In order for a film to be successful, there has to be team cooperation. Whether the team members are actors, film crew, transport or craft services, all roles must communicate to create a successful production. Although all roles are important, all of this isn’t possible however without the collaborative efforts of three roles.
The trio that makes the film production possible is the director, the script supervisor and the film producer. This team decides how the movie will be made and determines the vision of the film. It is a long process that requires a large degree of patience and communication, which results in a film that all three want the public to see.
The Three Roles
For all films, it is necessary to have a director, a producer and a script supervisor. If the budget for the project is smaller, you might see a producer also take on the mantle of script supervisor. This is to save money because the script supervisor is often jokingly referred to as the veteran Eve Butterly said in a panel at the South By Southwest conference in 2017, a “department of one”.
The Script Supervisor
The script supervisor is also known as the continuity supervisor. The script supervisor may not have the magnetic allure that the director or producer has, but without this role a film can easily fall apart due to their important role.
The director is entrusted with a slew of tasks to create the film from the screenplay and guides the cast of actors and crew to bring that vision to life. The director also completes other tasks and helps to pick the cast and has input in the production design. They are immersed in every aspect of the filmmaking.
The producer oversees the entire process of creating the film from early meetings through shooting into post-production with the aim of keeping everything on time and within the allotted budget that’s allowed. This also includes what takes place afterwards, with the need to secure distribution of the film in theaters as well as taking care of the advertising. The producer is actually the one who the director reports to. In addition to the director, the producer reports to the studio, so it’s vital for these two individuals to be on the same page.
With that quick overview taken care of, it’s important to take a look at how all three work together throughout the production of the movie.
Pre-production is the calm before the storm that takes place with the actual filming. During this time, the producer chooses a director, and it is also the time when the production hires a script supervisor.
First Steps in a Production
First of all, these three will carefully look over the script and see what is and is not possible on the film production. The budget of the film ultimately impacts these decisions. To that end, this communication helps the group to come up with locations and technical requirements for the production.
At this point, the producer also marks down the location schedule. There will be times where they cannot always be on set due to other tasks they’ll have to fulfill during production. In addition, this also depends on the scale of the film that’s being produced. For example, larger films tend to have more producers that cover the different departments and even an entirely different crew known as the second unit. That’s where the script supervisor comes in. The script supervisor serves as a main line to the cast and crew, especially with the 1st assistant director.
During these meetings, the team hires various crew members and the cast. Many times, these sessions will be led by the producer. Despite this, the director and script supervisor also says who they feel will be the best fit for the production. Technical crew meetings also allow the team to see the script and make their judgments on what equipment is necessary. After the producer finalizes these decisions, the equipment is listed on an inventory sheet and rented. Likewise, the producer makes sure there’s transportation for this equipment and crew for filming.
As production begins, the director expresses the story through the camera’s lens. The director communicates regularly with the script supervisor to make sure each scene follows the script. There will be moments where the script needs to be modified. In the event of these changes, the director and supervisor first talk about these options. The producer also steps in to help with technical problems on the set.
Furthermore, the producer provides support during the production. Both the producer and director reviews the footage daily, otherwise known as the dailies. As they monitor the production timetable with the script supervisor, the producer mediates any issues that might arise.
After production is complete, the footage is ready for final edit. The director sits in on all of the sessions and observes the editors. The director works with them to catch any flaws that need to be corrected. The script supervisor only joins some of these sessions, mainly because they and the producer and director have already met with editors.
The producer concern are securing the movie’s placement in theatres. In addition to this, the producer reviews the end result of the post-production and offer their opinions.
While there is a definitive hierarchy during film production, all of these roles work together to achieve the film’s success. Although these relationships can be challenging, proper communication lays the groundwork to bring a script to life on the screen.
Want to Learn More?
Did learning about the different roles on a production interest you? The Institute of Production and Recording (IPR) Digital Video and Media Production program allows students to participate in hands-on exercises and real-world shows to apply the knowledge they have learned throughout the program.
Contact us today to learn more about starting a rewarding career in Digital Video and Media Production.