Aug 6, 2008

The Complaint Corner

The life of a scripty can be a lonely one. As a department of one, I have no one to complain to at the end of a long day. No one to share in my eye-rolling indignation and condemnations of "What an idiot."

Say, you've just finished a day with the director/actor/D.P. from hell. You'd love to be able to sit down with someone and the end of the day and verbally thrash the offending moron. Sure I could complain to someone in production, but they are busy wrapping the job. Same with the rest of the crew. So, more often than not, I just smile, say my goodbyes, swipe a Coke for the road, and leave. On the drive home I have been known to yell, scream, wave my hands and carry on as if I had someone with me. It gets all the emotions off my chest but no one is really listening. Also I notice people tailgate me less. It's a win-win really.

But since ranting to no one isn't as good as ranting to someone, here are some of my personal complaints:

  • Directors who talk down to me (later on I could save your ass)
  • Actors who have not learned their lines, or don't know how to match actions (I don't care about your character's motivation, it won't cut together)
  • Sound guys who don't pay attention when I call out the scene number (if I wanted to yell out numbers for fun I'd be a bingo caller)
  • D.P.'s that act like I'm undermining their work (if proper screen direction is going to kill your vision, it needs help any way)
  • A.D.'s that over-schedule a shoot day (believe it or not, the crew likes to eat, pee and sleep once in a while)
  • Make-Up/Hair/Wardrobe who sit in the back of the stage gabbing, reading magazines and not paying attention to the shoot (largely because I'm jealous)
  • When production says the words "low budget" (especially on a commercial!)
  • Video playback dudes who don't pay attention when I call out the scene number (usually talking to the sound guy)
  • When Camera switches lenses/filters at the last minute and then forgets to tell me
  • When Art department forgets to take pictures of their set and come running to me in a panic to see if I have a picture of where their crap was (from now on I charge a usage fee)
  • When a prop person doesn't understand that it's their job, not the actors' to reset a prop
  • Craft Service with no gum (seriously, it's gum, it's not hard)
  • Extras that try to change their seat/hair/wardrobe within a scene. (It's not going to get you discovered, trust me)
  • Anyone who touches my book
  • Anyone who asks me for a pen or paper (hopefully you didn't also touch my book)
  • Editors that think script supervisors aren't necessary (one commercial editor told me he didn't want to be influenced by my notes!)
  • When video camera guys tell me they changed tape (I can see the time code changed from hour one to hour two)
  • Not being able to see the monitor because I'm short (clearly my own issue, but I'm working on it)
  • Working overnight (it's nothing like a slumber party)
  • Grip/Electric...this one's tough, I love grip/, I've got one. Some of the worst pick-up lines in history were uttered by grip/electric guys. Get some new material.
  • Working outside on windy days. My hair's trouble enough as it is.

Ok. That feels better. I think I'm done now.


Nope, ok, done.

In other news: script supervisor and Script Goddess reader Sandy Parker sent me a link to her interview from the set of "I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell" Check it out here! I'm not exactly sure why her interview is sandwiched between a stand-in and an that I think about it.... add that to my list of complaints.


Michael Taylor said...


I think you need a best boy script-god/goddess. If you had one, he/she would remind you that when you shoot a flaming arrow at the camera geeks for not informing you of a lens change -- and then turn around to bark at the poor camera assistant for telling you he's changing tape -- that those guys might reasonably conclude nothing can make you happy.

No good will come of that.

Then your best boy script might point out that it's the grips and juicers who do the hardest, dirtiest, and most physical work on set. When they're not man-handling dollies up three flights of stairs because there's no working elevator, they're hauling 35 pound sandbags and mombo-combo stands up to the roof. Meanwhile, the juicers are breaking their backs with absurdly heavy cable, then getting burned by smoking hot lights -- and every now and then they get a nice jolt of 220 volts AC just to remind them that electricity really does bite.

Were we capable of delivering seamlessly smooth and seductive pick-up lines, we'd do so -- and in that case, we'd be actors making gobs of money. But we're just grips and juicers – the guys who do the heavy lifting – and thus unschooled in the fine social arts.

So when one of us lays some hopelessly lame line on you, just smile. Most of us are easily pleased, and the warmth of your smile --even if you're faking it -- will help us get through the next six hours of hell.

Yeah, you need a best boy.

Great rant, though...

Jason said...

I was working (FOR FREE) on a short film competition/festival. We were pulling ~20+ hour days to get everything done in time. It was a four day shoot, so at least it was over fast.

For the first couple of days I took incredibly copious notes because everyone was working so hard and I wanted to help make it as good as possible (and because, you know. That's the job). Pages and pages of very specific, helpful notes encompassing all possible details to make editing an easier process. I even worked while eating meals so I could type and print the notes to make them even better.

Day two, I give the notes to the editor who has stopped by the set. He waits until he thinks I'm not looking and throws them in the trash. I called shenanigans, he told me that he "didn't read any scripty notes because he was too good of an editor for them." He went further to explain to me that all he cared about was continuity and even then, not so much.

I spent the rest of the shoot gabbing with hair/makeup/wardrobe and periodically zipping in to correct a continuity error or to tell the sound guy what scene/take we were on.

Scripty said...

Michael-Just to set the record straight, I've never barked at any poor camera assistant, I unconsciously flirt with camera assistants. With regards to pick up lines, please know actors deliver some crappy lines too. Remember I did say I love grip and electric, once along time ago several stands with flags and other grippy stuff were surrounding the monitor, a wind came up and instead of letting all said equipment fall on my head...who flew in to save me, all the boys! For that and many other reasons, I have a great respect for grip electric.

Jason: Your comment makes me so frustrated! We work so hard to make the editor's job easier, not only the notes, but what we contribute during the shoot day in advice...screen direction..matching action...dialogue...making sure all this shit works for the edit! I do agree that good editors should look at all the footage and not just the circled takes, but I would like them to please remember that we are not just about the notes...we bring so much to the table! Thanks for the comment....

Nathan said...

Oooh! Oooh! Oooh!

::waives arms frantically for attention::

I've got one:

We wrapped camera an hour ago. The Grips have managed to wrap the 12 mile dolly track and their truck is pulling away. The Electrics have wrapped 22 18K's and their truck is leaving. Set Dec has transformed the location back to what it's really supposed to be. And the A.D.'s have even managed to sign out all 350 extras (after having them return period costumes and props.)

If all of these people have managed so much in so little time, why, pray tell, is the script supervisor still sitting in my nice clean holding area...the last one there...finishing up his/her notes while I have to keep paying $200/hr overtime for said holding area?

Yo Scripty,

I hope you won't regret having invited me to the party. :D

Scripty said...

Nathan! I'm very glad you joined the party. You have a valid complaint, I take no offense since I've never done that. If I have to do any note clean up, I run to the production trailer since, typically production is the last to leave. On commercials I try to keep up with my notes to the point that at the end of the night, I'm just waiting for them to call wrap. I write the wrap time in said square and turn it into production. Then walk back to the stage and say good night to all the boys wrapping out. I love that feeling!

Nathan said...

My last movie had a Scripty who did that practically every day. She also left her little folding camp chair in an alley and wanted me to go around to the homeless folks and see if I could find out who'd taken it.

Yeah, right. I'll get right on that.

anonymousassistant said...

Hey, PAs got off scot-free! Score!

Scripty said...

Ah, I would never complain about P.A.'s, you have a tough job!

Tim said...

As a sound mixer, or even when I am working in the sound department as a boom operator or utility, I really appreciate it when the script supervisor calls out the scene number. It's especially important now that sound is recorded onto files rather than tape and every file needs to be properly named. It drives me crazy when I anticipate a scene number change because of something that would make sense (say, a lens change) and the scripty decides to keep it as take 5, or whatever...and I end up having to rename a bunch of files and driving myself crazy, when I could be passed out under a table somewhere. So please don't stop doing it, even if some of us don't listen!

Scripty said...

Hey Tim! Thanks for the valid complaint! I'll continue to yell out those numbers!

Chris Kittinger said...

I am not a film editor, but a TV News editor. So all I can speak to is my experience cutting quick turn around news stories.

As an Editor I say that the better the notes on the script that I get from a reporter or producer, the better the edited piece.

Maybe film guys are different, but if I am given information that will help me put out a superior product, well damn right I will appreciate it.

So I guess what I am saying is that even though I don't work in film (yet), I would love to have the information that someone such as yourself works so hard to put together. In other words, Hooray for Script Goddess.

(When I do get into film I will be working as a juicer or grip. Hopefully I can be as good as my recently found hero, Michael Taylor.)

Scripty said...

Thanks Chris, your comment made my day!

Chris Kittinger said...

My pleasure.

And knowing that I made someone who works so hard to make sure that everything is right happy, well that made me feel mighty darn proud of myself.

Here is to the ones who make it work.