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 Message
    From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)
 Subject: ATTN: JMS - SCRIPTS
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 9/21/1995 5:03:00 PM  

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I always leave a fair amount of flexibility in the series/season
outlines; to do otherwise seems foolish.

We don't generally do a lot of revisions. Once in a great while
you'll get something that goes through 4 colors (drafts are color coded),
but they're rare. And invariably *all* such drafts after the first are
mainly revised to handle set changes or production requirements, not
story, dialogue or other creative stuff. This season, in all but one
case, I write the first draft, clean it up a bit for the second/final
draft, it goes into production, we adjust for sets ("Can we make this
the conference room instead of Sheridan's office so we can do it on the
same stage and avoid a camera move to stage in the middle of the day?"),
and it's filmed as written.

There's often a perception -- I saw it again at Wolf 359 -- that
lots and lots of people have input into the writing of the script. Not
so. I write it alone. Nobody sees nothin' until the first draft is
finished. I then show it only to WB (which hasn't given me a single
script note since episode 4, year 2), producer John Copeland (who looks
at it for any possible production headaches, too many extras or sets,
other physical elements), my partner Doug Netter (who doesn't generally
give creative notes, as per our tradition), and if necessary, Ron at
Foundation, Optic Nerve, and the director. A couple of cast members
like to look at first drafts, just out of curiosity to know what's
coming next, but don't give notes or suggestions.

Once I have in hand any production hiccups, I clean up the draft a
bit, adjust the production, EFX or prosthetics elements, make my last
minute personal revisions on the script (dialogue, structure, whatever),
then it's published as a Final Draft which goes to everyone in the cast
and crew. The various departments then begin work on realizing what's
in the script. We have meetings to discuss it to make sure everyone's
on the same page. I meet with the director to make the same assurances.
Last minute production-oriented changes are made ("Do we have a Ranger in
among the extras here? Do we need 12 Narns or will 8 do?").

And then the script hits the stage, and we shoot it. As written. If
an actor has a problem with a particular word, it can be changed after
checking with me to make sure that word isn't there for a very special
reason (a clue, foreshadowing, whatever).

The scripts are extremely detailed, with inserts, camera angles,
slow-mo indications if necessary, lighting notes, you name it.

Some scripts I tinker with a lot before issuing that first draft;
others blow right out of the printer as though pre-written. Sometimes
the most important ones are the ones that need or get the least revision,
because I see them the most clearly; and often it's the more trivial
episodes that seem to require lots of finessing.

jms

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