Acting Definitions for Child Actors

These are the acting definitions you may hear come up in acting school for kids, in acting workshops for children, and on acting sets with your child. The list will be growing, but for now, we are starting out with some of the most common ones that I promise you will hear soon, if you have not already. Educating yourself and learning the below definitions for yourself and your child, will give your child a head start in classes, auditions and on sets.

1) Copy.
The text for your child’s commercial audition is called copy. Copy is for commercials.


2) Sides.
The text for your child’s audition for a film or for television is called sides. Sides are the exact lines that the casting director would like your child to audition with. They are called sides, because it is your child’s character’s sides (their “side” of the story being told. So your child will just read the “sides” provided to you by your agent, management team, producer, or casting director directly. The “sides” your child reads are just part of the entire script. If they land the role, they may be given other sides to learn too.


3) Off-book or Off-copy.
This means that your child has memorized their sides or copy, that they no longer need their sides or copy when doing their lines. This is a huge benefit when in any type of audition as they will no longer have to look down at their words. They also MUST be completely off -book and off-copy when on any set. This is a must for any professional actor.


4) Cold-Reading.
Your child actor may be handed sides(see above) or copy(see above) to read and be given a few minutes, or if lucky a tiny bit more time, to look it over and study it. Your child will then be expected to perform the scene without looking down too much and remaining confident in the wording they are speaking. For cold-reading your child should memorize their first and last lines and be absolutely confident on those. When they go back into the audition room, they MUST be looking up on the first and last line. They can look up and down a bit throughout the rest of the scene, but their delivery has to be smooth and not choppy. They also have to be able to know where they are in their sides or copy, not lose their place and be able to turn pages without looking down too much. Cold-Reading is reading aloud from a script or other text with little or no rehearsal, practice or study in advance. 


5) Back to 1.
On any set, if you hear a director or producer call this out, it means go back to your first position. So, as an example, in a scene, if your child started near the front door and then moves into the kitchen and then sits down, those are 3 different positions. If your child hears the director call out “Back to 1”, they should go back to the front door (in my example, which was their first position for that scene being shot.)


6) Quiet on the Set.
Be quiet. Do not speak as cameras are about to roll. I know, sounds obvious. You’d be surprised. Do not get caught talking after this is said. On the sets our daughter has been on, the producer or other has sometimes said Quiet on the Set more than once before it was truly completely 100% quiet.


7) Rolling Rolling.
This is the moment when the cameras start rolling and your child should already be in character. They cannot come out of character “after” they hear Rolling Rolling, until the director says Cut.


8) Cut.
This means that the actor can relax for a moment or few. The scene has been cut or stopped for the moment. This sometimes happens right in the middle of a scene if the director wants to stop there. Most times, this happens at the end of a scene. If your child hears cut, they should just relax and take some deep breaths and remain in character. However, they should be ready to go again on the same scene should the director be ready to go right away. (Which this does happen)


9) This actor is “green”. (this may be said about your child or said directly to you or them)
Being green means that the actor appears to be “inexperienced” and not far along yet in their training and experience. It is usually used by casting directors, directors, training instructions and coaches, which are the ones that can often quickly tell if a child actor is not that far along in their career yet. If your child is still “green”, the best thing you can do is get them into more training classes for acting and let them know this is a journey and acting takes practice and time to move along. (just like any sport or any other thing you want to be good at). Sometimes child actors are green just because they may have taken some classes or coached, but they need to get their first on set experience to feel what that is really like.


10) Pace Up or Pace it up.
This simply means to speed it up, as your child is just going to slow. Often times casting directors will ask your child to pace it up and pull it together. When they do pace up, do not have them speak before another actor’s lines, but do have them increase their speed. They are probably pausing too much or breaking up the words within a sentence too much. They need to talk like it’s real conversation and pace it up.


11) Let if flow more.

“Let it flow” is similar to pace up in that things need to move along quicker, however, this is more “within each sentence itself”, and how your child chooses to say the words within a sentence. If for example the lines are something like “Hello, today is going to be so beautiful, the sun is out and the birds are chirping.” When your child says the lines he or she goes like this “Hello. (FULL STOP) today is going to be (STOPS again or pauses) so beautiful. (stops again) and so forth, they are not letting if flow just like natural conversation. Ask them to just say the line to you as if they are talking to you or to a friend of theirs. They need to have it just flow normal and not be so broken up. Breaking up a sentence too much is a sign of inexperience.


12) Pull it together.
If a casting director, producer or director tells your child to “pull it together” they are asking your child to now take everything that they have suggested so far and stitch that all together so that it’s smooth and confident. They are asking your child to process all they’ve taken direction on and have that become one, with no stopping in the middle of it.


13) Craft Services.
This is the department which provides food service and beverages to the other departments on set. In addition to policing the set, they provide buffet style snacks and drinks. There is often an area set up for cast and crew to enjoy these food, drinks and snacks which can consist of tables to sit at, chairs, tables for food to sit on, coolers and other food related items. Craft service is the food that is always available to the crew and cast while they’re working, and can range from a single table of cookies, candy, cereal and coffee (on an low-budget film), to a huge luxury spread on more high-end productions.


14) Magic Hour
While on set, you may hear the director or producer refer to getting in shots before the magic hour or getting in shots during the magic hour. Magic Hour (or Golden Hour) is the time of day when the light looks a specific way due to the sun’s position in the sky. It is a period of time shortly after sunrise or before sunset during which daylight is redder and softer compared to when the Sun is higher in the sky. Often times the shots are magical during this time period due the cool lighting effects.


15) That’s a Wrap.
This phrase is commonly used by the director to signal the end of filming.

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