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...

That’s it then?

Yup, that’s it.

It’s been great talking with you. You take care now, ‘kay?

And don’t forget to write.


5 Comments (Open | Close)

5 Comments To "That’s it then?"

#1 Comment By Amy On January 8, 2010 @ 5:35 am

Hello, I have to say that I have found this website ridiculously helpful! I have worked on a feature before as the script supervisor – I have to say frankly it was a low budget film and I had no idea what I was doing – and have just been hired on my first professional shoot. All the advice and samples have really made me understand the job!

Just some questions (basic but needed*)

  1. Whilst on set do you always time each shot with a stop watch?
  2. (I ask this because every website tells me that I should do this -and yours not so much? On the last set I noted down the timecode at the start and end of each shot. Surely by clicking on a stop watch your not doing to get it in sync with the camera running – Just in general why is this information needed for the editor?)

  3. What paper work should I do on set?
  4. (Is this everything – A copy of the script to line (MUS), a notebook for me and my notes, A note book for the editors notes, continuity log sheets. – With so much to do on quickly shot scene I can see this all get a little confusing. On my last set I noted down everything in one big notebook and wrote up all the data at night on a computer neat for the editor. I ask again is this right? – I fear that the leap from amateur set to professional will have a system to it and my own won’t do.)

  5. So at the end of the production what do I do with all my paperwork?
  6. (I give the editor a copy of my notes (printed out neatly so he can read them), and the lined script (should I make a neat copy of this too?, any other notes I should keep safe just in case any questions are asked later by the editor)

  7. Etiquette wise who is the first person I talk to on set?
  8. (I don’t like sets that are too strict so usually I just speak to the director. However I have been on sets where the 1st AD demands that you speak to them first. I’m a little scared of 1at ADs too – what the hell is up with them!?)

I think that’s everything that was on my mind. Sorry if I’ve just repeated questions which you have already but it would be much appreciated if you could answer these for me. The principle photography starts on Thursday 14th Jan.

*.I’m unsure how often you update your site but… I have a meeting tomorrow with the costume designer and director, and was wondering if there was any important questions I should ask them.

(I’m going to talk about how precise the director likes his dialogue and talk to the costume designer about any problems that may come up which he has foreseen. – ow I hope this is right, I’m just not confidant with this yet – I wont let them know that though)

Thank you very much for all your help! Honestly this website has saved me!

Thank you!

Amy.

#2 Comment By That Continuity Guy On January 8, 2010 @ 12:13 pm

Thanks Amy!

I should say that my current sheets look a little different, as most of the samples on here are rather old, as I can’t put things up until the film has finished its whole release run etc. Assuming it gets one…

But to your questions:

  1. Yes, time everything (I hadn’t realised this wasn’t mentioned actually, so will have to find somewhere to include it).
  2. Start and end timecode (if available) helps the editor to locate footage, but it’s not the same thing. I time from Action to Cut – or if there is a delayed start, from that point on etc. (with a note saying “delayed start ~35s” or “runs on at end ~20s” etc.). This shot timing not just for the editor – it’s for you, to know how long the film is actually running. If you don’t time shots then you won’t be able to give actual timings for a scene etc.

    The camera department will often want to know how long a shot is to know whether or not they need to change reel, grips may need it for dolly moves and so on, and the director and production need to know that their thirty-second scene is actually two-and-a-half-minutes and that their ninety-minute film is currently running at seventy or one-hundred-and-twenty minutes or whatever.

    Just make sure that your stopwatch doesn’t beep (or have a loud mechanical click). You can buy silent stopwatches, or have the beep taken out.

  3. This does depend on where on you are working.
  4. In the US they have an editor’s daily log, the facing page, the MUS, and the EOD report (which has various other names too). Here in Oz we (well, I anyway) do continuity sheets and the MUS, along with an EOD Continuity Daily Report. I should find an EOD sample to put up. You may also have your own paperwork – I do character wardrobe/MU outlines for instance. Your own Continuity Log is a very good idea – a one-line summary of each shot & take in shooting order, with timing updated as you go. This saves a lot of time doing the EOD report.

    Typing it all up neatly for the editor once you’re home is fine. It may be the only option – e.g. my last film was mostly spent in a wetsuit in the ocean scribbling on underwater paper, so there was no way to do clean notes for the editor as I was going. The usual advice is whatever works best for you, to ensure that production and the editor get the deliverables they need without it hindering you doing your job on set (and if you can’t finish writing up until two in the morning when you have to start work again at six, then that’s hindering your job).

    If I’m doing handwritten sheets, I keep the originals of everything, and make copies for the editor and production which I scan in and email or upload nightly. I do a separate clean MUS for the editor – I know many more adept scripties only have the one, but they have evidently mastered the art of legible on-set notations, which has so far escaped me.

  5. Hmmm, looks like I’ve included (3) in (2) above…
  6. Ha! The AD runs the set. However, you do not report to the AD, whatever he or she may think.
  7. You report to the director, the producer and the editor (and ultimately just the producer). The AD cannot insist that everything goes through him. ADs have a different agenda to us – their primary concern is keeping to their schedule. Your primary concern is continuity in all its different aspects. Sometimes these two diverge widely.

    You should be at the director’s side pretty much all the time. You can’t do the job if banished to your own or a shared monitor away from the director. But of course you have to use your judgement as to what to bring up to whom and when, which will vary hugely from shoot to shoot. And some directors, especially inexperienced ones who don’t really know what you do, may not realise this. ADs may be trying to keep the director focussed and not have her thought train clouded by unnecessary details and minor issues. However, you’re part of the solution to that, not part of the problem – you can intercept and answer a lot of those questions. Plus of course there are plenty of things which can only be between you and the director. As an example, you mentioned dialogue changes – that is nothing to do with the AD, and between you and the director. Story and script divergence issues – again, director only.

    The whole on-set etiquette thing is very tricky. You don’t want to get people’s backs up, as that will harm the shoot (and if you get the AD off-side you’re going to have a very hard time). But you’re not there to be liked, you’re there to maintain continuity. Personally I generally try to raise issues with the relevant department first, discreetly but quickly e.g. if it’s a set issue, then art department – if I’m concerned about a line cross, then the DoP etc. Then I would let the AD know. However, that approach is just what (mostly) works for me (I have some natural advantages of height and voice in making myself heard when necessary, so I can get away with quietly going about my business much more – certain of the older generation of scripties I know on the other hand work primarily through inspiring terror in the rest of the crew), and even then it’s not always possible. Being assertive is vital – my biggest problems have come when I haven’t been assertive enough. Remember, you are a head of department.

    Incidentally, if you’d like to know where you fit into the official hierarchy, at least in Australia, have a look at http://www.alliance.org.au/resources/doc_details/motion_picture_production_agreement_summary/. You might be surprised.

As for your meeting – well, the dialogue question is certainly one I always ask. Especially when working with actors who go with what they think the gist of the line is rather than what’s actually in the script (and, er, would you take that approach with Shakespeare?). Also worth finding out how the director wants you to deal with the actors – some directors want all contact with actors to be through them, others are happy for you to approach actors directly (generally this will become more clear a couple of days in). As for the costume designer, cross-reference your breakdowns, and find-out what’s happening with standby wardrobe (the on-set wardrobe person – terminology varies from country to country and I’m not sure where you are). This is usually not the costume designer, and the person concerned may not always be aware that they need to be watching every shot and maintaining continuity for their department – you’re just there as a reference and a check. (The same goes for make-up incidentally – there should be on-set MU watching every shot).

#3 Comment By Amy On January 15, 2010 @ 12:08 am

Thanks Continuity guy!

That’s great help! I think I’m fully prepared for tomorrows shoot now and looking forward to it.
I have my script, logs and note book a waiting. Ive decided to go for a clip board style where I attach all the pages I need pair scene on a clip board so that I’m not bogged down with paper on a cramped set.

So far I’m only getting work due to online advertised jobs and the odd asked by a friend. Just in general how did you go about getting regular jobs in continuity? Is it possible to make a living from continuity work.

Many thanks for all your help,
Amy.

#4 Comment By Robert LaRue On February 22, 2010 @ 2:41 pm

Thanks for all the ‘cut to the chase’ information. Will have my first experience as scripty next month on a student short. Your info both increases my confidence and scares the bugs out of me!

#5 Comment By PRP Gaddar On August 12, 2010 @ 6:35 am

Truly outstanding information up here. Just getting into my 1st project in a few days and this is more than helpful.


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