FINAL DRAFT: How to Keep Your Scripts Safe

Joel Levin received his Master of Fine Arts from the School of Cinema-Television at the University of Southern California and was an assistant cameraman in New York before becoming Vice President of Technical Support at Final Draft, Inc. During and after USC, he worked in feature film and television development at Jersey Films, The Family Channel, MTM, Nickelodeon Movies, and Alliance-Atlantis Television. He has also worked at a literary agency and as a script reader.

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It was a dark and stormy night. Across the moors rode a man on a horse. The man on the horse’s name was Kent LeBon, and his flowing white shirt was open at the neck to reveal a chiseled, tan physique. Although he was only 25, he was the richest and handsomest man in all of Cornwall, with long, dark hair and a prominent cleft in his strong chin, bulging muscles, a deep voice, and well-groomed nails.

Kent rode and rode through the moonlight on the beautiful horse. Finally, he achieved his goal: Castle Pembrook. The Pembrook family and Kent’s family had been enemies for generations but that didn’t stop him from falling in love at first sight with the beautiful young daughter of the Pembrook family, Katerina, who he had met at a masked ball earlier that month in the Prince’s castle where they danced all night before they took off their masks and revealed themselves to be from the enemy families. When the ball was over, they swore they would see each other again, but Castle Pembrook was heavily guarded by her cruel father’s henchmen, and her hand had already been promised to the horrible Duke of Lancashire. She was a fair maiden of 20, with long, blond hair, milk-white skin, a curvaceous body, and big blue eyes. Kent and Katerina had decided that this night would be the night they eloped.

Kent dismounted Thundersteel and tied the magnificent black steed to a nearby tree. Then he stealthily made his way up the hill to a secret passageway into the castle. Katerina’s maid Else met him and silently led him to Katerina’s bed chamber. Then he flung open the door and he and Katerina rushed together as one. Between deep kisses, he whispered sensuously, “My love, let us away anon, before your cruel father’s men find me and kill me.”

She cried, “Yes, my love, but first I have to recover the Final Draft script I’ve been working on. We had a power surge while I was writing and now the file won’t open. Do you know what to do?” He strode to her laptop, glistening triceps engorged, and put the wireless mouse up to the screen and moved it around. He pressed Return a couple of times, closed and opened the laptop a couple of times, and pounded the keyboard with his mighty fist.

“No,” he said, his voice full of love and pain. “I must call technical support,” she cried, her voice teeming with desperation. A single, perfect tear flowed down her flawless cheek as she pulled out her cell phone and dialed. “Thankfully, Final Draft has 24/7 support.”

A voice, not as deep and rich as Kent’s but still pretty good, came on and said, “Final Draft, this is Joel. How can I help you?” Katerina explained what happened while Kent paced nervously, his biceps throbbing with passion.

Joel replied, “Whenever you save or the auto-save kicks in, Final Draft automatically creates an additional date- and time-stamped copy and places it in another folder for safekeeping. You can set the location of this folder to be on any drive or partition you want and also set the number of backups stored in the folder before the older backups are purged. On Windows, open Final Draft and go to Tools > Options. You’ll see a path to the backup folder. Copy it, click the Start button, and paste it in to the Search box or, on XP, into the Run box. Click OK and copies of your last 50 successful saves will come up. Double-click the latest one and you’ll be back in business.”

Katerina, near tears, her ample bosom heaving breathlessly, cried, “But I have a Mac!” Kent angrily drew his sword but she motioned for him to put it back.

Joel said, “Go to Macintosh HD / Users / your username / Library / Application Support / Final Draft / Final Draft 9 / Backup. You’ll see your backups there.”

Katerina was overcome with joy, happiness, and also delight. “How can I prevent data loss in the future?” she exclaimed.

Joel said, “There are several easy ways to make sure you don’t lose material. If you have a Web-based e-mail service like Hotmail or Gmail, when you attach a file to an e-mail, it’ll stay on their server in your Sent Mail folder— that’s not a bad backup location. Another way is to simply e-mail your script to a friend or family member. They don’t even have to have Final Draft. They can just keep it for you on their computer in case you need it again. You can buy an inexpensive USB flash drive and keep your files there, or you can purchase an external hard drive. Burning your files to writable CD or DVD is a good idea. You can also upload your work to any number of free or low-cost online-storage services, like Dropbox, IDrive, Gspace or Mozy. The strategy here is to keep copies of your scripts someplace besides your computer, ideally outside of your house.”

Katerina’s body shuddered with pleasure when she realized how easy it would be to create copies of her script and place them where she could retrieve them in case her main computer failed.

Joel continued, “I also recommend that every couple of days, if you’re writing steadily, save your file with the day’s date in it (no slashes!) so that on your hard drive you’ll always have successive drafts at your fingertips. You can also rename different versions of a script with appropriate information as you change your content, such as (for example) Filename—No Necktie Scene, Filename—Long Necktie Scene, and Filename— Necktie Scene Moved to Second Act. Take advantage of the fact that you can make your filenames long and use them to indicate exactly which version of the script it is.”

“Thank you so much for your kindness!” she cried as she gazed out the window toward the dark, moonlit sky, a gentle breeze wafting her golden locks.

“Hey, no problem,” said Joel. Another tear slipped down her cheek while Kent glared.

On the moor, as Thundersteel galloped intensely, Kent and Katerina rode for his castle, her long cape flowing behind her, a hood on her head. They would indeed be together in his castle by the sea forever. For one brief moment, however, she turned back to gaze at the home she was leaving behind but deep in her heart she was thinking only of the gallant man who had rescued her Family Guy spec from oblivion. As they rode on, silhouetted in the moonlight, she knew he would always be with her, and although she loved Kent with a white-hot passion, she knew that her soul would never forget Joel the Final Draft Tech Guy.

Originally published in Script magazine January/February 2011

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