hustle background

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VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
The director on a filming set:
— All right, hustle background, and action!
The Exorcist, film

What does it mean please?
Thanks.
 
  • heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    What happens immediately after this? Were they filming a street scene, for instance, and the people in the background of the scene started to move/walk/run
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It's the object of the imperative 'Hustle'. (If imperatives have objects.)

    It's all the stuff that's going on behind and around the main action of the scene. It's literally in the background.

    His instruction 'Action' would be directed at the main actors in the scene.
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The people in the background constitute 'background' - anyone seen in the scene but not the focus of the action. Not the main actors/characters. In this instance, from what you have said, it appears that the people rallying/marching/protesting (or whatever) are 'background'. It might also include any cars driving along the street and pedestrians etc.

    So, everybody involved in the background are told to start doing whatever they have to do, and then the main actors do what they have to do once the background is 'happening'.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    This is not a sentence in normal English. It is a brief code used between the director and the actors: people that film 100 scenes every day. The director does not bother using normal English 100 times a day. He shouts out 1-word and 2-word commands.

    This specific director uses the word "hustle" as a 1-word term meaning "start doing all of your assigned background activities".
    He could have used other words. Other directors say "action" instead of "hustle".

    This specific director uses "background" as a noun for the people he is addressing: all the extras, the non-main actors.

    But the words are not important. Everyone knows what to do, in this order:
    [1] full film lighting comes on
    [2] cameras start filming
    [3] all the background actors start doing their ongoing actions
    [4] the main actors start doing the scripted actions (including speaking)
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I don't think he's addressing them by the term/name "background". I don't think there's a comma.

    He's going down a checklist in his mind, like Dojibear says. Hustle background is his personal shorthand for the name of a step in the checklist. He's basically saying "Hey everyone, we've reached the hustle background step." and then they do what they know they are supposed to do when that step is reached, which involves getting things in the background active and busy, so the scene looks realistic. I think some directors would just simply say "Background!" He's giving them a pre-planned command, so in that sense he's addressing them, but only indirectly, not as an anthropomorphic entity called "background". He could just as easily say "Hustle the background." The people responsible for the background know who they are. Some will be in the scene, some will be operating equipment that adds something to the scene.
     
    Last edited:

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    I don't think he's addressing them by the term/name "background". I don't think there's a comma.

    He's going down a checklist in his mind, like Dojibear says. Hustle background is his personal shorthand for the name of a step in the checklist. He's basically saying "Hey everyone, we've reached the hustle background step." and then they do what they know they are supposed to do when that step is reached, which involves getting things in the background active and busy, so the scene looks realistic. I think some directors would just simply say "Background!" He's giving them a pre-planned command, so in that sense he's addressing them, but only indirectly, not as an anthropomorphic entity called "background". He could just as easily say "Hustle the background." The people responsible for the background know who they are. Some will be in the scene, some will be operating equipment that adds something to the scene.
    But what grammatical role does "hustle" carry here then?:)
    If he's not addressing anybody, and there's no comma, then he tells someone to "hustle backround", right?
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Like I said, in my opinion, he's not telling any specific person to do anything specific. That's all pre-arranged. He's going down a checklist. "We're at the get-it-moving step where the people in the background should fulfill their role of getting the background moving naturally." Hustle = get it moving. It's a code. Just like "Action!" "We're at the step where the main actors should start acting."

    Yes, it's an imperative in a sense. But it's not like "Sit down!" where the imperative tells you directly the action to perform. It's an "indirect imperative".

    Before the scene:
    Coordinator: "When the director calls 'Hustle background' your job is to walk across the room and out that door without looking at the camera. You got it?"
    Extra: "Yes, I understand."

    Later:
    The director calls out "Hustle background" and the actor does his pre-arranged job, as do all the others in the scene.

    So is that an imperative or a code, is he even speaking to any particular person directly, or what?
     
    Last edited:

    exgerman

    Senior Member
    NYC
    English but my first language was German
    Hustle is an imperative. Background is a vocative. He is addressing the [people in the] background, and telling them to hustle or bustle or do whatever else they are supposed to do.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Before the scene:
    Coordinator: "When the director calls 'Hustle background' your job is to walk across the room and out that door without looking at the camera. You got it?"
    Extra: "Yes, I understand."

    Later:
    The director calls out "Hustle background" and the actor does his pre-arranged job, as do all the others in the scene.
    we've reached the hustle background step.
    I think no matter how "hustle background" is used in a broader context, it itself, these two words, must have a grammatical connection.
    It's either transitive verb+object, or intranstitive verb+vocative, as exgerman described above.

    Thank you all.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I would vote for the first one. "Background" is a thing that needs to move at that point in the sequence.
     
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