A couple of people have asked what a script coordinator does. So here you go...
The short answer:
A script coordinator is the point person between the writers and production and will distribute scripts to production. The person will also take care of clearance issues.
The long answer:
All scripts flow through the script coordinator’s office and its way to anyone’s hands. The writers turn the scripts in to me, and I process them checking for proper formatting, spelling, punctuation and continuity. Once I have the okay from the showrunners, I release the script to production for distribution to the various departments and the actors. I do this for each initial draft of the script and for any subsequent revisions. There are strict format considerations, like scene numbering, revision marks, the correct paper color for revisions, so I have to be on top of things and prepare the script/revisions correctly. It’s a lot of detail-oriented tasks.
I am also in charge of clearances. Every character name and business name is checked to make sure we aren’t identifying real people or real places. For example, if we have a character named John Smith who lives in Los Angeles, we check the city of Los Angeles, the state of California and the entire U.S. for John Smiths. If there are five or less, the name may be too specific and identify a certain person; we would therefore have to change it. If there are five or more people with that name, then it’s generic enough that we’re not identifying any one particular person and can use it. We also check names in specific occupations (like if John Smith were a lawyer) and for prominent individuals. We go through the same process for business names, signage or anything else the art department might need.
If there are specific props indicated, like a poster or a toy or something, I have to track down whomever controls the rights and get a release signed before we can use it. Sometimes this is much harder than it sounds. For example, when Kate finds the chocolate bars in episode #202, we were turned down by every candy bar company. I don’t know why. However, knowing how corporations think, they probably wanted to protect their product and were afraid that, down the line, the candy bar might be associated with bad guys. We obviously couldn’t reveal what was going to happen, so the corporations were skittish (probably thinking the hatch, what its purposes were and who built it, were a little too weird for them) and turned us down. Therefore, we had to come up with our own cleared candy bar name.
I also coordinate foreign language translations. We have someone who regularly helps us with the Korean dialogue, but finding someone who can speak Yoruban and the proper dialect of Arabic can be challenge – even in L.A.
In addition to all that, a script coordinator creates the show bible, which is generally a summary of each episode and tracks the introduction of any new characters or important story points. However, on “Lost” it’s a little more difficult than usual. In place of a show bible I created a character bible, an island timeline and a flashback timeline.
In the character bible I track important facts about the characters or other elements in the show established in the episodes, either through what the characters tell each other or the flashbacks. I track how many survivors we have, who has died and their names, when we’ve seen the polar bears or the smoke monster, everything about the hatch, when we’ve had contact with the Others, etc. Again, it’s very detailed work but I think the writers appreciate having all that information at hand in a document so they don’t have to worry about it.
The island timeline is a record of how many days they’ve been on the island and what happened on what days. The flashback timeline tracks the events that happen in everyone’s flashblacks.
Then there’s also minor paperwork things, memos to get the writers paid and other documents the WGA and DGA need.
I became a script coordinator after I had been a writer’s assistant for a while. I went to film school and made my own short films, so I understand how a script is broken down and how production decisions are generally made. That helps me as a script coordinator because I know how to anticipate what is going to be needed or where problems may lie. I also want to be a writer and have written my own scripts, so that helps me anticipate what the writers may need.
Every show has a script coordinator, and besides the general responsibilities each position is slightly different. Serialized shows are different from one-off episodes. You recognize the nature of the show and adapt to it.
A script coordinator is different from a script supervisor. A script supervisor is on set with the director and actors and notates the script with each shot, how far through the scene the shot lasted, any major deviations from the script by the actors, the camera information (lens used, filters used), etc. That information then goes to the editor.
I hope that helps. Script coordinator is definitely a position that no one generally knows about or understands if you aren’t familiar with production. Even my mom doesn’t really understand. I can’t tell you how many times she’s said, “Now tell me again what it is you do…?”