Congratulations, you tenacious creative, you have a script. Now, lock it. It seems like a scary step, locking your script, but this is one step that you can’t skip. You can’t avoid it either. You can’t move, don’t pass go, don’t collect $200.

If you don’t lock your script but press on with other parts of the production paperwork I mention in this series, it will cause problems. It doesn’t matter if you only have a short film. Get into good habits, now. There are a few articles in this series you may have missed. Check out the Cast and Crew Roster.

What is a locked script?

The locked script means the scene and page numbers are locked in place. That does not mean you can no longer make changes to the story. You can still make changes, but there is a special format that I will go into later.

Why is a locked script important?

The locked script is incredibly important. The scene number and page numbers should no longer change. If you add another scene or page, there is a special number sequence so that any changes don’t affect the entire script. Once the script is printed, only pages with changes will be printed to replace old ones. The scene number cannot change, because adding one scene and renumbering affects the entire script.

Who is involved with the locked script?

Everyone in the cast and crew is affected by the locked script. If there is a new scene added, it could mean a new wardrobe, a new location, new actors and more time filming. The Script Supervisor and Producer are your major people who need a locked script to move on.

What is included in a locked script?

Once a script is locked, page and scene numbers cannot change. Scene numbers are placed on both sides of the page. Most script writing softwares have a feature that will do this for you. You just need to find the settings.

These scenes will forever be scenes 151, 152, and 153, even if more scenes are added, or these scene are removed.

Now, you want to make changes.

It happens. Don’t stress. Just remember to format everything correctly.

Should you decide to take out a scene, DO NOT delete the scene. Remove all text and replace with OMITTED.

Some programs may do this for you, but not all. It is important to have OMITTED rather than removing the scene, so there isn’t a fear of missing pages. If you can’t find scene 27, did it get cut or are you missing seven pages of script?

When adding scenes, it retains the scene number of the scene before it, and you add a letter. Should you make further changes in later drafts, the same principle applies.

If you have decided to replace a scene with another, you do not just change everything in the scene. You treat it the same as removing a scene and adding a scene.

Page numbers are much the same. Once the full scripts are printed, only pages with changes are reprinted. However, making a huge change on page one will change the rest of the script. Alternately, use the same numbering system as you did with the new scenes.

Page 15B may only have two lines of text on it, but it hasn’t caused any issues that require an entire reprint of the script.

Along with each change, make sure you update your drafts. Add a header, with the date of the draft and the color. The Hollywood standard for the color order of revisions are:

  1. White
  2. Blue
  3. Pink
  4. Yellow
  5. Green
  6. Goldenrod
  7. Buff
  8. Salmon
  9. Cheery
  10. Tan
  11. Gray
  12. Ivory
  13. Then the cycle repeats

These are used to show which version you are using. If the pages you’re looking at are the blue draft and the person next to you has the same pages, but it’s the pink draft, you need to get the updated pages.

All of this helps to communicate changes to all departments. The smallest of changes can affect a lot of people. So, film school students, it’s imperative that you lock your script to avoid catastrophe.

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  • Connor Sassmannshausen is a screenwriter, video producer, and social media organizer with the Initiative Production Company. She loves watching movies, nerdy t-shirts, travelling and taking broken things apart (but not necessarily putting them back together).

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