Have you ever heard the term "China Girl" and wondered what it meant? It has nothing to do with race, at least not when used in filmmaking, and it has nothing to do with the David Bowie song.
The China Girl was a model photographed by a filmmaker to help the lab technician calibrate their equipment while processing the film, a reference plate to help the technician get the colors right.
The term China Girl is a reference to the mannequins made of porcelain (china) filmmakers used in this function, and eventually came to refer to the live models who posed for these test shots as well.
And even though the live models weren't always thrilled to pose as China Girls for a filmmaker, they must have liked knowing their photo was seen by audiences before the main feature!
In 2011 the Chicago Film Society began collecting China Girl portraits and sharing them online in their Leader Ladies Project, many of which can be seen in this surreal short by Julie Buck and Karin Segal.