Script Supervisor (aka Continuity)
- Film | High End TV | TV
- Personality type:
- Ensuring that film and TV dramas, shot out of script sequence, end up making continuous verbal and visual sense
Is this role right for me?
To do this role, you will need to:
- have exceptional skills of observation
- have a meticulous and methodical attention to detail
- have stamina to remain alert and focused during long filming days
- be able to take precise and detailed notes quickly and efficiently
- possess a good sense of visual composition, perspective and movement
- have excellent organisational skills and a practical approach to work
- be able to think on your feet and respond quickly to changing circumstances
- have good communication skills and show diplomacy and sensitivity when working with artists and crew
- be able to remain friendly and calm in challenging situations
- understand the requirements of the relevant health and safety legislation and procedures
- be able to collaborate and work as part of a team
- have a full, clean driving licence, ideally
What does a Script Supervisor do?
It is the Script Supervisor’s role to monitor whether it is possible for each filmed scene to be edited into a verbally and visually coherent sequence. Film and TV dramas are usually shot entirely out of script sequence. The Script Supervisor ensures that the finished product makes continuous verbal and visual sense. They work as part of the camera department.
During pre-production they check the script for any errors and/or inconsistencies and prepare estimated running times. They develop story synopses and character breakdowns. They check the shooting schedule to ensure that the required scenes will be shot and covered from all required angles, distances, etc. They attend recces and pre-production meetings to feed back any identified issues. During rehearsals they record detailed timings which inform the shooting schedule.
During the shoot, they work closely with the Director to anticipate and solve any potential problems. This entails keeping detailed written and photographic records of dialogue, action, costumes, props and set design, all camera and lens details, all slate and scene number information, so that when different takes are edited together, the fictional world of the film is not disrupted by continuity errors. These records provide an invaluable resource for Directors and Editors enabling them to assess the coverage, including how many shot options there are for each scene and how each shot was filmed.
On each day of principal photography, Script Supervisors file their record of the previous day's shoot and prepare all paperwork for post production. During filming they closely monitor the script to check that no dialogue is overlooked, and cue actors where necessary.
They liaise closely about continuity with other departments including sound, costume, make-up and hair, props and lighting. Where pick-up shots are required, they provide actors with dialogue start points and exact continuity details. They re-type scripts to reflect any major dialogue changes, and mark up scripts with slate numbers, cut points, and other relevant details for post production.
They prepare detailed Daily Continuity Reports, Editors' Daily Log Sheets and Daily Production Reports. They provide production with records of the requirements for any outstanding shots or inserts.
Will I need a qualification?
You don’t need a formal qualification to become a Script Supervisor. However, some film schools and training courses offer a good basic grounding in the skills and knowledge you’ll need.
You will need good knowledge of the theory and grammar of filmmaking and, in particular, of editing. This is essential in order that you can understand the craft of constructing scenes out of individual shots.
If you are considering taking a TV or film production course in higher education, the following courses have been rigorously assessed by the film and TV industries and awarded the Creative Skillset Tick for the high standard of education they provide and the degree to which they prepare you for a film or TV career:
TV production courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick
Film production courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick
Post production courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick
What’s the best route in?
You could start out as an Assistant Production Co-ordinator or as a Production Assistant in television - this would give you essential on-set work experience.
You would need to assist an experienced Script Supervisor for a minimum of 30 weeks before you could progress to script supervision on 2nd camera shoots, and 2nd unit work, progressing finally to become a Script Supervisor.
You could also apply to be a trainee through Trainee Finder, which gives you hands-on experience in the industry and helps you build those all-important contacts that are essential when competing for a job:
Where might the role take me?
From being a Script Supervisor, you could move into other areas of production, including producing, writing, directing, editing and script editing.
Interested? Find out more...
- The Guild of British Camera Technicians - aims to further the professional interests of technicians working with motion picture cameras
- BKSTS - (the moving image society) organises events, courses, and demonstrations of new equipment, and publishes Image Technology
- BECTU - the UK's media and entertainment trade union, covering broadcasting, film, independent production, theatre and the arts, leisure and digital media
- The National Film and Television School offers MA degrees, Diplomas, short courses and certificate courses. The school has Creative Skillset Film Academy status, meaning we have invested in NFTS courses to ensure it remains a world-class institution, as evidenced by its continued success.
- Supervisor's Script Book - Raymond Dreyfack ISBN-13: 9780134760520
- The Role of Script Supervision in Film and Television: A Career Guide (Communication Arts Books) - Shirley Ulmer, C.R. Sevilla, and Robert Zentis ISBN-13: 9780803863668
- Script Supervising & Film Continuity - Pat P. Miller ISBN-13: 9780240517445
- The Five Cs of Cinematography - Joseph V. Mascelli ASC ISBN-13: 9781879505414
- In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing - Walter Murch ISBN-13: 9781879505629