What is a Script Supervisor

What is a script supervisor, and What Duties do they Have on Set?

The script supervisor, also often referred to as the continuity supervisor or simply just continuity is primarily responsible for maintaining the film’s internal continuity and for proper record keeping of the production unit’s daily progress when shooting the film’s screenplay. A member of the film crew, script supervisors often have their credit appear in the closing credits of the film.

Continuity supervisors act as the representative for the editors and writers on set. They also act as an additional assistant to the director and the director of photography. Script supervisors ensure that the film can be cut together at the end of the filming day. To do so, they are responsible for properly monitoring every department and acting as back up to ensure the script is followed during shooting, and that errors in continuity do not occur as such would result in the film not being able to be compiled in the editing room.

Script Supervisor

Script supervisors are responsible for creating various reports based on the script during pre-production. Reports include a one-line continuity synopsis that provides essential information on each scene to assist production such as time of day, day in story order, and a brief, one line synopsis of the scene taking place. Accurate reporting is vital as various departments count on these reports to plan the most advantageous shot order and use the reports to ensure each department such as production, wardrobe, hair, and makeup, works in sync along with the progression of time within the story.

Script Supervisor Responsibilities

Script supervisors carry several responsibilities during the production of the film. They are the central access point for information during a film shoot. Production responsibilities of the script supervisor include:

  • Continuity – The script supervisor is responsible for ensuring there are no continuity errors in film production. To do so, they take notes on essential details related to the film script’s scene, location, or action. This allows them to recreate the continuity of the scene should additional filming be required. With each take, the script supervisor uses a stopwatch to note the duration of the take and logs the information into the daily editor log. Details include the action of the take, the position of the main actors, and the screen direction of their movement as well as any important actions performed during the shot, the type of lens used in camera, and any other valuable information that could vary from one case to the next. Script supervisors maintain separate notes when multiple cameras are in use for the production of the film. The daily logs may also include notes regarding the director’s comments as to whether a take is no good, a hold or “okay, but not perfect”, or a print which is a good take. For continuity and to ensure the editor has proper information on what the director prefers, proper note taking and reporting by the script supervisor is vital. These notes greatly assist the editors.
  • Slating – Interacting closely with the clapper loader or the second camera assistant and the production sound mixer, script supervisors ensure that each take of exposed film maintains a consistent slate while also monitoring the proper matching of the sound and picture slates. Noting the sound roll of each sync take as well as the state of any and all MOS takes, the script supervisor ensures proper film identification on the footage so that the editor can find and use correct takes when editing.
  • Script – Script supervisors are responsible for noting any changes made by actors, director or others during filming are properly noted and that the current version of the shooting script is kept. Script supervisors update the assistant director’s team on any major script changes that take place if such will affect the future day’s filming. The assistant director’s team then distributes the details of these changes to other crew members. Often referred to as their lined script, the script supervisor’s script has several vertical lines drawn down the page to designate the start and stop of each different camera setup. The vertical line represents a quick way to notate camera changes. Included in the script supervisor’s script is a note of what the shot description was and whether or not dialogue for that setup was on camera. These notes help the editors to quickly recognize which camera setups are covering the portion of the dialogue or action taking place in the film.
  • Production Reports – Script supervisors diligently prepare end of day production reports for the production team. These reports may vary based on the studio needs and the production company but generally include details as to the actual times that shooting and breaks started and stopped on set, what pages, scenes and minutes were shot during that day, and the same details from the previous day as well as the total scrip and amounts remaining to be filmed. End of shooting day reports may also include the total number of scenes covered in the shoot, also referred to as completely shot, and details as to the number of retakes and wild tracks from the shooting day. Script supervisors act as the timekeeper on the film set, ensuring proper logs of all timing related matters are kept for the production team.
  • Editors Notes – At the end of each shooting day, script supervisors are responsible for producing the production reports outlined above and the continuity logs for the day’s shooting as well as lined script pages for all scenes shot that day. These notes are provided to the editorial staff to guide their editorial process.

Script supervisors work closely with the director, editor and other members of the production department to ensure that editing has the proper reports regarding the film direction to cut the film together. Script supervisors have highly technical role in film production and are considered part of the producer’s or studio’s staff. They act as the sole liaison between the director and the editor.

Vanity Fair made a super entertaining and informative video on what would happen if a movie had no Script Supervisor:



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