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What is a Locked Script?

WRITTEN BY: KYLER BOUDREAU

Updated July 13, 2021

Pre-Production
Filmmaking

You just typed “FADE TO BLACK” on your script. Congrats! But your script isn’t quite ready for production. A film production must run off of a locked script, so everyone has the same information.

You just typed “FADE TO BLACK” on your script. Congrats! But your script isn’t quite ready for production. A film production must run off of a locked script, so everyone has the same information. Everything is about the story, and if there are different versions of a story floating around, things become complicated.

But what if changes need to be made to a script during while shooting? It happens all of the time. Here’s what you need to do:

1) Enable Scene Numbering

Before locking your script you’ll need to add scene numbers. Why? Because a production runs off page and scene numbers. When you’re on set, talking to your Director of Photography (DP) about part of the script, you want to be able to say, “Look at scene eleven, for this I’m thinking…” To do this, you need scene numbers.

If you’re using Final Draft, go to Production > Scene Numbers.

In Fade In go to Production > Scene & Element Numbering > Check Show Numbering.

You’ll see the numbering appear typically on the left and right sides of your script page.

Bravo. But what happens if you need to make changes to a script once production starts?

2) Lock the Script

In an ideal world you’d finish your script and never make any more changes. This never happens.

When you lock a script, page numbers and scene numbers remain unchanged even if you add or remove content from the script.

Example, let’s say you want to add a new scene between scenes 3 & 4 in your completed script. The proper way to do this is add it and label the scene as 3A. This will also bump page one onto a new page called page 1A. Then all subsequent scenes and pages remain exactly the same.

If you added two new scenes between scenes 3 & 4 they would be 3A and 3B. You get it.

The good news is Final Draft and Fade In can handle this for you. Here’s how you lock a script in each:

In Final Draft go to Production > Lock Pages. You’ll see a small lock appear on the upper right of the script. Now your pages and scenes are locked. If you add a new scene heading in between two existing scenes, you’ll se that Final Draft doesn’t change the scene numbering – it leaves the new scene without a number. You can then click Production > Edit Scene and name it correctly.

In Fade In go to Production > Lock Page Numbers. This locks the pages. Next, to lock the scenes click on an actual scene heading in your script and go to Production > Lock Element Numbers. When you do this Fade In will auto-increment your new scenes for you with the corresponding letters.

3) Track Revisions

What happens if you change a scene that already exists? You need to tell Final Draft and Fade In to indicate this.

In Final Draft go to Production > Revision Mode. Everything you change or add will be marked with an asterisk. You can also manually do this by highlighting the text and going to Production > Mark Revised. To change page colors, this is done under Production > Revisions.

In Fade In go to Production > Revisions and choose the revision color. This will also place and asterisk and change the color of the text.

4) Script Revisions During Production

When changes are made to the script during production, everyone must be alerted to what has changed. To do this, you pass out page revisions that are color coded.

For example: If you were two days into shooting a film, and you made changes to page 5 of the script, that page would be reprinted on blue paper. If you made changes to page 5 again, it would be printed on pink. Then yellow. etc. Everyone in Hollywood knows the color order of revisions. Here they are:

White, Blue, Pink, Yellow, Green, Goldenrod, Buff, Salmon, Cherry

Some TV shows have adapted their own versions of the above. But this is the official list from the WGA.

Cool, that all makes sense. But how do you track it all? Final Draft and Fade In can do this for you.

Here are the steps to prepare your script for production:

It Happens to Everyone

No production ever has a script that isn’t tweaked while shooting. So even though it’s a little unnerving to lock your script, you just need to bite the bullet and do it! It’s not as difficult as it may seem.

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