Dec 8, 2008

Today's Speaker Is...

Several years ago for reasons I've long since forgotten, I had an urge to speak to college students about my career. Logical really when you think about it. Who wouldn't want to hear from a Script Supervisor? So, I called my Alma mater and spoke to the film studies professor. I told him I was an alum and gave him my 60 second resume. He sounded interested and said, "Well, we'll see if we have any funding for this."

"No," I replied, "I'd just like to come and talk, no compensation needed." He acted as though he'd never heard those words in that particular order before. He um'ed and er'ed and said he would get back to me. Feeling confident I started planning my triumphant return to the university. Yet, no call came.

The following year I bugged him again. Yes, he remembered me and he would contact me if the need arose for a speaker. A distinct lack of phone ringing.

I began to look at who was getting these obviously hard to come by invitations to speak at colleges and high schools. I discovered producers, directors, actors, independent filmmakers and in one case, an extra. AN EXTRA!

For some reason I was not sexy enough. Well, I'm actually pretty darn sexy (if I say so myself), but my job was not. I've worked on over a dozen features, including some big budget studio jobs, but a guy who has gone out and made ONE independent film that was viewed by exactly eleven people is suddenly capable of being a knowledgeable speaker. My sixteen years of film experience didn't cut it, but some clown works for two days on a 90 day feature as an extra gets a speaking gig? Go figure.

I turned tail, I did not pursue speaking engagements actively. But if I ever met someone from a film school, I would idly drop the hint that I'd love to come out and talk.

Then one day I met this high school teacher. I told him I'd love to talk to his students. He gave me the same consideration everybody had before, "Oh, that would be great! I'll definitely keep you in mind." Yeah right. And then let's do lunch sometime.

He called.

Oh joy, oh joy, oh joy!!! He called me on Thursday and asked me to speak the following Monday (TODAY!). Eep. I had the weekend to prep. Suddenly the speech I had rolling around in my head for the last five years was about to be realized. For me this was my Oscar speech. Only without the Oscar. Or the swag bag. But who cares! I was going to make a dream come true!

I wrote furiously, searched through photos, storyboards, scripts, sides, anything I thought they might be interested in. I practiced in front of the dog (she's not very attentive, but she gives good feedback).

Then it happened...I spoke in front of 40 high school film students. I told them what it was like to work on a film set, how we take a scene from a master into coverage, how the film process is shot out of order, how important it is to have your actors match action for editing, I showed them what a call sheet looks like, what storyboards look like, and as a handout had a great diagram of a film crew listing all the departments and who they report to. I spoke with glee for and hour and a half. I made them laugh and they even asked questions!

At the end of the day, the teacher said he would love to have me back next year. We'll see if that actually happens, but for now, I'm happy that 40 film students know what a script supervisor does. Who knows, I may work for one of them some day.

I try not to think about that too much.


anonymousassistant said...

God, I wish my film school had had real, honest-to-goodness, below the line crew as guest speakers. I would have learned so much more listening to you explain a call sheet than listening to Brian Singer talk about how funny Kevin Spacey is.

Nathan said...

I have an old acquaintance who teaches a "film business" course at NYU's continuing education program. He calls me every other year to speak to his class. It's a blast. The expectation is that I'll speak for only about 15 minutes and then field questions for the rest of the session.

Truth be told, it's really like face-to-face blogging...only I don't have to filter content because the distribution is so limited and I get to recycle war stories since it's all new to them.

Best part? A few months later when I've completely forgotten about it, a $75 honorarium check shows up in the mail.

Sweeeeeeet! Who needs a 401k with that kind of Ka-Ching rolling in?

D said...

Your problem, as I see it Goddess, is that you're from a way too metropolitan and sophisticated area. In the last twenty years I've spoken to several high school classes and a couple of university classes and (strangely enough) a Rotary Club in my home state. You need to slum a little. I really enjoyed it too. One of my old film teachers is a former Hollywood screenwriter who now teaches classes at schools and colleges. I'm sure he would love to have you talk. I did it once by speakerphone from the set of a DeNiro movie (not a good one). A script supervisor would probably be more interesting and helpful to them than a dolly grip. If you're interested, email me. My address is at "dollygrippery". (this is a ploy to get me more readers).

Scripty said...

Anonymousassistant-Kevin Spacey is funny?..I have heard other stories about him...hmmm

Nathan: I'm so jealous $75.00!!! No recession worries for you.

D: Quit stealing my readers...just kidding I'm happy to send them your way, and slumming as you call it is a good idea. If I hear the call again I may take you up on your offer!

Nathan said...


Yes, it's true that he's funny. And if the on-set gossip is half true, the other stories are too!

film school said...

I agree anonymousassistant, it seems like it's something film school seem to be missing.

great post!

Scripty said...

Thanks for your comment Film School! Much appreciated!