16 July 2012

The Job I Really Wanted

You have read here about my experiences of growing up in a town that was a crossroads for the movie industry and how I had brushes against celebrity for various reasons.  Some people want to grow up to be movie stars.  There was one job I always wanted in the field.  I wanted to grow up to be a Script Supervisor.  While you have heard about producers, directors, cinematographers, set designers etc.  - all of the people eligible for Oscars, very few people in the audience have a clue about this job.  They do get credit at the end of the movie if you stay for the credits, but that is about it.  What you don't know is that whether or not you liked a movie was often on a subliminal level the result of whether or not this person did their job well.

What is even more remarkable about this job is that even from the earliest days of film, it was a woman's job.  The earliest incarnation was "Script Girl".  This was the exercise of male dominance who knew they needed a "girl" to make sure everything looked good when it hit the screen.  Just as secretaries have now become Administrative Assistants, Script girls have now moved up to become supervisors because rarely are they men.  What you don't hear is that most directors have "girls" they always ask to be their assistants.  They now get paid very, very well to save the director's ass ... daily.

Definititon:  Maintains an accurate shooting script and recording in detail all information related to each take, including length of shot, scene and take number, camera placement, and printable takes, as well as any notations on dialogue, action, props, set dressing, wardrobe, make-up, and hair in order to provide continuity during shooting and to facilitate editing.

What You See On The Screen

How it looked to the actor

How it looked to the director

How it looked to the Script Supervisor

How important is this job?  Every commercial movie made has an IMDb page giving all sorts of data about the cast, crew, plot, quotes, financials etc.  One page is always devoted to mistakes of all kinds and there are huge numbers of people who avidly follow and contribute to these pages just for the fun of it all.  It is pretty much the script supervisors job working with the director to keep these pages very, very, very short.  You have all read my rant about the errors of the movie Australia playing havoc with what should have been a much better motion picture.  Here is the IMDB page with the list of errors for that film.  (It is not a short list so either the director or the script supervisor was a major FAIL)

So life didn't quite work out according to plan, but that early urge for a job I knew I would love led to jobs as a researcher, editor, administrative assistant - the person in the background who makes sure everything is correct.  Still, even now, I would have loved being a script supervisor.


Jean(ie) said...

I could definitely see you doing this. It's definitely for the detail-oriented person, and one who has a heckova good memory. I have neither.

Thanks for bringing this up. I didn't know such a job existed. Fascinating!

Linda said...

And I bet you would have made a damn fine script girl (supervisor) too!

Honestly, I've never thought much about the "behind the scenes" of movie making but I know it's a lot of work for a lot of people hence the reason I usually stay to read the credits which drives anyone I'm with nuts! Well, that and I'm waiting to see if there was anything tagged on at the end of the credits as there often is!

Durward Discussion said...

I always watch the credits as well. For years the family goes to sit in the car and waits until mom is finished watching the movie.. :-)

Travis Cody said...

I watched a documentary years ago about production assistants and script supervisors. A ton of hard work that is often overlooked. But when they do the job well, I think the movies turn out better.