The script supervisor is an essential member of any film set. Because without one, there is no guarantee that your footage will cut together.
When you make a film, you will likely shoot it out of sequence. As such, mistakes can happen, ruining the audience’s experience. The script supervisor watches the action and makes sure there are no continuity mistakes. By doing so, they help the film cut together.
On this page, you can find a complete Script Supervisor job description. We’ll also discuss the job role skills, education, pay, and work route options.
What is a Script Supervisor?
The script supervisor works alone on a film set. Because films are usually shot out of sequence, there is room for mistakes. For example, the level of water in a glass an actor drinks. It’s their job to make sure that every shot fits together in the editing room.
During filming, the script supervisor will watch the action and make any changes. They also record each shot and make an estimate of the film’s running time. Their final task is to create notes for the film editor, letting them know what shots are mistake free.
What Does a Script Supervisor Do?
First, there is only one script supervisor on a film set.
During filming, they work with many different people. Their main job is to ensure the film has no big editing mistakes. For example, an actor might change costume or hairstyle between shots on the same day. Surprisingly mistakes like this happen a lot!
In addition to this, the script supervisor must pay attention to props, weather, camera lens, and movement. They do this because these elements might change and upset the film’s continuity. So, the goal is to ensure that the editor can use every shot.
Furthermore, they make script notes that they pass on to the editor. These notes and the lined script help the editor understand what shots to use.
Script Supervisor Job Description
The producer hires the script supervisor in early pre-production. Their first task is the read the screenplay and create a complete script breakdown. In addition to this, they time the script and attend production meetings with the rest of the crew.
During filming, the script supervisor watches the blocking of the scene and fixes any continuity errors. When the camera rolls, they sit next to the director by the video monitor. If there are any errors, they will change these between shots and take notes.
Throughout the shoot, they create detailed notes for the producer and editor. The producer will want to know about the filming progress and screen running time. Whilst the editor needs to know about errors, director comments, and available shots.
The script supervisor starts work midway through pre-production. To begin with, they read the script multiple times and make detailed notes. These notes include notes on locations, characters, props, makeup, and story time. For example, if there is a clock in the scene it needed to be set to the correct storytime.
If there are any errors in the story, then this is usually when they will bring them up. Lastly, they estimate the film’s running time. It’s important to ensure that filming scenes are not running long or too short.
- Reads and breakdown the script
- Create and schedule notes
- Attend meetings and location recces
- Estimates the film’s running time
In production, the script supervisor is always on set, typically by the film’s video screen. To ensure the film is not too long or short, they time each scene with a stopwatch. If there are any mistakes, they inform the director or 1st AD.
The script supervisor will also make in-depth notes on an actor’s appearance and location. Additionally, they will take hundreds of photographs to help them whilst on set. One key task of a script supervisor is to complete a lined script. After every filming day, they share their notes with the production office and assistant editor.
- Watch all blocking and action
- Time each scene with a stopwatch
- Make script notes
- Create a lined script
Education and Skills
The script supervisor is within their own department on a film set. It is a very technical and admin based role that requires training. Some people will gain a degree or attend film school, and there are courses available designed specifically for this role.
To work in this job role, you will need to understand the entire filmmaking process. Tasks such as timing and breakdown of the script need training. You may be able to find a placement shadowing or working as a script supervisor assistant.
It is also possible to start out in this role by working on low-budget film sets. However, unlike other job roles, you may need some training to get on professional projects. You will also need to learn how to network and make industry contacts to find work.
- Full filmmaking knowledge
- Breaking down screenplays
- Focus and attention to detail
- Teamwork and communication
- Ability to work under pressure
Script Supervisor Career Route
The script supervisor is the head of a single person department. It’s typical to work up to this role from runner to assistant script supervisor. Unlike other film job roles, you will find that professional training will help you to gain the skills you need to find work in this role.
You must find experience either on low-budget film sets or through a training placement. Once you have enough experience, you can start to apply for script supervisor work. You will likely start on smaller projects and work up to high-end features.
The script supervisor position is the end goal for most people pursuing this job role. However, because of the skills you learn, it is possible to work up to directing and producer positions.
Script Supervisor Salary
The day rate of all film industry crew members depends on the project type and budget. So, you will get less pay for a low-budget indie film than for a high-end TV project. If you look at our crew rates, you can see how the rates change depending on budget and job role. Of course, your pay will also take into account your personal experience.
The script supervisor is a head of department position. Although it is typical to find them credited within the camera department, as such, their union is the IATSE. For example, recommended day rate for a feature film of $1 million is $418.
So, for the average 6-day work week a script supervisor will make $2,508. However, you can still ask for more based on the job and your experience.
At the start of your career, you can find entry-level jobs on film job sites. The entry-level job roles for a script supervisor are runner, PA, or script supervisor assistant. However, you still may need to take a course on script supervision to learn skills.
Another route is to start working on low-budget film sets as a script supervisor. That way, you can learn the job role through hands-on practice and work up to higher budgets. Even so, it’s important that you learn all elements of the job role and professional practice.
|UTA Jobs List
|The UTA Jobs list advertises entry-level work in LA and throughout the US. Remember that the entry-level position for the 2nd AD is production office assistant or runner. In addition, they list paid training placements and internships
|ScreenSkills is a charity that provides industry news, training, and resources for the UK film industry. As well as, having regular training opportunities they also now have a jobs board for professional production positions.
To sum up, being a script supervisor is a challenging job role that requires a lot of focus and patience. To succeed in this role, you will need to learn a variety of skills specifically for this role. This job will suit someone with organizational skills, patience, and an eye for detail.
Unlike other roles, you are on your own in this position and need to have a lot of self-motivation. However, on the plus side, you will work closely with the director and always be on set in the action.