Imagine what happens if, in Xena, Warrior Princesss, Lucy Lawless
reaches for her weapon and it isn't there? Or in Jerry Maguire, Cuba
Gooding, Jr. screams on the telephone and forgets to say, "Show me
Or in Independence Day, the humans are supposed to be running away from the aliens and suddenly they're running straight toward the mother ship?
Well, what usually happens is the director yells, "Cut!" and turns to her Script Supervisor and says: "What happened to Lucy's sword?" -- "Help Cuba with his lines!" -- "Weren't those idiots running the other way before!!?"
The job of a Script Supervisor is, in part, to keep track of and deal with these
problems when they happen during the shooting of a film or RV show.
You can be a Script Supervisor and work on projects like these. You don't need an official certificate or a diploma, but it does require education and training. So, what do you need to know to be a Script Supervisor? You'll need good reading and writing skills. You have to be sensitive to other peoples needs. Things on a movie set go fast and get furious. A Script Supervisor needs a thick skin. You can't take offense at a sharp word now and then. Most of all, you must really want to do it.
You can be a Script Supervisor as soon as you've graduated from high school -- helping first with student film projects and then moving on to paying projects that work with non-union crews. Without a doubt, it's a responsible, difficult job; but it can be learned with the help of film school classes and a good mentor or teacher.
In Xena, the problem was a mistake with her props. In Jerry Maguire, the problem was the actor forgot his lines. And in Independence Day, the problem was a mix up in continuity (details) and screen direction.
Props (like weapons or even a car), script lines, and continuity are the three major areas a Script Supervisor concentrates on. In order to keep track of these things, a Script Supervisor keeps notes -- writing directly on the back of each script page. He or she writes camera notes too, describing the angles the director is shooting to make sure she gets every one and doesn't forget anything she may need. The Script Supervisor also keeps notes for the sound mixer in case there are noise problems during the takes.
All these notes eventually end up on the film editor's bench. The editor reads what happened and sees where the problems were during shooting. This helps him or her decide what needs to be done in editing the film, avoiding the problem takes.
In addition to this, a Script Supervisor works directly with the actors. As you help the actors memorize their lines, they learn to trust you; and this creates a very special working relationship. When the actors finally get it right, you end up feeling a great deal of pride, and you know you were of real value to them and to the filming process.
Are you a curious person? Do you have an eye for remembering details? Would you love to work with actors and directors? Why don't you become a Script Supervisor?
In junior high or middle school, you might start your training by taking drama classes. Get involved in theater projects. Any experience you can get in front of an audience or behind the scenes is good experience. Work as an actor or be part of the crew. See if you can assist your director with his or her script notes during rehearsals.
In high school and college, check to see if your school offers film or theater arts training. Check your community, especially university or local two-year colleges, and see if there are special night school or extension classes in addition to four-year courses that could help you.
And, if by chance, you're out in your city and you see a shoot going on, be sure to stop and observe what's happening. If you're lucky and they're not in the middle of a crisis, you might get to meet the Script Supervisor who's on the job -- working with Brad Pitt, Mira Sorvino or a three-headed alien snake covered in slimy ooze!
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