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...