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Film Industry terms H

Film Industry Terms – H

Film Industry Terms – H

In our series explaining jargon associated with the film industry, we examine those phrases beginning with H. For actors and extras, understanding these phrases are important as it means that you can deliver exactly what the director and production team are looking for.

Handheld shot

A handheld shot is when the camera is held by the camera – or its made to look like it is – so that it produces a ‘shaky’ shot. There are many films that have used this style of filming. The cult film The Blair Witch Project often used this style of filming, not surprising considering the story of the film.

Hays Code

Film and literature have often been subjected to censorship over the years. The Hays Code, named after Will Hays, is one of these sets of censorship. In 1934, these set of rigid rules were imposed on films by the Motion Picture Production Company. It lasted until the 1960s and was clear about things that couldn’t be shown. They included “excessive and lustful kissing”, as well as “suggestive dancing” and “methods of crime”.

Head-on shot

If you are in an action film, you may well be asked to complete a head-on shot. This is where the action moves directly at the camera. Directors use it so that the audience feel part of the action. It is also commonly used in 3D versions of films too.

Helicopter shot

As the name suggests, this is where a sequence of film is shot from a helicopter or up high to give an overall aerial view. There are many films that use this, including TV productions. In some ways, this has become easier with the advent of drones as it allows directors to film helicopter sequences without the need for an expensive helicopter and pilot!

Hero or heroine

Every film or production has a hero or heroine, usually the main character around whom the story and action navigates. There are various means of telling their stories, such as the underdog character to a character who is being portrayed as a real-life hero.

High concept

This refers to the marketable element of a film. The main story is often expressed as a one-liner, not unlike the logline of the film. Examples include the female welder who aspires to be a dancer as in the 1984 film Flashdance or the unlikely pairing of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny de Vito in Twins.

Hitting a mark

This term refers to an actor or extra moving to the correct spot as practised during rehearsals. This allows the camera to record the action. The mark is often a physical one, such as a piece of crossed tape on the floor.


A film that is described as homage is one that could be described as a beautiful tribute to someone or something. It is not uncommon to find a homage or some kind of tribute to films and actors in current movies, usually because the director wants to acknowledge the influence it had on them. These homages in films will often be so subtle, they are hard to spot.

Why not join us for the rest of the alphabetical lists of jargon used in the film industry?

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