Oct 20, 2012

There's No Place Like Home


I am terribly sorry I have been away from the blogosphere for such a long time. It's really because I had run out of gas...energy...enthusiasm...passion for script supervising. I had gotten so beaten up over the past few years working on projects that all claimed would go somewhere and all landed flat on their ass. I found myself continually working on lower and lower grade projects and with each one feeling more defeated. I could see my career in a downward spiral, I was no longer rising up and playing in the sandbox I had once grown custom to but rather, swirling into a cesspool of work that was in no way professionally satisfying.

So, I left. Walked away. Placed my stopwatch on the counter to collect dust.

The last job I did prior to my departure was an infomercial. Which is cosmically funny because the first job I lied to get on as a scripty was also an infomercial (yes universe, you have a demented sense of humor). We started the project with the obligatory script reading and watched as the no name infomercial "star" began to go all Christian Bale and completely changed the script, throwing production into chaos, making the writer change everything while the AD and I sat and ate chocolate. We had been in this situation before, lived through these tantrums, nothing new. We knew taking notes was futile as this clown would change it again overnight anyway. So, we just sat, grinned at each other and compared notes on the quality of the chocolate crafty had brought in. He thought it had a heady bouquet with a hint of cinnamon, but with a little too much bitterness. I agreed it was a bit sharp, but the texture was velvety and finished well. It would have paired nicely with a glass of port or maybe a bottle of Pinot Noir. Mmmm...Pinot Noir...

 Hm?

Oh! Right, the shoot...

Shoot day: I'm ensconced in my all too familiar spot next to the teleprompter operator, and the "star" begins the day by flipping out at the teleprompter operator. Again nothing new. It's always the crappy actors that seem to yell at the prompter operators. Our operator made a feeble and failed attempt to bark back but the director cut him short. "Don't you dare yell at the talent!" the director screamed. I nodded to myself; yup, another quality production experience is under way.

As we began to shoot, the "star" freaked out over the sound person, the prompter, the live audience, and anyone else unlucky enough to fall into her cross-hairs. Meanwhile our director kept continually yelling at the camera operators terms that were more live stage than film terms so there was a serious break in communication. As this went on and the director revealed his ignorance, I could tell the camera ops were just phoning it in. As was I. What hand was the "star" holding the product in? At what point was the product picked up? I found I no longer cared. Did it really matter? It's an INFOMERCIAL people! Anyone watching is either senile, high, or an insomniac. I sat in that uncomfortable chair for 12 long hours. Taking notes, acting like I cared, and inside my heart ached.

For....

My first love. I remembered those old film days on the big features. Proudly walking on set, feeling the link of Polaroids bouncing against my hip as I passed by the catering truck. I remember the amazing feeling of working a long overnight and how the first glimpses of purple on the horizon meant only 15 minutes more until daylight and wrap. I remember the sweet moments shared between myself and a fellow camera operator as we worked long hours together and bonded over red Twizzlers. I remember being in locations that were far to beautiful to believe and hanging out with actors, some famous, some not, that are but a distant memory now. But most of all the moments I treasured above all else was when I walked up to the monitor, took my place beside the director opened my book and I felt my heart say "home".

I longed for that. That feeling of being at home. The knowledge I am succeeding and not failing. The feeling of peace. People spend their entire lives looking for that thing, that profession, that activity you know you were born to do, and I had found it. I was the luckiest person on earth.  Was.

And as I stared at the crazy infomercial "Star" and listened to the idiot director I realized I had come full circle. Here I was so many years later in the same exact spot where I started with no chance of a second lap around the track. It was a crushing blow. No feeling of "home", no inner peace, just frustration and immense sadness.

When I read Blood Sweat and Tedium's posts they are often so sad and thoughtful, and I believe he got to this point sooner than I. We all know those magical moments that only a film set can produce. They are fleeting, amazing, sadly temporary and I long for them every day.

So, when the infomercial wrapped. I did not pause to say goodbye and thanks to the producer, director and crew as I usually did. I just turned in my notes to production, gave a half-hearted smile and walked out the door not looking back. Done. Finished. Over.

Maybe I had a mid-life crisis? Maybe I just needed a break from the insanity, who knows? So, for those still scripting hang on tight...never let go..and for those just starting out I wish for you the best. And as for me and the blog? Not sure....

Oct 15, 2012

Yes, I Am Still Alive

I know, bad blogger....You'll notice some updates to the right side, some new software information... Also this caught my attention. A fellow script supervisor needs your help: Click Here to learn about Marilyn Giardino Zych. Hope you all are well and happily scripting away!

Dec 23, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to my dear readers!

Wishing you a year full of exciting jobs, good pay, nice directors, competent actors, wonderful producers, adoring crew, comfortable locations, and awesome craft service!

Nov 20, 2011

Script Supervisor on Community

The latest episode of Community features a script supervisor!

Oct 30, 2011

Script Supervisor's Elevator Speech

For many years I have always struggled with "civilians" asking what I do for a living. My elevator speech goes something like this:

Normal Person: What do you do?

Me: I'm a script supervisor for features and commercials.

Normal Person: Oh! So you write commercials.

Me: No I'm on set during filming. I sit next to the director and make sure the scenes match and the actors say their lines correctly.

Normal Person: Oh, so your like a producer?

Me: No, I'm a script supervisor, I'm like an on-set editor, I make sure that everything matches, continuity, eye line, so that when an editor puts it together it's seamless. You wouldn't know it was shot out of order.

Normal Person: Oh, so you watch for continuity errors?

Me: That's one part of my job.

Normal Person: I'd be great at your job, I always catch continuity errors in movies! Did you ever see [insert random movie]? There was this one part...

At this point I roll my eyes in my head and just smile and nod as Mr./Mrs. Person recounts all continuity errors that he/she have spotted in movies, perhaps thinking I'll give a knowing nod and respond with something like, "I know that exact spot. The script supervisor never worked again. Sad really."

Another alternate version to the last answer is:

Normal Person: Oh, my friend's cousin was an extra in a movie once. He saw [insert famous person] and got to stand right next to them!

At this point the entire conversation shifts as everyone ooh's and ahh's at the thrilling tail of this now third hand celebrity encounter. If I'm feeling snippy (really, it happens) I may comment that I talk with the actors all the time and run lines with them. Somehow that doesn't seem to hold a candle to the time said friend's cousin told Shelley Long which was the fat free ranch dressing in the catering line.

Not only do I have trouble with strangers, but I also have a friend who never quite understands what I do either. She will go on and on about her niece who works in a post-production house (this is in no way intended to belittle post). One time she told me about how this niece was invited to set once and had to stay 15 feet away from the actors, but managed to get some good pictures. "Isn't that amazing!" she tells me. I nod and respond, "you do realize that I actually not only stand next to... but talk to the actors right?" Somehow that doesn't compute...

What have you said that has worked when you explain what you do? How have you explained what you do in a :30 second elevator speech...clearly I need assistance!

Sep 8, 2011

Yes, I am still alive.

Sorry, I have been working (good) and ignoring this blog (bad) Sorry! please forgive me.

I am posting the following question in hopes someone out there can give this poor scripty wannabe an honest answer.

Hello!

I hope I'm contacting the correct person - your email is on the blog
Script Supervisor Forum.

I'm considering taking Randi Feldman's Script Supervising course in LA,
and I was just wondering if you knew anything good or bad about the
course. I can't find anything on the internet other than letters on
her website, which are nice but may be edited or not so honest, one
never really knows. I can't find anything negative, which seems
strange - I'd rather hear truths and sort through it myself. Anything
you may know is a help, as long as it's honest.

Thanks much,

M.

p.s. how is the script supervising business going? Are people getting
jobs, getting hired? Should I even be trying to do this job?


Scripty says: I have never taken a script supervising course...therefore I have no knowledge. Yes, you should try and do this job. I like it!

Also, if you are on Facebook another good place for scripty information is "ScriptSupervisors!" group page.

Jan 29, 2011

My Script Supervising Ego!

If you work in the film industry you know that most of the people in it have a healthy ego. Actually, you probably know that if you don't work in the film industry. Either way, I am no exception, and I offer the following recent job as evidence:

I got a call for an out of town job. They looked at my resume to make sure I had experience and they were impressed. They offered to pay for my hotel, give me per diem, and pay my travel expenses. It was for a big national client. Good! I like those jobs, typically fun, and most importantly I feel valued at the end of the day. (I get to feel valued, and my ego gets stroked)

The morning of the shoot, I came in ready to work. I studied the boards the night before, so I knew all the dialogue. First person I met was the production coordinator. She says hi and points me to the coffee. Great! I can get a jolt before we get going. As I stood there sipping my coffee, I noticed that there was no crew around. "Where is set?" I ask. The coordinator says "Oh, they're up in the factory shooting some b-roll, you're not really needed until we do sound." (note that sound was already up there)

Ok, NEVER tell me I'm not needed! I sort of bristle at those words. Second you are paying me for the day whether I work or stand around, drink coffee and look cute. Why not get some detailed b-roll notes anyway?

So, being the go-getter I am (read: doing whatever suits me) I ran up to the factory and stood outside the door (they wanted minimal crew in the factory) until the producer came by. "Excuse me," I said, "wouldn't you like some notes on this stuff?"

"Naw" he says, "hang here and I'll call if I need you." Hang. Here. I'll call you if I need you. Being he was the producer, clawing his eyes out seemed like a bad option.

I had been given cans/ears/whatever-the-heck-you-call-the-ability-to-hear-the-actors early on and as I listened I realized the talent was talking. Talking! Like with words and everything! Really? You don't want any notes on this?

Next time the producer passed by I asked again, "You know, they are saying some of the dialogue, don't you want me in there?" Pause. "Ah, sure" he stumbles reluctantly, "Yeah, ok." and gave me the special go into the factory gear (eyeglasses hair net etc).

Now I can finally see the set. The director and the D.P. are both shooting 7D's (small hand-held SLR camera for the uninitiated) and flying around the talent in a documentary style. Sound is working and no less than 10 agency are standing in the way. This is their idea of a minimal set?...What is one more tiny person going to do?

At the first break I introduce myself to the director and ask is there any camera notes he'd like me to put on the log sheet? He says, "Nah, no need, just capture some dialogue; that would be great."

Ok. Three times I've basically been told to sit out this scene and wait. I get it, B-roll, doc style. But then...

When we finally do actual agency written dialogue and I bring up an error. Director says, "No worries, I'm going for that doc style and we'll cut as needed."

WHY THE HELL AM I HERE?!

Yes, it's true, I'm making big bucks to sit on my ass, take minimal notes and smile at the agency drones, but really? For day rate, hotel, per diem, mileage, REALLY? Not that I want to eliminate my job, but at least ACT like I'm a necessary part of production.

But then I have to check my ego! If this were one of my first jobs I would have relished the minimal effort required. I would have enjoyed the whole day, being able to soak in the job, watching how everything gets done marveling at the technology basking in the fold of agency creatives. I would have left feeling happy and in love. Instead I left feeling frustrated and worthless.

So, yes it's true my ego kept me from enjoying the job. It's just that I have this endless desire to feel needed and appreciated, but doesn't everyone?