It’s your first day on your first show and you’re starting as an Office PA on a major network, Emmy-winning, hit show. Production starts tomorrow and everyone’s been pulling twelve or fourteen-hour days to get everything ready.
One PA is on a run to grab lunch. The other is printing out and collating the pink pages into the script you’re shooting tomorrow.
Your production coordinator says to you, “Okay, I need you to make the script sides for tomorrow and then distro when they’re ready.”
You dutifully say, “On it!”
But you don’t know what script sides are. You definitely don’t how to make them. And what does distro even mean?
Well, I’ll be teaching you how to make script sides, how to distribute them (distro) and how you’ll know who to send them to. We’ll also cover how to approach any bumps on the road and all the curveballs that film and TV production is known to thrown at you.
Script Sides Definition
WHAT ARE SCRIPT SIDES?
Script sides are the pages of the script that are being shot during that day in production.
Because movies and TV shows aren’t shot linearly, it’s much more convenient to provide script sides so cast and crew know what tomorrow’s work is. So if you’re still wondering, “What are sides?” Just consider them a blueprint for that day’s work.
Television sides are typically sent out to talent the night before, and printed off by the dozens (or the hundreds) for the crew the next morning.
HOW TO MAKE SCRIPT SIDES
How to make script sides traditionally
The first step is to figure out what you’re shooting! So grab a call sheet or a shooting schedule.
Step 1: Pull the scenes for Script Sides
Now that you know what’s being shot tomorrow, you have to find a script, and pull out the pages that those scenes are on. No one wants to walk around with a full script and leaf through it to find what’s being shot.
This makes it quicker and easier for everyone during a packed day to access what’s being shot now or in an hour from now. After all, what are sides if not a hyper-specific plan for the day?
Step 2: Cross out the Script Sides
Now take a marker and a ruler and run a line right above the slugline of the scene you’re shooting. Next, cross out anything that’s not in that scene.
Circle the scene numbers for the scene that is being shot and, in the margins on the side, use the ruler and the marker to draw an arrow down the page until the scene ends. If it continues on to the next page, draw an arrow in the margins on the next one or write “CONT’D” on the bottom with an arrow pointing to the next page.
Once the scene ends, draw a line across the bottom of that scene right above the top of the next. Then cross out the scene that’s not being shot.
Then repeat this process for every page with every scene scheduled for that day.
This will take a long time.
The television script sides will, eventually, look something like this:
Step 3: Scan the Script Sides
Now that you have your sides made it’s time to scan them into a PDF. First, get a call sheet that’s formatted down from legal-sized to 8 1/2x11 inches from either your production coordinator or second AD. Second, put that on the front of the television sides.
Then, run them through the scanner so they go to your inbox.
Now you have the PDF that gets sent to talent every night.
You also have the master sides.
Step 4: Make the Script Sides for set
With this PDF, create a copy and shrink it down so that the pages are in landscape and there are two sides per page.
Get a big paper cutter and scan dozens of copies of these shrunken sides.
Use the paper cutter to cut the pages in half so there are now two, half-sized script sides. Staple them all together. These will be in every corner of the set.
You’ll also have to make a certain amount of large sides for those working on set, as well. So you’ll have to take those master sides, copy a few dozen, and then staple them all together.
Step 5: Distro the Script Sides
At this point you should have one large master copy of the script sides, one PDF copy of that master copy, dozens of half-sized script sides, and some more full-sized script sides.
It’s the end of the day, so it’s time to distribute the PDFs to the talent.
You have to get everyone’s email addresses who’s working tomorrow in the cast, all their assistant’s email addresses, and blast the script sides out. Make sure you BCC, and also make sure you add the production coordinator and second AD so they know who got them.
Oh, and the top star wants a hard copy delivered, so you’ll have to do that tonight on your way home.
Then, put all the copies of script sides for set in a large “To-Set” box that transpo (transportation department) will pick up first thing in the morning. Make sure you do this or you’ll get an earful from the ADs.
Re-send the sides to the assistant’s email that bounced back, fixing that typo in the spreadsheet, and then head out to Beverly Hills to drop off the sides in the star’s mailbox at the end of their gated driveway.
How to Create Script Sides for Actors
How to make script sides
Making script sides with StudioBinder
Step 1: Switch to StudioBinder
While that process may seem exhausting, if you’re using StudioBinder to create your script sides, all you have to do is simply choose which shoot day is coming up and you’re on your way to making your first set of script sides.
In this case, that’s day one.Go to a project’s Shooting Script page, filter by shoot day, and voila. The film script sides are generated for everything that’s scheduled for that day.
That new revision the other PA was printing out? That’s already been thrown into StudioBinder, so you don’t have to worry about waiting for a collated draft to hit your desk before you can start pulling new sides.
Does a particular actor want just their sides for that day? Filter by day and by character.
This can be helpful because, oftentimes, a TV show may have to shoot out a lead actor because of schedule conflicts. If that’s the case, they may just prioritize every scene that person is in and rush to get them in the can.
It’s critical that a show or movie is prepared for any type of change to shooting schedule.
Flexibility is key in such a fluid industry and that includes everything down to the script sides they may be shooting that day.
Step 2: Hit Send. Relax.
As we talked about earlier, once you pulled the pages you had to scan in them into a PDF.
StudioBinder also does this for you.
You can print your sides or save as PDF, and you’re good to go. Because StudioBinder immediately adds the shooting schedule details as a header, you don’t have to worry about having to throw the call sheet on the front.
If you need to weave in a call sheet, save the script sides as a PDF and download a PDF of the call sheet (which you can create in StudioBinder too).
You can then add the page to the script sides using Preview’s drag and drop feature.
Need to send script sides to your production coordinator or AD for approval?
Generate a share link or invite them to edit or add a comment. That way they always see the latest version of a script (versus a PDF which can become outdated).
What used to be a print, cross out, and wait for approval process is now shareable and cloud-base, so it’s quicker to move on.
Step 3: Revise. Repeat. Relax.
After sending the first AD and the production coordinator the script sides, you hear from them that they’re actually punting all the (hypothetical) driving sequences to next week and replacing that time with two interior scenes that were originally scheduled for later.
With a revised shooting schedule, the work is already done. Just re-print and you’re good to go.
But what if the schedule isn’t entirely revised yet?
You can still filter the script sides by Scene Numbers.
Once you get the thumbs up, you send the script sides to all the actors (and their assistants) listed on the call sheet and voila!
They’re good to go for tomorrow’s first day.
While this expedites every step in the previous script sides process, and cuts it down to three steps total, we still can’t help you with that hand delivery.
Old Hollywood never die.
As an example, take a look at Robert Altman’s The Player which is a great look into all of Hollywood’s weird idiosyncrasies.
(Surprise) Step 4: Film Sides for Actors
Let’s say the casting department needs you to create film sides for actors. The EPs want a big name guest star who needs to their scenes weeks ahead of when they would typically get them, because their demand is so much higher they have a lot more audition sides for actors than most normally do.
Open up the latest draft of the script the scenes are in, filter by character name, and there you go.
Send the script sides for actors to the casting associate and just like that, mission accomplished.
How to Create Call Sheets!
Now that you know how to generate and distro (remember that lingo from earlier?) script sides based on the shooting schedule (or the call sheet [or whatever the talent requires]), the next step to contribute to your production is to learn how to create and distribute call sheets.
Call sheets are incredibly important documents that tell everyone working on the show everything they need to know for where to go, when to be there, and what they need to be ready for.
The specifics of that info? That’s all inside those script sides you just made!