One thing about the film business, it's filled with traditions. It even has it's own language and a couple of books have been written defining several terms of that language. One, by my friend, camera operator Dave Knox can be found here. There's another one written by Tony Bill you can find here. I like the old traditions, some of which, like the process of shooting on film itself,* seem to be dying out. It's a shame. They help keep it interesting. They connect us to our filmmaking predecessors in a unique way. Here are some I like.
For the uninitiated:
The Champagne Roll- It's simply the hundredth roll of film you shoot on a show, and marks a hundred thousand feet of film shot. Traditionally, glasses of champagne are handed out to the crew on this roll. This is one of the one's that will inevitably die out.
Dollar Day- It's a tradition that on Fridays, a PA walks around with a bucket and takes a dollar from all who are willing to gamble. Each participant writes his name on the dollar, folds it in a very special way, and drops it in the bucket. At the end of the shooting day, someone, usually one of the actors or the director, draws a dollar and whomever's name is called wins the whole bucket. Michael over at Blood, Sweat and Tedium has a great post on this tradition here. I've only ever won once. It was around $400.00. I went out and bought a pair of tennis shoes which I thought were really cool and by three days later I hated them.
Box of F-stops- It's a rather mean tradition to send a newbie to the truck for a "box of F-stops." You may also substitute pig clamp, board stretcher, or air hook.
Watch your back- You'll hear this a lot. It simply means, "Get out of the way." Why this has become so ubiquitous is beyond me but I say it at least ten times a day.
The cadence- "Lights, camera, action!" is a saying wierdly promoted to the public through the movies. Directors don't say this. They don't even start the process of shooting. The assistant director says, "roll sound." The sound mixer or boom operator says, "speed." The 2nd AC says "marker," then the director says "action!" We depend on this cadence as dolly grips to get us ready. Sometimes we'll ask for an "and... action," to help us start a move before the scene actually starts. If the cadence changes and we aren't told, it can screw us up.
Here are some words you'll here on sets everywhere:
C-47- Also known as bullets, or pegs, these simply refer to clothespins which juicers carry to clip gels onto lights.
Stinger- extension cord.
On the day- This means, literally, when we shoot. It doesn't necessarily mean on a different day. It can mean when cameras roll twenty minutes from now, as in, "we don't need to give her the prop for rehearsal, but she'll have it on the day."
Kill the baby- A baby is a 1k light made by Mole Richardson. "Kill it " means turn it off. This applies to other lights as well. You may just as well hear, "kill the 12k," but baby is more disturbing.
Save the baby- Ironically means the same as "kill it."
Crossing- Some people say this when crossing in front of camera. Don't. It tends to irritate camera operators and will often point you out as a newbie. I was told before I ever stepped onto a set for the first time to do this, so I guess teachers are perpetuating this, but don't bother. If you have to cross camera, wait until no one's on the eyepiece and just go. If it can't wait, just go and mutter, "sorry."
Second meal- Producers tend to serve notoriously bad meals for the second meal, which is literally the next meal after lunch if you're shooting a long day. Union rules specify that you are to get a 30 minute meal break every six hours. Producers usually won't stop for this, however, so will often provide a courtesy walking meal, which you eat while working. Usually it's pizza or fried chicken which leads to the phrase, "What's for chicken?" Pizza is called, "circles of death." Azurgrip gave me the idea for this one.
Martini shot- The last shot of the day. It means literally, "the next shot's in the glass." After this, though, comes the JFK, or shot that no one knows where it comes from.
Abby Singer- Next to last shot.
If it ain't it ain't- If it ain't working on this shot, put it in the truck (to get a head start on wrap).
Mickey Rooney- In dolly terminology, it means "a short creep." Not very flattering to Mickey Rooney, who I'm sure is thrilled by it.
Gary Coleman- A short c-stand. I don't like to speak ill of the dead, however.
These are common phrases in the US industry. What are some in your neck of the woods?
* I've still yet to work on an HD shoot. Every job I get, film cameras keep showing up.