The continuity assistant supports the director and the chief operator in their missions, and his / her roles are multiple.
Essential to filming, her or his work of observation makes all the difference. Here is what the job of continuity assistant in cinema and television consists of, his / her training and skills.
The continuity assistant’s role and missions
His / her role
The continuity assistant’s role is to avoid inconsistencies in the scripts, jump cuts, and all those mistakes that audiences can spot in movies and other productions.
To this end, the continuity assistant writes down all the details and visual elements of a scene in a notebook. The details of the costumes, the objects on set, their place within a scene… everything is accurately listed and nothing is overlooked.
A wide variety of missions
He / she can also take pictures to remember groups of items.
On the other hand, the continuity assistant ensures the production’s consistency, which can be difficult for others to follow. Indeed, most scenes are shot discontinuously. The continuity assistant records the length of each shot so that this information can be passed on to the editor in post-production.
We could say that the continuity assistant represents the memory of the film set: that’s what makes his mission so important.
For each day of shooting, the continuity assistant writes three reports.
- The first is an editing report, which is intended for the chief editor;
- The second is a daily report (a logbook) that provides a chronological description of the day’s progress.
- Finally, the third report is a production report to show the state of progress of the work.
The continuity assistant is therefore the director’s and the director of photography’s right-hand man.
Diplomas and training courses
there are only a few full-time education programs that lead to the profession of continuity assistant, which are very selective and difficult to access. This is why many are self-taught professionals, but skills and knowledge acquired in training are highly recommended.
It is also possible for a future continuity assistant to complete an Audiovisual Director-Creator curriculum (level 6 RNCP title, equivalent to Bac+3) before looking for a job.
Personal experiences, such as internships, with experienced continuity assistants are an asset for those who wish to follow this path. Likewise, an important and constantly nourished cinematic culture is essential to practice the profession of continuity assistant, or to be able to aspire to it.
Skills and required qualities
The continuity assistant is a professional writer, therefore strong writing skills are expected in this profession.
One of their roles is to read over the script and identify any inconsistencies: they assume a great deal of responsibility. In order to be a continuity assistant, it is necessary to be highly focused and attentive at all times.
Calm, discretion and rigour are also required. Ideally, he or she can rely on an excellent general and cinematographic culture, which he or she is constantly striving to nourish and develop as much as possible.
In this uncommon profession, it is important not only to observe, but also to be proactive. Hence, his tasks is also to suggest improvements in the screenplay and to be involved in the actors’ direction (while respecting each person’s duties).
Attention to detail
As a true professional writer, he or she must be able to pay great attention to detail and have an excellent sense of synthesis. A great sense of organization is expected, as well as a certain capacity for adaptation.
His role includes taking notes, in which he must be able to easily get his bearings. Good interpersonal skills and a pronounced taste for teamwork are assets when working as a continuity assistant. Indeed, he works in close collaboration with the director of photography and the director.
He is often a privileged intermediary between these two professionals.
Careers and professional opportunities
The job of continuity assistant is very difficult to access, both in regards to training and hiring. To break into this field, you should ideally live in Paris or not far from the capital, and be mobile.
It should be noted that there are an increasing number of French productions every year, which means that continuity assistants have access to more opportunities.
Junior continuity assistant
Initially, many continuity assistants start out as “apprentice continuity assistants”, and support experienced continuity assistants for several years (two years in most cases). Then, they can aspire to work as a continuity assistants on fictions, such as short or feature films, TV movies, etc.
It should be noted, however, that it is quite rare to work on a regular basis. To work in this field, you should not be afraid of staggered hours and travel.
As mentioned above, the job of continuity assistant is not very common. In France, there are only about a hundred women in this position (yes, continuity assistants are mostly women).
It is nevertheless possible to evolve towards this profession, after an internship for example. To become a continuity assistant, it is highly recommended to carry out a large number of projects and experiences on film sets, with professionals who practice this occupation.
Continuity assistants are, like other audiovisual professionals, entertainment occasional workers. Their remuneration is neither fixed nor regular, and depends on their contracts.
A junior scriptwriter can claim a gross salary of 500€ per week when working on a film set. With experience, a confirmed professional can reach a remuneration of 1000€ gross per week.
Of course, different factors also define this salary: his or her reputation, past projects, the importance of the project, the different missions he or she fulfills… These are therefore exhaustive data that can vary from one project to another, and from one continuity assistant to another.