We Say, You Say: UK / USA Production Terminology

We may speak the same language, but when it comes to the business of production the Brits and the Yanks may as well be talking Swahili. Here’s a few terms that should have you sounding like a local in no time. Some are obvious, some not so much.

Aside from terminology differences, there’s also differences in team and production set up. Brits are used to working with tighter budgets and smaller teams, which means one thing … multi-tasking! We’re used to having to write scripts, cast and manage talent, direct a PTC, at the same time as running an edit and making a cup of tea. In the USA there’s a Producer for each of these roles … ok, we might be exaggerating about the tea bit.

The UK industry is regulated by OFCOM while the FCC performs the same role in the USA. Watershed hours in the USA are much kinder than in the UK. You’re able to do things editorially in the USA that would have you fail the BBC Safeguarding Trust course and have the production company ostracized in the UK (need we mention RDF, Annie Leibovitz and The Queen)? Be afraid of the frankenbite!

When discussing a quote (or a bid as the American’s like to say) you may hear someone express a figure as “and change” as opposed to the exact figure. Don’t ask us why. We’ve Googled it and we’re still none the wiser. Likewise with trying to figure out the US ratings system.

In the UK if you need stand-ins during rehearsal its not uncommon to grab whoever happens to be on the floor at the time … the Exec’s PA, the work experience, the competition winner. In the USA a Stand-In is a professional role performed by a professional actor or extra. In Hollywood, there’s enough stand-in work to make a very good living from pretending to be someone else. We’re sure there’s a documentary just waiting to be made here.

A note of caution. If your call-sheet is written in ‘military’ time then expect to re-issue it using am and pm. Military Time is not commonly used in the US, so have a PA on standby to make that early morning / late night call sheet re-printing dash to Kinkos.

Do you know any others? Keep the list alive. Add your notes to our comments section.

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2 thoughts on “We Say, You Say: UK / USA Production Terminology

  1. US- to ‘reach out’, as in ….thanks for reaching out. (used a lot in production and advertising).
    UK- to call, contact, notify

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