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Pet Peeve

Scripts change in TV. They change a lot.

The first draft distributed to department heads is usually just a rough guide. You know, so location managers can start scouting, construction crews can start building, casting directors can start casting.

That draft will be rewritten at least a half dozen times before filming begins. Sometimes these changes are as minor as a dialogue tweak, or as major as a completely new plot.

(Those kind of rewrites are the most fun to watch, as the producers scramble to find a story that works in the sets that they’ve built and the actors they’ve already got under contract.)

As you might imagine, this wastes a lot of paper. It would waste even more if we reprinted the entire script every time.

But we don’t. Instead, we “run pages:” copying only the pages that have changed. (Up to a certain point; if 49 pages of a 53 page script have changed, we print the whole thing.)

Each new draft (whether a full draft or merely revisions) gets copied onto a new color. Every show does it slightly differently, but a common pattern is white, blue, yellow, green, pink, then back around to 2nd white. Some shows use more colors, like salmon and goldenrod, if they know they rewrite a lot.

The purpose of these colors (besides identifying a particular draft), is so that everybody can see everyone else is, literally, on the same page. If your page is yellow, and eight people around you have pink pages, something’s wrong.

All of this exposition is just so I can engage in my favorite past time– complaining about actors.

See, when the crew get these colored pages, they just insert (or “collate”) them into their current script.

What many (many) actors do is call the office and ask, “Hey, uh, could I get a collated script?”

Or, they’ll get a PA or 2nd AD to call: “Hey, actor X needs a collated script.” I think they think it sounds more official or something.

You could say, “But TAPA, collating a script isn’t that hard! What are you complaining about?”

You’re right, it’s not hard. And that’s exactly my point.

Actors have few responsibilities. Memorize your lines. Show up on set. Don’t get arrested.

Collating a script is about the only physical activity an actor is required to do, especially on a talky show like the one I work on. Seriously, why can’t they do this for themselves?

Oh, yeah.

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9 Responses

  1. I’m an actor. I don’t understand why the actor needs to call the agent to get a new copy of the script. Do they not have brains and two hands to insert the new pages themselves? Seriously. Not that hard.

  2. I’m pretty good about collating new pages until pre-production ends. Then, I usually get the new pages on set (while I’m running around with something or other).

    I’ll usually skim the asterisks to see if any changes effect me and then toss the entire new pile of pages into the trunk of my car.

    BTW…if the first time I hear about a change that effects the location is when the new pages come out, somebody isn’t communicating worth a damn.

  3. I’ve been working on a feature for the last few months, and we’ve gone: white, blue, pink, yellow, green, goldenrod, buff, salmon, cherry, tan, double white, and today, double blue. Which sounds awful, until I remember the last job I did (on set, not in the office tg) went triple cherry.

  4. I once worked a variety show that shot in front of a live audience. It shot two shows a night and we had scripts for each episode in the green room. Pages would come out pretty frequently so it was one PA’s job to keep at least three to five updated collated scripts in the room as well as collate any revisions into the scripts of the actors and producers of the show when they were issued.

    This was my job. One night we made it up to 3rd lavender.

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