Someday, I hope Mike does a post on all the silly, strange, and just plain confusing nicknames we have for our equipment. In the meanwhile, here’s mine.
As Mike said, names of items differ from place to place, time to time, and even set to set. I’ve heard the heavy bags used to hold stands in place called, variously, “dirtbags,” “sandbags,” “beach,” and, in the case of one memorable Jewish DP, “Mel Gibsons,” due to his “Jews started all the wars” comment. (Why this incident alone, in the long history of crimes against the Jewish people, merited renaming “dirtbags,” I don’t know; I’m not sure he does, either.)
I’m told that, before my time, many terms used to be racist, sexist, or both. For instance, black fabric stretched over a 4′ by 4′ frame is now called either a “solid” or “negative fill.” (If there’s an extra piece of fabric that hangs down to 8′, it’s called a “floppy.”)
Apparently, these used to be called “blacks,” but the name changed for fear of offending someone. This seemed ludicrously PC to me, until I heard the following story.
An old (white) cinematographer was shooting a Spike Lee commercial. The room they were filming in was very white. Logically, the DP needed a lot of solids to control the light.
He said, “I need you guys to hang blacks along all the walls. I want to see blacks hanging all around me.”
You’ll be surprised to learn that Spike didn’t hire this DP again.