anyone else gets to review and/or consider it, and sometimes (in the case of production companies) as an unofficial submission to prepare for co-production, casting, rewrites or going out to directors. A slip is always kept secret.

Slug Line – A header appearing in a script before each scene or shot detailing the location, date and time that the following action is intended to occur.

Spec Screenplay – A spec (speculative) screenplay is a script written under the speculation that it will get set-up. Technically, any available screenplay for which the writer has never been paid is a spec. In more standard industry terms, however, a spec refers to an available script shopped to multiple markets in the hopes that it will find a home. In order to generate revenue, sellers tend to seek well-written material that will fit the needs of a specific market at a particular time.

Station 12 – The department of SAG that confirms an actor’s union membership and dues status.

Story Editor – The production company member who handles the influx of scripts and determines, with the help of readers, which scripts should and should not be read by the executives.

Studio – Under the classic definition, the studio is a set location for physical production of a film. Today, however, the term ‘studio’ refers to an entity that develops and finances a slate of films. Although several studios continue to operate lots (often renting space to finance-only companies), the role and distinction of the one-stop movie shop has dramatically shifted. The studios’ power as Hollywood’s main filmmaking entity, however, is as strong as ever.

Studio Executive – The person who develops and brings talent elements to a project. Because they work for a company with the ability to purchase and finance a film, however, studio executives focus their skills on determining the value of a movie in terms of distribution and exhibition. Higher ranking executives wield the power to option and purchase material, while all develop with the financial prosperity of the studio in mind.

Stand-In – A person who has the same physical properties of a particular actor, and takes their place during the lengthy set-up of a scene. This allows the actor to prepare for the filming itself.

Submission Release Form – This legally binding contract allows second party viewing of unrepresented pieces of material. The release form protects the reader from intellectual property liability in relation to story, character and theme. Most professional entertainment companies require this form on all unsolicited submissions.

S.W.A.G. – Acronym for “Stuff We All Get”, which refers to celebrity gift bags given out at awards shows and special high profile events.

Taft-Hartley – A federal statute that allows a non-performer to work in a union position without having to first join the union. It is in effect for 30 days from the first day of employment, after which the performer must join the union.

Tag Line – The last speech in an act or a play, usually humorous or clever.

Take – A single continuous recorded performance of a scene. A director typically orders takes to continue until satisfied that all of his or her technical and artistic requirements for the scene have been met.

Taking the Stage – Giving the actor the freedom to move over the entire stage area, usually during a lengthy speech.

Talent – While talent usually refers to actors, it can also refer to writers and other artistically contributing members of a production. In studio terms, “attaching talent” is key to moving a project forward.

Teleplay – A script written to be produced for television.

Teleprompter – A type of camera in which the performer can read his lines right off the camera lens; usually used for daily shows and news broadcasts where hosts have little time to memorize lengthy scripts.

Tempo – The speed at which the action of a play moves along.

Theatrical Agent – an agent that represents talent for television and film work.

Top – To build to a climax by speaking at a higher pitch, at a faster rate, or with more force and greater emphasis than in preceding speeches.

Tracking Group – A security-protected internet community of development executives who track and discuss available material in the marketplace. Mostly focusing on scripts coming out of agencies and management companies, tracking groups share information on templated tracking boards.

Trailer – An advertisement for a movie which contains scenes from the film. The name derives from the fact that these advertisements used to be attached to the end of a newsreel or supporting feature. Doing this reduced the number of reel changes that a projectionist would have to make.

Treatment – Similar to an outline, a treatment is one of the first steps in developing a project. It adds depth to character and story by filling in missing blanks. The treatment’s main purpose is to tell the complete story before setting it in script form. Most are written in prose and range from ten to twenty pages. The treatment is the best place to hammer out initial story and character problems. Unless a script is sold on spec, most buyers require a treatment (or very detailed) outline from its writers before commencement of the actual screenplay. If financed independently, the treatment’s often a part of the initial fundraising package.

Unit Production Manager (UPM) – An executive who is responsible to a senior producer for the administration of a particular movie. UPMs only work on one film at a time.

Unsolicited Submissions – Submissions not demanded but received without request. Most professional companies never consider unsolicited material because of possible legal implications and reader time constraints.

Upgrade – an upgrade occurs when an extra on set is given speaking lines in a scene (usually last minute), and the actor (former extra) is now guaranteed full union pay. This happens more often in films than in television.

Voice Over – Indicates that dialogue will be heard on a movie’s soundtrack, but the speaker will not be shown. The abbreviation is often used as an annotation in a script.

Walla – Background conversation. Historically, when a script called for “crowd unrest” or “murmuring,” the extras would be required to mumble the word “rhubarb,” as tis produced the required effect.

Walk-On – A small acting part which has no lines.

Warn – To notify of an upcoming action or cue.

Wrap – To finish shooting either for the day or the entire production.

Writers Guild of America (WGA) – A guild representing motion picture and television screenwriters.

Yarn – Slang for an apocryphal story.

Zed Card – A composite of photos printed on a 6″ x 8″ card, used by models. Aalso sometimes called a ‘comp card