On-Set Translation

What they say. What they mean.

“Picture’s up.”
Get out of the frame and shut your pie holes.

“Let’s go again; that shot went a little soft.”
Because you’re also an exec producer, I’m blaming the focus puller for your wooden acting.

“Check the gate.”
If we have to do another take of this, I’ll slit my wrists.

“One more for safety.”
Maybe if you think the pressure’s off, you’ll give me one usable take.

“I need more energy.”
Your performance sucks, but I don’t speak actor language and can’t provide the direction needed to get you where I want, so I’ll use a meaningless, unactionable term like energy instead – one that I’ll be forced to reinterpret after the next shitty take.

“Let’s toss a ProMist in there.”
I know the number of a good dermatologist.

“Your character’s very vulnerable in this scene.”
You’ll be naked.

“Honey, I need you to help us maintain continuity.”
Please keep your nipples tweaked between takes.

“We’ll get a pick-up shot of it later.”
No, we won’t.

“Let’s reset with the 85mm and flip the room.”
You guys keep working. I gotta take a dump, a bump, and call my agent back.

“We’re losing the light,” or “wait out these clouds.”
I now punish you for my having overruled your insistence that the whole scene be shot under HMIs.

“This is the Abby Singer, people.”
We’re setting up for the penultimate shot of the day (the final being called the martini), and since many have no clue what this means, it gives me a chance to appear smart while demeaning your inexperience by having to explain the story of the infamous namesake AD who’d routinely mistakenly call the martini shot too soon. This will probably be followed by an additional unforeseen setup, resulting in me being an Abby Singer false prophet myself.

“Good work, everyone. We’ll see you in the morning.”
Please congratulate me on my own visionary genius. And be back in six hours.

About Gordon

Gordon Highland is the author of the novels Flashover and Major Inversions, with short stories in such publications as Word Riot, Black Heart, Noir at the Bar Vol. 2, and Warmed and Bound, among others. He lives in the Kansas City area, where he makes videos by day and music by night.
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1 Response to On-Set Translation

  1. Abby Singer the movie of 2007 says:

    Abby Singer, which is coming out on DVD July 24th

    Abby Singer, is the true indie movie of 2007, shot on a shoe-string budget, featuring a blazing line up of celebrity appearances by Jake Gyllenhaal, Roger Ebert, Jill Hennessy, Jay O. Sanders, Stockard Channing, Don Cheadle, Dave Attell, Lloyd Kaufman, Mark Borchardt, Mike Schank and many more.

    “The film is an inspiration to independent filmmakers everywhere…”
    Mayor Ray Nagin – New Orleans

    After a botched production, financial difficulties, evictions and inevitable homelessness, news of the DVD distribution release slated for July 24th, 2007, (from Mill Creek Entertainment through their “Reel Indies” line) brings with it a renewed since of confidence for the independent film, as well as for the producers.

    The title, ABBY SINGER, reflects upon the filmmaker’s journey. An ‘Abby Singer’ is a film set term used to designate the second to the last shot of the day. For the filmmaker’s, it means something a little more. It means having another chance to turn impossibility, an un-actualized dream, into a possible reality.

    The journey began in 2001 and was packed full with countless phone calls, attempted marketing campaigns, party crashing and a game of Hollywood roulette in hopes of obtaining celebrity releases. All packaged with a bit of charm and charisma topped off with a covert paramilitary operation dubbed, ‘Operation Nighthawk’, specifically designed to penetrate every major Hollywood Studio to gain exposure.

    Following close behind was ‘Operation Altitude’, which specifically aimed to attract acquisition representatives and close a distribution deal by grabbing attention away from the Sundance Film Festival’s Empire.

    Throughout the saga, even in the darkest hour, ABBY SINGER has proven to endure even the most demanding and extreme circumstances. At the end, the filmmakers have found peace in learning that all you need is a little hope, a little faith, some patience and persistence and anything is possible.

    “Abby Singer has a mesmerizing central performance by Clint Palmer, a distinctive visual style, sharp editing…”
    Tim Cooper – UK Guardian Observer

    Produced by Clint Palmer, Jonathan M. Black and Ryan Williams, ABBY SINGER is a darkly comic tale that chronicles the life of Curtis Clemins (Clint Palmer), who is torn between the love of his life and accomplishing his dream. When hitting rock bottom during the Sundance Film Festival, Clemins’ calls upon his old college chum, Kevin Prouse (Ryan Williams). Although in the throes of a divorce, he is left with the only clue that will salvage Clemins’ rapidly deteriorating life. Shot in a French New Wave / Cassavetes style, ABBY SINGER is NASHVILLE meets THE PLAYER with a twist of AMERICAN MOVIE.

    For more information about the film and upcoming events please refer to the following:

    Please check out our websites at:

    Abby Singer

    Abby Singer MySpace:
    Abby Singer YouTube

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