A Quick-and-Dirty Production Notebook

This blog’s all about storytelling, from writing to any other kind of tools we use to construct narratives. So today I’ve got something a little different: a quick-and-dirty production notebook that I put together for a horror fiction podcast now entering recording.

What’s the point?

As we were recruiting voice talent for the show (*cough* begging our friends *cough*), I realized that I would want something with the whole season printed out, accessible in one location, so that I could make quick notes about different takes, line reads, thoughts for the edit, etc. And yes, I know that I could take notes or make highlights in Acrobat, but I needed something I could write on quickly, and for me no digital solution yet beats the hand-eye connection.

What’s it got?

I’ve printed the whole season and put it into a three-ring binder. A tip I picked up from twitter, though, was to reverse print the pdf, so that the first page is on the bottom. Then you put the printed project into the binder face down, giving you a blank page (the back of page 1) on the top. Now, when I turn the page, I have a blank sheet on the right-hand side that I can take notes on. Because I’m right handed, this is a mostly ergonomic trick I’ve taken advantage of a couple of times. (If you’re left handed, then standard printing already provides you the same benefit of that blank note-taking page on the left.)

Next I alligator-clipped (I’ve recently heard people call these “binder clips,” which sounds so wrong. Does anyone else call these things “alligator clips”? Might be a southern thing) the front page to the inside cover of the binder, allowing me to flip it up and still access the binder pocket. Into said binder pocket went the color-coded timeline spreadsheet we created for the podcast: it’s a decently complex storyline, so having the timeline to hand should prove handy.

Of course, you can’t forget to put page tabs at the start of each episode, so you can flip to them quickly and easily.

If you were doing the same for a feature script, I might put page tabs at the start of each major sequence, or at the act breaks, or, probably most usefully, assign a different page tab to each day of the shooting schedule.

When I sit down for a recording session, I think I’ll also bring a ruler with me, which I’ll use to block out where a take started or stopped; hopefully this will come in as a useful reference later in editing.

The only thing missing now is the podcast’s cover art.

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