Support our #filmmakers: My Weekend On Set of Sharrie Mccain’s “Collision Envisage”: All About the Script Supervisor (Updated)

Another busy weekend (March 4 and 5, 2017) on set as filming continued on Sharrie Mccain’s “Collision Envisage”. Once again, I was a Production Assistant, helping to set up the scenes; and operating the slate.

I learned new term: the reset. The Director yelling “reset” means the part of the script just shot will be repeated.   But if the Director does NOT yell “cut”, filming does not stop, and the actors reposition themselves at the earlier part of the script and repeat the lines and actions. It is important to listen (as I found out!) because if “cut” is not spoken, crew should not wander into the line of filming. If the Director DOES yell “cut” followed by “reset”, that constitutes a new take on the scene.

Script Supervisor

The Script Supervisor (also known as the Continuity Supervisor) plays a very important role by carefully monitoring and noting all details of every shot (scene/take). This activity results in smoother post-production activities such as editing.

The Script Supervisor observes each shot for details. The details include information on the shot itself (such as its length, position of the actors, and camera position), and any dynamic changes to the script. Information is recorded for each and every shot on a form called the Film Continuity Notes.   The Script Supervisor works closely with the Director, Director of Photography, camera crew, and sound engineers.

“Continuity” means consistency from shot to shot. Continuity errors can occur as part of the normal filming process, as well as problems with the script itself. Considerations for continuity include (but not limited to) the outfit worn by an actor, the gestures of an actor, the location of a bullet wound, a hairdo, the position of a piece of set furniture or prop, and lighting conditions. Another consideration is that the dialog must make sense, such as ensuring the characters are not conversing about an event that has not yet occurred. Continuity is important because of the likelihood of scenes being shot out of sequence. Continuity among the multiple takes in a single scene must also be assured. One of my favorites I have seen in films and TV is the “clock on the wall issue”, where the viewer sees time going backwards, forward, or standing still.

The Script Supervisor ensures all planned shots have occurred.

The Film Continuity Notes provides important references and directions for the editor to use later in post-production. One important piece of information to note is that a particular shot is not usable (for example, due to a dialog change in a later take of the same scene) thus saving the editor valuable time.

The Film Continuity Notes generally includes:

  • the shot number and description
  • the camera and lens used
  • the length of the shot itself
  • comments on the action in the shot
  • comments or notes from the Director, Producer, or Director of Photography/camera crew and/or Sound Mixer.

During rehearsals, the Script Supervisor “feeds” lines to the actors upon request by the actor.

During a take, the Script Supervisor ensures the lines are delivered correctly (and informs the director after the take if there was a problem).

I worked closely with the Script Supervisor (AL Washington) to ensure the proper scene/take designation was entered on the Film Continuity Notes, and when a new camera position was occurring; and discussed the results of the takes.

I participated in a major discussion of a script change. Script modification was needed because a character was saying something there is no way he could have known. The team discussed options and came to a decision. It is well-known that the earlier you catch a problem, the less costly it is to fix. In this case, it might have caused a re-shot if the problem was discovered in post-production. All this was captured in the Film Continuity Notes (and noted the earlier takes are not usable).

Another example where a take would be noted as not usable if there is a major mistake made by an actor speaking their lines.

For more information on the Script Supervisor, please see Additional Information.

Check out photos from these two days on set.

Please provide feedback or questions in the Comments.  I would really enjoy hearing from you.

Additional Information

Cathrine Kellison, Dustin Morrow, Kacey Morrow, Producing for TV and New Media, 3rd Edition, 2013, Focal Press

Wikipedia:  Script Supervisor    Continuity

Please check out photos from these two days on set.

Originally published March 6, 2017.  Updated October 15, 2020 to adjust category assignments.

Brandon Hoover (Production Assistant), Marnie Jopp (photo from author’s collection)
Marnie Jopp (photo from author’s collection)
Slate (photo from author’s collection)
Morgen Whiteman (Director of Photography),  Bryan Gay (Sound engineer) (photo from author’s collection)
Marnie Jopp, AL Washington (Script Supervisor/Assistant Director), Rick Palmer (photo from author’s collection)
Bryan Gay (Sound engineer), Jolie East-Miji (Lighting Technician/Production Assistant), Sharrie Mccain (Director) (photo from author’s collection)
Rick Palmer, Morgen Whiteman (Director of Photography) (photo from author’s collection)
AL Washington (Script Supervisor/Assistant Director) (photo from author’s collection)
Film Continuity Notes (photo from author’s collection)
Script Breakdown Sheet (photo from author’s collection)
Rick Palmer, Alaja Greene (photo from Sharrie Mccain)
Jolie East-Miji (Lighting Technician), Morgen Whiteman (Director of Photography), Zhadyn (photo from Sharrie Mccain)
Alan Greenstein (Producer/Production Assistant) (photo from Sharrie Mccain)
Evelyn Carr, Rick Branch (photo from author’s collection)
Morgen Whiteman (Director of Photography), AL Washington (Script Supervisor/Assistant Director), Sharrie Mccain (Director)
Rick Branch, Sharrie Mccain (Director), Kenneth Dickerson (photo from author’s collection)
Adian, Evelyn Carr, Haliya Roberts, Morgen Whiteman (Director of Photography), Kenneth Dickerson, Sharrie Mccain (Director) (photo from author’s collection)
Clockwise from top center: Kenneth Dickerson, Evelyn Carr, Rick Branch, Adian, Haliya Roberts (photo from author’s collection)

2 thoughts on “Support our #filmmakers: My Weekend On Set of Sharrie Mccain’s “Collision Envisage”: All About the Script Supervisor (Updated)

  1. Hi Alan,

    Thank you so much for this in depth behind the scenes education of film making and production. I have a whole new and profound respect for all those involved in this industry! : )


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