Bear Creek NYC

... is life and work for us. From our house in historic Harlem to the family farm in Bruin, PA, we have several different but connected operations. Sean Pollock is a Digital Script Supervisor for Features, Shorts, Television, Industrials, and commercials, He has a background in the Arts, having been an actor, an artistic director, and a producer. Additionally, Sean has fashioned book layouts and ad campaigns. Jack Weisberg Architectural Design can be seen in the 1886 townhouse that we restored as well as the updates to the Pollock farmhouse originally constructed in the late 1850s.

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Crossing the line (the X, Y, and Z axes)

Crossing the line is an interesting concept that the script supervisor will absolutely encounter on set.  It’s a good idea to sketch an in plan view of each set you are shooting on so that you can refer to it should the director or DP be concerned when it happens.  You will also find that the idea of crossing the line has been drummed into many DP’s heads as if it’s some artistically deadly situation.  This is mostly first-timers right out of film school.

X and Y are your horizontal and vertical axes and Z is your depth. Crossing the line can occur along 180° lines within any of those dimensions. “Horizontal plane to horizontal plane” crossings are most uncommon unless you are filming underneath one subject and above the other.

In the early days of film, most action was directed with a fourth wall. This world outside of the frame provided the limits of what could be visible in frame. The thinking went, “We can’t cross the line because the audience needs to be in a fixed location like a theater audience. They’ll get confused if they see someone flip from one side of the screen to the other.”  Now (and I mean decades, since we’ve been doing it from the beginning of film and regularly crossing the line since the 60s) audiences get it. You hear gaffers ask where they’ll be safe and DPs respond that, “we’ll see the world.” It’s a 360° world in film.

So what does this mean for scriptys on set?  Our job is to make sure the film cuts. So two things help us, geography and eyelines.   Items such as set pieces that can be static (geography) locate the audience’s perception. If a house and tree are the same “logical” proximity to the actors from whatever angle you shoot them, the audience isn’t confused. Just make sure that you have enough coverage shot so that if the geography disappears (like in close ups) the audience isn’t taken by surprise.    And eyelines locate the items that are dynamic; actors, extras, explosions, vehicles, etc.

It’s not that difficult. However, there are times on set when discussions get confusing.  Pull out your sketch with all the 180° lines you’ve shot along and you’ll have the answer right there.

See the famous example in Kubrick’s The Shining.  Jack Torrence and Delbert Grady have a conversation in the men’s room.  Kubrick goes back and forth with the camera.  See how the actors’ body positions and the unwavering location of the urinals and walls roots the audience perception of a whole room.  This is not confusing at all.  It’s been a long time since an audience was afraid the train on the screen was going to crash into them.


crossing the line

Episode 2 of In Between Men Preview

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Use the Cloud!!!

I always describe myself as a wholly handwritten/digital script supervisor.  I combine the traditional handwritten notes but I’ve dispensed with paper and pen.  The iPad has been my go to tablet for all things scripty.

There is however an element that you must embrace if you are thinking about going digital.  You must use the cloud.  This bears repeating.  You must use the cloud.

I knew this going into the digital world.  So, I made sure that the apps I use constantly sync with online folders as I work.  Whenever I wrap, I often go to my laptop where I can manipulate lots of pdfs into whole production books and daily reports.  Since the files sync as I work, retrieving them to the laptop is nearly as automatic.

The other day I had a reminder of why this is so important and why I’m glad I put it into place.  I was shooting a commercial.  For most of the day, my stand was in one location with a BNC cable running to my laptop for video capture.  No problem.  Done it a thousand times.  When we moved to a smaller room and a packed video village, my set up was the same.  However, with lots more movement around the area, a firewire cable got pulled out of my converter.  Video capture froze and so did the laptop.  I always have backup camera, stopwatch, and paper and pen if necessary.  No need for the stopwatch and paper and pen this time.  I still had the iPad.  The laptop was only for video capture and the screenshots that I was taking with it.

Because I sync, all of my data was available on the cloud.  If I had to wait until my laptop was back in service (as it turned out I had to use Time Machine, taking 8 hours at home) I might have lost all my day’s work.  Instead, I retrieved everything; pulled out the bluetooth keyboard; and finished the notes and reports on the iPad.  Even if I had to, I could have gone to any other computer, even at an office center if necessary, retrieved the data and finished my work.

I keep all my blank form templates on the cloud too, just in case I have to get one.  This was learning.  But it wasn’t the hard way.  That would have been if I didn’t prepare.

Going digital?  Use the resources out there.  It could save your job.

Going Digital When Handwritten Notes Are Better (IMHO)

Many script supervisors who have been in the business for a long time, decades for some of them, are learning that productions increasingly want notes delivered digitally.  Using a tablet and a few relatively inexpensive apps, I’ve been able to combine both of these functions, traditional handwritten notes and digital ease.  In upcoming posts I’ll reveal some of the ways I’ve made this happen.

Scripty for Two Upcoming Feature Films (Additional for Another)

The Underground Railroad
(feature film; Grant Larson Productions, directed by Tom Fox-Davies, script supervisor Sean Pollock)

Samantha Johnson, a college law student, is forced to take up a life altering challenge after she finds herself pushed into a corner. As her adventure unfolds the echoes of historic events become clear and she’s left to question her own principles whilst evading the attentions of others.
(Post production)


Malorie’s Final Score
(feature film; Picture Train Company and Belladonna Productions, directed by Stephan Littger,  additional script supervisor Sean Pollock)

A brilliant, but lost composition student at an elite university in New York City who, after failing to secure her scholarship, infiltrates an exclusive escort network to finance her future Ph.D studies.
(Post production)


The North Star
(feature film; Luck Pig Productions, directed by Thomas K. Phillips, script supervisor Sean Pollock)

A small Quaker community aids two escaped slaves.  The plantation owner, angry over his lost property, hires a ruthless band of slave hunters to capture and return them to Virginia.
(Post production)