After you've been into this biz for awhile, stumbling to find the best path, you soon learn that there is no best path. There are some set no-no's, however the can-do's, considering how many there are, how they can cross ethical lines, how they can contradict previously established guidelines, and how they often defy common business sense, can be insane. This all extends to the language of the business. THR, Esq. blog on Hollywood Reporter's site has a guest post from attorney Schulyer Moore that illustrates this last point with some sample terms that will sure to baffle all but the most flexible minds.
Here's a snippet of the post:
Hey, ever been at a Hollywood party and wanted to impress a member of the opposite sex with your mastery of Hollywood jargon? Just print out this article, fold it up, stick it in your wallet, whip it out at the opportune time -- after a drink or two -- and use it for speed seduction as a form of neuro-linguistic programming...
Adjusted gross means, well, actually the same as "gross," unless you are an agent that wants to tell your client that he got a share of "adjusted gross," in which case it might mean "net" (see below).
Net means you go hungry.
Actual break-even means "net" (see above).
Off-the-top expenses means a bunch of expenses that someone decided at some point always should be deducted, even from "gross," in the interest of fairness -- even if they have nothing to do with the film (like trade dues) or shouldn't be deducted at all (like taxes for which a credit is available).
Budget means a forward-looking estimate of anticipated production cost, except when it means a backwards-looking statement of actual production costs.
Attached (as in, "Tom Hanks is attached") means that you sent the script to the actor's agent and haven't received a rejection letter yet.
NDA agreement means non-disclosure agreement. It also means that whatever is disclosed pursuant to it will be summarized on an online blog within minutes.
See what I'm talking about? One thing I personally advocate, is that outside of LA and Hollywood, we try to avoid this pseudo-speak. It may have worked in the past, but in today's wide open internet, it has way of coming back to bite folks in the ass. And LA, and NY have had years to accustom themselves to distorting the basic rules of comprehension. The moment you use these meaningless terms, is the moment you start turning local folk against the film business, which does no one any good.
You can read the rest of the post at THR, Esq. on HollywoodReporter.com