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Script Supervisor

Internet Filmmakers' FAQ

The script supervisor basically keeps track of things. First of all, for the production office, he or she keeps track of number of pages and scenes covered in a day, the number of setups, the estimated screen time, the official lunch and wrap times, etc. Secondly, for the editor, he or she keeps a detailed list of shots, including type, number of takes, prints, film and sound roll where they might be found, etc. Finally, and more generally, the script supervisor is a kind of clearing house for all the details associated with film continuity.

For example, the wardrobe department is responsible for keeping track of the number of buttons open at the top of an actor's shirt during a scene, but the script supervisor also keeps track of this, and, if there is a question, tries to help out. An actor is, more or less, responsible for matching his or her action from setup to setup, but the script supervisor also keeps track, and can be called upon to help out. The director and the DP are responsible for keeping track of screen direction in the coverage of the scene, but the script supervisor also has a backup responsibility in this area. And so forth. Also, the script supervisor keeps a copy of the script handy at all times, so that if anyone needs to refer to it - an actor for lines, the director to see how this scene is linked to the following one in the script - it is available.

Answer by Ellen Evans,  |  Last updated 15-Feb-2005


Older Comments

kay taylor  |  09-Jul-2006
Essentially there are two schools of coverage in moving images with of course deviations therein. Those two schools are essentially the Bazanian School and the Eisensteinian school. It is the role of the director, production designer, and director of photography to determine what their style and approach will be. As a script supervisor and filmmaker I lean toward the Bazanian School, which is about the democratic eye, composition in depth, wide angles, choreography, allowing the actors to play out the scene as a Gestalt. Ideograms have their place.but for the dramatic narrative...Bazin rules, in my book. Look at any of Greg Toland's work. Covering everything and the friggin’ doorknob is for sissies. This is the key to continuity...production design and the choice of coverage, it all goes from there. A seasoned storyboard artist makes their weight in gold for the director and DP. Preparation, preparation, preparation. Bring script on early. Let her, or him...provide breakdowns to inform scheduling. Light baby...light. That is time of day or night and how that plays is subliminal, the subliminal mind is what a script supervisor/continuity coordinator oversees. A good one will have an editor's sense of timing and coverage, a cinematographer's eye, a producer's insistence on production values and getting it right on set..not fixing it in post, and a sensitivity toward the actors and what and when they need you, and don't I never step over that line of the director/actor relationship. . Protocol for protocol's sake is like a proctologist with a #%^* probe up your &*#. But diplomacy is all and protocol goes a long way, given the context, of course. Then you want someone who has the detail and record keeping skills of an archivist. Dates, times, cross-referencing camera rolls, sound/disc rolls, correct slates, notes detailing why or how something worked or didn't will save you hours and hours in post. I am there for the editor, but I am also there for the actor, director, producer, cinematographer, art dept., grip & lighting, wardrobe, make-up, et al, and not necessarily in that order. your coverage for the content and import and within the context of the locations and production. Context is all. A script supervisor has it made in the shade when all departments know their roles. It is a fictive world you are creating...what is the time and space of the dramatic story? One day, 40 days, or eons? Supremely important. Remember continuity and filmmaking or DV making is collaborative. If you can get past the egos for the big picture, you belong, otherwise sell cars. Of course begin with a good script. Then hire a good script supervisor to see you through...Finally, shoot film not DV, it will save you time and money and when formats change, you will have something that lasts...and feed the crew, it is good business, you don't starve a horse and ride it. Kay Taylor, script continuity supervisor/continuity coordinator and archivist.
Dr. Melissa Caudle  |  26-Jul-2005
The Scripts Supervisor is an essential part of the team on any set, generally for a commercial or a major motion picture. Often, interns and those wanting to become Script Supervisors don't fully grasp the complexity of skills needed for this occupation. Although formal training is not necessary, an educated Script Supervisor is more common than not. Being a Script Supervisor requires attention to detail and endurance. A key element in a Script Supervisor's role is to understand the breakdown of a script for shooting. Other skills include: - Pre-timing scripts - Breaking down the script for shooting - Staging and Blocking Techniques - Maintaining Continuity of Time - Maintaining Continuity of Action - Maintaining Continuity of Dress - Maintaining Continuity of Space - Making Sure All Scenes are shot - and more.