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The script supervisor position is often misunderstood—it is not a job where one merely updates and distributes the script as the title implies. In fact, it’s a particularly important, even critical role for a film or TV show’s success.
The script supervisor ensures that continuity errors are avoided by monitoring and reporting on various aspects of a production. This maintains continuity between different shots and scenes, so that the story can be edited properly.
Because most productions are shot out of sequence, missing even a small detail is enough to ruin a scene. This is because by the time a film is in post-production, it is too late to fix the problem.
Let’s go through in detail what is required of a script supervisor.
What Are the Duties of a Script Supervisor?
The script supervisor begins their work in the pre-production stage. They will prepare what is known as a Continuity Breakdown based on the script. This document provides detailed notes on what is required for each scene, including a brief one-line summary, their length and the time of day that the scene takes place in. This advanced work will help the producers and director determine which order the scenes will be shot in.
Here is a detailed list of a script supervisor’s duties:
- Analyze the script in advance of production and consult with department leads.
- During shooting, work with the camera assistant to ensure each slate is correct.
- Time and record every take.
- Make continuity notes regarding wardrobe, hair, makeup, props and the set (for example, “Isla’s hair over left shoulder,” “Kira’s sweater changed to blue option,” etc.).
- Note the position and movement of main actors.
- Ensure that an actor’s eyelines line up, so that once the scene is edited, they appear to be looking at the intended character or object.
- Record the type of lens used.
- Record the director’s notes (such as “use this take”).
- Note any changes to the script, such as dialogue, which are made by the actors.
- Update the shooting script and advise of changes that affect the filming schedule.
- Prepare a daily report for the production team at the end of each shooting day. This information includes the number of scenes shot that day and the number of retakes required.
The script supervisor will also function as the editor’s eyes and ears on set so that the editor will be informed—thanks to the supervisor’s notes—on what has been filmed and how the various elements can all come together seamlessly in the edit suite.
When you consider that one scene can be shot over multiple days or could even be a part of a reshoot weeks or months later, the information the script supervisor provides is especially important.
behind the scenes of being a script supervisor with Kelsey Lynn Stokes! 💜🎬✍️
What Skills Do You Need to Be a Script Supervisor?
A script supervisor must be very detail-oriented with exceptional organization and communication skills. This is because the information they provide is crucial to the success of the final cut. They should also have a solid understanding of filmmaking, including shot composition, blocking, lighting and editing techniques.
There is usually only one script supervisor per film. If a script supervisor is effective at their job, their work should go completely unnoticed by viewers of the final film.
Is a Script Supervisor’s Workday Hard?
It can be because there can be a lot of distractions on a set. The supervisor needs to be able to focus, regardless of what’s going on around them, and still be able to take detailed notes.
Who Does the Script Supervisor Talk To?
During preproduction, the script supervisor will work with the screenwriter, director, producer, and a representative of each department. During shooting, they will work directly with the director, cinematographer, and editor.
How Much Do Script Supervisors Earn?
Like many positions on a film set, a script supervisor’s salary is based on training and experience. On average, a seasoned script supervisor can expect to earn approximately $83K annually in the role.
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