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Navigating the Lingo: Essential Keywords and Terms in the Los Angeles Film Industry

The Los Angeles film industry is an exciting and dynamic world, but it comes with its own unique language. Familiarizing yourself with essential keywords and terms will help you navigate this environment with ease and confidence. This article highlights some of the most common terms you'll encounter while working in the LA film scene.

  1. Above-the-line (ATL)

This term refers to the key creative personnel involved in a film or television production, including the director, producer, writer, and principal cast. These individuals typically have a significant impact on the creative direction of the project and receive higher compensation compared to below-the-line crew members.

  1. Below-the-line (BTL)

Below-the-line refers to crew members responsible for the technical aspects of a production, such as cinematography, sound, editing, and set design. BTL crew members are critical to the success of a project, but they typically have less creative control than their ATL counterparts.

  1. Call Sheet

A call sheet is a document distributed to cast and crew members before each day of shooting. It contains vital information, such as the daily schedule, scene descriptions, required cast and crew, locations, and contact information. Call sheets are essential for ensuring smooth and efficient production.

  1. Coverage

In the context of screenwriting, coverage refers to a detailed analysis of a script by a professional script reader. This analysis typically includes a synopsis, commentary on the plot, character development, dialogue, and overall marketability. Producers and agents often use coverage to decide whether to pursue a project.

  1. Dailies or Rushes

Dailies or rushes are raw, unedited footage shot during a single day of production. The director, cinematographer, and other key creatives review dailies to evaluate the performance, lighting, and composition, and to identify any issues that need to be addressed.

  1. Development Hell

Development hell is an informal term used to describe a film or television project that has been stuck in the pre-production phase for an extended period, often due to creative disagreements, financial issues, or other complications. Projects in development hell may never come to fruition.

  1. Greenlight

To greenlight a project means to give it the official go-ahead for production. This decision typically comes from a studio or production company's executives, who weigh factors such as marketability, budget, and creative potential before committing resources to a project.

  1. Line Producer

A line producer is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of a film or television production, including budgeting, scheduling, and hiring crew members. They work closely with the director and producer to ensure the project stays on track and within budget.

  1. Principal Photography

Principal photography refers to the main phase of a film or television production when the majority of the scenes are shot. This stage typically follows pre-production and precedes post-production, where editing, visual effects, and sound design take place.

  1. Wrap

To "wrap" a film or television production means to complete the shooting process. Once principal photography is finished, a wrap party may be held to celebrate the cast and crew's hard work before the project moves into post-production.


Understanding the keywords and terms in the Los Angeles film industry is crucial for effective communication and collaboration. As you gain experience and become more familiar with the industry's language, you'll find it easier to navigate your career and contribute to the success of the projects you work on.




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