Have you heard the term “Abby Singer shot” be called out on set and not had a clue what was happening? You’re not alone. In fact, there are quite a few people who are unfamiliar with the term. 

This well-known filmmaker term is used in almost every film and television production around the world, so it’s important to understand why the term is being used and what it means for your specific department. Let’s break down the history and the meaning behind the Abby Singer shot. 

What is an Abby Singer shot in film?

According to the Directors Guild of Americathe Abby Singer shot is the second-to-last shot of the day. Named after famed production manager Abby Singer, the shot is a kind of signal that the director would give to the cast and crew to tell them they were close to finishing for the day. 

The idea is that when the phrase is called out by the 1st AD or another production member, it means there’s one more shot on the schedule before everyone can go home. Usually, you’d shoot the second-to-last scene first and then move on to the last scene, known as “the martini shot.” It’s fairly common for this order of shots to be followed in film or television production. 

The term is so ingrained into film and television production that it has become part of filmmaker jargon. Some directors will even call for an “Abby Singer” when they’re about to wrap for lunch or for night shooting.

Why the Abby Singer Shot Matters

Certain production terms like the Abby Singer shot or martini shot are deeply ingrained traditions in the world of filmmakers because they have such an important function. Announcing the penultimate shot can serve several useful functions such as:

  • Offering relief for a tired cast and crew
  • Allowing for forward-thinking
  • Gauging the efficacy of the day’s work
  • Creating a time-saving measure
  • Cueing crew members to strike or break down the set

Time is precious on a production, and being able to efficiently communicate with your team through a simple phrase can save everyone time and energy. This is why film terms are so important to know before walking on set. 

Why Call it the Abby Singer Shot?

The term “Abby Singer shot” is named after the film legend Abby Singer, who is also credited as Abner E. Singer if you want to check out his filmography. Abby Singer never referred to the second-to-last shot of film after himself, but rather those that he worked with began to call it that due to the importance and emphasis that he placed on that particular shot. 

He explained the idea in an interview he gave to the DGA Quarterly

"It was probably on Wagon Train, although I can’t be sure... Working in TV, we made many moves per day—from the back lot to the stage, or from one stage to another. I’d say to the guys, ‘One more shot and then we’re moving,’ so when we moved, they were all prepared. The time saved could add up to a full hour of shooting for the director."

“This and one more,” was the phrase Abby would repeat on sets that eventually led to the creator of the now-iconic Abby Singer shot. What started as an inside joke amongst Abby’s coworkers managed to blossom into a full-fledged industry-standard term used around the world. 

These days, the term is almost exclusively used in relation to the penultimate shot of the entire shooting day or of the overall production. 

Now that you know what an Abby Singer shot is, continue to develop your terminology. There are so many great industry-specific terminologies and lingo that are used on film and television sets that will make you look like you know what’s going on. 

The more insider terminology you understand before stepping onto your first film set, the better. For more important film terms, check out our ABCs for Filmmaking Terminology

Source: Directors Guild of America