Crossing the Line

You don't always have to speak grammatically – we all understand what they mean when a public figure says something like "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." However, we raise an eyebrow (or at least some of us) when we hear: "Please give the information to John or I." The wrong grammatical glasses are not meant as a joke, but as mistakes, and for a short time our brain is busy figuring out what they should have said, so sometimes we miss what they are actually saying.

The same applies to film grammar.

New filmmakers tend to say (or be taught at their film academies) that there is too much fuss about "crossing the line" that you don't have to stick to the rules if you don't want to. Of course not, but you run the risk that the audience is so busy trying to figure out what you should have done, or worse, figuring out where the actors are actually related, that if they do, they will miss your next story deal with the distraction of your bad film grammar.

Anyway, here are:

The golden rules when crossing the line

1. General rules for crossing the line

on. Don't exceed the limit – if you do, your editor in the editing suite will cut to avoid your mistakes instead of cutting to maximize your drama.
b. Crossing the border is a slight (sometimes big) shock to the audience. Therefore, only use it if this is your goal.
c. The most difficult thing to plan is a three-handed scene; Once you see this in a script, you notice that it will take a few hours of planning to sort it out.
d. There are two types of lines – the line of motion and the line of sight. If you have both in a scene, you have to choose one of them and stick with it.

2. Specific defects when recording

on. Door Openings – Be extra careful when shooting across a door opening as the door is in the way and it is easy to get the camera on the wrong side of the line as you are tempted to place it where you can instead of where it should be.
b. Framed pictures – If you have a person in the foreground framed by two other people, note that the direction of view (towards the person on the left or the person on the right) determines from where you take the reverse picture. Once you've set up this recording, let the alarm bells ring!
c. Third person – If you suddenly switch to a third person while cutting between two people, the audience is confused as they expect to see the people between whom you cut. The third person presentation requires care and thought so that the audience can follow and understand the geography of the scene.
d. Cut-ins – be careful when taking a close-up of what someone is looking at so as not to cross the line – remember that the line is now between their eyes and the object they are looking at.

3. Preparation for the shoot

on. Once you've prepared your camera plans (you're going to prepare them, aren't you?), Go through them all and make sure you haven't crossed the line.
Make sure that you keep the direction of movement when walking a character (say: "He moves from left to right, the next shot he has to move from left to right"). If you don't follow the direction of travel between shots, it means that some time has passed for the audience. Do this even if this is your goal.
c. Recite yourself: "She is left, he is right" when you find out if two recordings are being cut together, and keep the order of the characters that you move from left to right in your sequence of recordings until you do change desired line intersect or the actors move.

4. Solutions

on. You can change the line by tracking the camera so that you move the audience across the line. Now they understand that people's positions have changed.
b. You can use an actor's head rotation to create a new line as long as the camera sees it, and you use it in editing.
c. You can “wipe the slate clean” by taking a wide-angle shot. This way you can reduce any line.
d. You can achieve the same effect by going to a cut-in. After cutting, the camera can be tilted to any desired line.


I spoke to a PA who often worked on its features with a well-known director who told me that he always ignored their requests not to cross the border and said that it would work out in the editing.

And did it?

No – it just meant that many beautiful shots were left on the floor of the editing room. All of the work of the actors and crew, all of the precious time, all the money it cost, was wasted because someone didn't respect the Golden Rules.

About Patrick Tucker

Patrick Tucker started directing on stage in 1968 and screen in 1976 and has been doing both since then. To date, he has made over 250 theater productions and over 200 screen dramas (including a feature film) at venues in the UK and around the world, including America, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Jordan, Kenya and Latvia, South Africa, South Korea and three productions at Shakespeare & # 39; s Globe London.

His last stage work was Measure, For Measure for the Blackfriars Theater in Virginia and on the screen a Russian sitcom Olimpiada 80, which was filmed in Latvia (in Russian). He has been giving lectures and courses on various aspects of acting and governance since the mid-1970s (director's workshops for Raindance since 1997 and since opening at the Central Film School since 2009) as well as his books Secrets of Acting Shakespeare (Routledge 2nd) Edition 2017 ) and Secrets of Screen Acting (3rd edition Routledge 2014) contain many original insights – just like his workshops. He is currently preparing Secrets of Screen Directing – the tricks of the trade – for publication in 2019.


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