Mayans M.C. writer and co-executive producer Sean Tretta talks TV production and Scriptation app

Taking an episode of TV from script to screen can be an arduous process, with many, many script revisions before even a single frame is shot. Sean Tretta (Mayans M.C., 12 Monkeys) takes us through his career, TV production process, and how Scriptation has changed his workflow.

#MyScriptation is a series that follows Hollywood players (and Scriptation users!) who share their tips and tricks while using Scriptation on set.


What was your path to becoming a writer?

I started writing, directing, producing, and editing my own feature films while I was a student in Arizona. After making my fourth indie feature, I started working with a manager who recommended I try writing my first TV pilot. A few months later, he got that script optioned by Imagine Entertainment. A few months after that, I came out for staffing season and luckily landed a gig writing on SyFy’s 12 Monkeys.

I’m currently a producing-writer and I started using Scriptation while covering set on the second season of FX’s Mayans MC.


What advice would you give an up-and-coming filmmaker?

The most important thing is to create your own material and therefor, your own opportunities. Regardless of where you live or if you have connections in the business.

The second – and probably the biggest cliche – is to never give up, but nothing is truer. A point came during the middle of my first feature where I contemplated just abandoning it. Luckily I didn’t, and that’s why I’m here today.

Even though what I was doing at the time was far from perfect, I was learning from it. Every failure teaches you something. I know for a fact that my greatest strengths now come from the errors I’ve made making my first films.


When (and why) did you start using Scriptation?

Scriptation was recommended to me by several people following our first season of Mayans MC. I’d been meaning to go paperless on set and find a way to consolidate all the notations I would make on color drafts throughout the production of an episode.

Prior to this I’d have my “rainbow drafts” with all the updated color pages and hand-written notes sorted together. But often that folder would get lost, borrowed, or misplaced – it never failed. Then I’d have to be working off either the sides for the day or ask production to print out new full copies of the script if I/we needed to reference something in the full script that wasn’t being shot on the day. At that point, you’re relying on memory to recall notes made during the course of pre-production/production.

Scriptation changed all that in an amazing way. Now everything I need is consolidated into one place. The only thing I have to worry about these days is losing my iPad.


What’s your prep process like?

As soon as a PDF of the studio-production draft is issued I pull it into Scriptation. Then, as we start production meetings, I begin making notes – everything from production logistics, prop specifics, tone/performance notes, last minute dialogue changes, blocking, etc.

Then when new drafts are issued, I bring the new PDFs into Scriptation and transfer the notes from the previous drafts to the new one. Every note I’ve made since the first issued draft is there in one place at my fingertips.

It’s just so convenient to have a versatile app that eliminates all the papers that are usually falling out of your pockets on set as you move from one set-up to the next. It’s amazing – seamless, fast, and easy.


What Scriptation tip would you share with other users?

I bring my call-sheet into Scriptation also – that way I have everything I need for the day in one place.

I also use Scriptation when reading friends’ scripts. I recently had a friend ask me to give notes on their feature script. I pulled the PDF into Scriptation and typed all my notes there. After we had a general talk about the script, I sent the annotated file from Scriptation to them and they had all the specifics there in one place.

I use it the same way for myself too. I’ll make notes on my own drafts and then after I do a revision, I pull those notes into the new draft/file to see if I’ve addressed them properly.


What would you tell other productions that aren’t using Scriptation?

Especially in TV, everything moves so fast and it’s easy for specifics to get forgotten. When I use Scriptation, nothing gets lost or forgotten.

It’s also been a big help when you need another writer to cover a production meeting or set. You can share the notes back and forth and combine them with your own. Everyone always ends up being on the same page.

No pun intended.


About Sean:
Sean Tretta is a film and television writer/producer/director best known for Syfy’s 12 Monkeys (2015 – 2018), Hunters (2016), The Prometheus Project (2010), and Death of a Ghost Hunter (2007). Sean began writing, directing, and producing independent features while still a student at Arizona State University. He lives in Los Angeles and is married to actress Tiffany Shepis.