10 Film Terms You Should Know

A. D. - Assistant Director

Person who acts as a liaison between the director and the rest of the crew to ensure that everything runs smoothly and on time. These crew members can often be identified by their headsets and baseball caps.  If you need to know what scene you're shooting, when lunch is, or when we are "wrapping," these are the people you should ask.

Background, aka "Extras"

"Extras" are used in a scene to create a sense of realism. When filming a crowd scene, after you hear "Rolling," and "Action," you will hear the director or A.D. call out "background," which is the cue for the extras or background performers to begin their movement or action. Once "Cut" is called, you will hear someone say, "Back to Ones," or "Reset," which means to go back to your starting places for the shot.

Craft Service, aka "Crafty"

  1. The area or table where all kinds of food and drink are served on a continual basis all day long for everyone in the cast and crew. You can generally find crew members who aren't currently busy grazing in this area.  
  2. The person on set who has industrial first aid training for any accidents or injuries that might occur, and who prepares and serves foods and snacks to the crew throughout the working day. Also may be shown on the call sheet as FACS, CSFA, or Craft Service/First Aid.


To decorate and arrange items such as furniture, drapes and artwork on a set. When you hear someone say "That's going to be a full dress," they mean a taking a blank space and completely creating the look of the set or location.


A prop, car, location or element that is the featured item during shooting. For example, while shooting a toy commercial, many toys may be used throughout the day, but only one is the hero toy, or the one that is polished and perfect for filming purposes.

Poor Man's Process (PMP)

A way of creating the illusion of movement for an interior scene in a car or other vehicle by shaking it up and down and flashing lights and shadows across it. This can be done anywhere without having to actually drive the vehicle.

Rainbow Script

The first draft of a script is always on white paper. As each revision is done prior to and during shooting, new script changes are added to the existing script in different colours each step along the way. By the time the script is in its final form it often has all of the colours of the rainbow.


A small explosive charge that is planted and camouflaged on an area where a gunshot is supposed to hit. A squib is generally wired or connected to a remote control device and then discharged at the appropriate time by the special effects crew.

Tech Survey (Technical Survey)

Once all of the locations have been selected and "locked in" for a production, a survey is attended by the department heads to assess each individual location's requirements and restrictions. Shooting usually starts one to three days after the tech survey.

Window Shot

The last shot of the day. One of the happiest things you can hear after a 15-hour day. "O.K. everybody, this is the window shot so let's concentrate." Some people say the term arose out of "when do we go?", but the actual meaning goes back to the early days of filmmaking when everyone on the crew was paid in cash daily. After the last shot was completed they went to the window to get their payment. Also called a "martini shot" in the U.S.

All terms copyright 2018 from A to Z Guide to Film Terms, 5th edition by Tim Moshansky. www.filmterms.com  May be used with permission or byline with link.