What happens to a script after they're done making the movie or TV-Show?

I’m assuming they don’t throw them away. Is there some kind of movie script vault?

  • I guess that, for many big companies, there are private archives, as well as national archives in many many countries. Think Library of Congress for movies/scripts and more.
    – OldPadawan
    May 1, 2023 at 3:58
  • 6
    This is a rather too simplistic view of what constitutes "a script" & that there is but one master copy to be filed or discarded [but why??] once the entire project is released.
    – Tetsujin
    May 1, 2023 at 6:50
  • Is this just about the director's shooting script itself, or all the other copies and versions too?
    – DavidW
    May 1, 2023 at 12:19
  • Well as an example I assume there is only one original copy of Star Wars: A New Hope’s screenplay which they made copies of. Where is it and the same goes for other movies too.
    – Morgan
    May 1, 2023 at 13:09

2 Answers 2


Many of Hollywood's scripts of historic importance reside in the Cinematic Arts Library at the University of Southern California, having been donated by scriptwriters, directors, actors, or studios over the decades. Others may reside in studio archives or in personal collections. The original Star Wars script is reportedly in the Lucasfilm archives in San Francisco.

In modern times, with scripts generated using custom script-writing software, there is often no "original copy" in print, since multiple iterations may be needed for various aspects of the production. For some productions such as Marvel Cinematic Universe movies and shows where secrecy is important actors may only be given the sections that have their lines.

  • 1
    They also sometimes give actors decoy scripts. May 2, 2023 at 3:37

"The Script" is not a single entity. It may be preserved as one after production, giving the audience the romantic ideal that it always was so. Typed up by one guy, set in stone for ever.

In reality, before and during production, it will be changing constantly, perhaps daily. These days, as scripts are written on computer rather than typed, these changes can be transmitted to the people who need copies right up to the night before, even printed overnight.

So… who needs a copy?
Everybody on set that day.
The director, actors, camera, & all crew each get a version of "the script" suitable to their role in the day's proceedings. This is known as a 'call sheet'.
The first few pages are logistics, for every single person who has to be at base or on set that day, from the director & actors right down to the guys who empty the bins; everybody has a call time that they need to be there by. It will list who is in charge of every department, with their contact numbers, emergency details including the nearest hospital, what time the supporting actors [SAs, or 'extras'] need to be in place [even though they are the only ones who never get to see this call sheet, they are told by different means.]

It will then go on to describe briefly what the running order is for each scene through the day, scene number, location [which stage or geographical location if not at the studio] exact cast & SAs required for the scene & a brief synopsis of what the scene is.

Behind all this logistical information is the actual dialog script for each scene to be shot that day.
At the very back will be abbreviated, anticipated call details for tomorrow and perhaps the day after.

Some shows are known to make changes so late that the scripts are printed on different colour paper [in a specific order - white, green, yellow, orange, red] so it's easier to tell if you don't have the latest one.

Once finished with, all these daily copies go in the recycle bin and a fresh set is prepared for tomorrow. The electronic copies these days are all kept on disk - everything is kept, nothing is ever thrown away in case it ever needs to be referred back to. Data storage is cheap compared to having to re-create things from memory.

So, the only time "The Script" really exists as a single entity is after shooting and final editing, someone has to electronically gather the final versions of each day's script and compile them to a single 'showpiece' document. This is the one the public may get to see.

See also On a multicam show, who has access to the full script? for a slightly more comprehensive explanation of the call sheet.

  • 1
    Nice in-depth explanation. I think the OP is asking more about what you describe in your last paragraph (and that you mentioned in a comment), but it's nice to see the 'life' of a script :)
    – OldPadawan
    May 2, 2023 at 7:45
  • 1
    @OldPadawan - Thanks. Yeah, I thought so too. I decided I ought to work through from 'daily changes' to the final 'artificial construct' the public thinks of. [I did simplify a lot on the way;) I was also reminded of a similar QA from a while back - added link at the end.
    – Tetsujin
    May 2, 2023 at 7:55

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .