Sunday 16 October 2011

Screenwriting software

John August, a prominent Hollywood screenwriter, has published a remarkably detailed set of notes about how he organises his writing day. The part that caught my attention was this: 
I do most of my “real” screenwriting in Final Draft. I don’t love it. My greatest frustration is usually with its Smart Type Lists, which invariably want to insert extraneous bits of parenthetical detail after character names, so I end up having to type more letters just to get past its unhelpful suggestions.
I’ve also used Movie Magic Screenwriter, and found it to be approximately as frustrating in slightly different ways. So it’s a case of the devil you know.
In no way am I slamming these two apps; I’m grateful they exist and afraid they might go away. Over the years, I’ve tried out every new piece of screenwriting software that’s come along and found them lacking.
There are small but important details that you have to get right, such as handling dialogue across a page break. I’ve played around with two or three different applications built atop Adobe Air, all of which had unacceptable typing lag.
I started with Movie Magic Screenwriter for no other reason than that Terry Rossio recommended it. Terry's Wordplay columns provided most of my early introduction to the world of screenwriting. At the time I didn't know a single person involved with filmmaking, so he served as my only guide. 

As time went by, I discovered I was about the only person in Australia using Screenwriter. For that reason alone I would recommend Australians buy Final Draft; it's what everyone else is using. But first join the Australian Writers' Guild. They have a cheap deal on Final Draft for members.

I now have both. Neither of them is perfect, contrary to the marketing hype. I've encountered bugs in both, but they beat the stuffing out of mucking around with Word templates.

You can read John's full article here. If you're an Apple user, you're in for a treat. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the advice. I'm forwarding it to a couple of beginner screenwriters I know.