16 Sep 2011
While it is thought by historians that the authorized biography of Eric Von Stroheim contains many factual errors, there is enough that we do know about him that makes him a somewhat fascinating individual. Born in Viena Austria in 1885 as Erich Oswald Stroheim, Erich was the son of hat maker Benno Stroheim and Johanna Bondy. Stroheim emmigrated to the United States aboard the S.S. Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm on November 25th 1909.
Upon his arrival to Ellis Island, he claimed to be Count Erich Oswald Hans Carl Maria von Stroheim und Nordenwall. It is speculated that he decided to change his name so that he could appear to be Austrian nobility. Erich also fabricated elaborate stories about how he was an imperial officer in the military. In spite of this, his closest colleagues claim he had a decidedly lower class Southern Austrian accent and it was eventually confirmed that Erich was indeed the son of lower class parents and that he never served in the military.
“Throughout his career Erich Von Stroheim earned the reputation of a Walter Mitty-esque daydreamer and an idealist with a bad temper.”
While working in French films Stroheim met actress Denise Vernac who became his secretary and companion for the remainder of his life. In 1912 Erich met his first wife, Margaret Knox and in a shocking move for the times, moved in with her. Margaret became a mentor to Erich as she encouraged him to write while teaching him language and literature.
14 Sep 2011
It wasn’t until the late 1930s and early 1940s that the title Script Supervisor was coined from previous titles such as continuity clerk, script reader or script girl. The most common of which was the latter and in most cases films didn’t credit this role in their titles at all. Nomenclature has changed through the years to the more gender neutral ‘Script Supervisor’ and today it is a role common among both men and women.
The first time I had the pleasure of working with a good Script Supervisor I was working as a DP/Second Unit on a demonstration film for a local military contractor. Most of the films I’d worked on before saw that a second camera assistant simply held up the slate when it was time and all they really had to do was pay attention enough to re-label the slate between takes. While I know this takes a special kind of attention, this is really one of easiest of all jobs on a film set.
The ‘scripty’ is in charge of far more than keeping track of what shot it is and whether or not to mark it good.
I like the below description of Script Supervisor that I found here.
“A script supervisor is more than the director’s secretary. They are there to aid the director in the making of the film, to ensure the finished film flows in continuous action as if it had been shot in real time, in shot and scene order, without any mistakes normally caused through ‘out of sequence’ shooting. The script supervisor makes notes for the editors, gives actors their lines, times each shot and watches to make sure the director and camera do not “cross the line.” He or she keeps the director honest to the script, reminds everyone of what shot is next, ensures that all the shots written are in the can and then watches to be sure there is continuity between shots.”
I was delighted to be working on set with a very skilled Script Supervisor and the amount of sanity one can provide is a godsend.
Knowing that you are free to be creative without worrying too much about technical details is most liberating. By minding the most important details properly, a script supervisor is an enormous asset on any production. A good script supervisor also knows how to read the talent, the crew, and the director and helps them work in concert and this seems to stem from a strong dedication to the script. A good Script Supervisor has a lot of patience, an incredible attention to detail, a positive attitude, and an almost obsessive desire to see the film through from start to finish.
They are in my opinion, the unsung heros of all your favorite films and their value in the industry is quite underrated.
Hug your Script Supervisor today.