What is continuity?
Continuity in film is when you make certain aspects in one shot exactly the same in another. For example, if part of a film scene was filmed on one day then when the second part of the scene was filmed on another day, they would have to make sure the weather was the same, the characters looked the same, the props were in the same positions etc. By doing this, then the audience will believe that the shots were filmed at the same time, therefore making it more believable.
Why is it important?
If a film doesn’t have good continuity then the film becomes unbelievable and looks unrealistic. If the continuity of shots is bad then when it comes to editing them all together, some shots may not be usable. This means some shots may have to be re-shot which is a waste of time and money and it may not even be possible.
Who is responsible for continuity?
Everyone who is taking part in the film is in charge of their own continuity within their department; however there is usually an overall script supervisor that documents any changes in the script, makeup or props etc. The script supervisor works very closely with every department to inform them of any changes.
Each department should not reply on the script supervisor for continuity, they should all take responsibility. Examples of some areas of continuity are listed below:
Acting – They need to make sure that if a shot is re-filmed they are acting in exactly the same way. For example, if they picked a glass up with their right hand, then they need to do this in every take.
Makeup – It is their responsibility to be aware of how each character looks at all times. This could be because the actor has gone to lunch and has removed clothing or smudged their makeup. This could also be if a scene is re-shot and they need to have documented how that character looked in that particular scene.
Props – They need to be aware of where everything is positioned in every scene. For example, if a chair is on the right corner in one angle, but on the left in another then it will distract the audience from believing in the scene.
Lighting – They need to make sure that the lighting set up or the weather is the same in each scene. For example, if the weather is sunny in one angle, but raining in another, then it will look very unrealistic!
What issues may hair and makeup artists have that would effect continuity?
Shooting out of sequence – If they are filming out of sequence then the hair and makeup artists need to make each look for each scene documented in order so that they can produce an accurate look for whatever scene is being filmed at that time.
Weather conditions – The weather may change the look, for example if it is very hot and humid then the makeup may start to melt or run, and if it is raining then the hair will get wet and may fall differently to how it is supposed to.
Crew Availability – If a scene is shot months after the original scene was filmed, the makeup artist or hair stylist may not be available and so someone else will have to take their place. This will mean that each look will have to be accurately documented for each character and each scene so the replacement makeup or hair artist will be able to create the right looks.
Not having resources – If a scene is re-filmed months later then the makeup artists and hair stylists would need to have all the equipment and products they did before. For example the makeup artist may have used up or lost a certain lipstick colour, meaning they would either have to quickly repurchased it or try to find a substitute.
Hiring hair pieces or wigs – If a scene is re-filmed months later then the hair pieces would have to be tracked down again. However the hair pieces used may have been hired out to someone else or they may have been lost or ruined.
How to prepare for continuity:
– Analyse the script to see what problems may effect the continuity with regards to makeup and hair.
– Prepare any documentation needed for each look, for example, hair charts, makeup charts, product lists etc.
-Make sure there will be enough products and equipment to last the filming time, taking into account there will be multiple takes.
Maintaining hair/makeup continuity during productions:
– Constantly check each character’s hair and makeup through the takes.
– Make sure that you take appropriate images of each look to use for continuity and notes are taken throughout shoots. The day and scene must be recorded with each look.
– Have any touch up products or materials on you at all times.
– Make sure you are aware of any scripted or unscripted situations that may change the actor’s look and fix it where necessary.
– If any adjustments need to be made when filming, make sure you do this at appropriate times and with the correct etiquette.
– Make sure any makeup and hair changes are approved by the relevant people so they everyone is aware.
Key skills as a hair and makeup artist:
Attention to detail – your work looks very precise and accurate to your customer’s needs.
Technical skills – being able to use a camera and print off images for continuity.
Ability to work as a team – You will always be working as a team so you need to know how to treat everyone and work together effectively.
Ability to work under pressure – You need to be able to make certain deadlines so you don’t waste people’s time and money.
Continuity – You need to be able to document and recreate looks when necessary.
Being organised – You need to be aware of everything you need to do before and during each shoot.
Continuity Examples in Film
I thought it would be fun to find a youtube video that showed some examples where continuity has gone wrong in films.
SCREENRANT, 2015. 10 Continuity Fails In Popular Films [7 December 2015]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKKrBGJpvBs
COLM07, 2013. What is Continuity and Why is it so important when making films [7 December 2015]. Available from: http://colmomurchu.com/?p=154