Production Hacks

Walkie Talkie Lingo Everyone On-Set Should Know

By AJ Unitas

December 10, 2017

What’s your 20? What does 10-4 mean? Bogey. A walkie-talkie is a powerful tool on a film set. But it’s nothing unless you know the walkie-talkie lingo.

Luckily, mastering film set walkie talkie lingo isn’t as hard as finding your film crew. We’ve compiled the most-used walkie talkie codes and radio etiquette tips to have you saying “10-4 over and out” in no time.

Walkie Talkie Lingo on a Film Set

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Download the print-friendly walkie talkie cheatsheet PDF for FREE.


Watch: How to Use Walkie Talkie Lingo

What is common walkie talkie lingo?

1st AD putting his walkie talkie lingo in action

Before you can give yourself a walkie talkie code name, you gotta speak the radio lingo. Think of this list as a walkie talkie dictionary:


On a film set, 10-1 is the walkie talkie code for the bathroom. While literally meaning you need to pee, using as this as a catch-all saves your film crew from t.m.i.

If you find you need more time (maybe the craft services is all beans), just ask to “Upgrade your 10-1.”

What are examples of advanced walkie talkie lingo?

An example of a 2nd AD using a walkie talkie

Film set slang is as infinite as it is weird. Now that we’re past ‘What’s your twenty,’ here’s some film crew terminology you could hear on a channel:

There’s obviously more walkie talkie lingo beyond that, but it gets kind of random.

What’s the best radio etiquette on a film set?

Maintaining proper walkie talkie etiquette is just as, if not more, important than speaking the language.


  1. Give up your walkie talkie if someone higher than you runs out of battery.
  2. Speak slowly, clearly, and at a moderate volume.
  3. Cut back on jokes and other non-sequiturs.
  4. Learn your crew’s voices to avoid constantly asking who you’re speaking with.
  5. Be brief and to the point. Bluntness is best.
  6. Think before you speak. Concise your point into walkie talkie codes. Are you saying something offensive? Just think.
  7. Wait a beat before you begin to speak. Don’t hit the button right when you speak. You’ll have to repeat yourself.
  8. Be aware of your walkie talkie’s buttons. Don’t accidentally switch your dials on, or turn down the volume and miss important instructions.
  9. Ask twice when needed. While it’s always best to say “10-4 over and out,” if you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask again. Repeating instructions back can help this.
  10. Check your channel often to make sure you didn’t forget to switch back.
  11. Think about buying your own surveillance earpiece.  These are cheap and may be in short supply when you get to the set.
  12. Keep your mic a good distance from your mouth while speaking.  You don’t want your voice to be too loud.  3-5 inches away should be good enough.
  13. Make sure your mic wires are underneath the back of your shirt.  Loose wires are a danger to yourself and others.

Learning radio etiquette is a matter of experience.  But more often than not, treating a walkie talkie as a powerful instrument of communication rather than a toy resolves most issues.


Are you working with an ultra famous actor? Or how about a difficult to manage shark robot?

Then create some walkie talkie code names. By tailoring your radio lingo to your specific project, you can save time and inject some fun throughout the production.

In StudioBinder, you can easily add walkie talkie channels when you create your call sheet. That way when your crew gets their call sheet text the night before, they’ll be in the loop.

StudioBinder’s Call Sheet Builder has footer space for your walkie talkie channels.

What is each walkie talkie channel on a film set?

Here are some common walkie talkie channels you’ll find on productions.

Now you that you the most common walkie talkie codes, it’s time to turn to the channels. While it can vary from set to set, the most common walkie talkie channels are:


Every film set is different. No two walkie talkie codes are alike. Before you walk on set, ready to sling radio lingo left and right, review the call sheet. The walkie talkie channels being used may have changed.

What’s the walkie talkie etiquette switching channels?

Each department has its own walkie talkie channel. The number of channels and departments vary from production to production.

Channel 1, however, will be the main channel. Used primarily by the production coordinator and PAs, this is where people call for each other and make general requests and notifications.

For one-on-one communication, switch to Channel 2. If you have a question or can’t reply with one of the terms above, Channel 2 is for you.

To switch walkie talkie channels, call for someone to “Switch to 2.” The receiver will respond: “Copy, switching to 2” and then “On 2” after they switch.  Then, chat normally.

When you’re finished, call: “Back to 1.” The receiver should respond “Copy, switching back to 1.” And voila.

On a hectic set, keeping walkie talkie channels open is key.


Knowing enough walkie talkie lingo, you can easily decipher this:

1st AD: Does anyone have eyes on The Falcon?PA: Flying The Falcon in now.1st AD: What’s your 20?PA: Melrose and Santa Monica.1st AD: 10-4. Can you bring him to make-up?PA: Copy that, going off walkie.

The PA mounts a series of hard turns.

PA: Walkie-check.1st AD: Good check.PA: Falcon at make-up. Standing by.1st AD: 10-4 over and out.

“Yippee Ki Yay” is definitely not walkie talkie lingo.

Wrapping Up

As every production coordinator knows, proper radio etiquette is the key to an organized shoot.

Having a trusty walkie talkie can make difficult shoots run more smoothly. And most importantly, it can make you feel like a secret agent.

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