Inside Baseball, Part 2
More of our favorite, most obscure production and film biz terms. Some you may know while others are wonderfully oblique.
Alan Smithee Film: Aka: Alan Smithee Jr., Allan Smithee, or Allen Smithee The attribution is an act of defiance by a director who will not permit their name to be put on a finished film. The pseudonym is used to disassociate themselves, usually when they believe their control or vision has been screwed-up by the studio as the film could have been recut or altered against their wishes.
Baby: Has two definitions. It can refer to a 750 or 1000 watt light mounted in an instrument with a Fresnel lens. Babies, aka baby sticks or baby legs, are short tripods that make getting a lower level, camera angle easier.
Best Boy: The best boy electric and best boy grip are the chief technical assistants to their department heads, the gaffer or the key grip on a production set. He or she is responsible for running all the lighting power cables on a set and generally being the right-hands in lighting and camera setup efforts. The term’s etymology is from the sailing and whaling industry as years ago sailors were often employed to set up and work rigging in theatres.
C-47: Literally a cloths’ pin. This is the quintessential tool of grips and gaffers allowing them to easily attach different sheets of gel and diffusion to lighting instruments. Several theories as to its origin, but perhaps the name was derived as it was the item number in the classic Mole-Richardson Lighting Catalogue.
Coogan’s Law: This law was passed and named after the famous child actor, Jackie Coogan in the 1930s. It was designed to protect a child actor's earnings, by depositing some of the minor's income in court-administered trust fund that the child could access when he or she reaches adulthood.
Cheater Cut: Some introductory footage placed into the very beginning of a serial episodic program to show what transpired at the end of the previous episode.
Crafty: The most important person or area on a shoot: food service.
Dope sheet: It Is a list of scenes that have already been shot usually compiled by the assistant cameraman or assistant director.
Foley Artist: Named after audio pioneer Jack Foley. This is a person who creates or adds sound effects and noises (e.g., footsteps, gunshots, fight-sounds, punches, storm noises, slamming doors, explosions, etc.) that are synchronized to the film at the conclusion of the picture edit. Today almost all conceivable sounds are available in stock, sound effect libraries although a real Foley studio has the picture or individual scene looped for the Foley artist to match its visual component, with a bewildering array of props that help mimic the action.
Fourth Wall: It is the imaginary wall that separates the viewer from the action. When an actor breaks the forth wall,they speak directly to the viewer by making an aside comment or visually acknowledging the viewer.
Mickey Rooney: It’s a very small or little creep, dolly/camera move.
McGuffin or Maguffin: An Alfred Hitchcock term for something in a movie that seems to the audience to be very important to a character or pivotal to the storyline but ultimately turns out to be insignificant. It derives from Scottish meaning a trap for lions… think about it.
MOS: It’s a take with no synchronous sound recorded. There are a couple origin stories. Some say it stands for “motor only shot” but we think the best theory is that in the early days of Hollywood talkies, a famous German film director said: Vee vill do this scene mit out sound.” Hence, MOS.
Ozoner: Is a slang term for a drive-in movie theater. Yes, we used to have those.
Schlock Film: Think of some of the really bad horror films of the 50’s and 60’s like “Mothra” or “Attack of the Fifty-Foot Woman.” Many times they are unintentionally hilarious but they are almost always extremely low budget efforts with little intended quality.
Stinger: On a film set, a stinger is any single extension cord.
Undercranking: The idea is to intentionally slow down the shooting rate of a camera so that the action in a scene will appear to be in fast motion when projected. Overranking of course, produces the reverse effect.
Whistleman: In film production’s inception, this was an individual on a film set's sound-stage who was employed to make sure all noises were "shushed" before filming. The whistleman would blow on a whistle just before the shooting of a take commenced.