This post was written by The Film Look.

After slaving away at the keyboard for weeks, months, or maybe even years, you’ve finally finished your screenplay! It’s time to move into pre-production and begin making your film.

Well, don’t close Final Draft just yet—you are going to be coming back and editing your script more times than you might think.

For our recent action-comedy short film Sixty Seconds, we found ourselves tweaking the 12-page “final” version of the script at least five times throughout the production process. These weren't major changes, just a new line of description here, and new dialogue there. They certainly strengthened the final product and all needed to be written, saved, storyboarded, and shortlisted so we could make the film.

Let’s break down when and why you should be editing your screenplay when making your next film. Check out our video below for even more detail on this process!

1. Editing Your First Draft

Feedback from others is possibly the most valuable "free" asset you have at the beginning of your next project. Asking for others to scrutinize your script costs nothing but your pride—and when someone points out a major plot hole in your script, you’ll soon realize just how worthless your pride is and how priceless their feedback can be.

Because you are the writer, you have the whole film playing on repeat in your head; and it’s perfect! You can visualize the characters, the locations, the action, and the drama—but sometimes your ideas can get lost when translating them to the page.


The script for our short film Sixty Seconds was written by two of us after discussing the initial idea. One person wrote the first draft, then we discussed the script. Taking feedback can be difficult at any stage of the project, and co-writing isn't for everyone, but showing other people your script is super important.

Once you’ve found someone, let them clue you up on what this film is all about. They will tell you exactly what got lost between your brain and the page, because they don’t have the backstory, characters, or plotline playing on repeat in their brain like you do.

Note down their feedback, what works, and what doesn’t. You don’t have to take every suggestion, it's still your script, but be open to feedback. It’ll make each draft of your script the best it can be.

2. Editing Your Script in Rehearsal

Your first rehearsal is a magic moment; the words and characters finally come to life! It allows your actors to get familiar with your script, but it’s also a great time for you to edit your script based on their performances.

During the workshopping stage, play around with the lines and the blocking with the actors. Let everyone in the room play with the material, you might realize that a line of dialogue or action doesn’t work the same way you originally thought.

Each person in the room will bring their own experiences to the table. You might find a serious moment turns quite comedic—and it might work better! Some new ideas will be great, others not so much, so keep a pen handy and make notes if you think something could be edited in (or edited out).

Just like when you were writing your script, you don’t need to take every suggestion your actors come up with, but it's good to work through it with them. By the end of the rehearsals, you should have another million ideas to work with. Time to edit your script again!

Photo_2_-_editing_your_script_in_rehearsal_0Credit: The Film Look

3. Editing Your Script for the Location

Unless you have the cash to build the perfect set, the next best thing is to find an adequate location, then add things like set dressing and lighting to get it feeling more cinematic.

Sometimes during a location scout, you’ll be lucky enough to find a location that features an amazing spiral staircase or 12-foot Victorian windows. I can guarantee you will already be wondering how you can edit them into your script!

If this happens, don’t let the script go stale. Open it up and tailor the scene with these new assets in mind. You may find the blocking will change. Or maybe the scene overall has a different mood to it.

Our short film Sixty Seconds was shot in a YouTube studio, which looks like a YouTube studio. What we really wanted was a location that resembled a floor in a multi-story office building that was currently under construction. Something like an unfinished floor in Nakatomi Plaza in Die Hard.

Since we couldn’t find or afford something that resembled that, we dressed the location we had access to with boxes, caution tape, and construction-looking set dressings.

Photo_3_-_editing_your_script_for_the_locationCredit: The Film Look

Rather than simply letting these elements occupy the space, edit them into the script. This conscious decision will lead to even more ideas, and before you know it, you’ve transformed the scene and created something that is even more impressive.

4. Editing Your Script for the Props

Just like the location, your props will likely change (at least a little bit) during pre-production as you start collecting everything you need.

Our short film Sixty Seconds contains an elaborate bomb prop with lots of intricate modules for the characters to defuse. During the initial writing stage, we honestly had no real clue about what these modules would look like! So we wrote something a little more vague, knowing we could change it later.

During pre-production, we collected a bunch of stuff and built the bomb prop. After building it, we knew exactly how the characters could interact with it. This meant we could open up the script and edit the action lines to match the props.

Photo_4_-_editing_your_script_for_the_propsCredit: The Film Look

If your character pulls the trigger of a pistol, the action line doesn’t have to change after you acquire the prop.

“EVELYN raises the gun and pulls the TRIGGER.”

Generally, pistols all work the same way, but if you decide your character needs to be a badass with a shotgun, then it’s worth editing the action line.

“EVELYN cocks the shotgun and pulls the TRIGGER.”

Brandishing a shotgun has a different feeling to a pistol, and this small change will alter the rest of the scene ever so slightly. Put a shotgun prop in an actor’s hands and they will instinctively raise it and pump it. It’s a slight action change, but it’s worth keeping your script up to date.

Remember, the script is a blueprint for every department, not just the actors, so the props department will need to know you require a shotgun and not a pistol.

5. Editing Your Script on Set

During the final rehearsal on set, you might alter a line here or there, but once the cameras are rolling and the actors are acting, the script will become concrete. Make a note of any slight changes and make sure the actors are committing to the newest lines and not going backwards on the material.

Photo_5_-_editing_your_script_on_setCredit: The Film Look

Since you’ll be covering the scene from multiple angles and takes, major changes in dialogue and actions can be a continuity nightmare. So when you begin, stick to it. This is why productions have a script supervisor. Their sole job is to keep track of continuity whilst shooting and they keep the script up to date (which is essentially another form of editing the script).

The script is the blueprint to the entire project, so when you are on set, use it just as much as you would use the camera.

6. Editing Your Script When Editing

This is a bonus one. You’re not going to be editing your script in Final Draft while you're editing your film in Adobe Premiere, but you’ve got this far so don’t stop editing your story.

Post-production is where everything comes together, the good, the bad, and the stuff we have to live with. Get other people to look over your edit, take their feedback, and make your film the best it can be.

Now that you know all that, check out our short film, Sixty Seconds:

Check out more from the Film Look at their YouTube channel.