Producer and actor Sevier Crespo, Backstage Expert

by Backstage Expert Sevier Crespo

As a producer, I’ve found there are many terms used on set that are beneficial to know. Even if they don’t specifically refer to you as an actor, they’ll help you know what is being discussed while on set and to better understand those around you.

Above the line: On a budget sheet, there are individuals who contribute to the direction and narrative of a film. “Above the line” refers to these people and any expenditure related to them. Examples include screenwriter, producer, director, casting directors, and actors, among others. These are the most expensive line items, and this is the area that can make or break a movie in terms of the quality of the leaders.

Below the line: On a budget sheet as well, “below the line” refers literally to the “line” that separates the actors, directors, producers and writers from the remaining on-set crew. This is where your team resides as well as every aspect related to it, from food and fuel to parking and wardrobe. Where “above the line” could be considered the upper management, “below the line” would be the team players themselves.

Blocking: In setting up a scene, an actor’s moves need to be worked out in relation to the camera. “Blocking” refers to the working out of these details. An analogy would be choreographing a dance. It’s like planning and ensuring things like the actors, extras, crew and equipment are all moving in harmony with each other. It’s to make sure that the above-the-line guys and the below-the-line guys are all on the same page. It also gives the script supervisor a point of reference for continuity on how things are supposed to go, which can alert them if something strays too far from it.

First unit: This refers to the team of individuals who are involved in shooting the sections of the film that are of primary importance, typically scenes involving actors or the stars of the film. In large productions, there would typically be a first and second unit... READ MORE