Oct 24, 2009

What Do Scripty's Do All Day?

Recently I was invited to speak at a local college about what Script Supervisors do. I was worried the students wouldn't come to class that day since I'm not a director, a producer or some other position people have actually heard of. And those who did show up would either already know what I do, or were just coming to class to get a nap in before lunch.

As it turns out everyone turned out ready for me to speak, so I talked about my life, my experience in film, how I got started, that I love cereal, and everything in-between, but I overshot my audience. I figured they wanted the flash, when they really wanted the mundane. How do you take notes? What do you look for during a shot? How do you prepare for the day? They asked smart questions and it ended up being a great class. Since I get a lot of questions emailed to me I thought I'd consolidate some answers and throw in some class content and share it with everyone.

So, for you students out there or anybody who wondered what we write in our little books here it is. How to fill out an editor log.

First of all, most of my information comes from camera and sound. The camera assistant will tell me what film roll/tape they are on, what film stock they are using, the lens size and any filters, which I write in the appropriate spaces on the log sheet. In exchange for that information I will then give the camera department the scene number (let's say scene 10) Then I will communicate with sound and find out what roll they are on as well.

First shot of the day. I fill in all the information camera has given me, knowing that sometimes at the last minute they will drop in a filter or quick change a lens (but I'm ready for that) I write in the description of the shot. "Master shot of Carly and Leon in dining room" Then fill in the scene number in my log sheet as well.

So, looking from left to right on the log sheet I have filled in the camera roll, sound roll scene number take number (we start on take 1) time we will leave blank until after the shot and I look on my stopwatch and note the duration of the take. Then add in lens, timecode (and clip # for HD) and description.

With regard to timing I time the shot from start of dialogue to finish when I work on features, and action to cut on commercials. This fudges a bit and you'll become better with experience.

And Action...after the first shot is in the can I write down the time in the time slot and then note take 2. I tell the camera assistant "2 up" and so we go. I notate after each take any subtle differences and make notes as to whether the director liked it or not.

Then we go into coverage of scene 10. Our first shot was the Master 2 shot of Carly and Leon now we go into "coverage" of Carly which is a single. So the next scene would be called 10A. I fill in what film roll/tape in the column, sound roll, scene number, take number (one) time (after the shot) lens and the description "Single Carly in dining room"

As we do our next turn around to Leon's coverage. The scene number becomes 10B and I fill in all the information as I did before talking with camera and sound and detailing each take of Leon's coverage.

Each coverage piece of that scene 10 will get it's own number, and or if they change a lens each difference will result in going down the alphabet starting with 10A and continuing on skipping I and O as they look too much like numbers. If you get past Z (which I have had the experience on one movie) we go into AA, AB, AC and so on. I suppose one could get into triple letters but about that time I think the actors would be barricading themselves in their trailers.

Then, it's off to the next scene, let's say scene 20 (as you know all features are shot out of order) And it begins again, I fill in my log sheet with camera information sound and the description of the scene, I assign scene numbers and a letter gets attached for each piece of coverage.

That's just explaining the log sheet. On features you will take notes on lined pages and left had pages too! (that's a another post entirely!)

Add to detailed note taking watching continuity, dialogue, screen direction, production notes, and flirting with the camera assistant (hey, it's not like the grips are going to do it), throw in some trips to craft service and you've kind of got what I do for a living!

Want more info? Cant get enough about log sheets? ScriptE has a great resource of sample reports. Check it out Here


Maggie ~:) said...

Thank you for that post. Since there's really no Scriptys to learn from around my neck of the woods, I'm always making things up as I go along. I really appreciate your informative posts. Just when I think I've got things down, you give me something new to add that makes me better at my job.

Jonathan said...

Wow, what lucky students they are to have you talk to them. I'm jealous. You should come to my school, heh. So do you write in your notes by and and type them out later, or do you just send in your notes hand written?

Scripty said...

Gosh thanks Maggie!! I'm glad you liked the post.


Hey Jonathan, I type up my notes only if I like the director...Hee

If I'm on stage I type them in as I work. If I'm out running around in a small set where we have multiple locations thus unplugging and plugging, I find it's easier to just hand write. Then during a break in the action, I will type it in...that said, the job I'm working on now, we are working at quite a fast clip in many different locations. The last two days I just hand wrote my notes and sent them in. As long as they are legible the editor's pretty happy, and lucky for me...I'm friends with said editor!

Glemaud said...

This post was quite informative, and I can't think you enough for taking the time to write it. Being a beginning Scripty, it's hard for me to really get the ropes without anyone there to tell me what I'm doing right and wrong. I have read the Script Supervising book, and still had unanswered questions, in which I had answered in this post.

I would hope there are to be later installments similar to this, detailing other pieces of information (Continuity One-Liners, please!) I'd massage your feet, thrice daily were you to do that.

Thanks again.

Scripty said...

Glemaud, a foot massage sounds heavenly! I may have to start working on my next post straight away!

jenny said...

I wanted to ask how using Script Supervising software fits in to all the handwritten notes taken during shooting? I haven't gotten into the Script Supervising software thing, but I was wondering if it's only for filling out production reports or if it's used during shooting for taking notes and lining the script? If it will make my job easier in any way I'd be all for it!

Scripty said...

Hey Jenny!

You have a very good question! Check out ScriptE's web site and you can get a better idea of all the reports you can generate with their program. (See link under Script Supervising Software on the right hand side of my blog)

Brittney said...

I found your blog a while back, I'm a big fan of it as there aren't a lot of resources for Scripting online. (As a comparison to say grip/electric/camera dept.)

Confession: I am also a Script girl.

Anyways, I found myself in a very similar situation where I was asked to come into a college and give a presentation about a year ago. I was completely overwhelmed at first. I'm young but not green and I had certainly never been asked to do anything like that before. I wasn't sure where to begin, but I eventually found my footing and made it through. I found that the students were very interested in learning about the job, and over all it was a wonderful experience.

I think the brief overview that you posted was very informative and I am glad that you had a successful day!!