(Okay, okay. The above isn't a page from an animation script. So sue me.)
When I was pounding out half-hour scripts at Filmation, at least once every couple of weeks my boss Arthur Nadel would come into the office with a sheaf of pages in his hands and say to me: "The girls stop-watched this free-lance script. It's eight pages too long, so read through it and cut out eight pages, I don't care how you do it." Then he would drop it on my desk and move out the door, muttering over a shoulder, "That one you're already working on? It still needs to be finished by Tuesday."
I would smile and nod until the door snicked shut behind him, after which I'd drop the cheery facade, sigh heavily and start reading through the opus he'd just plopped on my desk. And one way or the other, I would cut eight pages of deathless prose, sometimes bridging an excision with a short scene, more often just chopping several old scenes out. It was crude work, but Arthur always seemed to be satisfied with my amputations...
At a lot of studios today, there doesn't seem to be much amputating that goes on, because production board artists keep complaining about how they have to board thirty-five page scripts, forty page scripts, and stay up late doing it. (Schedules don't expand to accomodate an extra fifteen or twenty pages.)
A few days ago, I was in a frustrated board artist's cube asking him how work was going. He shrugged, "Same old, same old. I have a forty-two page script to board, not enough time to do it, and the producer doesn't want to cut it back to half-hour length. 'We'll cut it on the animatic,' is what she says."
This isn't an isolated phenomenom. Today it seems as though nobody wants to rough time a writer's prose poem and get it down to the right running time. Better to let a board artist visualize all the excess angles and action, then trim it down on the story reel before shipping it overseas.
Wouldn't it be more efficient to cut the damn script FIRST? And save the board artist all the work that won't be used? Or am I nuts?*
*This past week, I sent a letter to one of the offending studios, asking for a meeting to discuss this issue and try and get some relief for board artists.