Skeptical Scripty: Making a Movie Trailer Before the Movie


This last weekend I worked as script supervisor on a three-day shoot for a movie trailer. No, not a movie. A movie trailer.

Apparently, this is a movie script that a major production company has expressed interest in, and the director is now making a trailer to prove that 1) it can be done by a measly little film crew, and 2) it will be intriguing/entertaining/amazing no matter what. He cast a couple of B-list actors to star (Disney-type faces), spent the money on rentals for the equipment needed to make a nice-looking film, and then compiled a trailer script out of bits and pieces from his already-written full-length script.

So, being a script supervisor for it kind of sucked.

If you don’t know what a script supervisor (or as they often call it, a “scripty”) does, then I’ll give you a basic summary. Essentially, my job is to “supervise” the shooting to make sure the edit goes smoothly. I am constantly on my toes to make sure they’re getting all the shots necessary to make the scene work, and I make sure they cover everything in the script. I make sure the actors all deliver their lines correctly, and am there to shout out the line when they forget. I also take notes on all the takes, which ones the director liked and which ones he doesn’t want to use. I also watch for continuity, making sure the guy in the tie keeps the tie on, and the water glass that was half full doesn’t suddenly look empty in the next shot.

I have a million jobs at once, and it’s so much fun. I’m always busy, always involved and engaged, and always giving my two-cents to everybody because my input is normally quite valuable to the production.

With a movie-trailer script, there’s not much for me to do.

Shooting was going extremely slow, and they weren’t getting all the shots they planned. The director would come to me and ask “Does this work? Will this cut together right? What do we need?”

All I could say was, “Well…. It’s a trailer, dude.”

Trailers are essentially montages. They were here trying to shoot a 20-minute film, when all they needed were a bunch of quick shots of action and pretty faces.

Everything we ended up shooting was off script. I had no idea what scene we were doing next, ever. And none of it even mattered. As long as they were shooting something, it was fine by me. There were hardly any lines, so I didn’t have much work there either.

Ultimately, I don’t know how the trailer is going to look. I’m glad this guy is excited about his project, and that he was able to get investors to put $50,000 towards a trailer for a movie that does not exist. As far as this guy is concerned, it’s already a done deal, and Channing Tatum is set to play the lead for the full-length version.

And I got paid 300 bucks, so… I guess I shouldn’t complain, should I?

Skeptical scripty, out.


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