Keeping It All Straight: The Script Supervisor

[Ah, finally a new topic! (Yes, I know my voice is beautiful, but you’ll enjoy this too.) Mackenzie Storhaug is going to be discussing the deceptively simple, and extremely demanding, role of Script Supervisor. Tidbit: Before the modern era of unnecessary political correctness, this job was often called “Script Girl.” So, why’d they change this title and not “Best Boy?” Hmm? I ask you this. –BB]

Greetings, Readers! My name is Mackenzie, and I’ll be working as the Script Supervisor, or “Scripty,” on the set of “Now Upon A Time”. While the title “Script Supervisor” may not be the most sought after, it is without a doubt one of the key positions on set, for it ultimately connects the director’s decisions on set to the Editors’ edit off set. In this blog entry, I will give you an overview of the tasks required of the Script Supervisor.

The Scripty can be found on set right in the middle of all the action. They are responsible for making sure the film can be cut together smoothly. To do this, they must be taking notes of director’s changes or ideas, notes from the director of photography about any mistakes or shot changes throughout the day, and sometimes even notes from the sound department such as “MOS” (Mute Out Sound) or telling if the sound in each shot was good or bad. Because the editor is most likely not on set, he or she needs detailed notes from what occurs on set so the edit can be cut together correctly and efficiently.

A Script Supervisor's Notes

The Scripty will draw and label verticle lines on each page of the script to tell the editor how much of the dialogue and action was covered in each camera angle. If the line is straight, that means all of the dialogue was covered. If the line is squiggly, then not all of the dialogue was covered. The Scripty may write notes on the script itself or write the notes in a box designated for action, duration, lens, etc. on a separate page.

The Scripty is also there for the actors. If an actor forgets a line, the scripty is there, ready to feed a line whenever needed.

In addition to noting department heads’ changes and mistakes, the Script Supervisor is also in charge of continuity. Continuity is consistency of a character’s action, the plot, and objects and places seen by the viewer. This also includes the type of lens being used for each shot and the duration of each shot. Since a script is rarely shot chronologically from beginning to end, it’s important to have continuity notes to look back on to see how a certain scene or character looked and moved. For example, if a character has a line, and then lifts his hand to scratch his face, the Scripty will note when the actor does that. For the next shot from a different angle, the Scripty will tell the actor when it was he lifted his hand so that it will match the timing of the last shot.

Oops.

At the end of the shooting process, the Editor has two things: 1) a whole lot of footage, and 2) notes telling him or her exactly which shot contains what material and the quality of that material. Without these notes, not only would the Editor’s job be more time consuming, but he or she might end up with something the Director wasn’t wanting.

[The Scripty is also invaluable in making sure that everything that needs to be shot, actually gets shot. If she notices that a line of dialogue was only captured in one angle (or not at all), she’ll bring this to the director to make sure he doesn’t want more coverage. In other words: She’s a lifesaver.]

I hope this blog was helpful in giving you an overview look at the job of a Script Supervisor! Thanks for reading!

–MS

This week’s lesson:
The Scripty is responsible for making sure
what happens on set translates to the editing room.

Please: Leave us comments! Let us know what you think about the blog and the project, and tell us what you want to see or hear more about! Like we said in our first blog post, this blog is “about you almost as much as it is about us.” ;)

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One Response to Keeping It All Straight: The Script Supervisor

  1. Loved your post! I am a film student, and I am the scripty for our short film. Thanks for helping me discover what it’s all about!

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