Film Terms



Film Terms Glossary - Index
(alphabetical and illustrated)
Introduction | A - 1 | A - 2 | B - 1 | B - 2 | C - 1 | C - 2 | C - 3 | D | E | F
G - H | I - J - K | L - M | N - O | P | Q - R | S - 1 | S - 2 | T | U - V - W - X - Y - Z

Film Terms Glossary
Cinematic Terms
Definition and Explanation
Example (if applicable)
the process (performed by a film editor) of selecting, assembling, arranging, collating, trimming, structuring, and splicing-joining together many separate camera takes (includes sound also) of exposed footage (or daily rushes) into a complete, determined sequence or order of shots (or film) - that follows the script; digital editing refers to changing film frames by digitizing them and modifying them electronically; relational editing refers to editing shots to suggest a conceptual link between them; an editor works in a cutting room; the choice of shots has a tremendous influence upon the film's final appearance.  See Best Film Editing Sequences.
the shortening of the plot duration of a film achieved by deliberately omitting intervals or sections of the narrative story or action; an ellipsis is marked by an editing transition (a fade, dissolve, wipe, jump cut, or change of scene) to omit a period or gap of time from the film's narrative; an ellipse in a script (designated in the text as "...."), either allows for a pause, and/or omits a portion of the sequence of events allowing the reader to fill in the narrative gaps.  
another term for master of ceremonies  
end (or closing)
credits appearing at the end of a film; aka end titles  
enfant terrible
literally from the French, meaning "terrible baby" - referring to a brilliant, young, passionate but egotistical, brash director; characteristics of an enfant terrible director include being innovative and unorthodox
Example: Orson Welles and Citizen Kane (1941), Steven Spielberg and Jaws (1975), Michael Cimino and The Deer Hunter (1978), Guy Ritchie and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), and Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck and The Lives of Others (2006, Germ.)
ensemble (film)
a film with a large cast without any true leading roles, and usually with multiple plotlines regarding the characters; it also literally means 'the group of actors (and sometimes directors and designers) who are involved in a film'. Examples: The Philadelphia Story (1940), Rio Bravo (1959), The Last Picture Show (1971), The Godfather (1972) films, St. Elmo's Fire (1985), The Breakfast Club (1985), Steel Magnolias (1989), Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), Reservoir Dogs (1992), and numerous Altman films, such as Nashville (1975) and Short Cuts (1993)
a costly film made on an unusually large scale or scope of dramatic production, that often portrays a spectacle with historic, ancient world, or biblical significance.

Examples: Ben-Hur (1959), Titanic (1997), or Patton (1970), shown here.
a short, concluding scene in a film in which characters (sometimes older) reflect on the preceding events Example: the epilogue of Saving Private Ryan (1998) and Schindler's List (1993) (pictured)
a moment of sudden spiritual insight for the protagonist of a film, usually occurs just before or after the climax  
a self-contained segment or part of an anthology film or serial; a number of separate and complete episodes make up an episode film Example: Twilight Zone - The Movie (1983)
a film that is composed of a series of loosely-related segments, sections, or episodes, with the same character(s) Examples: Intolerance (1916), Around the World in 80 Days (1956), Short Cuts (1993), Pulp Fiction (1994)
establishing shot
usually a long (wide-angle or full) shot at the beginning of a scene (or a sequence) that is intended to show things from a distance (often an aerial shot), and to inform the audience with an overview in order to help identify and orient the locale or time for the scene and action that follows; this kind of shot is usually followed by a more detailed shot that brings characters, objects, or other figures closer; a re-establishing shot repeats an establishing shot near the end of a sequence.
Example: the beginning of Laurence Olivier's Henry V (1944) includes an establishing shot across a detailed model of 16th century London; also the early wide-angle views of the New Zealand coastline in The Piano (1993)
exec or exex
abbreviations for 'executive' or 'executives'  
executive producer
the person who is responsible for overseeing a film's financing, or for arranging the film's production elements (stars, screenwriter, budgeting/financing, etc.)  
term meaning 'movie theatre owner'; aka known as exhib (shortened term)  
experimental film
refers to a film, usually a low-budget or indie film not oriented toward profit-making, that challenges conventional filmmaking by using camera techniques, imagery, sound, editing, and/or acting in unusual or never-before-seen ways; sometimes aka avante-garde, art films Examples: Disney's Fantasia (1940), Hitchcock's Rope (1948), Jonathan Demme's Swimming to Cambodia (1987)
exploitation film
a sensational, often trashy B-film aimed at a particular audience and designed to succeed commercially and profitably by appealing to specific psychological traits or needs in that audience without any fuller analysis or exposition; often refers to films with extremely violent or sexual scenes; not necessarily a derogatory term; various types include blaxploitation, sexploitation, splatter films.
Examples: Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970), Cannibal Holocaust (1980, It.), Porky's (1981) shown here, or any of Roger Corman's New World Pictures films, such as Bury Me an Angel (1971).
the conveyance (usually by dialogue or action) of important background information for the events of a story; or the set up of a film's story, including what's at stake for the characters, the initial problem, and other main problems.  
(and expressionist)
refers to the distortion of reality through lighting, editing, and costumes, to reflect the inner feelings and emotions of the characters and/or the filmmaker; a cinematic style of fantasy film common in post-WWI Germany in the 1920s and 1930s, characterized by dramatic lighting, dark visual images and shadows, grotesque and fantastic shots, distorted sets and angles, heavy makeup, highly stylized acting, and symbolic mime-like action and characters; opposed to realism.
Examples: Robert Wiene's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) led to the term caligarisme (referring to the chaotic, expressionistic cinematic style in the film); also F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu (1922) and Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927)
a person who appears in a movie in a non-specific, non-speaking, unnoticed, or unrecognized character role, such as part of a crowd or background, e.g., a patron in a restaurant, a soldier on a battlefield; usually without any screen credit; also termed atmosphere people; contrast with walk-on and non-speaking role, bit players, or principals; also see cast of thousands
Examples: The Ten Commandments (1956) in the Exodus scene, Ben-Hur (1959) chariot scene, Spartacus (1960). Recent films use CGI to create fictional crowds of extras, such as in Gladiator (2000), or soldiers and a fleet of ships in Troy (2004) (pictured).
eyeline match
a cut between two shots that creates the illusion of the character (in the first shot) looking at an object (in the second shot)  

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