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Script Supervisor/Continuity Supervisor

What you do in the job?

THE ROLE OF THE SCRIPT SUPERVISOR ALSO KNOWN AS THE CONTINUITY SUPERVISOR
Continuity of storyline
Continuity of action and dialogue
Editor on the floor
Recording and accessing all information regarding the screenplay and any scenes which have already been shot
Knowing if there is a need for any additional coverage or re-shoot or link shot
To have the ability to make definitive technical decisions in a crisis or when there is doubt
Liaison with the film director before and during principal photography regarding all of this

THE FUNCTIONS OF THE ROLE

Your role in Pre-Production:

Timing breakdown
Continuity breakdown
Screen-day breakdowns
Page-count breakdowns
Attending rehearsals
Making sure any changes in dialogue or action which occur in rehearsals are given to the Production office and distributed to all Heads of Department and Cast (as pink pages)
Checking that all aspects of continuity are in place before shooting ie proactively working in advance to prevent errors which may arise
Attending production meeting prior to principal photography and bringing up any of those problems

Production:

Matching action and dialogue during shooting
Taking reference photographic information to be available at all times for matching purposes (Polaroid or Digital)
Knowledge of scene coverage discussed in advance of shooting each day with director and sometimes producing a shot list for key personnel
Ensuring that all shots will have matching eyelines based on Master coverage and that camera is appropriately placed
Making sure of the execution and completion of that coverage and to offer advice when (and if) additional cover is required - or when a particular shot does not work
To provide the editor with appropriate shot information of that coverage both on Continuity Reports and on the Marked Up Script
To provide editor with all information regarding script changes made to either dialogue or action during shooting on a Marked Up Script
Providing information to the production office noting what has been achieved each shooting day on a Daily Production Report
To keep running totals of Scene Timings and Pages Counts in order that the script runs approximately to overall time

Post Production:
This is a function that is rarely needed these days as the editor begins work immediately and is cutting on Avid as we shoot often having a rough cut soon after end of principal photography
Usually there are wrap days for script supervisor in order to get all the Marked-Up Script (s) in order to finally hand over to editor

THE CONTINUITY PA/SCRIPT SUPERVISOR'S RESPONSIBILITIES.

Whilst shooting you will be making sure that actions in conjunction with dialogue match.
You will make sure that the costume(s), make up, hair, props and relevant story plots match
Liaise with the relevant departments in regard to matching and correcting those elements.
You will give notes to actors of any dialogue mistakes or any missed dialogue and bring continuity mistakes to the attention of director and actor(s)
When shooting out of sequence that the continuity of the storyline is consistent. (ie running out of door in Scene 9 L-R and running into Scene 10, still travelling L-R)
That there is a workable shooting coverage of the dialogue and actions. eg. Eyelines, shots, etc
That the film editor has at the end of each shooting day a competent and complete set of notes to cover the shots taken that day.

These notes would be:-
Continuity Reports (sheet per shot)
description of shot and dialogue covered
notes regarding each take
timings of each take
information on lenses and filters used on each camera on each shot
relevant script pages marked up with the shots that cover the scenes shot that day
other information varies from supervisor to supervisor
Editors Daily Log (sheet for daily coverage)
slate number/scene number
one-line description of shot
printed/selected takes
sync/m.o.s.
camera speeds
how many cameras used
other information varies from supervisor to supervisor
Marked up script pages

You would include all pages of scene (s) covered and correct any dialogue changes, additions, deletions.
You would indicate which shots (slate numbers) cover which piece of dialogue by lines and indicate what part of shot is ON camera and which part of shot is OFF camera

To keep a record of the continuity of costume, props and sets in the Master Continuity Script. This usually involves taking photos of these elements and keeping those records either on the computer - or in a file as well as keeping notes on the script pages themselves with information of what actors did within a scene, with which hand, where they moved, on which line
To ensure the camera/sound departments have the relevant information of which takes are to be printed/selected for the lab reports
To keep a record of shots to be picked up at a later stage and providing the production office with this information
To provide information to a 2nd or 3rd unit of what shots are required and the 'matching' information which has already been established (or vice versa)
It is almost imperative these days to have a working knowledge of CGI in order to understand how to note information on composite shots which go to make up many blue screen sequences used in movies today
If working on an action picture the Continuity Reports have to have an extra dimension which will take in the Visual Effects department
To provide a Production Report at the end of each shooting day confirming scenes completed or partially covered, screentime for each scene and the totals for the day, page count for each scene and the totals for the day, overall totals completed and still to be completed. This report also includes a brief diary of the day's events and times in and out

WHEN THE SCRIPT SUPERVISOR BECOMES INVOLVED WITH A PRODUCTION.
This tends to be the choice of the production office. If a timing or breakdown is required during the early days of pre-production, a script supervisor might be required to provide this - possibly involving him/her in (say) a week's work well before shooting starts. This is not always the script supervisor who goes on to actually do the film (which is not without it's problems). With that week completed, the script supervisor might start on the production a week or two before shooting commences in order to complete paperwork on pre-production requirements (see previous) and to attend rehearsals.

Alternatively a script supervisor might be required to start on a production 2 - 3 weeks directly before shooting to achieve the above.

What qualities are required?

These might include:

Ability to observe and retain visual information
Ability to understand technical information and constantly learn new technology
Ability to absorb a script & pinpoint anomalies in storyline continuity
Ability to make positive decisions with confidence
Computer literacy and typing
Digital camera literacy
Paperwork organizational skills and ability to multi task
Communication skills
Personality skills
Discretion

How you start and where you can go with it?

Although no formal qualifications are required to become a Script Supervisor, some film schools and training courses offer a good basic grounding in the skills and knowledge required. The National Film and Television School offers an industry recognised 6 day short course for Script Supervisors. Knowledge of the theory and grammar of filmmaking and, in particular, editing, is essential to understand the craft of constructing scenes out of individual shots. Relevant industry experience is essential. A full driving licence is useful.

Script Supervisors may begin their careers as Assistant Production Coľordinators, or as Production Assistants in television, acquiring valuable on set work experience. After working as Assistants to experienced Script Supervisors for a minimum of 30 weeks, they may progress to Script Supervision on 2nd camera shoots, and 2nd unit work, eventually becoming recognised Script Supervisors may also move into other areas of production, including Producing, Writing, Directing, Editing, Script Editing.


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