Most novice script writers will use their default word processing software. And this is not necessarily foolish considering favourites Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter cost hundreds of pounds. But what’s the fuss? Isn’t it just a bit of formatting –nothing that the tab button can’t fix?
Well, fortunately for us, early in pre-production we discovered the free software Celtx (http://celtx.com/) which not only provides script writing and formatting functions and can be exported into a universal PDF, but pre-production software as well. This means that you have all the automated functionality you expect, such as scene and character elements that can then be transferred to a script breakdown, scheduling and budgeting. It has a calendar from which you can develop your production schedule. And there is even a storyboard function, remote backup and an iPhone service. And did we mention it’s free?
OK, it’s free, so there are issues and it’s not perfect –we had to find workarounds for some limitations. But your choice of free software is not limited to Celtx. There is Page 2 Stage (page2stage.com/index.htm) and also free on-line screenplay services such as Scripped (scripped.com), ScriptBuddy (scriptbuddy.com) and Zhura (www.zhura.com).
But then you just might want to spend £150 on Final Draft, so you can have the computer generated voices who will read your character’s dialogue aloud. Or use Movie Magic Screenwriter like Paul Haggis, Frank Darabont, Guy Ritchie and hundreds of other famous people on its testimonial page.
Then again, M. Night Shyamalan allegedly wrote the script to ‘Unbreakable’ using Times New Roman on Microsoft Word. And it sold for $5 million. Which reinforces a universal truth: it’s not what you’ve got, but what you do with it that counts!
If Celtx is not your thing, here are your other options:
• Final Draft
• Movie Magic Screenwriter 6
• Movie Outline
• Screenforge (Microsoft Word template)
• Script Wizard (Microsoft Word add-on)
• Scrivener (Mac users)
• Montage (Mac users)