Magazine article The New Yorker

Vernacular

Magazine article The New Yorker

Vernacular

Article excerpt

Movie speak: the way people talk on the sets of movies. As in "Get me an apple" (apple box: a box used to support a prop, a light, or a diminutive actor). Tony Bill: the producer of "The Sting" and the director of "Five Corners" and "Flyboys," who, twelve years ago, got the idea of putting together a lexicon of movie-set lingo. "There's a culture of the set that never gets written about," he said recently. Gobo: an object used to block the light; it was one of the first terms that Bill learned, in 1963, on the set of "Come Blow Your Horn," in which he played Frank Sinatra's little brother. Other good ones: Honeywagon, the bathroom trailer; Jane Russell, a shot of a woman framed across the chest.

David Schwab, Judy Kuhn: a screenwriter and a Broadway actress and singer, who offered to throw a book party, filled with movie people, for Bill in their apartment. Tribeca: the neighborhood where the party was held. Baby: a light. Love: electricity ("Gimme some love"). Lamp down: to replace a lamp with one of a lower wattage. The apartment was lit with low lights and candles. Cucoloris: an object used to break the light into patterns. Some tall lilies in a vase did this (see also dingle, and brancholoris). Lunch: a meal served on the set (day or night)--salami, a cheese plate, and cauliflower bruschetta.

Rhubarb: background noise, like "watermelon, watermelon"--what extras say to create the sound of conversation. The partygoers were all discussing the Oscars. Bill on the subject: "What annoys me is when somebody will report, 'The Academy snubbed some performer'--as if people got together at a party and said, 'Let's all not vote for Clint Eastwood this year.' " A guest summarizing his latest script: "It's an irreverent comedy about a guy whose job it is to find other people's dead relatives." Or the book scout Maria Campbell saying, "I work with publishers in fourteen countries, and sometimes the most foreign country is L.A."

Fifty-fifty: a shot of two actors in profile. For example, the screenwriter Guy Gallo ("Under the Volcano") talking with the producer Doug Claybourne ("North Country") about the Christian Bale meltdown, triggered after a crew member failed to clear the eyeline:

GALLO: I'm actually on Bale's side on this. A professional grip [a rigger] knows you don't walk through the sightline.

CLAYBOURNE: Those guys should know that from Day One. …

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