A script supervisor (also called continuity supervisor) is a member of a film crew and oversees the continuity of the motion picture including wardrobe, props, set dressing, hair, makeup and the actions of the actors during a scene. The notes recorded by the script supervisor during the shooting of a scene are used to help the editor cut the scene. They are also responsible to keep track of the film production unit’s daily progress. The script supervisor credit typically appears in the closing credits of a motion picture and is listed on IMDB under Misc. crew, even though they have a crucial role in the shooting of a film.
In the most basic description, the script supervisor is the editor’s and writer’s representative on set, as well as being the right hand aide to the director and the director of photography. It is the script supervisor’s job to make sure that at the end of the day the film can be cut together. In that sense, they back up every department, monitor the script during shooting and make sure that errors in continuity do not occur that would prevent the film from being able to be compiled smoothly in the editing room.
In pre-production, the script supervisor creates a number of reports based on the script, including a one-line continuity synopsis providing basic information on each scene such as the time of day, day in story order, and a one line synopsis of the scene. These reports are used by various departments in order to determine the most advantageous shot order and ensure that all departments, including production, wardrobe, set dressing, hair and makeup, are in sync in regards to the progression of time within the story.
The assistant script supervisor (script assistant) will not oversee filming but shall work under the direction of the script supervisor to complete numerous related tasks during production. Among the responsibilities of this position are collecting and transcribing script revisions, disseminating those changes to department heads, as well as transferring continuity notes to the corresponding page colors. Each new revision of the shooting script is printed on a different color of paper, in order to identify old versions from the current shooting script. In connection with revisions, the assistant script supervisor must recalculate the scene totals and one-eighth breakdown, which is a measurement of inches of the page used to determine scene length. As filming proceeds, this person is responsible for checking prints with the sound and camera department to ensure accurate labeling and corresponding notes for the editor. The assistant is most often delegated the task of preparing the editor’s lined script from the supervisor’s pages and must transcribe dialogue changes. On a daily basis, he or she will file all pertinent information in the master editing script.
While on set, the assistant will participate in taking photos for the purpose of ensuring continuity of each scene for pick-up shots or retakes and is responsible for maintaining the catalogues of those photographs in an organized manner. If deemed appropriate, the assistant script supervisor may run lines (rehearse dialogue) with the actors in preparation for filming. This person is charged with maintaining forms and supplies of the department and may be delegated the typical office tasks such as making copies, procuring materials, and similar duties. If the assistant is required to work on a second unit production team, he or she is upgraded to a department head.
Skills & Education
The position of an assistant script supervisor requires an individual with an obsessive attention to detail that is capable of meticulous note taking amidst numerous distractions. Most important will be this person’s capacity to accurately transcribe information quickly and to ensure exact consistency. A college degree in film and television production is recommended, as this person must be knowledgeable about the filming process and able to communicate with the sound and camera departments concerning continuity. Understanding how to break down a script for the preparation of editors’ notes requires specific training that can be gained as part of a degree program or through mentorship under a veteran script supervisor.
What to Expect
Time will be split between working on set to cover continuity photographs and completing notes and script revisions in the production office. This is most often a freelance career. You should anticipate irregular hours based on the shooting schedule, and travel may be necessary when working on location. This position is a natural steppingstone toward work as a script supervisor, and prior experience as a production assistant within the production office is useful. Some films and television series offer work for script trainees who are allowed to serve under the direction of the script assistant and will receive dedicated training and mentorship toward promotion. Most trades within film and television are learned through apprenticeship, as this has been the practice since the inception of the industry. Script supervisors and assistants are eligible for membership in IATSE, the union that represents artists and technicians working in entertainment production.
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