Queen Anne’s Alumna Speaks to Sixth Form about her Career as a Script Supervisor
Friday 26th October 2018
On Friday 19 October, our Sixth Form students were joined by Queen Anne’s alumna Penny Eyles, for the next installment of the Academic Enrichment Programme.
Penny has had a long and successful career as a script supervisor in film and television. Her extensive list of acclaimed films that she has worked on can be viewed here.
She was a student at Queen Anne’s School from 1950 – 1957. Once she had completed her studies at Queen Anne’s, she started a career as a secretary.
Penny told our girls that, in the 1950s, there were not many career options open for women. Most women were expected to take jobs in fields such as teaching, secretarial work and receptionist work, if they were not yet staying at home to look after children.
From her secretarial role, Penny eventually found a job working for the BBC, and managed to work her way up from handing out confectionery as a ‘dolly bird’, to becoming a producer’s assistant, to becoming script supervisor.
Penny exclaimed that, although film is a tough business to get into, and that many who work in film are freelancers, there are many avenues that can lead to a career in film. The most important qualities to have are transferable skills and communication skills.
As a script supervisor, Penny’s role was to be the “second pair of eyes for everyone involved”.
Some aspects of being a script supervisor included estimating how long a film would run for based on the script, and to work out how much time the story line of the whole film would span, and at what point in the timeline each event and each scene would take place. Penny said that she never keeps anything in her brain; she always takes notes.
Part of Penny’s role was also to go on location recces with the production crew, and assess if certain scenes would work with certain locations. She recalled a time in which, when filming in Spain, no one had realised that there was a US military airport base nearby, and so filming could not take place because the planes were so loud. Not only this, but there was also a heavy storm, which damaged a lot of expensive camera equipment. This definitely emphasised the importance of a detailed recce and meticulous planning and preparation!
When the time came to ask Penny some questions, many of the girls wondered what Penny’s views were on the #metoo movement, particularly in the film and television industries, and the changes in women’s rights since the 1950s. Penny told the girls that: “Back then we just got on with it at the BBC, those sort of things we tolerated. But I’m very glad that it’s being challenged!”
Queen Anne’s would like to give a big thank you to Penny Eyles for returning to the school to speak to our Sixth Form students. It was great to hear from a fellow Queen Anne’s girl, about her amazing career and experiences.