Jun 17, 2008

My Wish Is Granted

I like to be challenged and I get bored easily. So taking on the challenging job as a script supervisor is a perfect fit for me. I am never bored, as I always have to be on my toes, and I have to manage about a thousand details in my head at once. But now that I know the job pretty much inside and out, and have done it for quite some time, I have had this urge recently to be on a film looking at the process from another point of view.

I maybe P.A.’d a couple of times on commercials then did a stint as a UPM’s assistant but I quickly moved into Scriptyland soon after starting in film.

Needing a break from me being the oracle of knowledge people perceive me to be, I called up my bestest wardrobe friend and begged her to let me “day play” (something a scripty NEVER gets to do) on a movie that she is currently working on. My pitch went something like this: ”I know continuity, I know film, and I know how to sew…pleeeeasse!” She said, “Sure, I’d love to have you” …then never called. So, being the good production person I am. I called her again. “Puhleeease? I’ll work for free!” I think the word FREE caused her to reconsider my request.

So, she called me in last Wednesday to work in wardrobe… I made sure I dressed the part. I wore a cute top, a skirt (something I NEVER have worn on set) and sandals (something I also have never worn on set). It was fun to finally be a set chick after all those years watching the wardrobe ladies look so girly, while I sat there sporting my dressed in the dark “boy” look.

When I arrived I got to steam the actors wardrobe, change the extras into clothing that was less obnoxious than what they were wearing and help bring the actor’s clothes on set for changing. All the while I was resisting the urge to be on set, wondering what the DP and Director were discussing, what shots they were covering. I was completely in the dark…my job that day was to dress extras.

The extras were called for so I went up to the area where we were filming with my perfectly ordinarily dressed extras as the 2nd AD placed them in their seats (they were playing the part of the audience). This was my first opportunity to spy on the scripty (you knew I would do it). There she was, clipboard in hand talking with the camera boys, standing by the monitor. My usual place. Only now, I was just watching my extras, being ready if I needed to change anyone out of an objectionable piece of clothing. That was my only responsibility. Wait for the director to hate someone’s shirt.

As the scene started I saw the scripty call out the scene number to the sound guy, the AD was calling the action and the scene happened. I had not read the script, I did not know continuity-wise what should happen I just sat and watched my extras. After they yelled CUT my wardrobe friend said to me, “You know, if you want you can go to the bathroom or grab a snack,” she smiled. She knew that being a scripty, a department of one; you don’t have anyone to “cover” for you if you need to go ten-one hundred. I smiled back. The world was my oyster! I could go eat Heath Bars or pee…or BOTH! I was dizzy with freedom. I paced myself so I wouldn’t overdo it.

The rest of the day was filled with more steaming, taking continuity pictures, and organizing the wardrobe trailer.

As much fun as the day was, I don’t think I would ever switch over to wardrobe. The thing I missed most was the power I have as the script supervisor, I admit it, I love being the know-it-all, the key point person. I do very much like that about being a scripty…but for a day of work concentrating on only one detail it was like a vacation.


devonellington said...

Here in NY wardrobe-land, it's rare to get to wear skirts and sandals on set unless you're in the studio. The streets of New York are too icky. And it's no fun to hump garment bags in a skirt.

But, yes, wrangling the extras is fun -- except when you tell them to take off their flamboyant jewelry at last looks and, as soon as you step away, they put it on just before the camera rolls!

Michael Taylor said...

Perspective is everything, and the wider the better. I firmly believe this would be a much better Industry if everybody could somehow spend a few days interning at someone else's job. If we all understood the trials, tribulations, and frustrations of each other's crafts, things might run much more smoothly.

I'd love to see a producer on the rig crew someday, wrapping hundred pound rolls of 4'0 cable in the hot sun. Not that most of them couldn't do it -- for a while, anyway -- but a couple of days of such heavy labor would give them an idea what the crew goes through.

Good on you, Scripty, for taking the leap of faith required to walk that long mile in another's shoes.

Or in this case, sandals...

Scripty said...

Devon: I could not believe the flamboyant clothes the extras wore! I'd ask them if they had brought anything different to wear and they'd pull out ANOTHER just the same!

With regard to the skirt, it was something I was determined to wear...we were in one location, and the wardrobe trailer was immediately outside the front door. But I had not factored in that it was windy...Trying to avoid a Marilyn moment, I held onto the wardrobe bag in one hand while hanging onto my skirt with the other. Not very practical…and it made me realize why many wardrobe chicks wear LONG skirts

Michael: I agree, and it seems to me that the producers who have at one time in their lives worked as a p.a. or in any below the line department are very pro-crew and understanding.

Maria said...

what do P.A. and UPM mean?

Maria said...

I´ve already finished the low cost and newbie´s movie. Do you remember me? Scripty from Barcelona!
I´m just exhausted... It has been chaotic!

I propose you a post about wrap party...

Scripty said...

Hello Maria! Of course I remember you! I am glad you survived the movie!

Ah, yes, wrap parties...good idea!

P.A. is production assistant
UPM is unit production manager.

very nice to hear from you!

RJ said...

There's something kind of sexy about this story. The scripty putting on the skirt and going to work with the girls. It's like those movies where the plain girl shakes her hair out, takes off her glasses, puts on a little make-up and suddenly all the boys notice.

Sounds like fun.

Scripty said...

Ah, RJ, if only life were really like the movies. Then I would be insanely beautiful and rich and ....yup, not here. But yes, it was fun to play a different part for the day, and as you already know, scriptys can be pretty darn sexy even if we're not dressed all girly.

Aparna said...

I guess it shouldn't really come as a surprise to discover that other scripties go through the same things I go through on set... I think the scripty network in my country is not very comprehensive (even though there are only 25 of us...)

I get lonely on set, being a department of one, and I think I've learned to alleviate the problem by making friends with wardrobe and make-up in prep. That way, one of them will frequently come to the monitor to ask if I'd like anything from craft or even just to chat. Incredible!

Scripty said...

Aparna- My best on-set friends are either Hair, Make-up or Camera. And they are who I typically have lunch with as well. Thanks for the comment!

Aparna said...

I always want to make friends with Camera, seeing as I'm part of that department, in a weird kind of way (at least, I always park my stuff in their truck...), but camera departments in this country are incredibly cliquey. Even the girl loaders give you a "don't muscle in on my territory" look if they see you being friendly with the DP or focus puller... Sad, but true. I think I've met one loader who was really sweet.