Tuesday, June 17, 2003



When beginning a work on that summer film project, it’s usually best to start with the story. Writing scripts can be done is just about any word-processing program. This issue is format. There is a script format at the Microsoft Website. So if you have Word, this may be the way to go to at least get the proper format down.

Now some people would say why bother with proper format? Well, Hollywood has been making movies, and writing scripts for a century now and this format has evolved to the point of being the most efficient way to not only read the script, but to break it down into it’s components in order to actually prepare to make the movie. FORMAT FORMAT FORMAT is the key to this. So my advice is to do it the way it’s done formatwise and get the template.

Trouble is, the template (though adequate in the job that it does) still busies the writer with format work while the writer should be dealing with writing the story.

This is where a script writing program comes in. And there’s two that lead the pack for intuitively writing a script. FINAL DRAFT and MOVIE MAGIC SCREENWRITER 2000.

I like Final Draft, my writing partner likes Scriptwriter. Both have their advantages, and few – if any – disadvantages.

The big advantage to either of these is that they take the formatting effort out of writing. When you start typing INT. or EXT. they know that's a "slugline" or main scene heading. Hit enter and you're in narrative. Then when you "enter" after typing narrative, you're ready to type character. Then, when you type in the character and press "enter" again, you're in dialogue. They automatically wrap the line, paragraph and even page. They add CONTINUEDS. They go into "transition" mode when you hit "tab" so you can write the transition. And when you're done, you can even do a report on characters, their lines, etc. With Scriptwriter 2000, you can even import the script into Moviemaker Scheduling/Budgeting and break it down nearly automatically.

A freeware word processor that I just found is called ROUGHDRAFT and seems to be written with a writer in mind. It has features specifically designed for writers of novels, short stories, articles, poetry, plays and screenplays. It will import files in Word 6.0, Word 97 and HTML formats. Did I mention that it’s a FREEBIE?

Script writing programs are definitely worth their price if you plan to do any serious scriptwriting.

Next week: Part II: PRE-PRODUCTION - Tools for planning your film.


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