Above the line - "A production term denoting charges for story rights, the screenwriter(s), director, producers, and actors and all costs associated with them (including stunts, rehearsals, travel, living expenses, even personal trainers)." (Hadley Davis, Development Girl)
Acquisitions: Acquiring the rights to distribute a film from the makers of the film. Acquisition film execs travel to film festivals (such as Sundance, Cannes and Toronto) to find films to buy.
Against: "You'll hear that a script went for a "low six-figure offer against mix-six figures." This means that the screenplay's actual purchase price was a low six-figure offer (let's say $150,000), but the writer will receive additional funds (let's say another $400,000), bringing the total to $550,000 or mid-six figures if and only if the movie is produced." (Hadley Davis)
Agents: "Agents act as salespeople on behalf of clients - actors, writers, and directors." (Hadley Davis)
Alan Smithee - A name directors and screenwriters use if they don't want to be associated with a project.
A-list - stars who can carry a picture to good box office results. Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer, Julia Roberts...
Ankle - trade speak for quitting a job.
Arc - "The journey and transformation of a script's character. Or the movement of a script from beginning to end." (Hadley Davis)
Associate producer - "The most junior person on a production team receiving screen producer credit." (Hadley Davis)
Attach - a star, director or writer lending his name to a project without making a legal commitment.
Audience - "There are dick flicks - blow-'em up blockbusters - and chick flicks - romantic comedies and love stories. Hollywood relies heavily on teen and twenty-something revenue." (Hadley Davis)
Availability - if an artist is free to work.
Back end - a percentage of the profit.
Back story - "The imaginary prequel to a script. Development execs will often ask writers about a character's back story (Where is he from? Was he a geek as a teenager?) as a way of helping to flesh out that character." (Hadley Davis)
Beats - active moments in the plot that move a story along.
Been seen, been around - a project that's been seen around town. Nobody wants old news. (Hadley Davis)
Below the line - "The production costs that are not above the line, such as production staff, set constructoin, grip and set operations, wardrobe, makeup, props, transportation, location or stage or back-lot charges, anything technical like lighting or special effects, editing, sound, postproduction lab charges, insurance, as well as publicity and marketing." (Hadley Davis)
Brass - studio executives.
Broad comedies - "Think general yucks. Mass chuckles. Sweeping silliness. Think Airplane, Dumb and Dumber, Wayne's World, or anything starring Adam Sandler or David Spade or Mike Myers." (Hadley Davis)
Completion bond - "A bond issued by a bank or completion-bond company, which provides completion insurance for an independent film. If the feature runs out of money in the course of production, the bond will supply the film's finishing funds. Studio movies do not require completion bonds, because a studio assumes the film's financial risk and simply digs further into its bank-financed pockets if a project runs over budget." (Hadley Davis)
Coverage - a report on a script.
Dailies aka rushes - that day's footage rushed from the lab.
Deficit financing - how independent producers get to own their own shows. Because the licensing fee that networks pay to air the shows a limited number of times will not cover costs, the independent producer must finance his productions through foreign sales and syndication.
From the 6/23/02 NY Times: "As investments go, television shows are long shots. So the risk needs to be divvied up. Studios, like Warner Brothers or DreamWorks, make the shows, and networks, like ABC or NBC, license them through an improbable system called ''deficit financing,'' in which the networks pay a fee for the program that amounts to 70 to 80 percent of the cost of making it. The studio covers the remainder. If, for example, a 30-minute sitcom costs about $1.6 million a week to produce, the network might pay $1.2 million to run it, with the studio fronting the other $400,000. (The studio's costs could go up to $700,000 a week for an hourlong drama.) It works like this partly because it works like this -- It's an age-old system, and it's not going to change,'' one executive told me -- but also because it's the best technique to coerce the studios to develop good shows and not just mindless fodder. Studios see no real rewards for their investment until four years out, when a show hits its transfiguring 88th episode. This is variously referred to as ''the mother lode,'' ''the jackpot'' or ''Valhalla'' and is why everyone gets involved in television. With 88 episodes available to sell, studios can syndicate the show to local stations and overseas. A successful comedy can garner $2 million an episode, and a single hit underwrites years of failures."
Event movie - a cultural phenomenon.
Green Light - commitment to finance a film.
Green Light Names - name actors of sufficient clout to get financing for a movie.
Helmer - director.
High Concept - a simple, immediately catchy one sentence pitch of a movie - say, Snow White meets Out of Africa.
Logline - One sentence summary of a movie, such as what appears in TV Guide.
Lot - studio's home.
Negative pick up film - where a studio funds a film through a created corporation (thus the filmmakers are not restricted to the various agreements the studio has with different guilds) and in turn the studio gets the first shot to pick up the film for distribution.
Option: An option usually runs about 10% of the purchase price. It gives a producer time to put a project together. When the project goes into production, the full purchase price is paid.
Pass - rejecting a submission.
Player - a producer, agent or executive on the inside of Hollywood's power game. (Hadley Davis)
Programmer - Tv movie or production to fill a space in a TV schedule. Usually a predictable genre piece, such as an airline disaster movie.
Spec - done without a contract. A "spec script" is written on the speculation that it will sell.
Term deal - studios give these to star actors or directors, covering their overhead in exchange for first look at projects.
Turnaround - [T]he studio gives the producer a period of time (ninety days to a year, whatever is negotiated) to set the script up elsewhere and to return part or all of the costs that the studio has incurred. Sometimes there is a change of elements clause, which means that if one of the elements that they tried to attach to the script later agrees to do the movie, they will still have the opportunity to finance it." (Art Linson)
Vertical integration - where one entity owns many phases of the production and distribution process