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Acting and Modeling Terms - Glossary


A.D. The Assistant Director in a film or theater production.

AEA Actor's Equity Union:- Equity negotiates wage and working conditions, administers contracts, and enforces provisions of various agreements with theatrical employers across the country.

Accessories: - This is generally used in the modeling industry. Models should assemble a Model bag to take on shoots and shows. Items in your bag should include your makeup and accessories such as hair items, belts, purses, hats, scarves and jewelry to compliment clothing you may be wearing in a photo shoot or fashion show.

Actor: A person who plays characters in film, theater or television projects. Actors get paid to play other people for the purpose of entertainment.

Audition: An audition is where you will go to try out (read) to get a part in a film, television or theater project. Actors read from the script or side, and the director or casting agent considers if they match up with a character in the project.

Advance - a sum of money paid to you to secure your modeling or acting services.

Advertising - in order to get "Noticed" you need to advertise yourself. THink of yourself as a product and in order to let production personnel know you are out there, you need to advertise using your headshots, resume and or demo reel.

Advertising Agency: - Advertising agencies use models, actors and voiceover's for print, radio and television commercial campaigns that they create for their clients who have a product or service to promote to consumers.

AFTRA: - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Nationally, AFTRA represents professional actors, news broadcasters and writers, announcers, vocalists, and others who work in the fields of television, radio, sound recordings, and industrial productions.

Agent: - An individual whose job is to represent an author's work to various publishers. Agents also negotiate contracts for their clients. The usual commission is around 10 to 15 percent of the advance/royalties acquired. Agents receive their payment as a percentage of what they make for you.)

Backdrop: - Mostly used in studio photography. A backdrop can be one solid color or a theme matching the layout of the product or ad being created. i.e you are advertising perfume and the backdrop/background may be a rendering of Paris, France or a bedroom vanity scene.

Buy-out: - this a a one time payment or flat fee for a project that will not provide residuals. Residuals are payments talent receives each and every time a television commercial is shown. A buy out fee should be negotiated with this in mind and should be more than an hourly rate.

Callback: - this is a result of the audition you went on. They liked what they saw and want to see you again. This generally means you are in the running for the project. A callback is when they ask back specific people from the first audition to read again to make a decision to cast them for a part in their project.

Cap: - This indicates that an actor has completed his scene or a portion of a scene.

Character: - This is a type of person (profile) an actor is going to play. Characters are anything from a gangster to a business man, to a doctor or teacher in a film, photography shoot or television commercial project.

Cold read: - Cold reading is a term used by actors in theatre, television, film, and performance fields. A cold reading is a reading out loud from a script/side without any rehearsal or study in advance. This is generally required in auditions and casting calls.

Composite Card: - Comp Card. - A model or actors material with 3-5 photos of actor or model printed with their stats. These cards are used to market and submit to prospective clients, for auditions and casting calls. The most popular size is postcard, but others opt for the 1/2 by 11 size. All cards display a headshot and smaller shots that showing your versatility or characterization. Also referred to as zed cards.

Curtain call: - A term used in theatre where the performers come out on the stage at the conclusion of the performance for the audience to show their appreciation by clapping while the actors take a bow or two.

Cast:- The actors in a film, theater or television project.

Casting Agent: This is a person who sets up the calls and auditions for models, actors and extras to fill roles needed. They work for the director and producer of a project.

Casting Call: - A determined time and place is set up when a project is ready for talent. You will be given a script or side to read from for a part in the project or asked to submit photos and resumes for a callback.

Demo Reel: - This is a sample video tape (there are demo tapes for voiceover) of your previous work. Your demo real should display your versatility. When creating your demo, try and keep it short, up to 5 minutes of clips showing they many types of characters you can portray.

Dialogue:- The lines spoken by a character or characters in a film, theater production or television commercial, this is a conversation between two or more characters (actors).

Director: - Someone who supervises the actors and directs the action in the production of a show or project.

Extra: - A non-speaking part, background or atmosphere. Extra work is a terrific way to begin your education in the film industry and resume preparation. Extras are generally paid to hang around in the background of a scene to make the shot more realistic. Sometimes extras get singled out to perform more than just background, perhaps you may get a speaking part or more on camera time.

Feature: - A principal (full-length) film. This is generally a full-length feature film and is the professional project that actors are striving for. Pays good and is usually the type of film to be shown in theaters.

Headshot: - This is an 8x10 photo which is needed to submit with your resume to get into an audition or casting call. You need to maintain a current photo. Production personnel depend on photos to choose you for consideration. There is nothing more frustrating than picking a photo of a person for a specific character/model type and the actor/model looks nothing like their photo. When you change your look, you need to update your photos.

Model Release: - you will be required to sign a model release agreement which gives the client or photographer rights to use your photos for the project you have been contracted for as the model. Also called a Photographer Release.

Method acting: - acting style in which the "true"( or "real") moment or response is performed. Actors try to feel and emulate the emotions of the character they are playing so that the actors' reactions and the characters' reactions would be as one.

Monologue: - where a character speaks alone; spoken by one person who exposes inner thoughts and provides insights into his or her character. a speech by one actor or performer directly addressing the audience or another character.

Open Call: is similar to a casting call but generally means anyone who fits the requirements for the project such as extras, bit players and even actors can attend regardless if they have agent representation.

Part:- This is a character; the portion of the script intended for a specific character in a television, film or theater project.

Pilot:- A test run of a first episode of a television series idea. A pilot is an idea for a show. Actors are assembled a pilot is shot and then the process of testing and selling the project begin.

Principle: - This is what most actors are striving for, a main character in a project. One with lines, on camera time and better salary. A major part of the film or project.

Producer:- Someone who finds financing for and supervises the making and presentation of a show (play or film or program or similar work)

Prop: - any movable articles or objects used on the set of a play, movie or photography layout. It is separate from scenery and costumes.

Rehearsal:- a practice session in preparation for a performance. In television, film and theater a , rehearsal can involve the director and other actors who are associated with the scenes or segments of a project. who will come ready.

Resume: You need to prepare a written copy of all modeling and acting experience or training you have completed. Keep in to one page. YOur resume outlines all the projects you have been involved in, the roles you played, the companies you have modeled for, the training you have and any skills or talent you have including dance, singing, sports or any talents other talents you think might be worth mentioning.

SAG: - Screen Actors Guild Foundation - Screen Actors Guild is the nation’s premier labor union representing actors. SAG represents nearly 120,000 actors in film, television, industrials, commercials and music videos. The Guild exists to enhance actors’ working conditions, compensation and benefits on behalf of artists. SAG is a affiliate of the AFL-CIO.

Screenwriter:- someone who writes screenplays. This is normally the person who wrote the script for the project you are auditioning for.

Sides: - Pages or scenes from a script, used in auditions or (if on a film set) those scenes being shot that day. Sides can be anywhere in length from a few lines to a number of pages depending on the part that is being casted. You will receive a side from the casting director or agent prior to the audition.

Tear Sheet: - Gather all the tear sheets you can. While you build your resume collect materials to enhance the package/portfolio with ads from publications you have appeared in. This gives the client more visual information about your performance skills.


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