Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I, Script Supervisor

How could I have been the only one to have noticed it?

Yet there I was, surrounded by a roomful of film enthusiasts, and I suddenly felt like a full-figured blonde in an E.F. Hutton moment. "You're right!" James said. "Wow, I've seen this film 20 times and I never made that connection."

The film was the hysterical Home Base, about a woman who wincingly breaks up with her boyfriend. "Wow," she sighs, "I didn't expect you to take it this well," she says.
"That's because I know what I'm going to do," he responds.
"What's that?"
He takes a bite of his food. Then: "I'm going to fuck your mother."
"Nick! That's disgusting."
"No, I'm serious. Go home and tell your mother she's about to get fucked."

The hilarity ensues from this hysterical moment, as Nick does, indeed, end up taking his ex-girlfriend's mother out on a date... and, well, you get the idea. See the film. It's funny.

Back to my world—inbetween setups on Threading Over Dark, I'm standing with a roomful of other filmmakers watching this brief scene from Home Base where the mother simply walks past a mailbox. Why, I asked myself, would the filmmakers go to the trouble to film this particular scene? It didn't appear to add anything to the story, or the characters.

Frequently, I won't understand why a certain scene is in a film until retrospectively. Since I am cursed with a semi-photographic memory (my mother used to say I could recite scenes from films almost verbatim), I often recall a scene and wonder what the filmmaker was thinking when they went to all the trouble to shoot it; the craft of filmmaking is an often tedious medium and before you set up a shot, its function in the film as a whole has been questioned by countless people. Not much gets past that gauntlet to the editing room, even in the relatively "cheap" medium of video.

One scene that still bugs me is the hand in the last scene of Atom Egoyan's The Adjuster—I know Egoyan was trying to say something with it, but I'm buggered if I know what it is. I only recently understood the tunnel sequences and circular building interiors from Fruit Chan's (brilliant but nauseating) "Dumplings" segment in Three Extremes.

Yet here I was, studying this scene with the mother walking past the camera. Suddenly I heard myself blurt out, "Notice that the mother is wearing red and white, the same colors as the mailbox." In itself, this wouldn't have been too meaningful... except that earlier in the film, Nick had humped the mailbox to taunt his ex-girlfriend (while silently mouthing, "This is your mother!"). Now everyone is looking at me with lightbulbs over their heads and I'm starting to blush.

Observing, recording and comparing details is the essense of being a Script Supervisor. You get to track dialogue, movement, costumes, makeup, props, and all over the course of 20 days or more... the task is ginormous sometimes. But I like to obsess about details, so it really is a good fit for my character. It's ironic, but I never knew this about myself until recently. It's like your parents looking all over for their glasses when they're wearing them on their head. Duh!

Now I'm working on Something In The Clearing as a Script Supervisor, and shooting starts in five days. We go for 11 days this month, and another 11 days next month. Plus, the producers told me last week that they were a stone's throw away from getting Stephen Baldwin, but they say he's a $1 million actor. Bastage! I'm still going to meet you one day, Stephen... you can't get away from me that easily.

Don't look so smug. I mean it.

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