Lucky for John McCabe of Videomaker.com, he had the opportunity to interview and discuss the role of a script supervisor with some of the industry's top-notch talent. With input from Robert Moon and Andra Hayes, it becomes abundantly clear why a film set should have a script supervisor on set. Below is a quick snippet of the full article:
Another terms for the role of script supervisor is continuity supervisor, which, although used less often, is a more accurate definition of the role. The script supervisor is the person who takes copious notes on the set, which will find their way to the editor so that post-production runs smoothly. At least, that’s the primary definition of the job. In reality, the script supervisor’s job is to save the director’s ass, and that job begins not during production, but very early in pre-production. And it ends when the film is completed. So, do you need a script supervisor for your production? The short answer is “yes,” but we know that’s not good enough, so here’s the more detailed answer that should help you make the right choice:
Robert Moon, who has worked on more than 40 projects and is currently the script supervisor for MADtv, explains that, “While there are actually many disparate duties a script supervisor performs, the most important one is to work as the on-set editor to ensure the project can be cut with a minimum of mistakes. He or she is the firewall against eye line mismatches, jumped dialogue, and continuity errors from every department. She is often the only advocate for post-production during principal photography and makes sure the editing team gets the material it needs in a way that is easily understandable and digestible.”
Careers in Film invited script supervisor Roe Moore to share her insights about the role, her experience, and what it takes to be a successful person in the entertainment industry. Here's a quick snippet of the full article:
There are ways to prepare for a career as a Script Supervisor before beginning an apprenticeship. “I would highly recommend getting to know what every position on set does. A Script Supervisor’s hands are in every single department and it’s important to know what they’re doing to effectively collaborate.
It’s also good to understand how shot lists work. Sometimes the Script Supervisor must be the outside eye and let people know if shooting in a specific order won’t work. For example, if a chainsaw comes through a wall and cuts a desk in half where a character in a movie is supposed to be hiding then it’s important to get the Actor’s coverage under the desk before sawing it in half,” says Moore. A lot of these things may seem simple but while on set people’s heads are in pulled in so many different directions that the obvious can become invisible. A good job to take to get on set experience is as a PA in the Grip or Art Department.
From a diplomatic personality to a thorough understanding of every role on a film set, a successful script supervisor knows how to manage the production in an effective and swift manner. I often say a producer or director won't notice when we're doing our jobs well; however, they will notice when we're not doing it well. I had the opportunity to speak with JobHero to give an insider view of what it takes to be successful. Here's a quick snippet of the article:
When considering becoming a Script Supervisor, I would suggest considering one’s skill level in organization, detail-oriented, and a capacity to have a powerful memory. The Script Supervisor is the on-set representative for the post-production team. They are the last line of defense before the cameras roll to catch any errors like missing props and/or continuity errors. They are responsible to review what is being recorded to ensure that dialogue lines are said correctly, that movements matched what was discussed in rehearsal, and if the take can ‘cut’ with any other footage or coverage for the scene. Because of this, knowledge in other areas of production is highly suggested because our position interacts with every other department. If one is familiar with the other departments, the Script Supervisor can then collaborate to find smart decisions in the event an error happens or additional support is needed.
A powerful memory is important because one has to remember (or notate) the movements of multiple things at a time while the camera records the take. After each take, the actors and props reset to their original positions and the Script Supervisor is the authority on those positions. In addition, the Script Supervisor has to know the script better than anyone else on set. This is to field any changes that could affect the story line as a whole or for a single character and determine if the change is something that can be done. More often than not, the director/producer/writer may know that in scene 2, the character gets punched. But they decide to remove the punch from the script, making the dialogue in scene 3 about the punch irrelevant and changes the story. The Script Supervisor has to be on top of the script to catch these errors before they are put on film.
It's not uncommon for the tasks and role of the script supervisor be misunderstood. It's another thing when the position gets confused by another title; in this case, a script coordinator. In a special crosspost, Roe Moore spoke with script coordinator Cole Fowler (How to Get Away with Murder) to clear up the confusion. Here's a special excerpt:
Cole describes the difference between film and television the best: “For film, you have to know all the answers before you go into production. In television, everyone gets to figure things out together as you go.” Both mediums lend themselves to high collaboration between the writer, director, and the actors when it comes to the story and the characters. The primary difference is the involvement of the writer once the script goes into production.
In television, the writer is on set and available for all questions pertaining to the characters, the story arc, and other details needed to fill the world. Cole suggests a writer must know and understand the character and story of the episode so well that they can simply answer any question brought to them from the creative people who are bringing their words to life. Often if the writer doesn’t know the answer, there is a high possibility the actor and/or director doesn’t know either. Depending on the show, the writer may also be needed to write other alternative dialogue lines – especially for Comedy. Cole may step in when the changes or details.
In 2017, four script script supervisors attended SXSW to spread their experiences and knowledge of the craft. Roe Moore, Nick Robinson, Eve Butterly discussed the craft alongside script supervisor turned director Gina Grande and film editor Josh Either. Here's a snippet from the article:
Being a script supervisor is the best path to directing. At least, that's what Bob Byington swore when he sat down with us at SXSW 2017 for a podcast last week. The sad truth, however, is that not many people actually know what the job entails. Perhaps that's because there's just so much to it.
"We are a department of one," Eve Butterly explains in the SXSW panel Did We See That? The Role of the Script Supervisor. The supervisor's main jobs on set are incredibly important: to make sure that the footage shot will be able to be cut together, and to keep track of continuity. But an expert script supervisor will look after all the other departments to ensure everything is running smoothly, and the production is on schedule to appease the higher ups...