We all know it can be a paper battle both in pre-production and on set, so here are some tips to help you reduce what you need to print. If you need a bit more inspiration, read about 1st AD Patrick James Stephens's recent paperfree experiences on our blog. There are also a whole load of case studies by production staff, detailing their successes and struggles in going paperless as well as other green production exploits.
And if you're looking for a reason to switch to paperless accounting, this is it: There are no rules on how you must keep records. You can keep them on paper, digitally or as part of a software program (like book-keeping software). This is direct from HMRC's mouth - see more here.
One of the first elements of the production process, and traditionally a very paper heavy part too. Step forward Casting Networks! Their paperless casting system is all held in the cloud, meaning those coming to your casting sessions can complete their headsheet online on arrival, and you don't have to send a runner to collect half a ream of paper the next day! Get in touch with Luke Brady to find out more.
Great for shared job folders, eliminating the need for a massive lever arch file of pointless print outs that gets lugged to set and back. Dropbox can also be used for creating an invoice sign off system - simply set up 3 folders: Received, Logged, Paid. You can annotate with budget line numbers or rename the file with the line number, sign off digitally in Preview, and share easily by granting folder access to the accounts team.
TO DO LISTS
If you're looking to make the switch from a paper notebook to a digital one, here are some great list making/productivity apps. We can also recommend Trello for to do lists, and Evernote for keeping all of your lists and documents together (handy for archiving old call sheets or budgets for reference).
Great for annotating documents such as contracts, PPM books, storyboards and invoices. You can also add your signature to the annotate function and sign contracts, invoices and the PIBs very easily! Follow the file path: Tools / Annotate / Signature / Manage Signatures to add yours or see here for a full explanation.
NOTABILITY & iANNOTATE
For tablets and smart phones, Notability and iAnnotate are great one for highlighting, annotating, and generally scribbling on things. Handy on a tech scout to mark up storyboards and location maps/floor plans. Also good for having crew sign NDAs or cast sign releases - simply import the doc as a pdf from an app like Dropbox, duplicate it to make enough for everyone, then go round and have each crew member sign one of the documents. For added organisation you can also rename each document with the crew member's name, and add a symbol to signify whether they've signed or not. You can pdf and email straight from the app too.
For larger projects, there's Scriptation, an amazing app which lets you annotate scripts, and then retain those annotations as you update your script with new revisions. The app will even tell you if something you've previously annotated has been changed or deleted, amazing! It also features a handy tool for actors and sound mixers that automatically highlights dialogues with the tap of a button.
This app is designed and developed by camera assistants and DITs, reports are saved by Production Titles that contain number of ‘days’ and ‘rolls’ within the shoot. You can email reports directly to DITs, Editors, Production or save as a PDF, and even upload images for easy reference.
MAKE UP CONTINUITY PRO
Quite pricy but this app will save you a boat load in notebooks and biros, this is a lifesaver on larger projects
Too much going on on your 13" screen? Need to print a copy of the call sheet to look at whilst you put everyone's names into the cost report? Print no more! Use your iPad as a second screen by downloading the free Duet app and connecting via USB.
ON SET DOCUMENTS
CALL SHEETS, SCRIPTS & STORYBOARDS
Encourage these to be viewed and annotated digitally, and pin up some A3 copies on set. Get the runners to stick these up in a prominent place first thing. You can always print additional items on request.
These are tricky not to print, and if you don’t you’ll often have to dig out the printer whilst eating an egg buttie to rattle off a few more. We’d advise starting with 10 x A4 and a couple of A3 copies and go from there.
A great way to condense information if it’s necessary to print all of the documents, once you've got the printer settings down!
You might not always be in commercial world - these programs and apps will help you work paperlessly on bigger projects:
HOLLYWOOD CAMERA WORK: SHOT DESIGNER
Create complex shot diagrams on the go, helping you to block out scenes. You can also import storyboards to include, and export your diagrams to shot lists. More about it here.
FINAL DRAFT, FINAL DRAFT TAGGER & FINAL DRAFT WRITER (APP)
Standard issue script writing software, Final Draft also comes with with app extensions allowing you to edit on the go, and tag the script with notes: props, stunts, extras and so on. This can then be exported into...
...MOVIE MAGIC SCHEDULING & MOVIE MAGIC TO GO (APP)
The gold standard of scheduling for bigger projects, Movie Magic also comes with a companion app.
GENERAL PRINTING TIPS
Use draft mode, black and white, and double-sided - set it up as a default on your computer for each programme
Adjust the margins of a Word or Excel doc to fit more on a page (File/Page Setup/Margins)
Once you've pdf'd something, you can change the layout in the print dialog box and print 2 or 4 pages per page (great for storyboards, schedules)
Request that the agency don't print any PPM books for production, but that they email a copy (or link to one) instead. You can annotate it during the meeting and easily email off to HODs with comments/notes afterwards. You can also use the PPM to mention there will be limited printing on set and find out what hard copy paperwork the agency and client would like.
Use scrap paper to stick down receipts and put a few bits in your production bag for any draft printing during the shoot
And lastly, don't forget that for HMRC, you do not need to have paper copies of everything - electronic is just fine. More info here.