Sunday, January 21, 2018

Using A Script On Your Next Video? Consider Hiring A Script Supervisor

Using a script?

If you’re shooting to a script or storyboard like we recommend, or if you have a series of shots you have to get, you may want to hire a detail oriented person whose job is to deal solely with making sure you get the shot. In the movie world, those are called script supervisors.

You may think a job like this is only required on movie sets but even the simplest commercials, client videos and marketing videos sometimes need it.


Today many film and video production companies are small operations, often one or two people, so you are frequently wearing many hats on a shoot. It isn’t that unusual for one person to be the director, camera operator, lighting gaffer, sound recorder and grip. I know; I’ve been on plenty of shoots like that.

Therefore, here’s my advice about having a script supervisor on your set.

Don’t Rely On The Camera Operator

First, the camera operator is more likely to concentrate on the actual shot, be concerned about camera moves, lighting, audio, etc.; for the camera operator, keeping track of script details is secondary.

His/Her primary job should be to focus (pardon the pun) on getting a good shot without distractions.

If you’re the camera operator and don’t have anyone to do this for you, then taking time out after every shot to review what you did and look at your shot list and take notes is important. If you’re doing this for a client, then make sure your extra time is figured in the cost.

Be Kind To Your Editor

Get all your shots and provide coverage and the editor will love, love, LOVE YOU, and if you’re the editor, you will love yourself. My mantra is “be kind to the editor, they can’t pull a shot out of thin air.”

Yesterday that point was driven home when Rick, whose been editing a series of 40 exercise videos we just finished shooting for Dave Sheahan’s Home Workout System, turns to me with a look of panic in his eyes and announces, “We have to shoot the first video again!”

“I can’t find it”

“It’s GONE!”

It looked like he was right…the shots seemed to be duplicated several times and key ones didn’t look like they were there.

My stomach sunk.

Since we were dealing with such large, long files, Rick didn’t have the time while getting them off the camera every evening to watch and log each one individually. It would have taken over 4 hours a night just to watch the main camera, and we shot with three cameras.

He just assumed that all was going correctly. Uh oh…

Now re-shooting was going to be a BIG problem since we no longer have access to the house and set we shot it in, and the talent is no longer here. There is the possibility we could meet up with him in L.A. and re-shoot the first video there, but the look will be radically different. Besides, that would be expensive and it would look like we messed up and oh, how I hate to admit that!

I ran over to the folder where I had accumulated all my notes I took while shooting and there I saw where I wrote that we were having problems with the mic that day and had to do some retakes. So I meticulously went to the place in the clips where I noted the problems and we found we had everything!


They were numbered quite randomly and Rick, being the main shooter, hadn’t really remembered that we had the mic problem on that particular day.

I hadn’t either since it happened on Day 1 of an 11-day shoot, over three weeks ago.

But my notes didn’t lie!

Needless to say, we were both very relieved. Rick had worked so hard to make sure all of the files were correctly stored and backed up, he would have been devastated if he had messed it up.

Many times, when I’m not behind the camera, I step into this role. It may be a thankless job at times but I’ve found that for all parties concerned, especially the editor and the producer who is responsible for delivering what the client wants, it’s a very important job.

What Qualities Should This Person Have?

Not only should the person you hire be detail oriented, they need to know how to take really good notes, too! Having a good memory is an added bonus.

If this is not you, then you really need to budget to hire someone like this.

They also need to be assertive on a set. If they know a shot was missed or done incorrectly, then they have to speak up no matter if it means the shoot is going to run into the wee hours of the morning. Their insistence can save a project, your budget and your reputation, so respect them for it. Although you may get a tired cast and crew grumping at you, but it is well worth it in the long run.

What tricks have you found to help you get every shot you need and to keep you on track? Please let us know below.


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