Apr 10, 2009

My Shadow

I am soo sorry I have been away for awhile! I have started in earnest working on my own project. And boy does my heart go out to those who do independent film. It really is quite the process, sucking up all of your life. So, I will be posting less frequently but please keep the e-mails up!

Two, readers are thinking alike these days and sent me the following e-mails:

I came across your website as I was looking for resources on Script Supervising. I've been working in production for over 5 years now, but have recently gotten into Script Supervising and absolutely love it. I've done Script Supervising on a couple of projects now but have never actually had any training in this field. I just bought a copy of Script Supervising and Film Continuity and used that for guidelines on the projects I did. Luckily, both my Directors were impressed with me. Little did they know...
I've been looking for some sort of apprenticeship or training to get more experience. I would love to learn from a pro. Do you have any suggestions?



Thanks for all the great info on your blog. As a new Scripty, it's
indispensable to hear on-set anecdotes from a veteran. I'm writing to ask if
you would be open to having me shadow you sometime. I've shadowed another
veteran Scripty and would just love to do it again.

I've been Script Supervising for about a year and half now and have 75
non-union days under my belt. Anyhow, as I said, love the blog and figured
I'd ask!


Now this is the true frustration of this career. We are a department of ONE. As other crew members start out in film, say a young camera PA. He or she can start out in that department and learn how to move up to loader, 2nd, 1st, operator and hopfully D.P, all the while learning from their department how to work in film. And as they mature in the world of film they can begin to learn and closely watch how the D.P. handles certain lighting situations, how the D.P. communicates with their crew. They can learn behaviors that as they rise up the camera department ladder they can emulate and strive to become that model D.P. they aspire to be.

Scriptys, well we're just winging it so to speak. Sure we learn through experience from each and every job we do, we take away a note here or a remember to look at the actors jewelry after lunch there. But really when it comes down to set behavior and having someone to emulate. We would have to find a scripty on a big show and hang with them.

Now, I have had the opportunity to spy on scriptys only a couple of times, and it was while I was the 2nd unit script supervisor. But I was so green that I really watched how they did the job, but you know, not really the finite aspects of it, like how they handled sticky screen direction arguments, or how they reminded larger than life egomaniac actors their dialogue, and just how they functioned. What was their set demeanor?

I took only a couple gems away from each scripty. On one film during lunch a crew member asked the scripty "How behind schedule are we" She replied " I keep track of enough shit, that's the AD departments concern" I learned from her I didn't need to know EVERYTHING. Another scripty told me that she wrote everything down on her sides (little script pages) because "I can't remember shit somedays" And I learned that I didn't have to be a computer.

I also ask friends of mine about the scripty's they've worked with, what were they like, what made them seem "amazing". Last night I did the same, I knew a D.P. friend of mine had worked on a low budget film in another state. "What was the scripty like?" and he said "Awful" This peaked my interested, "How exactly" I asked. "Well" He explained "You couldn't get an answer from her, I'd have a question about a previous scene and she either couldn't answer it directly or she'd look at her goofy notes and even she couldn't read them, so we'd have to go and look through playback to answer the question" Of course that did not give me any ideas on how to improve myself, I just hope that scripty was green and that project was a huge learning experience for her.

So, yes, if you can find a willing scripty to shadow it's a great idea, just make sure she/he's a good one or you might learn some bad habits! Other than that, it's working 2nd unit, talking to editors, and gleaning info from others. Oh, and reading this blog might help too. I hope!


Aparna said...

The "department of one" thing has been a huge frustration to me, especially recently.

There's not a lot of work going around at the moment (TV or film, commercials stopped filming a month or two ago and they don't use scripties consistently anyway) so all the available work goes to scripties with a gazillion years experience. I only have four years, so it means I pretty much don't get the kind of work I know I'm capable of doing right now.

I've done my share of shadowing and learned a great deal from it - I had the good fortune to apprentice with one of the best scripties in South Africa - so I'm reluctant to shadow again at this point in my career.

The dilemma is, if I can't take an "assistant" position (and get paid worse than a PA) do I sit around for months on end waiting for someone to pick me?

It's kind of sucky that production never thinks continuity needs an assistant. When I'm carting around scripts for 26 episodes and we're shooting by location instead of by episode, I'd LOVE to have someone help me move my stuff around, or quickly pull script pages because someone will inevitable want to read the scene that went before or came after or some ridiculous thing like that.

I'll stop the rant now. It's good to have a new post, btw, I've made your blog a regular stop on my internet travels now. :)

L. Rob Hubb said...

There are classes and seminars offered, if you're in L.A. & NYC.. at the time I got started as a scripty, the only thing I could find was the Miller book and the Ulmer book - both, still very useful to this day -- and watching the scripty do his/her job. A big part of it is basically On The Job Training.

One of the offshoots of everything going digital, I've found, is that most indie filmmakers really don't consider continuity to be that important a position... I've seen several productions that fob it off on someone who's already doing several positions, like hair/makeup or props; or they just get a p.a. to keep notes.

Scripty said...

Aparna- Yes, I would love to have an assistant, and I think it would be a great way for a young scripty to start out.

Yet...like L. Rob Hubb said, "most indie filmmakers really don't consider continuity to be that important a position" So, why would they add an assistant to a job no-one feels is really that important

Ohhh I could go on and rant but I'll save that for another post! Thanks for the comments!

Aparna said...

I came across an interesting concept which I thought applied to continuity so well - the reason people think that continuity is not an important position is because they don't recognise it as a specialised skill.

This is the mentality where people don't understand the specialisation and say, "I could do that," without really understanding the job.

So, when an indie director makes his first film, he grabs the lunch person, gives them a legal pad and pencil and says, "Here, you don't look like you're doing much, take some notes." And then wonders why he can't cut his film together in post. Hah!

I have to admit, I'm harbouring deep resentment towards a 1st AD I worked with who said to someone else on set about me (who naturally repeated it to me - you gotta love the film set grapevine) "Why's she got such a long face? All she does is sit around all day."

Yes, I think I know the contents of your rant well. :)