Why do film directors take the risk to create a continuity mistake when after showing a handwritten note (like for a ransom or love letter), they decide to use another one with different handwriting or punctuation later in the story? Why not keep the first one for both scenes?

For example, in Superman Returns, Lois Lane writes a note with coordinates that is to be faxed to The Daily Planet. The only problem with this scene is that the note viewers see Lois writing is in a completely different handwriting than the one seen through the camera after it is faxed to the newspaper.

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    It seems like this question boils down to "Why are there continutity errors if they can be easily avoided?". The answer is simply that mistakes happen. There are usually continuity supervisors who take care of stuff like that, though.
    – Ian
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 8:26

2 Answers 2


Probably impossible to say, unless we get someone involved in shooting those scenes and looking after the props to give use a definitive answer.

There are two likely scenarios: out of order shooting; or misplaced prop.

Movies don't always shoot scenes in order - there's a chance that the scene with Jimmy and the fax was shot some time before the scene where Lois is writing the letter (which may well have been included as a pickup - an additional sequence shot some time after most of the rest of the move had been shot and edited in). This means the "original" note as written by Lois was not available at the time of the fax shot. To fix the fax shot would require even more additional time on set, and that costs money for something that wouldn't be noticed by most movie-goers.

The misplace prop is less likely - prop masters are generally very meticulous, but it does happen. If the actress playing Lois Lane was not available, she could not write the replacement note for the fax. Again, they would have to reshoot one or the other scene to match the letters up again.

  • Also, the fax scene (the cut where the paper come out of the fax machine) could be shot by second unit. Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 16:02

Because prop departments are huuuge huuuge ventures on their own hiring hundreds (if not thousands) of people. They usually create few version of the similar prop (in mentioned scene it wasn't the same as one should be faxed and second handwritten).


Because those two scenes were filmed in different location, in different time. Keeping hold on every prop (and even stapler on third desk from left is prop) would take hundreds of workhours. And would require filming according to event in movie you see as the final cut. While in reality one scene could be filmed at the beginning and the second ad the end of filming. The scenes in script could be added later, there could be few scenes in between and so on.

And the props work in a way that they, if the props are not valuable enough to deserve their own people, split scrip by pages and give it to different people.

There is a polish movie "Nic Śmiesznego" where they put a scene of a guy researching "forest" as filming location 100 km away from filming base.

Director: Why the F*K would I need a forest
2nd Director: it's in the script
D: Where in the script?
2nd: "when they rode above the hill they've seen a forest"
director take the script, turn the page,
Director: turn the page and read it
2nd: Oh f**K
D: read it
2nd: when they rode above the hill they've seen a forest.. of crosses

So for you that scenes are next to each other and passing the note to next scene should be easy when in "behind the scenes reality" those two could be miles, weeks and props managers away from each other.

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