We have all seen a film with a continuity issue or detected a plot hole at some point. As productions hire someone to pay attention to the intricacies of a screenplay, you will not see hundreds of them. The script supervisor is the person on-site who is in charge of the screenplay. We will explain what a script supervisor does and why they are vital and offer a free script supervisor template and paperwork. You can read our article to learn more about the art of writing a script.
Who is a Script Supervisor?
A script supervisor (also known as a continuity supervisor) is a production team member who is in charge of maintaining continuity. Many sectors are included in the realm, including properties, costumes, set decoration and dressing, hair, and make-up. The script supervisor also keeps an eye on the actors during the filming of sequences.
In brief, a script supervisor is one of the essential crew members on-site since they serve as the eyes and ears of numerous departments, ensuring that the project’s massive jigsaw puzzle gets reassembled later.
Responsibilities of a Script Supervisor
During filming, the script supervisor serves as a central point for all production information and is responsible for the following:
Continuity: The supervisor is in charge of ensuring that no continuity problems occur by collaborating with all the departments (lighting, sound, wardrobe, make-up, camera, properties, and sets). The script supervisor jots down all of the information needed to recreate the continuity of a scene, location, or action. The script supervisor will meticulously record information about each action into a daily editor log, including:
- The positioning of the leading actor(s)
- Screen direction of their movement
- Type of lens used
- Necessary action performed during the shot
- Other information varies depending on the script and setting.
When more than one camera is used, the script supervisor keeps separate notes for each one. These logs also include a director’s remarks on whether a take is no good, a hold take (good but not flawless), or a print take (a good take). These comments are essential for maintaining continuity and providing the editor with information on the director’s preferences, any issues with any of the takes, and other notes to aid the editing process.
Using a Stopwatch: Especially on multi-cam sitcoms, the script supervisor will almost always have an apparatus for timing the scenes filmed so that the director and editor’s work is a little less hectic.
Axis and Eyelines: The script supervisor also determines the axis of a scene. He keeps track of the events and helps the director and the camera operator set the camera’s position and off-camera eyelines. This ensures the coverage of the scene cuts seamlessly and the characters’ appearance within a scene, avoiding any confusion on the viewer’s part. Finally, a script supervisor focuses on the intended character or object.
Script: The script supervisor is in charge of making sure the shooting script is up to date. The script supervisor keeps track of any deviations from the screenplay made by the performers, director, or others during the filmmaking process. For example, suppose significant changes to the screenplay are made that impact a future day’s shooting. In that case, the script supervisor is responsible for informing the assistant director’s team, informing the rest of the crew. As a script supervisor writes a vertical line down the page for each different camera arrangement during filming, the script supervisor’s script is also their lined script. Each line indicates the start and end of that setup. In addition, the shot’s brief description and whether or not you recorded the dialogue for that setup are noted. This makes it easy for the editor to see which camera arrangements cover certain parts of the conversation or action.
Slating: The script supervisor collaborates with the clapper loader (second camera assistant) and the production sound mixer to ensure that each exposed film has a consistent and meaningful slate and that the sound and image slates are in sync. The script supervisor also keeps track of each sync take’s sound roll, and the status of all MOS takes. This guarantees that the film footage in the editing room is appropriately identified, allowing the editor to locate and use the correct takes.
Production Reports: The script supervisor writes daily reports for the production team at the end of each shooting day. These reports take different forms depending on the studio or production company. Still, they usually include a log of when:
- Shooting takes place
- Breaks began and ended.
- Breakdown of the pages, scenes, and minutes shot that day.
- The same information for the previous day.
- The script in totality.
- Pending tasks.
- The number of scenes covered (entirely shot), the number of retakes and the number of wild tracks.
On any set, the script supervisor is the official timekeeper.
Editor’s Notes: The script supervisor creates the continuity logs for the day’s shooting, as well as the relevant lined script pages for the sequences shot that day, in addition to the production reports. These notes are forwarded to the editorial team to help with editing.
Role in the Post-Production: To create a production book, the script supervisor must combine their efforts. These are presented as individual as the person playing the part, although they usually consist of a marked script with comprehensive notes, scene reports, and production totals.
Qualities Required to Become a Script Supervisor
Here are some crucial attributes to look for in a script supervisor:
Eye for Detail: As a script supervisor, you’ll have to teach yourself to notice even the tiniest details, such as the line of sight used in a particular shot and if it fits the actors’ eyelines in the vast image. Audiences will notice and be distracted if even tiny details are overlooked during the final cut of the picture.
Needs to Speak Up: The script supervisor works independently from the rest of the crew. Because the script supervisor is a one-person crew, they are the only ones who can speak up if a continuity problem emerges. If you witness a shot that breaks continuity, you are responsible as a script supervisor to speak up and alert the director.
Needs to Be Approachable: The primary responsibility of a script supervisor is to point out continuity mistakes, but you must do it diplomatically. For example, suppose other crew members become irritated when you inform them that a lighting setup or outfit needs to be modified to preserve continuity. In that case, you will need to be patient. Building a positive connection with the workforce requires effective communication and a positive attitude.
How to Become a Script Supervisor?
Are you ready to learn how to be a script supervisor? Here are some things you can do to advance in your career:
Start Working as a Production Assistant: A screenplay supervisor must be familiar with various filmmaking departments, from costuming to camera work. A script supervisor is unique because they are a “department of one,” which means there is no apparent position beneath them to work your way. However, another option is to gain the essential experience for this position: work as a production assistant.
Build Bonds and Connections: As you work on different sets, cultivate relationships with the staff and create a contact list. One of the most remarkable ways to do this is to excel at your job—if other film crew members are impressed by your performance as a PA, they’re likely to hire you for future projects.
Enroll in a Film School: Attending a film school or taking a few film classes is not required to work as a screenplay supervisor. Still, having a film degree or taking a few film classes might help you better understand the industry and offer you an advantage over other applicants.
Build a Portfolio: Making films is a great way to learn the craft of filmmaking. Collaborate with friends and volunteer to produce short films for a showreel. This is also necessary for impressing admissions tutors and film business professionals.
Average Salary of a Script Supervisor
Script supervisors are paid in a variety of ways. Payment for script supervisors is determined by various factors, including an individual’s work history and the scale of a particular project. It is worth noting that script supervisors are frequently members of unions that set fixed hourly rates for their employees. As a result, script supervisors often earn between $1,505 and $1,674 per week — or more — when they work.
Hourly Rates: Script supervisors’ hourly salaries in television might vary dramatically depending on a few factors. According to script supervisor Tracy Moody, who has worked on shows like “Mad Men,” a cable show may pay a script supervisor $29.50 per hour, whereas a show on a big network might pay the same person $32.78 per hour.
Speaking about television, the seniority of a show might come into play with the amount of money paid to script supervisors. Script supervisors are often paid more in programs that have been running for a longer time. Payment is also affected by the length of a television assignment. Commercials on television are frequently shorter productions. Script supervisors are frequently paid $550 for a full day’s labor.
Union Rates: When script supervisors are members of labor unions, their salary is determined by the organizations with which they are affiliated, as previously stated. Many script supervisors join professional groups like the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. Their compensation is determined by how long they worked as script supervisors. After a year on the job, script supervisors get more money. After their second year, their rates also rise.
Independent of Unions: Script supervisors for larger film and television projects with more extensive budgets are naturally paid more. According to novelist and cameraman Bryan Dzyak, a non-union script supervisor working on a low-budget project could earn $225 per week. If the budget is a little bigger, he could take in $1,000 every week. He could earn $400 per day if he works on a large film or television production.
There are many reasons why you should consider adding a script supervisor to your production crew if that was not clear already. With all of the components of making a film, it is easy to lose track of minor but crucial aspects.
A continuity problem occurs when a character spills a drink in the automobile yet shows up at the pub with a clean shirt. The internet is fond of pointing them out. Hiring a script supervisor is the most distinctive approach to prevent getting added to the list of errors. On every film and television show, script supervisor’s notes become essential records. The screenplay supervisor keeps a critical voice in the conversation and keeps track of detailed script supervisor forms.
Continuity encompasses more than just the transition from one shot to the next; it also includes the growth and arc of notable characters and plot points. The overall project can be flawless if the specifics are kept in order.