Managing a Locked Script

Have you ever regretted locking a script, because an hour later you had revisions? You no longer have to regret it, as long as you know the rules to manage the most current version of the screenplay. And the good news is that the rules are standardized within the production community. However, the rules do change a bit from the United States, to England, to India, to China, to Australia, etc.

While my readers are from over 100 countries, I will limit this article to the rules used in the U.S..

Colored Paper

The original locked script is published on white paper. Any changes to a script page are distributed on colored paper. There is a hierarchy of colors so everyone knows what order of change they have received. The paper colors are in the below order:

      • White
      • Blue
      • Pink
      • Yellow
      • Green
      • Goldenrod
      • Buff
      • Salmon
      • Cherry
      • Tan

Should a script have more changes after the color tan is used, the colors start again from the top.

The color pattern is helpful during a production that sees many changes. For instance, if the production manager couldn’t find you with last night’s changes and hands you a yellow script page, you would know to pitch it if the director handed you a green page after his brilliant ideas developed during breakfast.

Revision Marks

Once the script is in everyone’s hands, all revisions need to be marked. The revision mark is in the right margin and typically set at 7.8” from the left edge of the paper. The most common mark is the asterisk.

If a scene is replaced with one or two other scenes, then the revision is noted. In the below example, scene 72 was omitted, and then replaced with two new scenes marked by a letter to convey order.

72       OMITTED

72A     INT. CELLAR – NIGHT

The lamp cord dangles over the Zombie.

72B     EXT. BARN – CONTINUOUS

The farmer grabs a special zombie-killing pitchfork.

73       EXT. CELLAR – CONTINUOUS

The farmer breaks the lock off of the cellar door.

If a series of scenes are omitted the script would read as follows:

72       OMITTED

thru

72B

73       EXT. CELLAR – CONTINUOUS

The farmer breaks the lock off of the cellar door.

If a scene or two need to be squeezed into a script, the scene number would have an A or B added to it, like below:

78       INT. BUS – DAY

Isabella abruptly turns from Josh and looks out the window.

78A     EXT. PARKING LOT – CONTINUOUS

Isabella steps down from the bus and keeps walking.

78B     INT. BUS – CONTINUOUS

Josh grabs his mangled flower bouquet and heads to the door.

79       EXT. TRAIN STATION – CONTINUOUS

Josh hands Isabella a bouquet of flowers.

Should another scene idea pop into the writer’s head that must be located between 78A and 78B, a letter would precede the number.

78A     EXT. PARKING LOT – CONTINUOUS

Isabella steps down from the bus and keeps walking.

A78B   INT. TICKET BOOTH – CONTINUOUS

The Conductor glances out the window at a woman walking alone.

78B     INT. BUS – CONTINUOUS

Josh grabs his mangled flower bouquet and heads to the door.

If a lot of the page is deleted within a locked script, it will remain short or mostly blank. If a lot of scenes are added, then an extra page would be added and marked with a letter after the page number. This means that page 51 would have a page 51A added to it.

Once 50% of the script has seen changes, the writer typically replaces it with a new draft on all white papers with no asterisks.

Copyright © 2013 by CJ Powers
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One thought on “Managing a Locked Script

  1. An excellent bit of specific information! The first time I rec’d revisions in a different color, I had no idea there was a method or rationale to the hierarchy of colors, and those blank or half empty pages just bugged me! Now I know!

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