Now I know we aren't the most popular people on set, usually shouting “you can't do that” or “that's' copy-written, you can't use it” earning us nicknames like continuity Nazi, but it we are a necessary evil. As a director your 1st AD is your right arm but your continuity supervisor is your left. Aside from being responsible for maintaining the films continuity of action and recording and keeping track of the production unit's progress, a scripty is there to make everyone else's job a lot easier and why would you want to make things difficult for yourself.
There is one person who truly appreciates us though and that's the editor. Every time we yell at the clapper loader for missing a slate or an extra for moving props it's not for the good of our health it's for the editor. At the end of the day he or she is the one that's going to be the one putting the film together and more often then not they won't be on set. So the only way they're going to know which shot goes where or what roll its on is if you do your job properly. Don't ever let anyone tell you “it'll be fine” or “we don't need to do that”, it's not on their head it's on yours, so feel free to shout at them.
Often when I meet new people on a set they ask me what I do and when they find out I always get the same response, “Jesus I wouldn't want to be doing your job, must be a nightmare”. As daunting as it may seem continuity is a great job, there may be a lot of paper work involved but once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature and you don't really notice it. I hope more people will decide to get into continuity, may be this article will help although I doubt it. I have only ever met two other scriptys and one of them was my lecturer so I'm not sure if that counts.
A director once gave me the excuse “Scorsese doesn't use a continuity supervisor so why should I”, which is right up there with “sure I'll keep an eye on it myself, it'll be fine”. This of course is complete and utter rubbish and any director who thinks they can get away without a scripty is a fool.
So before you decide to leave a continuity supervisor out of your production team read the following list of what we do and then make your decision. I hope it's the right one.
- Time the script
- Story day breakdown (timeline, story continuity)
- Page and scene count
- One-line breakdown
- Make continuity notes
- Voice Over list
- Prepare and customize note forms
- Assemble tools - notebooks and covers, ruler, pens and pencils, stopwatch, digital camera, set box, set pouch, various office supplies. Of course if you use Script-E software you won't need half of this.
- Put together materials for shoot - script with note page form photocopied on back, master sheets, production reports, script note forms, breakdowns, continuity notes & wardrobe forms, voice over list, pick up form, call sheets & one line schedule & shot list, miscellaneous
- Attend rehearsals and cast read thru
- Set up process for getting script notes copied and returned with production.
- Get clearance information from producer, art department, propmaster, wardrobe (very important!)
- Attend full production meeting – make notes on items discussed, script changes, etc.
- Issue Script Changes Memos as necessary
- Make notes at hair/make-up/wardrobe tests if needed
- Make notes on every shot taken - script notes and log sheet
- Time each take and make notes for prints and performance
- Monitor dialogue
- Keep a record of all wild tracks recorded
- Watch scene rehearsals and make notes on blocking
- Assign slate numbers
- Keep track of continuity, camera positions and axis, screen direction, eyelines and matching action - working with the camera department, hair and makeup, wardrobe, props, set dressers, and actors
- Keep list of coverage for scene - thinking editorially
- Double check printed takes on camera and sound reports as necessary
- Keep track of film roll numbers and sound roll numbers as necessary
- Read off-screen dialogue when needed
- Take photos as needed for continuity and matching
- Do production/progress report each day
- Turn in notes and production report at wrap each day
- Attend dailies (not always applicable)
- Keep list of pick-ups, inserts and wild lines to be done
- Confirm with 1st AD that all scenes are complete before wrapping at each location, before wrapping an actor, and before picture wrap.
- Double check notes for accuracy and completeness
- Make copy of your lined script for director
- Make other copies as needed
- Turn in original lined script and log sheets to editorial department
- Turn in original production reports and photos to production manager or production coordinator
- Do end of picture memo listing any scenes not shot, any incomplete scenes and any shots still to be taken
About the author:
Fiona (Kit) Graham
Degree in Multimedia and communications from the Dundalk Institue of Technology. Masters degree in T.V. and Radio Production from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.
Started in music videos as a D.O.P. and editor. Wrote and directed a number of documentaries, including radio documentaries aired only in Australia.
Fiona has been working as a continuity supervisor for four years.
In 2009 Fiona wrote, directed and produced first film (short) "Deadline" (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Deadline/208245509199844)
In 2010 Fiona wrote and directed first feature "The Nixer" (www.thenixermovie.com / http://www.facebook.com/TheNixer)
Ambitions – "to one day be the dictator of a small caribbean island or failing that own a film studio."