An AD has a lot of notes to keep track of both in pre-production and while on set. Steve Day (The Good Place, Last Man On Earth) talks about his experience directing and why he chose to go paperless on set.

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What was your path to becoming an AD?

I have been an assistant director since the late 1980s. Prior to that I spent seven years in the sound department after film school. I landed in sound as a direct result of all my experience playing in club bands and recording. I joined the Directors Guild in 1993 through qualifications and collecting paperwork. During the past three years, I have moved into directing having helmed episodes of The Last Man On Earth and The Good Place as well as some 2nd unit work.

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What advice would you give an up-and-coming filmmaker?

Coming from Philadelphia I had zero industry connections. I had to first figure out what people even did in the industry. After I sorted what the roles were, I shifted from what was my hobby to something more aligned with what I guessed I’d be interested in. I think exposure to the things you are interested in stands at the top of my list. Getting a view into the inner workings of a set, pre and post production are invaluable in helping shape your perceptions of different roles and how other interrelate. Only after observing the machine and all of its components can you make a more informed choice of which direction to go.

So my advice would be to get in the mix, spend time watching how things get made. This may be via working, interning or even just visiting sets. Income is less important in those instances than what you take in terms of contacts, experience or other insights gained by witnessing how things are done. And I will always affirm that seeing things done poorly can be equally as valuable as witnessing proper procedures.

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When (and why) did you start using Scriptation?

Began on The Last Man On Earth television series. The single biggest selling point to me was the transfer feature that takes advantage of the app’s unique ability to geographically recognize and arrange old notes and all manner of other items into a new draft in a calibrated fashion with everything near perfectly collated into the new draft. This negates having to tediously copy anything you’ve aided to the older draft. This simple sounding feature is astoundingly accurate and powerful.

From there, the realization that you can save untold thousands of hard copy pages and collaborate with other near instantly is more than enough to sell most people on the product. It quite literally changes the way you work, liberating time and effort while actually increasing accuracy and productivity. Not seen any other app that rivals this performance.

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How has going paperless changed the way you work?

Downloading and transferring my drafts and archival notes is near instantaneous. Also saves me from using printed sides. Allows a backlit reading environment that’s great for dark sets and obviates the need for a book light. Also allows me to enlarge text which I cannot do with hard copy.

Searching is helpful, especially when looking across multiple script episodes. Also the app is valuable in reviewing and editing non script PDFs such as schedules, maps and diagrams.

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What would you tell other productions that aren’t using Scriptation?

I cannot stress how much time, paper and effort productions can save while enjoying near instant updating and sharing of all manner of production paperwork. Death to photocopiers!

Just that this has optimized and improved the way I work. I now spend more time on content in both creative and strategic ways, and way less time on tedious and repetition give tasks. My hands and wrists thank you! The trees thank you too!


About Steve: Over the last couple years I have used Scriptation, on the following projects: The Last Man On Earth (FOX), The Good Place (NBC), Wine Country (Netflix). Still on The Good Place Season 4, then I’ll be on to Amy Poehler’s next directing effort for Netflix: Moxie.