A guide to updating your screenplay

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This guide is to be used to assist the Writer or Director on how to properly update a screenplay that is going into production. TV shows typically have a script coordinator that will often handle this, however on a Low Budget Movie this often falls into the hands of the Writer or Director. The guide can also be downloaded here.

THE WHITE DRAFT:

Sometimes a draft will be released before a movie is funded or months before pre­production. This draft should always be the First draft, which is properly called the WHITE Version. This should always be listed as WHITE, even if there were multiple drafts to get to this draft. This is the draft that will go to the Assistant Director or UPM for scheduling purposes. Before sending this draft to be scheduled it is important to make it look as clean as possible.

Here are the things you should do before sending out this version.

  1. Add scene numbers. In Final Draft go to production, scene number and click Number / Renumber.
  2. Make sure all scene headings are actually scenes. Sometimes in Final Draft you might accidentally make a person or description a scene heading. You can verify this by going through all the scenes and checking the scene numbers to make sure it makes since.
  3. Check to see that all your scenes are accurate. If you go from the living room to the hallway to kitchen, it is technically three scenes because its three different locations within the same house.
  4. Check spelling.
  5. Check character name continuity. Character names should be UPPER CASE the first time they are mentioned and after that should be listed in lower case in descriptions. If you call him John Smith once always call him John Smith. Final Draft will create two characters if you call him John Smith and then John.
  6. Make it as clear as possible to show who is in what room in the description field.
  7. Check all Scene Headings to make sure that they are as detailed as possible.INT. MARTHA’S HOUSE ­ BEDROOM ­ DAY

If you are missing any part of the scene heading such as the INT, Location or Time of Day it will get complicated for the person scheduling.

8. Only use Day, Evening, Night and Morning in your scene descriptions.

9. When you are scheduling road work it is important to list it as follows.
EXT./INT. BEACH ROAD ­ MARTHA’S CAR ­ EVENING
Being this descriptive will help determine where the car is driving instead of just the fact that you are shooting a car.

10. Avoid using camera descriptions in your screenplay.

11. Once you have updated the script to clean everything up. Clear all the asterisks if you happen to be working in revisions mode by selecting all, going to production and clearing all revised.

12. Lock the script. In Final Draft under Production click Lock Pages and select yes to revisions mode. Doing this will make sure your scene numbers stay the same.

MAKING CHANGES:

So you have sent off the script to be scheduled and now you need to make changes. It is important that you do the following when making changes.

1. Vow to never change the scene numbers.

Why is this important? Every time a scene number changes the 1st AD or whoever is updating the schedule has to go through the entire script and update the new schedule based on the new scene numbers. Also if other Department Heads have done a breakdown they have to do the same thing.

If you decide to delete a scene it is very critical to do it properly. All you have to do is erase the dialogue and the scene heading and then right OMIT right next to the scene number. See below as an example

28 OMIT

If you decide to move the contents of Scene 28 before Scene 24, simply OMIT scene 28 and copy the contents of Scene 28 and paste after Scene 24. You will now have a scene without a scene number. Simply highlight the Scene Heading, go to production and edit scene number and type in 24A.

If you wish to add a scene between scene 2 and scene 3 Final Draft will automatically call the scene 2A when you renumber the scenes. Simply go to Scene Numbers and click Renumber Scenes. Make sure that you click the box that says keep existing scene numbers.

2. Always work in revisions mode.

Working in revision mode allows others to see what has changed. If you have added more dialogue or a scene it will create asterisks on the side of the page so that others such as the 1st AD, Dept Heads, Cast etc all can see what changed and what is pertinent to their department. In general, people do not have time to read a new script each day but they do have time to look at new scenes or dialogue.

3. Label your version properly using the color system.Do not label by date only or version number. The first version you send to be scheduled will be WHITE with the Date.

The list of proper colors is as follows:

Unrevised Draft ­­
Production White
Blue Revision
Pink Revision
Yellow Revision
Green Revision
Goldenrod Revision
Buff Revision
Salmon Revision
Cherry Revision
Double White
Second Blue Revision
Second Pink Revision
Second Yellow Revision
Second Green Revision
Second Goldenrod Revision
Second Buff Revision
Second Salmon Revision
Second Cherry Revision

SENDING OUT REVISIONS:

You have made the changes to your WHITE version and are now ready to send it out as your revised draft. You are currently in revisions mode and have asterisks where some of your changes are.

If you only have changes that affect a few pages you will essentially send out BLUE PAGES and a Full Draft with BLUE PAGES. Doing this allows the person the ability to print out just the BLUE PAGES and replace with pages in their existing script or the ability to to look at the entire script without having to open the WHITE VERSION and BLUE PAGES simultaneously.

If you have changes that affect a majority of the script you will essentially send out only a FULL BLUE DRAFT and not bother with sending BLUE PAGES.

To export the ENTIRE BLUE DRAFT

­Go to Revisions
­Make sure the box that says Show Revision Page Colors is checked. This will make the pages BLUE when you send out.
­File Print
­Check Entire Script
­Check include Title Page
­Click PDF and save PDF as NAME_OF_FILM_BLUE_DRAFT_1_2_2016

If you desire to send out an Entire Draft without the BLUE Background, you can uncheck the box in the Revisions section. Another option is to send the Entire Draft with Blue Text by checking colored text in the print section.

To export the BLUE PAGES

­Go to Revisions
­Make sure to uncheck the box that says Show Revision Page Colors. This will allow you to send the Blue Pages with asterisks only, which will make it easy for people to print at home without wasting precious toner on blue ink.
­File Print
­Check All Revised Pages
­Uncheck title page
­Click PDF and save PDF as NAME_OF_FILM_BLUE_PAGES_1_2_2016

If you desire to send out BLUE PAGES that have a BLUE Background or Blue text you can also do that by checking the appropriate options.

CREATING A CLEAN VERSION:

Let’s say you are in the middle of pre­production and you need to create a CLEAN VERSION for the purpose of making SIDES for the next day of filming.

  1. Save as the final draft file with CLEAN in the title so you have a duplicate copy.
  2. Now select all, clear revised. This will clear all asterisks.
  3. Follow the proper procedures to print a full draft and save as a pdf with CLEAN in the title. So NAME_OF_FILM_BLUE_VERSION_CLEAN_1_2_2016.
  4. Now it is very critical to close this final draft file and open the version you had previously so that any future updates are still made in revisions mode and you will be able to print out PINK PAGES etc from this point forward.
  5. Email the CLEAN version to the 2nd AD or Production Coordinator. This will be the person handling sides for the next Day.

 

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