Jan 29, 2011

My Script Supervising Ego!

If you work in the film industry you know that most of the people in it have a healthy ego. Actually, you probably know that if you don't work in the film industry. Either way, I am no exception, and I offer the following recent job as evidence:

I got a call for an out of town job. They looked at my resume to make sure I had experience and they were impressed. They offered to pay for my hotel, give me per diem, and pay my travel expenses. It was for a big national client. Good! I like those jobs, typically fun, and most importantly I feel valued at the end of the day. (I get to feel valued, and my ego gets stroked)

The morning of the shoot, I came in ready to work. I studied the boards the night before, so I knew all the dialogue. First person I met was the production coordinator. She says hi and points me to the coffee. Great! I can get a jolt before we get going. As I stood there sipping my coffee, I noticed that there was no crew around. "Where is set?" I ask. The coordinator says "Oh, they're up in the factory shooting some b-roll, you're not really needed until we do sound." (note that sound was already up there)

Ok, NEVER tell me I'm not needed! I sort of bristle at those words. Second you are paying me for the day whether I work or stand around, drink coffee and look cute. Why not get some detailed b-roll notes anyway?

So, being the go-getter I am (read: doing whatever suits me) I ran up to the factory and stood outside the door (they wanted minimal crew in the factory) until the producer came by. "Excuse me," I said, "wouldn't you like some notes on this stuff?"

"Naw" he says, "hang here and I'll call if I need you." Hang. Here. I'll call you if I need you. Being he was the producer, clawing his eyes out seemed like a bad option.

I had been given cans/ears/whatever-the-heck-you-call-the-ability-to-hear-the-actors early on and as I listened I realized the talent was talking. Talking! Like with words and everything! Really? You don't want any notes on this?

Next time the producer passed by I asked again, "You know, they are saying some of the dialogue, don't you want me in there?" Pause. "Ah, sure" he stumbles reluctantly, "Yeah, ok." and gave me the special go into the factory gear (eyeglasses hair net etc).

Now I can finally see the set. The director and the D.P. are both shooting 7D's (small hand-held SLR camera for the uninitiated) and flying around the talent in a documentary style. Sound is working and no less than 10 agency are standing in the way. This is their idea of a minimal set?...What is one more tiny person going to do?

At the first break I introduce myself to the director and ask is there any camera notes he'd like me to put on the log sheet? He says, "Nah, no need, just capture some dialogue; that would be great."

Ok. Three times I've basically been told to sit out this scene and wait. I get it, B-roll, doc style. But then...

When we finally do actual agency written dialogue and I bring up an error. Director says, "No worries, I'm going for that doc style and we'll cut as needed."

WHY THE HELL AM I HERE?!

Yes, it's true, I'm making big bucks to sit on my ass, take minimal notes and smile at the agency drones, but really? For day rate, hotel, per diem, mileage, REALLY? Not that I want to eliminate my job, but at least ACT like I'm a necessary part of production.

But then I have to check my ego! If this were one of my first jobs I would have relished the minimal effort required. I would have enjoyed the whole day, being able to soak in the job, watching how everything gets done marveling at the technology basking in the fold of agency creatives. I would have left feeling happy and in love. Instead I left feeling frustrated and worthless.

So, yes it's true my ego kept me from enjoying the job. It's just that I have this endless desire to feel needed and appreciated, but doesn't everyone?

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

UGH! I've been there, done that! But what can you do? At least you covered yourself by saying "don't you need notes on this??" They cannot say you weren't doing your job.

They'll realize they needed your notes once they get into the edit suite.

Scripty said...

Thanks anonymous! I'm glad to know someone else has had the same experience!

A.J. said...

I seem to have the opposite feeling as you do about this. If this happened to me, my big fat ego would probably take it as a sign that they think I'm important enough to have around "just in case" and worth all the cash they're spending on me, even if I'm not doing anything. And if they think I'm that important, then I could probably do whatever I pleased (ie: hang around crafty all day). But I guess maybe that's just me. :)

Scripty said...

Nice way to look at it A.J.! You are right! I should have stood around crafty all day. Maybe demanded special waters to be brought to me...or a masseuse, or...

Michael Taylor said...

The real problem with this situation is that you didn't have anything meaningful to do -- and being a one-person department, you had no best boy or script-crew to commiserate with and help find a way to kill the time.

Waiting like that -- essentially being "on call" -- is a lot harder than most people think. It's like sitting at the longest red light in history, one foot on the brake pedal, the other poised on the throttle, and your eyes glued to the traffic signal waiting for that damned light to turn green...

I guess we're never satisfied -- either working much too hard or stuck in the watchful-waiting hell you described. What we want is the Goldilock's mode: enough challenging work to engage our brains and skill set (and help the day pass quickly), but not so much as to bury us under the rubble of other people's bad decisions.

That said, it still sounds like a pretty sweet deal...

Scripty said...

Michael you always bring a wise perspective on work! Thanks for the comment!

Lythari311 said...

It does hurt when you're supposed to be the director's right hand person, their additional eyes and ears, only to be waved aside as "not essential" at that moment of shooting...how can you turn in a lined script with this missing footage or an accurate daily report if this happens?

Scripty said...

Hi Lythari311! I just captured as much information as I could squeak out of the project. And worked backwards. Even though they started rolling up in the factory before I was invited, I asked sound, what happened, and the A.D. when was first shot. All knew the situation and were happy to fess up some information...Along with that tho...

I also notated that it was a small crew and that I was not there. You know CYA type stuff. Thanks for the comment!

L. Rob Hubb said...

Does this sound familiar... had roughly the same experience on a Wal-Mart commercial a few years ago, which was shot 'documentary style' - seeing the finished product, I guess I was there as "CYA".

The money was great, though...

Scripty said...

Thanks for the comment Rob, nice to know I am not alone!

Devon Ellington said...

It goes beyond the desire to be needed and appreciated. You actually KNOW your job, and know that anyone who knows what they're doing needs you right there whenever the camera rolls.

Glad they're paying you well, because obviously they don't understand the scope of your job.

Script said...

Gosh Thanks Devon! I appreciate the comment! (and I'll soak up the praise as well!)

Hiccup3000 said...

I'm so pleased to have found this blog! I'm a script supervisor myself (although I only started 2 years ago). I can have a rant about all of my script supervising stories on here now;)

Such as last week when the producer started to pick on me, sending me sarcastic text messages saying "Now dont forgot to bring your script with you today!" (the full stories on my film making blog). You say that you never want to get on the bad side of the producer as they are the people with the money but when is the time to spaek up; or do you just not spaek up and take the money anyway, good experiance or bad.

I had the oppersite story happen to me last month when the diretcor blamed me for not bringing a prop to the set - wait a minute thats not my department. I fidn it funny how many people out there dont quite understand what our job is. Looking forward to reading more posts. hiccupX

Scripty said...

Hello and welcome Hiccup3000! You have a great blog! I'll be happy to link it so my site shortly! Thanks for the comment!

Anonymous said...

Wow! That is just crazy, as an editor I LOVE detailed notes, and when even one take is missed it drives me nuts, because then I wonder what went wrong or what someone was doing. Especially when you are not on set it makes life so much easier. Thank you Scripty for all that you do!

Scripty said...

Thanks Anonymous! I could just hug every editor that appreciates what we do!

Jonathan said...

I would be frustrated with this! I always feel that noting B-roll is so important because its a mix of footage all in one take usually.

There is no better feeling then being needed and well appreciated on set. I was working on a Hasbro toy spot the other day and the AD came up to me when we wrapped up and told me that I did a good job. Apparently the director has had a problem with script sups in the past, but I really couldn't tell, we got along great. I love when someone tells me good job at the end of the day, don't we all?

Shaik said...

Hey,Good and adequate comment Hiccup3000, keep up the creativity!


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Dave said...

It's so weird that I happened across this thread. Today was the first day of shooting a show I'm working on with a new director. We shot the first scene this morning and being dutiful I pointed out a few continuity errors with regards to actors and props positioning. After the first scene was shot, he comes up to me and says don't worry about continuity for this, it's not that type of show. To me that would be like going up to an actor and telling them not to worry about performance or telling art dept not to worry about props.

I know I get paid either way, but it drives me nuts when directors treat you like a burden on their time instead of the person who is trying to improve the quality of the production and essentially make it easier for them and the editor in post production.

Here endeth the rant!
Thanks for the blog, I love reading/hearing other script supers stories

Scripty said...

Hi Dave!

Love the rant! I agree!