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Q&A: Script Supervisor Melanie Orr

Editor’s Note: We culled your questions from Facebook and Twitter for this week’s Q&A with an Orphan Black crew member. This week it’s Melanie Orr, Script Supervisor and Episode 9’s Second-Unit Director.

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1 Nikkii W. via Facebook: As a person who’s live in England, I can honestly say that Tats and Jordans English accents are perfect (it’s actually really hard to find people who can fake and a English accent well) do you have to check what words they use are from an English origin and that an English person would actually say them words? “West Ham, West Ham” 🙂
Melanie Orr: I agree with you that both Tat and Jordan’s accents are perfect. I believe that Tat is a natural when it comes to dialects and accents. She blows my mind playing one clone playing another! A funny thing is that Jordan speaks with that accent both on and off the set on OB. He speaks to the crew with the accent and it wasn’t until later in the third season when I heard him speak without it! He was sitting behind me at the monitors and I turned my head and was shocked! I totally thought he was English. For preparation of the roles, the actors work with a dialect/dialogue coach John Nellis on Orphan Black. He is a very talented man with an ear for the small details in accents and languages. Aside from that, we do check sources, origins, and clearances for all things related!

2. Taylor McKenzie S. via Facebook:  Hey Script Supe! You’re SUPE-r important and probably usually unacknowledged. What’s your favorite repetitive/repeated task to do for setup on set? [seriously, no joke]
MO: Good question Taylor. As a script supervisor I have gone totally digital, no paper at all. I use a program on my iPad called “GoodNotes” for marking the PDFs of the script. As a script supervisor you feverishly take notes on the script while you shoot to match actions and dialogue changes, but I would say that I love the prep process before that in a blocking. In a blocking, I highlight the scene heading and make blocking notes and intended coverage notes. Sometimes we have some long blockings and it occupies me while the director and actors work out the scenes’ kinks.  

3. Elise G. via Facebook: A scripty directing? I love it. What is your checklist for turning around a clone scene and playing the other half? Top 3 things you look for/supervise?
MO: My checklist for turning around a clone scene is first of all being really in tune to what the story is within a particular scene and where the actors are within their performance. Once I know that, I am able to pick particular points to match. For example: on what word Beth turns to Mika and what side Beth hugs Mika on. These would be important beats to match. Now, as Tat played Mika first and Beth after, and Beth had the more emotional story, there needs to be some “room” for Tat to explore “Beth” in the moment. As I am following the script when we shoot, I am making sure that what and how Beth performs will work with the Mika side. For example, let’s say Beth moves too close to Mika on a line that is new action to when we shot the first half. Then I would remind the director that this won’t match. They will likely choose to keep it or correct it. However, sometimes these moments are golden and we find ways to make them work! Performance always trumps continuity! The third thing I am doing is keeping a running tally of all the shots we have and mentally piecing the edit together in my head to ensure we don’t miss anything. Geoff Scott the VFX supervisor and I work very closely on this. 

4. Taylor F. via Facebook: How often will a script be revised? Or when the script is finalized, how often can it still change as production moves along?
MO: On Orphan Black, the script goes through many changes. First, we have a Network Draft which goes to department heads. These are the best days on set because the crew rushes to read them, then we all get so excited about what’s coming up! After this, the first published draft is the Production White. Generally speaking, the network draft is a more expensive script, more like a wish list. The next draft is usually tweaked to fit our production issues. This show is really great because as the revisions keep going, it’s mostly small tweaks to dialogue and a few descriptive pieces. We color code the revisions and usually go though five colors for each script, sometimes even twice.   

5. Darlene B. via Facebook: Did you make your own movies when you were a kid? If so, which one stands out in your memory.
MO:
Funny you should ask this! I didn’t make my own movies as a kid; I didn’t have access to a video camera. I did put on a lot of plays though, and I did like to re-enact TV shows and commercials!

6. Kim H. via Facebook: What’s something vital about being a script supervisor that most people don’t realize?
MO: The most vital thing about being a script supervisor is knowing how to multi-task, and having great people skills!

7. @CloneClubAUS via Twitter: Was Delphine’s ‘return’ originally scripted as it was in the episode, or were there variations to this now famous comeback?
MO: This was planned all along and we were all sworn to secrecy! It was a good secret to keep!

8. @ando_24601 via Twitter: The scenes of Rachel’s visions were so intriguing to watch, what was your process in creating such cinematic moments?
MO: Thank you, Andriana. There was a lot of conversations and changes to Rachel’s visions leading up to this. It was an ever-evolving process. My approach to these vision sequences was to create fragmented dream-like images that made us like feel like we were being taken somewhere and finding strong images that would keep Rachel within that vision to try to learn more. Playing these visions was a combination of first-person from Rachel’s POV and from perhaps the messenger’s POV. The idea was to allow Rachel to explore this environment to pick up clues as to why these are happening to her. During the tech scout on location I saw a lot of potential to explore the “village” both from within and surrounding it. Anton, the second unit DOP, and I played around to find the right lensing to use, and Geoff, our VFX supervisor and his team added the blurred image effect. 

9. ‏@PazUtzin via Twitter: What was it like shooting the visions for Rachel’s inner (third) eye? Did you choose the style or was this suggested by script?
MO: It was such a blast shooting the visions. It was a really creative opportunity to cinematically build this village. We had fantastic background that day and Geza Kovachs was a dream to work with. It did have its challenges though. When we were trying to film with the swan,the shot started on the other side of the village and we moved through the villagers to find the swan sitting by the fire. However, whenever a background player moved, the swan took off. On one take, the swan gracefully and quickly ran into the woods and our swan wranglers gave chase. We got it in the end, but the swan had his own ideas! The style chosen for these visions was a combination of many ideas. We all spoke at great length about who was sending these, how you would see a “vision,” and how much we should show and that in turn became what I shot. The editors do need credit here as Jay was given a bunch of material and it was his choices that really supported the story effectively.  

10. @notsosafe via Twitter: How did you select the images for rachel’s visions so that they didn’t give away too much? were the details planned in advance?
MO: Every detail is planned in advance. It has to be. We have many prep conversations with all departments as to our needs for cast, BG, location, sets, and also for the camera department. John Donterman built a beautiful set to shoot as he always does. As for not giving away too much, that was all with lens choices and shot composition.

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