Author Topic: Script rewrites  (Read 8013 times)

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MatthewShiner

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Script rewrites
« on: Oct 16, 2009, 01:35 pm »
So, a recent conversation that I was brought into, regarding script changes, and who is responsible for updating the script, typing new pages, distributing, etc.

Is the the AEA SM's responsibility?  Is this something to bill for?

I mean, seriously “But, in no case shall the Stage Manager’s or Assistant Stage Manager’s rehearsal and/or performance workweek exceed the hours specified in Rule 50(A) without overtime compensation.” 

The rules are so contradictory in the book.  Reading that note, anything after 50 hours would be overtime. 

But, I can’t bill for “(a) Calling, scheduling and coordinating all rehearsals, note sessions and any other calls.  (b) Communicating and coordinating with the artistic, production and Theatre Staff.  (c) Maintaining the artistic intentions of the director and the Theatre after opening to the best of his ability, which shall include giving notes and calling rehearsals when necessary.” 

What else do I do outside of rehearsal hours other then those things?  I just don’t see how those two rules work together . . .

Would updating the script, tracking script changes, formatting script pages, and distributing fall under the un-billable section?
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SMrose

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Re: Script rewrites
« Reply #1 on: Oct 17, 2009, 12:11 pm »
Last time I worked a show where script changes/rewrites had to be done, the playwright was responsible--this was a "playwrites series".  If that's not possible, is there a PA or administrative department that can type up changes and you as SM distribute them?
Physical script changes seem to be out of the realm of SM duties (in my opinion)---not to be confused with tracking and keeping up with changes; but actually re-typing/reformatting...I'd have an issue with that.

MatthewShiner

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Re: Script rewrites
« Reply #2 on: Oct 17, 2009, 04:22 pm »
I think this discuss should focus on if the AEA SM is involved, in this particular situation it was dealing with AEA SM (In my situation, I have staff for days that could do it, but at my current organization Artistic takes care of it.)

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Aerial

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Re: Script rewrites
« Reply #3 on: Oct 17, 2009, 11:31 pm »
On my last show (Much Ado), I took care of script changes largely because I wanted them for myself (and my PA had a hard time wrappign her head around keeping the pagination the same).  The director was content to just cross things out and write things in, but I knew some of my actors would like clean pages, and I certainly did.  In this case, it seems even more vague, as its something I'm choosing to do that I don't really have to.  Though, in full disclosure, I was working on the NEAT contract, so it wasn't nearly as many rehearsal hours per week as the LORT contract (though I was certainly going over my allotted hours in the contract).  I guess it comes down to my not caring about doing a few things above and beyond if they ultimately help me out in the long run. 

Rebbe

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Re: Script rewrites
« Reply #4 on: Oct 18, 2009, 12:48 am »
I mean, seriously “But, in no case shall the Stage Manager’s or Assistant Stage Manager’s rehearsal and/or performance workweek exceed the hours specified in Rule 50(A) without overtime compensation.” 

The rules are so contradictory in the book.  Reading that note, anything after 50 hours would be overtime. 

But, I can’t bill for “(a) Calling, scheduling and coordinating all rehearsals, note sessions and any other calls.  (b) Communicating and coordinating with the artistic, production and Theatre Staff.  (c) Maintaining the artistic intentions of the director and the Theatre after opening to the best of his ability, which shall include giving notes and calling rehearsals when necessary.” 
I agree those LORT rules are contradictory, since those are exactly the tasks that extend the stage manager’s day.  At first I thought it was meant to give SMs an out, that we could say we couldn’t do whatever task because it would put us it into overtime.  But another part of those rules says the SM shall fulfill the responsibilities, which seems to indicate we need to get it done, no matter how long it takes.  Interesting that in SPT, the contract I’m most familiar with, there are no “duties exempt from overtime” listed, so it would seem that there the SM could run into overtime on more issues.

In any case, my read on the rules is that script tasks are NOT un-billable.  They are not specifically listed as the AEA SM's responsibility.  One might argue it falls into communicating and coordinating with the staff, but you could cover “communicating” in more simple ways than the detailed, time consuming process of script tracking lists, electronic formatting, and new pages, which is really helpful in keeping everyone on the same page in the long run.  Even the rule about the SM maintaining the production script doesn’t say you have to deal with anyone else having an updated script, as long as yours is accurate by opening (maybe even closing?)  I think you’re covered.

Whether this is a battle you want to fight is another question.  I have almost always done script changes for my productions as SM because I usually have the most current information, and care about dealing with it in an organized matter.  And I work on lots of new plays with smaller sized casts, so my pre and post rehearsal time isn't exhausting.  But on big LORT productions, I think it could quickly become an unfair extra burden to on the SM staff who already spend many more hours in the rehearsal hall than anyone else.  Dramaturgy or directorial staff could reasonably be asked to step up to the task.  If they don't , I say you have a right to bill script time as overtime.       
"...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)

EFMcMullen

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Re: Script rewrites
« Reply #5 on: Oct 18, 2009, 09:40 am »
To answer the first question, at my current theatre (LORT D) I am generally the one who updates script changes.  The main reason I do it is A), there isn’t anyone else to do it and  B) I have found Playwrights don’t keep on eye on page breaks and it ends up messing up the rest of the script so, I format the new pages to fit in the existing script.  Also with new scripts that I can get digitally, I format my book very specifically to my tastes that I have to type it up anyway. I might as well make copies for the cast.  But on the flip side, I have also worked for a company that had a literary department who sat in on rehearsals and tracked all script changes and arrived every morning with the new pages.  (I still had to type it in for my script though…)

Now to the larger issue of hours.  I find this a very interesting question.  Personally I find the rules so vague for stage managers sometimes.  And maybe that allows more freedom to get the job done.   But the book actually seems to contradict itself, because in one paragraph it talks about the hours specified in Rule 50(A) that Matthew sighted as the maximum and then in 63(I) it says 52 hours as the maximum. The question is, at the end of the day are you only supposed to work one hour or whatever takes you to 6 straight hours (like adding a costume fitting for an actor) and in that time you need to get all script changes done and all your meetings and then you have to do notes and calls and whatnot after that hour because those are not billable?  Which doesn’t quiet seem right.  Does “communicating & coordinating” include me having to answer my cell phone on the day off?  Now, I have heard of a SM team that billed overtime at a theatre where it consistently took the Director/Choreographer/Music Director over an hour (don’t ask me why) to figure out a schedule for the next day and SMs had to sit around while the they mucked about.  And another instance where the day before rehearsal started, the Director gave the SM 20 or so pages of re-writes at 8:00p at night and wanted them ready for the first rehearsal the next day.  Again, they put in for OT.   

Now the above being said, I generally can leave within an hour of rehearsal ending and as a resident SM, I have been known to answer my cell phone on my day off. However, in the end, think I would count re-writes as billable.

Scott

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Re: Script rewrites
« Reply #6 on: Oct 18, 2009, 11:51 am »
I've asked my source in the world of commercial General Management this question before.

He thinks script changes and updates should be handled by the assistant director (who he sees as a generally not-very-useful salaried position.)

I've also palmed this task off on the author's assistant and on the dramaturg.

I've also had author's handle this themselves, which seems very reasonable to me.

I've occasionally published a revised script page myself, when it was the most expedient solution to getting a page cleaned up so I could do my job.

missliz

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Re: Script rewrites
« Reply #7 on: Oct 18, 2009, 01:59 pm »
The few times I've worked with new scripts, I kept track of the edits/rewrites, but the playwright was responsible for delivering new pages. Ie we discussed cutting a few specific lines, which the cast crossed out and I made note of in the rehearsal report. The playwright then came back with the clean pages a few days later.
I personally would like to bring a tortoise onto the stage, turn it into a racehorse, then into a hat, a song, a dragon and a fountain of water. One can dare anything in the theatre and it is the place where one dares the least. -Ionesco

chrrl

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Re: Script rewrites
« Reply #8 on: Oct 20, 2009, 03:48 pm »
  I've always felt the overtime and hours rules for Stage Management to be sticky.  We deserve to get paid for the time we're working, but we're also often the personality types to just step up and do what needs to be done regardless (and people come to expect that and take advantage of it).
  I'm also employed as the resident SM - so a lot of those duties that are iffy for a contracted AEA SM get picked up by me anyway for not much supplemental pay, though I am thankful to have a permanent position.  I'll be doing a world premiere this Spring, so I'll be finding out soon how to handle the rewrites.  I think our playwright is pretty on top of her game on that front.

Scott (formerly Digga)

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Re: Script rewrites
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2012, 09:43 am »
This is an old post but it's relevant to me today as I start work on a new script.  The Playwright seems reluctant to maintain the updates because he has another job and won't be at rehearsals daily.  The director wants me to take it on but I told him that unless it happened during rehearsal hours, it would involve OT and the theater is trying to avoid that.  That being said, we still don't know exactly who will be involved in maintaining the updates and I have a sneaking suspicion that it's going to fall to my shoulders.  I put a call in to AEA on Tuesday to ask if it fell under SM duties but of course, they haven't called me back yet.  I called again this morning but they still don't have an answer yet (sometimes I wonder what they really do at the offices in NYC but that's a different discussion).  I'll post what I hear from AEA when I get a ruling.  Also, my contract is under SPT and not the LORT book that most posts seemed to reference here.

Jessie_K

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Re: Script rewrites
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2012, 11:50 am »
In most of my experiences, this task fell to an ASM for minor changes and the playwright for extensive rewrites.  In cases both where I was the ASM handling rewrites or the PSM in charge of said ASM, we were able to squeeze the work into the allotted weekly hours.

Maribeth

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Re: Script rewrites
« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2012, 12:48 pm »
In most of my experiences, this task fell to an ASM for minor changes and the playwright for extensive rewrites.  In cases both where I was the ASM handling rewrites or the PSM in charge of said ASM, we were able to squeeze the work into the allotted weekly hours.

This has mostly been my experience as well. In a recent production of a new play, the playwright was responsible for maintaining an updated script and sending new pages, as that was the production manager's preference. The stage management team still kept a list of changes and saved copies of the new pages/updated scripts to have on hand, and we distributed new pages as they came out.

A complication to this issue that I've been dealing with a lot lately is playwrights who use Final Draft to create their scripts- which means that I cannot update the script, since neither the theatre or myself own a copy of Final Draft. (FD lets you save things as pdfs, FD files, or rich text files, which means the formatting is all messed up). Has anyone else come across this recently? And if so, how have you resolved the issue of not having an easily edited script file (like a Word document)?

MatthewShiner

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Re: Script rewrites
« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2012, 01:21 pm »
I purchased Final Draft - It was the only way to deal within in my situation.  We were able to split the cost (I got a great discount) - they paid for most of it, but I got to keep it.

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loebtmc

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Re: Script rewrites
« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2012, 04:13 pm »
I did the 30-day free download when I was working with an involved new play, and it helped a lot during rehearsals. However, I agree, if you need it full time, "they" shd pay for the lions share if not all of that cost.

And having FD really helped getting info out to all and sundry - and keeping the pages stet without having to reformat or re-number.

Maribeth

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Re: Script rewrites
« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2012, 05:28 pm »
The "trial" version that I was able to download only let you save a shorter document (something like 7 pages worth). If I could get FD for a more reasonable price I would consider purchasing it myself. (I think it retails for something like 250 dollars, which is more than I am willing to spend myself.) I've had this come up at multiple theatres this year- maybe if it comes up at the same theatre multiple times, we could work something out.

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