Haunted Screens: Film Glossary

A listing of relevant film terms adapted from www.studyguide.org.

General Terms

Shot Continuous, unedited piece of film of any length

Scene – A series of shots that together form a complete episode or unit of the narrative

Storyboard – Drawn up when designing a production. The series of pictures show how each shot relates to the film including camera angles, actor placements, and size of the film frame. (Think comic strip with directions – like a rough draft or outline for a film.)

Montage The editing together of a large number of shots with no intention of creating a continuous reality. A montage is often used to compress time, and montage shots are linked through a unified sound – either a voiceover or a piece of music.

Parallel actionNarrative strategy that crosscuts between two or more separate actions to create the illusion that they are occurring simultaneously.



Long Shot – Overall view from a distance of whole scene often used as an establishing shot – to set scene. When referring to a person, it will show their whole body.

Medium or Mid Shot, Middle distance shot – Can give background information while still focusing on subject. Person – usually shows waist to head.

Close Up Focuses on details, expressions, reactions. Close ups of people shows either head or head and shoulders.

Tracking shotSingle continuous shot made with a camera moving along the ground

Reverse shotShot taken at a 180 degree angle from the preceding shot (reverse-shot editing is commonly used during dialogue, angle is often 120 to 160 degrees)

Subjective Shot (P.O.V. Shot) – Framed from a particular character’s point of view. Audience sees what character sees.


Camera Movement

Pan – Camera moves from side to side from a stationary position

Tilt – Movement up or down from a stationary position

Tracking – The camera moves to follow a moving object or person


Camera Angles

Low Angle Camera – Shoots up at subject. Used to increase size, power, status of subject

High Angle Camera – Shoots down at subject. Used to increase vulnerability, powerlessness, decrease size


Editing (the way shots are put together)

Cut -The ending of a shot. If the cut seems inconsistent with the next shot, it is called a jump cut.

Fade in or out – The image appears or disappears gradually. Often used as a division between scenes.

Dissolve – One image fades in while another fades out so that for a few seconds, the two are superimposed.



Soundtrack – Consists of dialogue, sound effects and music. Should reveal something about the scene that visual images don’t.

Score Musical soundtrack

Sound effects – All sounds that are neither dialogue nor music

Voice-over– Spoken words laid over the other tracks in sound mix to comment upon the narrative or to narrate