In Part 1 of this three-part series, I described some of the more generic terms and slang used by everyone on movie sets. In Part 2, I focused on the camera department and some of the more specific phrases used within it.
There is one aspect of film sets that everyone must deal with at some point though and that is radio communication. Specifically, walkie talkies. It may seem like a no brainer – talk like you would talk normally – but there is actually a general set of guidelines as well as specific phrases that are integral to clear and professional radio communication on set.
Common Phrases and Terms
10-1 – to go to the bathroom “number 1”
10-2 – to go to the bathroom “number 2”
10-4 – understood the message
20 – location; as in, “what’s your 20?”
Copy – used to show that a message was heard AND understood
“Eyes on…” – said when a person or object is spotted. Can be a question, “Does anyone have eyes on the camera tape?” or a statement, “I’ve got eyes on Steve.”
Flying In – said when a person or object is on the way to set
“Go for [name]” – a call or response for somebody specific on the radio.
Radio Check – a call that warrants a response such as “good check” if heard by another crew
Stand By – used to let another person know that one is too busy to respond at the moment
Walkie Check – see radio check
Best Practices to Follow
Always use your name to identify yourself when first communicating (see: “Go for”). Radios aren’t like telephones where it’s one person on the other end – there are tons of people who it could be.
Make sure you realize that other people could be listening to your channel. That means if you need to talk to someone privately you should move to another channel, or even better, ask them to meet you somewhere.
While oftentimes crew are wearing ear pieces, it is still polite to lower your voice over the walkie if you know they are rehearsing or otherwise.
Always “copy” a command when you hear it or acknowledge it in some way. Silence on radios worries people because they assume you couldn’t hear them.
If someone higher up than you runs out of a battery or their walkie breaks, give them yours and go find a working one.
Walkie talkies and radios are an invaluable tool on set because it keeps the chaos and atmosphere quieter while allowing crews to be more efficient. The terms and phrases used may seem odd or unnecessary but they are so widely used that only a newbie would be caught saying otherwise.
Again, as has been a theme with this series, other crews will have different sayings or slang they use and everybody on set has to be ready to adapt. Start with these basics and get to know the crew and everything will be A-OK. 10-4.