How Do Shooting Scripts Work?


How do production drafts/ shooting scripts differ from standard reading scripts? They serve very different purposes. The former are for production crew and the latter for readers. Transcripts are produced from the finished product for research purposes.

Shooting scripts are broken down by different members of the production crew. They include grips, DP, wardrobe, prop masters, actors and every one else. Preparing for an outdoor stadium football game is very different to preparing for a cafe scene.

Scenes are locked in and numbered. Production crew deal with scene and shot numbers and cross check with page numbers. The storyboard drafts are separate and are denoted by shot number and a brief description. Imagine the confusion if the director is ready to shoot scene 52 and ends up at a stadium when expecting to shoot in a cafe. Shooting scripts also contain coverage notes. Production coverage is different to script coverage. Production coverage refers to the shots; eg master shot, close-ups, reaction shots etc. These are logged by the script supervisor during the shooting day.

Pages must be locked in so that all scenes begin and end on the same page number in subsequent drafts.

When revisions occur, they are printed on colored sheets of paper to distinguish them from the original drafts. It also ensures that everyone is working on the most up to date version of the script. The colors were originally based on the colors of the rainbow.

The standardized order of revision pages are:

  1. Blue
  2. Pink
  3. Yellow
  4. Green
  5. Goldenrod
  6. Buff
  7. Salmon
  8. Cherry
  9. Tan
  10. Gray
  11. Ivory
  12. White

After twelve revisions, the colors cycle back to white and begin again. At this point, it may be worth reprinting the entire script for all the crew.

If scenes are added, they are given a letter such as 1A or 1B rather than a new scene number. This is imperative so that the subsequent scenes maintain their original numbering. Similarly, inserted page numbers are given letters, so that locked scenes have the same number and occur on the same page in all revisions.

If scenes or pages are deleted, they are labelled as “omitted” on the colored revision pages. The numbers of added/removed scenes are printed on the front page of heavily revised drafts as an index, so production crew know what’s been changed. However, if there are only minor changes, the script co-ordinator will only distribute the relevant colored pages.

Revised pages also contain asterisks where the changes have been made, to make them easier to spot. This streamlines the process. If more than ten asterisks are on a page, they are replaced by a single asterisk in the top corner to designate “substantial changes”.

In the brave new world, script revisions are delivered electronically. The revised pages also follow the standardized revision color format and are referred to as a blue draft, or other color draft.

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