As part of our continuing 3Questions series, I present Kirstie Bingham, a script supervisor who has worked for such shows and movies as 90210, Big Shots, and Captivity.
As a script supervisor, she oversees "continuity on the set but it entails much more. I keep detailed notes of everything that is shot and provide those notes to the editor. My primary responsibility as far as continuity goes is what would be referred to as action continuity - when did they stand, which way did they walk, when did they pick up the glass, etc. In addition, I back up all other departments in regards to continuity - was the top button of his shirt buttoned? Is that the same book that she had in the last scene? I interact with the director, getting his preferences on takes shot, notating any directorial comments, along with technical issues or problems, for each take.
"With the camera department, I provide slate numbers for each take and then also circle printed takes on the camera reports. I also keep an eye on dialogue and note any variations from the script that an actor does and/or go in and correct an actor for any dialogue issues. In a nutshell, I'm the editor's and writer's representative on set, for the writers making sure that the dialogue is correct (enough) that the story is shot as intended and for the editors making sure that what is shot can be cut together at the end of the day."
HBAD: How did you get your start?
KB: I am a recovered actor and a former project manager at Microsoft and Nordstrom. In New York, when I quit acting, I wanted to direct film, so I PA'd on a short. I AD'd my next short (a film by Joshua Caldwell!) and then the next short I got hired to AD, but then they had another ad and asked me to script supervise...and I was hooked.
HBAD: What are the most difficult challenges you've encountered on your career path?
KB: When I was first starting out there were no teachers in New York, or very few, and the classes were either expensive or seemed to come at times when I had just booked a film and couldn't take the class. So, I learned a lot by reading everything I could, asking dumb questions and making a lot of mistakes. I was lucky in that I had a lot of fantastic people who helped me along the way but it would have been much easier to take a class and start ahead of the game.
HBAD: What advice would you have for someone just starting out in this business, looking to get into script supervising?
KB: If someone is looking to script supervise, I would look around your area for people who are wanting to do a short film and ask if you can script supervise. Do any job you can for free to get experience and gradually people will start paying you. There is a great book on script supervising by Pat Miller called Script Supervising and Film Continuity that I definitely recommend. There is also a Yahoo! Continuity group. If you're seriously interested in becoming a script supervisor it is a great resource.
Start reading everything you can, start practicing and make the mistakes. If you live near a big city, contact the IATSE local for script supervisors in your area (Local 161 in New York, Local 871 in LA but there are others around the country in most big cities) and see if you can find someone who'd be willing to mentor you. And you ask every question you can think of!