Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Draft Dodgers

A question has been asked-- "How do you know when the "first draft" is done and what provides the impetus for developing proceeding drafts?"

I have just finished polishing the first draft of "72."  There is no hard and solid rules for what constitutes a draft.  Almost like the rules for software upgrades.  When does it become a new version versus a new build? 

In the WGA world, a job is defined by drafts and polishes.  For some jobs, a writer might be contracted to write a screenplay, two drafts and a polish.  Usually, the writer will finish the screenplay and pass it off to a few trusted advisers for notes... then after taking them (or not), he has Draft 1.  He sends that off to the producer or entity that contracted him.

Notes come back.  Writer incorporates notes.  Then hands in Draft 2.  Then if there are just a few minor notes like "change this word from feline to cat", it might be just a polish.

For us in the Indie Film world, it might play out a little more arbitrary.   I usually have what I call a zero draft that only my wife gets to read.  Then I take her notes and incorporate and it becomes Draft 1.  Then I pass this draft to a few trusted friends and colleagues.  Since no one else has seen the script, I'll incorporate their notes and still call it Draft 1.  Once I start sending it out to people in the industry and then make serious changes, I'll call the new one Draft 2.   I have gone up to Draft 14 before... and that's with some changes simply being a polish and not a new draft.  But that script was 3 years in the making.

My "Game of Integrity" script was written five years ago.  I got to Draft 4.  I dusted that off last week and re-wrote some things and sent it out as Draft 5.   For "builds" I use letters.  So "Time of Chaos" is currently Draft 11b. 

One reason to rename even polishes is that it saves a record of the prior work.  There have been times I cut something, only later to regret it and want it back.  I open the older file and cut and paste.

So it's really pretty much up to you.  Draft numbers don't matter once we start Pre-Production, because the current draft gets "locked" and it becomes the "white" draft.  Future revision become a new color.

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