We bring you the second in a three-part interview series with Lara Fox, Random Acts of Romance script supervisor.
Sparkjoy: How did you get involved in RAOR?
Lara Fox: I worked with Katrin on Amazon Falls. I got called by the production manager [saying] that they had a little freebie going and would I donate my time to help this talented director. I said yes, I would, and I worked for 11 days with no money. But it’s paid off in the end.
S: Was there anything unique about producing RAOR, compared to Amazon Falls or other projects you’ve worked on?
LF: Yes, because you had three story lines that began at the same time, and there was interweaving of the characters throughout, so you had to be aware of where one of the characters, whose interacting with another character, where they were and what they were doing and how they were dressed and their mood…
S: So it was much more complicated for you?
LF: Yeah, very complicated!
S: Were there any examples where you had to catch an error, or anything unusual happened?
LF: Yeah. There was one where Matt was waiting at an ATM machine and Katrin had Holly walking up to it. And I said, ‘but he’s already there and impatient, so you can’t have her walking in – she has to be there.’ And so, she used poetic license and had her walking, because that’s what she wanted to do, but she told me that that part of the movie, she would not use the walk in, she would use it earlier.”
S: So, do you see this unfolding already when you’re reading the script?
LF: Yeah, because I have to time the script. And so, while I’m timing it, I have to visualize how the actors are going to say their lines, I visualize how the director is going to shoot it, and camera moves, so that I can get an accurate estimated timing for them.
S: So you’re talking literally, a timer?
LF: Yeah, I have a stopwatch, I have the script. About two weeks before [production], I’m given the script and they say ‘give us the timing.’
S: So do you say the words in your head?
LF: Yeah, or out loud, or I watch a bird flying. I once was on the ferry doing a flying show and I would see the gulls flying over and so I stuck out my stop watch and watched them fly (laughing)!”
S: As a stand-in for a plane?
LF: Yeah! Everyday when we’re shooting, I do the actual time and then I subtract it from my estimated time to say ‘you’re over’ or ‘you’re under, you’ve got to be careful now because your seven minutes heavy and in editing you’re going to have to drop something.’ You can either speed up the actors or you don’t need someone walking in all the way down the hall and in through a door. You can just pick them up coming through the door and then you’ve saved that much time.
S: So it’s a way of being more efficient on the day?
LF: Well, you don’t want to shoot something that you’re not going to use. And you’re in a twelve-hour day, so…Katrin was laughing at me [because] I said ‘you don’t need shoe leather (laughing)!’ Shoe leather is the first to go in editing.
S: So you’re not only keeping consistency by keeping people on script, but you’re also giving them the ability to make the production more efficient and be really lean about what they’re shooting?
LF: Yeah. And then I have to watch the eye-line of the camera…
S: Can you explain what that means?
LF: Yes. In the camera, there’s the axis. If you get the camera axis wrong, the viewer gets confused because actors who are supposed to be engaging with each other don’t appear to be looking at each other from shot to shot, but off at different angles. And it gets very complicated sometimes and there’s a lot of discussion and fights on the set (laughing) between me and the cameraman and the DoP.
But whenever we have actors, I always [write down] which way they’re looking, even though they’re moving around a room.
S: So you’re taking notes as you go?
LF: Oh, all the time, all the time.
S: So you must have quite a bulk of information that you’re generating.
LF: Yes, yes!
S: How does that work? Is it a spreadsheet?
LF: No, it’s basically like shorthand: RL for right to left; if they’re turning I do a little arrow that they’ve turned that way or they’ve turned this way.
S: Is this a standard notation, or something you’ve developed for yourself?
LF: It’s kind of, sort of standard, but also everybody has their own little symbols, but we sort of have to know basically, because if someone was sick and I walked in and took over their script, I’d have to sit down and look at the script and know exactly what they’ve done.
S: Has that ever happened to you?
LF: Oh, yes! There was shooting in Victoria and I got a call on Wednesday and [they] said ‘Can you be over tomorrow, we’re letting our script supervisor go.’ And I went, ‘Oh, boy…okay.’ So I was on the ferry that night and they didn’t want me to talk to her because she was having a nervous breakdown and so they said ‘come in and screen the dailies, we were having problems with flashlights.’
They had three different kinds of flashlights that played a really integral part of the movie and she couldn’t tell them which flashlight who had, and stuff like that.
S: So were you able to handle that?
LF: Oh, yeah.
S: It must have been stressful for you.
LF: I didn’t think about it (laughing). You just go in and after it’s over, then you go ‘Oh my God!’, but at the moment, you just get thrown in and you just go on your instinct and what you see. I guess I have a half-photographic memory, because I can close my eyes and bring up a visual of a specific action, or where they were standing, or what they were doing.
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Lara is a freelancer in the Vancouver area. If you would like to inquire about her services, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will bring you the last part in this three-part interview series in a week’s time. If you would like to be notified when we post it, or would like to receive it directly in your inbox, you can either “like” or friend RAOR on Facebook.