FIND ANSWERS: Tecia Esposito on Script Supervision
In our Ask A Pro series, script supervisor Tecia Esposito shared advice for those interested in script supervision as a career gleaned from her work on such films as Miranda July’s The Future, Azazel Jacobs’ Terri, and Ben Lewin’s upcoming Sundance hit The Surrogate. Tecia was kind enough to answer even more of our members’ questions, sharing her thoughts on navigating the director-editor relationship and more.
Name some of the challenges you face as liaison between director and editor – how do you manage that line of communication?
The challenge of being a liaison is much greater when there’s a lot of improvisation – or when the vision is inside the director’s mind and not so much written on the page. To communicate this vision I first have to understand it. I listen to everything on set, carefully watch the rehearsals, try to make sense of it in my head, then confirm with the director that’s what he or she is going for.
If there are important points in the script that aren’t being hit then I always bring them up – but I like to see how things work themselves out in rehearsals before I pounce on the director for answers. I stay as low key as possible, but inside I’m like a tornado whirling around and paying attention to everything. I have a good system for my paperwork. It’s clean and easy to read, and I deliver my daily script notes in a PDF, which is easy for everyone.
Does the communication change from small low-budget indie films to higher budget studio films? How?
The lines of communication change for every project I work on and jobs will always differ depending on how the director operates, or if he/she already has a working relationship with the editor. I always meet and shake hands with the editor, assistant editor, and/or post supervisor before I begin a project. I ask them if they have any preferences for how I work and deliver my notes. I let them know I’m adaptable and want to make their lives easier.
I always ask the director if there’s anything they’ve liked or disliked from a previous script supervisor, and I try to do or not do whatever they say. Above all I stay calm, focused, and likable. I know my job is not a popularity contest, but it’s extremely important to get along with people… it keeps the lines of communication strong.
When is the ideal time during pre-production for a low-budget production team to bring on a script supervisor? Are pre-production rehearsals with actors helpful for your process?
If the director doesn’t already have someone he or she likes, then I recommend you start looking for a script supervisor at least a month or six weeks before you start shooting, and have someone locked down at least two weeks prior. This will give you time to interview them, make sure they’re not crazy, and by all means be sure the director gets along with the person (very important). You might not have a budget for 2 full weeks of prep, but don’t wait any longer than that to get the person on board. If you want your script supervisor to be effective then you need to give them time to read, re-read, re-read, and become familiar with the script.
What other production jobs have benefitted you as a script supervisor? How has that experience and knowledge come into play?
I worked for about 7 years as a PA, coordinator, production supervisor, associate producer, and field producer on indie film projects, commercials, and documentaries for HBO, VH1, Fuse, MTV, etc. I was a PA in almost every department and there’s nothing like learning from the bottom up.
Throughout these projects I always wanted to be where the script supervisor was – in the middle of the action – and eventually I inquired about learning and signed up for a class. I began working immediately. A producer friend hired me on a short film and a first assistant director friend hooked me up with my first well-paid gig. If I hadn’t already been in the industry before I took the class, I’m sure it would have been much more difficult to get started as a script supervisor. My experience and knowledge mostly came into play with the connections I already had in the industry to get me work.
If you missed it, check out Tecia’s advice for those interested in script supervision as a career, or indie producers and directors who want to best utilize their script supervisor.
May 14th, 2012 • 3 Comments