Color Coding for Scripts and Film Documentation
A recent visitor to my house snuck a peek at my collection of callsheets, production reports and scripts that goes back the better part of a decade. She was struck, not by how data-dense, nor how specific they were, but by the fact that, like folders full of 8 1/2 x 14 Skittles, they came in assorted colors.
Almost all production documents are color-coded by edition. Callsheets, Production Reports, Travel Movements, Memos, Shooting Schedules, One-Line Schedules, DooD Schedules, Exhibit G's, Cast Lists, Crew Lists, Vendors' Lists and even the pages of the script, will go through several versions in the course of production. Some of them will change dozens of times as the studio makes changes, as new rolls are cast, as new crew are hired, as weather plays havoc with scheduling, as re-writes are ordered and on and on.
Even though a movie work day starts at thirteen hours, there are still not enough of them to accomplish every last task or to read every piece of paper that passes through one's hands. To streamline the transfer of information across departments and to make sure everyone is operating from the same assumptions, every set of changes leads a document to be printed on a new color of paper. This way, a person can tell at a glance if they have the newest edition of a document.
The editions generally go as follows:
1st Ed White
2nd Ed Blue
3rd Ed Pink
4th Ed Yellow (Sometimes called "Canary")
5th Ed Green
6th Ed Goldenrod
7th Ed Salmon
8th Ed Buff
9th Ed Cherry
And then it starts over with "Double White," "Double Blue" etc.
The system is nearly standardized, but not quite so. Some studios and some production entities abbreviate or modify the list and, once you get past the Goldenrod version, you should probably double check the studio handbook.
What struck my friend most were the scripts. It would be truly wasteful to reprint a hundred or more copies of a hundred page script to indicate a re-write of only one scene, so the color-coded edition changes affect only one page at a time. The new pages are printed on the appropriate color, the old page is removed, replaced with the new one and the script is re-bound. By the end of a show, copies of the script are piles of colored layers, an edge-on pastel rainbow, the edition of which is indicated by the cover page.
I wish the IRS, the DMV, my bank and the other institutions with which I'm forced to deal would adopt a similar policy. It would make the world a whole lot more colorful.