13 Screwball Film Industry Slang Terms

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Having served as a camera operator on over 100 films, Dave Knox knows a thing or two about the wacky slang used by movie industry insiders. His book, Strike the Baby and Kill the Blonde, is loaded with it. Here are a few examples, from Knox and other sources.

1. BABY LEGS

These aren't plump and dimply; they're aluminum and adjustable. The term refers to a short tripod for making low-angle shots.

2. BANANA

This means to cross in front of the camera in an arc away from the lens, which will appear as a straight line on screen.

3. BOGIE (or BOGEY)

Bogie refers to a person who has breached the set and is walking through the shot. It comes from military slang for an unidentified aircraft or missile, especially one detected as a blip on radar.

4. MOS

This acronym stands for “motor only shot” and means that a film segment has no synchronous audio track. According to a popular—but apocryphal—origin story, in the early days of Hollywood talkies, an expatriate German director like Ernst Lutbisch or Fritz Lang said, “Vee vill do this scene mit out sound,” giving birth to the abbreviation MOS.

5. MARTINI SHOT

The martini shot is the one hard-working crews look forward to: the last movie shot of the day. The next shot is out of a glass.

6. WHAT IS YOUR 20?

What is your exact location? This expression and the next one come from the “10 Code” used by many police departments for radio transmissions.

7. 10-100

This indicates a cast or crew person has left set to go to the washroom.

8.  CHOKER

A choker isn’t something Wardrobe borrowed from a local jeweler, but a tight close-up showing only the eyes.

9. FOUR-BANGER

Not a genre of porno movie, but a large four-door trailer with dressing rooms, a production room, and a bathroom for the crew.

10. STRIKE

Strike means to remove something from the set.

11. BABY

A baby is a 750- or 1000-watt light with a wavy Fresnel lens

12. KILL

Make it stop or turn it off. It can refer to a loud noise that is disrupting the set (“Kill that lawnmower”), an unneeded piece of dialogue (“Kill that line”), or an extraneous light.

13.  BLONDE

A 2000-watt quartz bulb spotlight without a lens. 

 

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June 19, 2013 - 11:00am
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