Jul 23, 2010

film term of the day: Script Supervisor

Script Supervisor: person on a film crew who maintains continuity from shot to shot and records the progress of daily shooting

Catching continuity errors in movies is part of the fun of movie-appreciation, especially if the story loses your interest for a minute or two. If you've noticed a glass half empty in one shot and in the next it is all the way full, your eyes are sharper than those of the script supervisor who should have consulted their notes and insisted on draining that glass to the proper mark before cameras rolled. And you thought the filmmakers were making a subtle comment on the power perception plays in the forming of our optimistic or pessimistic attitudes.

Continuity errors occur when a shot taken at one time during production is edited together with a shot taken at a different time (maybe weeks or months from the time the original shot was taken) in which something on screen fails to match the original shot.

Next time you are watching a sub par film, play along by watching for some of these generic examples:
1. length of cigarette changes randomly
2. items of clothing missing or appearing
3. placement of actors or objects in background is inconsistent

Extreme Example: Troll 2 (This one is for my friends Sarah and Jayson who just had their 4th baby and who introduced me to this fine film.) There is a scene in Troll 2 where the dad and the mom are having a conversation. When the camera is on the mom, the dad's shirt is open (I think). When the camera is on the dad, his shirt is buttoned all the way. As this film was incredibly low-budget, I am guessing that they just didn't have a script supervisor, but it would be that person's fault if they had.

Note: continuity errors are a product of simple human oversight and can crop up in the classiest of films. They are, however, more likely to occur (or be noticed) in bad movies.

I'd love to hear some of your favorite examples.

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