A Guide to On Set Filmmaking Lingo [W/ Visual Dictionary]

Clapping slate on set
Credit: photo by Avel Chuklanov
Here's how to know what to say on set (and when). Check out our on set film lingo dictionary!

The entertainment industry is full of filmmaking lingo and film set slang that can be hard to keep track of. The last thing any of us want is to be standing on set when someone asks for a c-47 only to go grab a c-stand and then be laughed at, or worse, never hired again. 

Just kidding, people on set are never so cruel... 

All jokes aside, how frustrating is it when you ask for something on set and the other person stares at you blankly, or pretends to know what you need and but really doesn’t. 

Filmmakers should know filmmaking lingo!

It's with that in mind that we put an end to on-set illiteracy! 

Why We Need a Filmmaking Lingo Dictionary On Set

Efficiency on set is everything, which is why filmmaking lingo exists in the first place; it’s shorthand. Movie slang helps everyone communicate quickly and effectively, with a shared set of filmmaking terms.

Film Set Lingo Filmmaking Lingo Dictionary

What Happens Before Calling "Action"?

We’ve all heard “Lights, Camera, Action!” but that’s not quite how it’s said anymore. There are, however, a series of prompts stated so that every department is ready to roll.

This is another one that will vary from set to set (or team to team), but it's easy to forget the order or end up in a situation where you don't know what you're supposed to say, or who is saying what (or why).

Maybe you're a first time director or maybe it's just been a while since you've been on set. Maybe you're like me and you had to suddenly step in and take over for the 1st AD for a few shots. I wish I'd had this on that day... 

Anyway, here it is:

11 Things You'll Hear Before Shooting a Scene

What we wanted to do here was provide everyone with some really handy visual downloads that list every major term you may run into. Save them as PDFs, share with new hires, and hand them out at film school!     

Your Comment


Is there a download link that I'm missing? When I click on each graphic image, I get a Page not found when trying to download.

February 15, 2019 at 10:55PM


hi. i right-clicked on the image and clicked on 'save image as' to save it to my download folder.

February 16, 2019 at 4:40PM


I can't tell you how crappy it is that you do not post what your email said. It says Free Downloads, but the only downloads on the page are for some off brand reader and some kind of downloader. I have the Adobe Cloud, so I don't need some off brand reader and sure don't want a downloader.

February 16, 2019 at 12:35PM

Ronn Hague
Film Production instructor

Ronn Hague,

Maybe the meant "FREE Downloads" to your brain!


February 16, 2019 at 1:08PM

Steve Thornton

Slate goes in BEFORE the camera rolls, so that it is visible to the Editors in the first frame of footage - the one that becomes the thumbnail on the timeline,..
The mark is called after the camera rolls.

February 17, 2019 at 6:30AM

Stewart Fairweather

Gaffer's tape is not duct tape. I do not recommend you use them interchangeably.

December 8, 2019 at 6:08AM