Movies, though glamorous, have always had a stressful and hectic schedule behind the scenes in making it work. The person who makes the whole process seamless is the script supervisor. This article tells you all about the job description and average salary of a script supervisor.
A script supervisor was called a continuity clerk, script reader, or script girl.
The movie industry, often overshadowed by the glitz and glamor of the movie stars, fails to notice the technical crew that works beside them. The technical crew, apart from the director, are the pre-production staff that figures out the storyboards and the various camera angles for the scenes, the production staff that assists the director during film shoots, and the post-production team that edits the raw footage and gives it the finishing touches to what we call a film. Among the technical crew is the script supervisor, who acts as a liaison between the director and the editor. In the following sections, you will understand the role of a script supervisor in the production crew.
▣The script supervisor has the responsibility of maintaining the internal continuity of the film during shooting.
▣He/she makes sure the scene is ready for shooting, by coordinating with the makeup department, the wardrobe department, camera, lighting, sound, properties, and sets.
▣He makes daily notes on the duration of each take, and the time consumed to shoot the take, with a stopwatch.
▣He needs to pay attention to detail by remembering the actor’s movements during each scene, and their position according to the camera. For example, an actor holding a wine glass in his left hand can’t be holding it in his right hand in the next scene.
▣He also makes notes based on good takes and bad takes during production. He jots down information regarding the director’s comments about particular scenes.
▣He maintains the axis of any scene by making sure the camera always stays at the eyeline level, so that any character’s entry and exit out of a scene remains seamless, and the viewer doesn’t get distracted by any glitches.
▣The detailed notes created by the script supervisor also help the editor in merging the scenes together, and editing out a beautiful masterpiece.
▣He coordinates with the clapper loader and the production sound mixer so that the scenes have the right music accompanying them. This also helps the editor in using the right footage in the editing room.
▣He is responsible for keeping the script up-to date. He is also responsible for informing the production staff about the latest changes, by supplying them with the revised version.
▣The film shoots take place according to location, and not sequentially. So, the script supervisor organizes scripts accordingly.
▣He compiles the logs detailing the shots taken and the amount needed for each take. He acts as a liaison between the director and the editor (who’s not present during the shooting process).
▣During pre-production, he checks the script for any inconsistencies, and develops character and scene breakdowns for the actors. For example, the position the character faces in respect to the camera, the lights, etc. He records detailed timings of the rehearsals to keep the shooting schedule on track.
▣During production, he checks for any improvisations of the scene done by the actors and make a note of it. He also reminds the actors of their lines when needed, to keep the shooting going on.
▣He files reports and takes photographic records of the scene, and prepares the paperwork for post-production.
The salary of a script supervisor will change according to location and production house. Usually, they get better salaries on locations in the proximity of movie studios, such as New York or Los Angeles, as compared to an independent movie studio in Colorado. Commercials pay less as compared to TV shows and movies. Salaries also differ according to the size of the production unit or the production studio they are currently working with. They are also paid more if the television programs they are working with have run for a longer period of time. The average salary earned by a script supervisor in different states is:
|New Hampshire||USD 39,000|
|New Jersey||USD 43,000|
|New Mexico||USD 34,000|
|New York||USD 48,000|
|North Carolina||USD 38,000|
|North Dakota||USD 35,000|
|Rhode Island||USD 36,000|
|South Carolina||USD 39,000|
|South Dakota||USD 30,000|
|West Virginia||USD 37,000|
▣Although no educational qualification is necessary, formal education from a film-making school would be a plus.
▣Working as a production assistant or as an assistant to a script supervisor would definitely be beneficial.
▣Have a keen eye for detail for any inconsistencies during a scene.
▣Have good people skills to maintain diplomacy between the artists of different departments.
▣Have the stamina to remain alert during long filming days.
▣Having great organizational skills by coordinating with various departments.
▣Possess a great visual composition of movement, perspective, and depth.
▣Be able to think and respond quickly to changing situations.
Although the role of a script supervisor is understated, these professionals play an important role in the film-making process. By coordinating between different departments, they ensure that the smooth process of a film schedule goes on without a hitch. If you feel you have the skills required to undertake this job, you could start by applying for an internship in web productions or independent movies.