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Fun Joel's Screenwriting Blog


-- On Screenwriting and Related Topics

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Location: Los Angeles, CA

I moved from NYC to LA in October, 2003. And though I still think NYC is the greatest city in the world, I'm truly loving life here in the City of Angels. I'm a writer, reader, and occasional picture-taker.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Screenwriters Save the World!

Or at least save some trees. Which, I suppose, is one way to start saving the world as well, no?

My old friend Tamara (we've known each other since around 5th grade or so) has started a grass roots campaign to try to save some paper, and thus some trees. Called Change the Margins, the initiative has lofty goals that will require very little from any one of us. Think of it as environmentalism for the lazy man (or woman).

The idea is, if we all change our word processors to have narrower margins (the suggestion is .75" instead of the typical 1.25 inches per side), every document we print will consume less paper, and thus contribute to fewer trees killed worldwide. Admittedly, any one of us will have little effect on this issue, but if enough people make this change, the collective global impact could be substantial.

One goal the campaign has set, which could increase the impact of this measure is to try to persuade Microsoft to change the default margin settings on MS Word. There is a petition up at the site, and I hope you'll consider signing it, as I already have.

Now, it's true that screenplays have very rigid formatting guidelines, and most of us don't have the option of altering them when we submit our scripts. (I did, however, once encounter a script that had been submitted from a production company to the larger company, for which I was working. It contained a form note on the bottom of the title page that said that as an environmentally conscious company, they submit all screenplays printed double-sided. Nice!) Still, I did want to at least suggest a few changes that we, as screenwriters can make to contribute (in addition to changing the margins for our non-script documents).

I don't know about you, but I'm the type of writer who writes on the computer, but tends to do a lot of my editing on paper. After I finish a draft, I typically print it out and mark it up by hand. Well, those printed pages don't have to waste as much paper as they might.

One option you have is to change your settings so that you print 2 pages per sheet, instead of one. They will be printed side by side on the page, held with the long side of the page running along the top, instead of top to bottom. Thus, you are using half as much paper. And if you then go and print on both sides of the page, you are actually using 1/4 the paper you would have! It is true that the font size prints much smaller, but it isn't tiny, and your eyes adjust relatively quickly. And even if you still can't adjust to 2 pages per side, printing double sided should be standard for draft copies.

Another option is something that my parents have been doing for a long time. They have a stack of "dirty paper" by the printer. This is paper that they may have brought home from the office, or previously printed drafts on. The paper has stuff already printed on one side, but it is stuff that isn't important. The paper would have normally been thrown out. Instead, they use it to print drafts on the other, "clean" side. I've done this as well, and I highly recommend it for drafts, or other "unimportant" work pages.

It is easy for writers to close themselves up in their rooms and forget about the world outside. These have been a few simple steps we can all take to reverse that, and help save the world instead.

(And kudos to you, Tamara!)

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Blogger Christina Shaver said...

Here, here!

I double side my drafts and recycle as much paper as I can. It's amazing how much can be saved...and that means money too.

My husband runs his own company and has made it a point to do absolutely everything possible electronically. He's got a rapidly growing office and right now twenty people share one printer...and it barely gets a work out. It CAN be done.

2:40 AM  
Blogger Laura Reyna said...

I try to do as much work on computer as possible before printing.

And use the clean side of old drafts.

I also cut up drafts to use as scratch pads for notes & grocery lists.

That changing the margins on your draft idea is interesting. That unused white space all around the page has always bothered me. I'll experiment with it.

6:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you said it yourself... only print out final drafts haha... we could save a Michiagn sized forest every year

or someone could imvent erasable ink jet ink

3:31 PM  
Blogger Fun Joel said...

I'd like to add that if you're reading this post, and you agree, you should sign the petition that is on the Change the Margins website. It requests that Microsoft change the default setting for MS Word margins.

Christina -- good on you AND your husband!

Laura -- good idea about the scrap. I do the same with envelopes from mail I receive.

Quill -- if we are really careful about not printing until final draft, it will also help us not send off anything that isn't truly ready for professional eyes!

7:32 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

I've been anal about wasting paper, since I was a little kid. I reduce my margins to 0.25", if it's for my own use. Now with your advice, I reduce them 0.75", when I'm printing for professional use.

By the by, for my fellow Mac users, Apple also likes to waste paper. They set the margins on those '.rtf' documents you create with the standard "TextEdit" utility to use 1" margins. AND it doesn't let you change it.

Here's how to get around this:
1. Open the rtf file in a plain text editor that doesn't understand rtf, so it displays the settings as text. OS X comes with vim (very hard to learn, but all Unix people know it), or you can download Smultron from http://sourceforge.net/projects/smultron/

Then search for the sequence (near the top, before any of the text):
Change the two 1440's to 1080's (for .75") or any number of inches times 1440 for any other indent.

You can also add: \margt1080\margb1080 to reduce the top and bottom margins.

Use the back of pieces of junk mail (if it's blank on the back) or good mail that's no longer needed, or discardable paper you find when cleaning out your files.

BUT do NOT encourage junk mail. Reducing is much better than recycling. Write to the Direct Marketing Association and ask to stop receiving unsolicited commercial mail. Then tell the credit bureau (when you get your free credit report) to stop receiving credit card solicitations. I also told the Boston Globe to take my address off their mailing list for their advertising flyer, which is not part of the paper, which I don't get.

This has reduced at least 2/3 of my junk mail.

5:21 AM  
Blogger Fun Joel said...

Good stuff Michael! I'm going to forward to Tamara.

5:24 AM  

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