Master these “Interesting” Filmmaking Terms September 29, 2016 – Posted in: Photography – Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Many moons ago I managed a photo equipment rental facility in Chicago. Every time our company received a call from someone in Los Angeles or New York, we had a hard time understanding what exactly they needed. What we called a “spigot adapter” they called a “studio stud” or “lollipop” or something even stranger.

Mastering filmmaking terms seems like learning a new language. On a film set you might find a blonde, a redhead, a trombone, and even a giraffe. But these words most likely won’t mean what you think they do.

Here are some of the most “interesting” terms I’ve learned so far:

Filmmaking Photography Terms

Abbysinger: The second-to-last shot of the day, supposedly named for a production manager who had a reputation for announcing the last shot and then immediately adding one more.

Apple box: Wooden boxes of different sizes used to prop up or support things on set.

Banjo: A spreader used to stabilize a camera tripod.

Basher: A small light mounted directly over a camera lens for soft, direct facial lighting.

Bazooka: A cylindrical pedestal for mounting a camera.

Blonde: A 1000- or 2000-watt open-faced light.

Count Bassie: This means one more time or another take on the same setup.

Doughnut: A piece of wood with a center hole cut out in order to hold and stabilize the wheels on certain light stands.

Dressed: This means the set is physically prepared for shooting.

Elephant ear: A steel plate attached to the side of a camera dolly for the camera operator to stand on.

FDR: This apparently means, “We are done with this shot and need to move on to the next one.”

Fishpole: A long, lightweight boom that’s attached to a microphone.

Giraffe: A maneuverable and lightweight camera crane.

Inky: A small, incandescent accent light.

Martini: This term is used to call the last shot of the day.

Moe: A term of reference, particularly in New York, for anyone on a movie set whose name you don’t know or can’t remember, as in, “Watch your head, Moe!”

Pancake: A one-inch apple box.

Pigeon: A metal disk with a stud to which you can secure a lighting unit.

Redhead: A 650- or 1000-watt lamp generally used as a fill.

Split call: A crew call for midday that allows half of the day to be shot in daylight and the second half at night.

Table read: An informal reading of the script by the cast and some key crew members at the end of pre-production.

Trombone: A fixture hung over the top of a wall on a built film set from which to hang a light.

Ubangl: An offset extension plate attached to a dolly for mounting.

If you learn a term worth adding to the list please share it with me on Twitter @EA-Photo (

This post was excerpted from Filmmaking Essentials: The Fundamentals of Transitioning from Stills to Motion by Eduardo Angel. You can view additional details and purchase the eBook here.