Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Vocabulary on the day

A couple weeks into December marks the beginning of winter hiatus, the inevitable slow-down in production as television shows cease taping over the holiday break, movies may or may not continue filming (one I just worked on wrapped their US filming schedule, and moved overseas), and agencies generally slow down. It's the time when lots of folk in the industry go on unemployment.

So, I was lucky to get a few days this week, including one today on a show I haven't worked for months - and they remembered me (!), which was a nice bonus.

Anyway, a DGA trainee was on set, learning all the ins and outs of a working set, and starting up the steep directorial ladder (Trainee, Production Assistant, Key Set PA, 2nd 2nd AD, Key 2nd AD, 1st AD, and Director). But he was really cool about watching the crosses and timing, no chips on his shoulder, no bossing the background (most of whom have been doing this longer than he has), etc.

And as we chatted between takes (we were deep - a long way away from the boom mike), he admitted that he tried to keep out of his "normal" conversations the peculiar vocabulary that we all pick up on set.

If you use terms like the following with civilians on the street, you know you're too far deep into the industry to change:

"Copy That" Almost everyone in production has a Motorola, and those on set have earpieces. There's an old joke that the AD's always hear "voices in their heads," which is true. So you might be talking to the Key Set PA, who will then cock his head to one side, grab a microphone clipped to his shirt, and say, "copy that" to whomever has asked him to do something. Funny thing is, you do this dozens of times a day, and it become normal, or at least, you think it's normal. On one gig, a PA told me she heard her roommate say "copy that" to her mother on the phone, in lieu of "yes." "

"Flying In" (A personal favorite) When something is "flying in," it's being rushed in."Honey, can you bring the salad from the kitchen?" "Sure. Flying in, Mom."

"Flashing," and "Striking" Wardrobe always wants to take polaroid or digital photos of background in their own clothes or costumes so they can match the shot, if need be. Inevitably, they will always say, "flashing" before snapping the photo. Juicers will also sometimes call out "flashing" or, I am told more commonly for arclights and the big stuff, "striking," before switching them on. (Don't laugh - stages are rigged to go from night to day with the flick of a switch.) One friend told me her boyfriend, a gaffer, has it so ingrained in his daily habits, that he says, "striking" when turning on the lights at home.

"On The Day" (My all-time personal favorite) When the cameras are rolling, and you are acting, it is "on the day." So if the PA says, "On the day, cross over to that desk, make conversation for five beats, then peel off, banana around the principals, and exit camera right" it's crystal clear. At least, to those of us who do this for a living.

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