What is Vamping in Film_

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What is Vamping in Film?

Various terms and lingo in film will have you questioning what it all means. This is common to someone entirely new to the industry. And for good cause! There are tons of film terms that have seemingly nothing to do with film. But which somehow are used commonly throughout the industry. Like vamping! But, what is vamping in film and, what does it have to do with filmmaking?

Vamping is a term that is used to describe someone that is creatively stalling for time. While the term “Vamp” might mean a vampire, or a vampiress.

The term vamping tends to reflect something. That a college student might do in order to get out of having to be responsible. Or otherwise spend time focusing on perhaps homework or other tasks.

Musical Vamping

Perhaps the term vamping is used in film to describe music. When the term, vamping, is used in film to reference the music of the film, the term actually means that a short sequence of chords was repeated over an extended period of time.

For example, “the song vamped while the credits were rolling.” In this case, again, there’s an inherent stalling of time, but the stall is because credits are rolling and while that’s happening, there’s a repeated sequence of musical chords playing – or vamping.

Vamping for the Camera

Sometimes, the term vamping is used in filmmaking to describe acting seductively in front of the camera.

Thus, if someone were to say that the actress was vamping for the camera on stage, it essentially means that the actress was being seductive and acting in a seductive manner in front of the cameraman. 

What about a Vamp?

Perhaps, in filmmaking, you’ve heard the term “vamp”? If you hear the term used in this way, it’s likely referencing a female femme fatale or vampiress.

While vamp is rarely the term that is used to describe the femme fatale character in film, it does happen occasionally so it certainly doesn’t hurt for the newbie filmmaker to learn the term. 

Vamping in Silent Film Eras

Finally, back in the silent film era, vamping was a term that was used to describe a homewrecker, or feminine character who would publicly seduce the cameraman through various actions and behaviors.

Thus, vamping in film is a term that can be used in a variety of ways, in response to a seductive behavior in front of the camera, to describe a vampiress character, or in response to a laziness and acting to stall time. It really all depends on the context in which the term is used.