Distro List

When you work in the production office, one of your major jobs is distributing paperwork, commonly referred to as “distro.” You’ve got scripts, pages, schedules, one-liners, prep calendars, crew lists, vendor lists, call sheets, and a bazillion other things that vary from show to show.

The thing is, not every crew member gets every single piece of paper. They don’t need it all. So, you’ll usually be given a list of who gets what by the production coordinator.1 In order to make sure everyone gets what they need, you’re going to have to label each item with each recipient’s name.

If this sounds like a pain in the ass, that’s because it is. But never fear! Modern technology has a solution for you.

On your very first office supply order, make sure you get mailing labels, preferably smallish ones. Then, download the Avery template that corresponds with the the labels your bought.

The next step is pretty obvious– copy the names (and job titles) from the coordinator’s list onto the mailing label template. Do this for each distro item; as I wrote above, they’ll all be slightly different.

When you’re given something to copy and distribute, the first thing you do is print off the proper disto list.2 That way, you can apply the labels as the scripts or schedules or whatever are coming off the copier. You’ll be ready to go the instant the last one prints.

Pro tip: don’t assume the list you’re given is in any useful order. You’ll likely find there’s an efficient way to go through distro. Your boss may have created the list in alphabetical order, i.e. accounting, art, casting, construction, locations etc. But casting might be closer than art, and construction is all the way on the other side of the lot…

The point is, the order doesn’t matter to anyone but you, so put it in any order you like. Heck, I even sort it by desk; the art coordinator gets her script before the production designer, since she’s by the door and his office is on the other side of the bullpen.

A couple of caveats to that– make sure the coordinator gets everything first. She’s your boss, and that’s how you do. Then, the UPM and producer, because again, they’re in your direct line of command.

The exception is script pages, if they’re being shot that day. In that case, get the fuck to set as fast as you can, with pages for whatever cast are involved, the director, the AD, and the script supervisor.

The worst thing you can do on any set is hold up a shot. This is usually not an issue for the production office, except when it comes to pages. It’s the one and only time it all hangs on your shoulders, so don’t fuck it up.

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. Except for call sheets. For those, you usually just get a number to drop off at each department, presumably one for each person.
  2. Don’t just print off a bunch in advance; these lists can and will change all the time, due to hiring, firing, and general randomness.
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