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Film Industry Terms - c

Film Industry Terms – C

Film Industry Terms – C

This is our third instalment in which we examine some of the jargon and industry-specific terms using in filming for both the big and small screen. Like all the other letters of the alphabet, C has plenty of terms that actors, extras and walk-on artists, as well as backstage crew, need to understand.

Call sheet

This is a sheet that is sent to the various departments involved in the filming process that sets out when they need to be on set, what time, location and so on. Actors and some extras will also receive a call sheet too so they know where they must be and when.


This refers to an appearance by a famous actor or person. There are thousands of examples. Albert Hitchcock, the famous director, always appeared in his films, usually in the first few scenes. Blink and you’ll miss him! Look out for him getting on a train or off a bus in the background of a shot. Other cameos to look out for include Cate Blanchett covered in a paper forensic suit in Hot Fuzz. You’ll also find Charles Heston in Wayne’s World too. But have you spotted Glenn Close in Hook?


You might hear the phrase ‘in the can’, one that is used not just in the movie industry but in general life too. the ‘can’ is the metal or plastic container that store the film reel for transport or storage. A completed film (or when a job is done) is often referred to as being ‘in the can’. Canned means something is pre-recorded.

Capsule review

This is when a short movie is reviewed or watched.

Cash cow

In movie terms, this refers to a film that is (almost) a guaranteed blockbuster before its release. This could be a combination of both the story, the actors involved and the publicity and hype around its release. Big name movies in recent years such as the James Bond franchise along with the superhero films of Iron Man and others rarely bomb at the box office because they have such a huge following. Being a cash cow film means they rake in millions of dollars when they open. But the highest-grossing film accolade still belongs to the 1939 classic, ‘Gone with the Wind’. In 2018 it was Avengers: Infinity War.

If you look hard enough you’ll find Spike Lee, the writer who created many of these characters, in a cameo appearance in the film. He is the school bus driver.


This is the collective term for the talent of people involved in bringing characters to life. The main actors are at the top of the list and actors with smaller roles appear lower down. Only people with speaking parts are listed.


This is the process of hiring actors, including extras and other performers, for a film.

Cautionary tale

This is a literary term that means the film contains a message (usually a moral one) about what would happen should a certain course of action be followed. Where the Wild Things Are is a great example.


Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) is used in many different ways in film from stunning backdrops to adding detail and drama to fight scenes. From collapsing buildings on busy streets to characters morphing from one to another, the ability of CGI to create amazing special effects is almost limitless – and very exciting.

There are many others you may have heard off, including close up shots, climax and cliff hanger but the important ones are on the list. Can you think of any others we need to include?

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