Continuity 101 (or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Scripty)
- Q & A on just what it is that Continuity / Script Supervisors actually do...

Is that why you’re always scribbling in your folder whenever I see you on set?

Yes (well, in part anyway). I record details of every shot and every take on my Continuity Sheets (“Facing Page” in the US) – things like what the shot actually is, whether it’s a Print (P) or No Good (NG), any preferences from the Director or the DoP[1] for particular takes (and why), any problems with sound or camera or lines or anything else, and how long it is. You can see the forms I use in the Forms section of this website, and there are a few actual examples in the Samples section.

I also mark-up the script with details of what shot covers which part, along which any changes made to the script during the course of shooting. The end result of this is the Marked-Up Script (MUS), also known as the Lined Script. Again, you can see some real examples in the Samples section of this website. But more on the MUS later.

As well as all that though, I’m also making my own notes, which no-one other than me ever sees.[2] These are on anything and everything that is going to help me – the key rule being not to trust your memory, but to write everything down.[3]

The Continuity Sheets that get to the editor are actually transcribed from these notes, with only the relevant information copied across. The editor doesn’t care about which shoulder the handbag is over, unless it’s different in one of the takes. She doesn’t need to see what each character’s eyeline is on the page – she can see that on the screen in the edit suite. She does care if the eyeline is wrong in a particular take, but otherwise that’s just redundant information. And she certainly doesn’t need to see any of my line diagrams – just to have it flagged if we’ve crossed.[4]

Similarly, the MUS that goes to the editor is transcribed across from my own working MUS. My own copy is covered with all sorts of jottings and scribblings and would be completely illegible to anyone else.[5]

  1. Director of Photography i.e. the cinematographer. []
  2. Which is lucky, as no-one other than me would likely be able to decipher them. []
  3. And I take a lot of photographs. Of anything and everything – set, actors, extras, camera positions, frames. These are not just for cross-referencing – the idea is to enable the whole set-up to be recreated if needed (which it may well be for pick-ups, or just when we come back to shoot the other half of the scene in an hour’s / day’s / week’s / month’s time). []
  4. If you have no idea what I’m talking about here, don’t worry – it’s all explained in a few paragraphs’ time. []
  5. And no, I’m not going to put any examples up in the Samples section. I do have some professional pride. []

5 Comments (Open | Close)

5 Comments To "Is that why you’re always scribbling in your folder whenever I see you on set?"

#1 Comment By Emily On January 5, 2010 @ 6:35 pm

Hey

this is fantastic, have been trying to find out more about script continuity and this pretty much answered all my questions. I am sure you get this alot but how did you get started? Is it worth just trying to donate my time or try out as a PA and get some experience that way? Am finish my media degree & also a tv/commercial styling course too.

thanks
Emily

#2 Comment By That Continuity Guy On January 6, 2010 @ 12:51 pm

Thanks Emily!

I think it would depend where you are – what country are you in?

#3 Comment By Emily On January 9, 2010 @ 7:40 pm

oops, I am in Sydney Australia. I am thinking about making the move in the next couple of years to either Canada or LA.

#4 Comment By That Continuity Guy On March 11, 2010 @ 11:28 am

Slightly delayed response (erm, sorry…) but given that we’re in the same place, drop me a line.

#5 Comment By Emily On April 1, 2010 @ 2:34 pm

Ok so I am completely daft! I totally missed the words Sydney, Australia printed under the title…oops


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Posted By That Continuity Guy On March 2, 2009 @ 6:04 pm In Continuity 101

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