Author Topic: NEW WORK: Script in process: how much paperwork do you re-do?  (Read 3688 times)

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Tempest

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I've done a few shows where the playwright was a distant part of the process, and the script changes amounted to nothing much spectacular.  A few words, here and there, some lines dropped or added; nothing drastic.

Now, I'm on a world premier, and I've received three wildly differing scripts, so far, and we're only on the second day of rehersal.  In addition, the playwright is VERY much part of the process.  We received script changes from her between the first read-through and the end of rehearsal, last night.

Those of you who have been in these situations before: how much of the supporting paperwork do you re-do from script version to script version? 

Obviously, anything that affects the run, props tracking and whatnot, but do you re-do the tech analysis?  Re-work the French scenes listing?

I'm going to be a good little SM and re-do it all, but I guess just very frustrated.  I was told that the first version of the script I was given was "close enough" to start paperwork on, and this is the third time, in less than a week, that I'm going to have to ENTIRELY re-do a good bit of pretty meticulous paperwork.  Editing paperwork is one thing; of course I'm used to doing that daily.  But re-doing is making my head ache way too early in this process.

-Edit to tag subject line-Rebbe
« Last Edit: Sep 29, 2010, 08:02 pm by Rebbe »
Jessica: "Of course I have a metric size 4 dinglehopper in my kit!  Who do you think I am?"

hbelden

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Re: Script in process: how much paperwork do you re-do?
« Reply #1 on: Aug 25, 2010, 06:54 pm »
Has the playwright locked the page numbers?  That should help out quite a lot.

Can you simplify your paperwork so that cutting and pasting will keep you up-to-date?  In other words, do you have to have a french scene chart or is just a simple scene listing more useful?

When do you need a particular piece of paperwork? In other words, don't put any energy into doing a shift plot until you get much closer to tech.

Who's going to look at your paperwork, and what information are they expecting to get from it?  How often do they look at it?

Regarding the tech analysis: I do an overall study of the show during prep week in order to generate other paperwork, like preliminary prop list, sound cue list, etc.  Once those are created, I never go back to the original analysis, I just keep the later paperwork updated.  If that's not how you use yours, I would suggest revisiting the tech analysis around the time of the first stumble-through.
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Rebbe

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Re: Script in process: how much paperwork do you re-do?
« Reply #2 on: Aug 25, 2010, 07:46 pm »
I’ve done a lot of premiers where the scripts are in progress, and the playwright is in rehearsals a lot of the time.  I tend to base my paperwork more on scenes than page numbers so there is less to rework.  I find scenes are really what we reference as the show gets on it's feet.  As hbelden suggested, seeing if the playwright can stick to a certain pagination would be very helpful (they can change the font size or add a letter to the page number if it won’t fit).  If we are starting with a week or so of table work, often the script gets a little more settled at the end of that week, making it a good time for a round of updates.  Before Tech is another good time to update, and that’s when I would try to touch any documents I’d skipped before.   Everyone involved understands the script is still in flux, so you may find people don’t expect or reference the page numbers as much as they do with older shows.  Another thought is to delegate some page updating of documents to your ASM if you have one so it’s less tedious for you.

I'm going to be a good little SM and re-do it all, but I guess just very frustrated.  I was told that the first version of the script I was given was "close enough" to start paperwork on, and this is the third time, in less than a week, that I'm going to have to ENTIRELY re-do a good bit of pretty meticulous paperwork. 

I understand your frustration, but keep in mind that with new plays, the scripts is as changeable as blocking, and just as necessary to making the show as good as it can be.  I would say you can talk to the playwright, maybe the dramaturg or assistant director if you have them, to communicate changes in the clearest and most efficient way possible.  This can include Cut Lists and a system for printing new pages. 
"...allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster."  (Philip Henslowe, Shakespeare In Love)

Tempest

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Re: Script in process: how much paperwork do you re-do?
« Reply #3 on: Aug 25, 2010, 10:32 pm »
Thanks to both of you.  I won't re-visit the tech analysis, again, hbelden has helped me see it has served it's purpose.

Unfortunately, page numbers and up to the latest version French Scenes are a must.  It's a show with only 6 scenes in two acts, and there's a LOT of coming and going and mini-scenes within the official Scenes.  The script is still so in flux that locking pagination isn't an option.  Whole new sections are still being added and others are being moved from scene to scene. 

I will lighten up on myself on keeping EVERYTHING up to the moment up to date and just focus on keeping things clean around major transition points until the script get a little more locked down.

(Part of it was I just needed to do a bit of venting!)
Jessica: "Of course I have a metric size 4 dinglehopper in my kit!  Who do you think I am?"

Rebbe

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Re: Script in process: how much paperwork do you re-do?
« Reply #4 on: Aug 25, 2010, 10:55 pm »
(Part of it was I just needed to do a bit of venting!)

We all need that from time to time!  Dealing with all the trickle-down effect of script changes is one of an SM’s many unsung, pain in the butt, tasks.

Naming the mini-scenes and flagging them with post-its or something in your book may also help you keep up with where you are on the fly. 
"...allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster."  (Philip Henslowe, Shakespeare In Love)

Sarah

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Re: Script in process: how much paperwork do you re-do?
« Reply #5 on: Aug 26, 2010, 07:39 pm »
Quote
The script is still so in flux that locking pagination isn't an option.  Whole new sections are still being added and others are being moved from scene to scene.

I find it helpful, when working on a new play and new pages foul the original pagination, to number and letter the new pages. For instance, if new lines inserted on pg. 14 spill over to pg. 15, I'll create a pg. 14A with the extra lines that really belong on pg. 14. There may only be a few lines on 14A but it helps to keep the pagination in order.

hbelden

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Re: Script in process: how much paperwork do you re-do?
« Reply #6 on: Aug 27, 2010, 10:59 am »
The script is still so in flux that locking pagination isn't an option.  Whole new sections are still being added and others are being moved from scene to scene. 

That just seems like selfishness on the part of the playwright to me.  It's rude to all of the collaborators to change the page numbers every time there's a re-write.  There's no reason not to lock the pages now.  When changes come along that add pages in the middle, you add letters as Sarah said.  When a re-write deletes pages, the page in front of the deleted section notes all the pages that were deleted.  In other words, if pp. 16, 17, 18, 19 were deleted, then you change p. 15 to be numbered 15-19.  Does that make sense?

That way, even if you and your designers haven't completely redone your paperwork, you at least have a good chance at being in the right section of the script when you all talk about "page 59" or whatever.  Also, when things happen on pages that haven't been re-written, you don't need to update your paperwork because the page reference is still good.

I swear, the only reason not to lock pages once a show goes into production is the laziness of the person responsible for maintaining the script (which is often the playwright).

Here's a helpful thread about new plays: http://smnetwork.org/forum/index.php/topic,1781.0.html
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babens

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Re: Script in process: how much paperwork do you re-do?
« Reply #7 on: Aug 27, 2010, 03:20 pm »
I'm curious if there is a way to lock the pages as it's being written initially.  Having done several new scripts now it is certainly time consuming to take the finished script and create the section breaks and manually number the pages so that with the addition/subtraction of pages you can get things like 15, 15a, etc.

And sometimes it's not so much laziness on the part of the playwright as it is ignorance.

loebtmc

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Re: Script in process: how much paperwork do you re-do?
« Reply #8 on: Aug 27, 2010, 05:32 pm »
um, Final Draft? the script/screenwriter's computer program that does all the work for you? Your writer shd have this, and even sending you an editable copy can lock page numbers so the system formats all the a-through-whatever pages for you. And if they are any kind of writer they know abt it and own the program.


babens

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Re: Script in process: how much paperwork do you re-do?
« Reply #9 on: Aug 27, 2010, 11:06 pm »
I guess I should have clarified that I have only received scripts in .doc/Word formats.  In an ideal world yes, all writers would be using one standard program, but we all know we rarely work in an ideal world.

hbelden

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Re: Script in process: how much paperwork do you re-do?
« Reply #10 on: Aug 28, 2010, 10:52 am »
It seems that some MS Word wizard should be able to develop a macro that would insert manual page breaks at the end of every page, but I wouldn't know how to go about doing it.  I try to speed things up by copying a page number/page break combination and pasting it on every page, then going back through the script and typing the correct page number in place.  On a script of about 100 pages, it usually takes me about an hour to do this, check it, print a copy, and check it again.  Absolutely invaluable when working on a new play.
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