Women in Film Series (Part I)

In honor of just having celebrated International Women’s Day, I’m going to spotlight a woman who is killing it in the (male dominated) film industry.

I work in the Costumes Dept in film and I have come across some pretty remarkable people in my time. I also find that when I tell people about my freelance work in the film industry, I get loads upon loads of questions. I suppose it is a big mystery. After all, it wasn’t that long ago when I was reading the credits and wondering what the heck a Grip was. Or a Best Boy and the list goes on.

It all sounds technical but hopefully I can clarify some of the jargon for you. Today I’m going to talk to a Script Supervisor. Her name is Sarah Willgrube and we’ve worked together on several films. I interviewed her on the ins and outs of script supervising, what she REALLY wants to do and how she broke into the film industry:

Welcome Sarah! I’m glad we’re finally having this chat. I feel like we have a lot in common since we are working in one department but are trying to work our way to another (mine is producing). #womenupliftingwomen, amiright? So tell us exactly what being a script supervisor means.

Hi, glad to be here! So as a script supervisor my main job is to maintain continuity, which means I make sure that the same things are happening take to take. I sit next to the Director during production and work with him/her to make sure what we are shooting will edit together correctly, that the actors are saying their lines correctly and not missing any, and to make sure that pen that they were holding in their left hand is still in their left hand. Other responsibilities I have include taking notes for editorial, our notes are the only way the editors know what is happening on set when they receive all the footage from the day. I also work with all the other departments to make sure that no one is missing anything, and to make sure that the actors and the sets all look good. It’s kind of like I have everyone’s back.

chic traveling mama film

Sarah recently on set in Wales

True dat, I have definitely had to lean on a script supervisor before when it came to script days and making sure wardrobe had continuity (which is also a large part of my job, too). But I want to ask you how you got into the film industry in the first place. Everyone’s start is different and I often get asked how I got my start. You?

Well I always wanted to work in the film industry, it was my “dream” per say. So I went to film school. I attended Savannah College of Art and Design where I majored in video/film. We studied the basics of film production, with a concentration on our desired goal, mine was directing. From there I had a professor that used to be a script supervisor back in the 90’s, and she taught our class what exactly the job is. I decided to follow in her footsteps and became a script supervisor. I moved to NYC, where I found my first 2 films on a career website that is still around today, Mandy.com. The rest is history.

That sounds less curvy than most people’s paths! It’s cool that you always knew what you wanted to do and went for it. I like it! So I know you’ve done a lot of TV as well. What’s the biggest difference between working on a movie and episodic television?

There are many differences between episodic television and films. Some of the biggest differences are script revisions. On TV, revisions are constantly happening. In fact you can get revisions the morning you are supposed to film that scene. As a script supervisor it’s very important to read each and every revision because the story can change drastically. When working on a film, there will be script revisions but very few once principal photography starts. One perk of episodic television is the consistent amount of work. One show can employ you for six months or even more. As a freelancer this is an exciting thing!

I hear that, I’ve worked on films that only employed me for four weeks! You mentioned you sit next to the director the one we’re all aiding to ensure their vision comes to fruition. In your opinion, what sets apart a good one from an excellent one?

One of the things that make a good director is their ability to communicate with everyone on set. I also think a good director has worked as a below the line crew member before. That way they understand what it is they are demanding of their crew. When it comes to working with actors a good director is one that gives his actors constant feedback. If you go for a second take they need to understand why. They need to be given direction on what should be done differently.

I totally agree! Sometimes directors don’t realize what is being asked of their crew and that gets frustrating. I’ve also seen Directors do a bunch of takes but the actors are confused as to why and thus confuses everyone (LOLZ)… so what are some productions you’ve been a part of?

Bigger movies and shows I’ve worked on to date: Happy Death Day, Adam Ruins Everything, No Activity (CBS ALL ACCESS), The Bronze, The Kings of Summer, Hulu’s Freakish, The Bye Bye Man and an iPhone 7 commercial with The Rock.

And some of your faves?

One of my favorite projects I’ve worked on was, The Bronze. Working with director, Bryan Buckley is an awe-inspiring thing. He is just amazing at his craft and is big on the details of his films and commercials. I also had a great time on Happy Death Day. We shot in New Orleans and had a great crew.

I day played (when they bring in someone to fill in for bigger production days) on The Bronze and I have to say it was fun :) Now, like many people in the industry, you aspire to move up somewhere else. Can you tell me more about that? I know you’re working on an exciting passion project!

I aspire to someday become a director. It has always been my dream and I have started to work towards that dream becoming a reality. It isn’t easy to change positions in our industry so I am still trying to figure out the right steps. In the meantime though, I am working hard to create my own content. I directed a short film last year, Remission. It has shown at its first film festival; The California Women’s Film Festival and can be viewed here. I am also working on getting my second short film off the ground, titled Sweet Nothing. You can check out its Facebook page. I’m currently in the process of casting so hopefully all that working with directors will make me a good one!

I watched Remission and it’s impressive, so everyone go see it! Can you tell us what you’re working on next?

Right now I am actually working on a job that will travel me to a couple different countries in Europe. It’s a new adventure show for Netflix,and a new adventure for me, but that is all I can disclose at this time ;)
I decided to write about these travel adventures, as well as my struggle to become a professional director and started a blog of my own called Sarah’s World (think Bobby’s World, the cartoon of the 90’s). It’s just getting starting but check it out! www.sarahwillgrubesworld.com

Thanks for chatting Sarah, I know you’ve answered a lot of lingering questions people have. And the next time they see Script Supervisor in the title, they’ll have a new appreciation for it.

If you have any additional questions for me or Sarah, drop em’ in the comments below.

Don’t forget to continue the party with me on Insta ;)

About Rana Mancini Cavanaugh

Rana is a Chic Mama dedicated to helping other Mama's live a fuller, happier, healthier life through this blog. She is proud to announce she just finished an eBook on how to travel with kids and is finishing up her first novel. She is a happy wife to her sweetheart since the fourth grade and Mama to a lovely little girl. Happy Travels! xo

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