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View From A Script Supervisor

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Experienced script supervisor Rowena Ladbury on having eyes like a hawk and a passion for detail...

I have been a script supervisor living and working in the UK for 15 years. My path into the UK film industry started, unusually, in Spain. I was living in Barcelona in the early ‘90s and was asked to translate a film script from Spanish into English to send to Iggy Pop, in order to entice him into the lead role for a futuristic western set in the desert. Translating for him granted me access to the hallowed film set and sparked my love of film, which has remained with me ever since.
After working in both the art department and production, and being witness to all the roles on set, I decided that a script supervisor’s life was the one for me. I have eyes like a hawk and I love detail. Getting into the film industry is tough and there are no set paths but I found a script supervisor’s training course, subsidised by Creative Skillset, and was accepted. I loved the course and am grateful to Creative Skillset for providing me with an amazing opportunity. Whilst technology changes all the time, the role of the script supervisor remains traditionally the same and training courses need to be provided. The essential role of the script supervisor is to ensure that despite the fact that films are shot entirely out of script sequence they eventually make continuous verbal and visual sense. It is important the film is not disrupted by continuity errors that may distract the audience.
Script supervisors need good social skills. They need to be approachable, diplomatic, sensitive and confident. They work closely with a director and need a good relationship with them. A good knowledge of films in general is important so that the rules are understood but can be, if necessary, broken.
The qualities needed cannot solely be taught in a classroom and shadowing an experienced industry professional is essential. More editorial training would be useful for script supervisors, so I would argue for investing in training that would allow script supervisors to shadow editors.
Life working in film is a rich and varied one and I feel proud to have worked on many wonderful UK productions from My Kingdom, with Richard Harris as a modern day King Lear in Liverpool, to Shaun of the Dead at Ealing, where we mingled with zombies over breakfast. I have worked with several film luminaries, such as award winning cinematographer John de Borman, and director Mike Newell.
Low points? Getting typhoid on location whilst filming Half of a Yellow Sun in Nigeria and generally typing up notes late into the night while everyone else is at the bar!
Organisations such as Creative Skillset, by investing in skills and training, help to keep a global spotlight on our rich and diverse UK film industry. Creative Skillset understands the value of working closely with industry and gaining feedback to shape strategies, and is asking industry professionals their views via research panels. Through short online surveys, training needs, skills gaps, and solutions can be identified, and industry issues voiced. I urge you to take part and have your voice heard.
The next survey will take place between 14-20 October 2013 and will focus on future trends, including skills needs, technological advancements and investment opportunities.

Employees can register at
Professionals can register at

Rowena Ladbury is a script supervisor working across film, TV and commercials. Credits include Shaun of the Dead, In Bruges, and Half of a Yellow Sun.

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