Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Final Draft revenge

Is it just me or is FINAL DRAFT the worst script program out there? For reasons that astound me it seems to be the industry favorite, at least in the sit com world – or the Paramount sit com world. I’ve used both FINAL DRAFT and MOVIE MAGIC and greatly prefer MOVIE MAGIC.

They’re similar except I haven’t wanted to fling my computer through a window while using MOVIE MAGIC. Both have their quirks but FINAL DRAFT was obviously conceived by some crazed disgruntled programmer who once wrote a spec PUNKY BREWSTER that I rejected 30 years ago. He’s been trying to destroy me ever since. Or, maybe it’s not him. Maybe it’s somebody else…

For years I used SCRIPTWARE, which I just assumed was designed and run by a major company. Turns out it was some lady in the San Fernando Valley. Did I once date her? Is that why the importing feature never worked?

And now I think back to all the loony secretaries my partner and I have had over the years. One was a spinster who drove a stolen Porsche. Another showed us nude photos of herself (her we liked). One asked for an extra hour at lunch because she was going to get an abortion. When we said she could take the rest of the day off she said, “That’s all right, I’ve done this before. No biggie.” We had a secretary taking script dictation who would put her head down and nap every time there was so much as one minute of silence in the writers room. She was saving her energy because she and a few others in the typing pool had a bet to see who could sleep with the highest ranking movie executive at that studio. (For the record, ours came in second, and fourth, and fifth, and ninth) Could any of these fruitcakes now be designing script programs? (The nude modeler quit. Even our offer to make her co-executive producer wasn’t enough to change her mind.)

One assistant we had would routinely stand on her head in the reception area. She got hit in the head by a tree branch in the commissary patio but I don’t think we were named in the lawsuit. Only the studio and “Hawkeye Pierce” for some reason. Another of our charming former assistants was stalking a burned out former rock icon of the 60’s who she insisted was in love with her. This is the same assistant whose cat once went up a tree so instead of calling the Fire Department she called the Special Effects department to send a stuntman out to her apartment. You fire these people for cause but you always wonder…could any one of them be using their technical computer skills to boil my rabbit? I think back to the disgruntled FRIENDS writers assistant who sued the writers for sexual harassment. Did those writers get off easy? At least their script program will let them make page breaks.

Yes, I may be paranoid. Yes, I may be over-reacting. But when I want an action line and FINAL DRAFT just keeps sending me to the dialogue tab over and over and over and over, well come on, I’m not an idiot. I KNOW IT’S PERSONAL.

28 comments:

Dave said...

See, I'd say that "computers only do what you tell them to", or "garbage in, garbage out", but I'm all to familiar with the problem of humans creating the programs.

I haven't used Final Draft much - I've used Movie Magic Screenwriter (previously ScriptThing) and found it to be pretty good. Trust me though, it has it's quirks too. Program crashes, etc.

I started with Scriptware and had the same importing issues you had.

I think Movie Magic does the most well, perhaps because it was written by a writer for writers.

I heard that version 7.0 of Final Draft was terrible, but that an update helped considerably with problems folks were having.

As for why it's a standard - I'd go out on a limb and say that back in the day, it did the most. It didn't hurt that it ran on a Mac and if you had a Mac too, you were pretty much guaranteed for the files to be compatible.

Who the hell knew what would happen with IBM compatible pc's.

Over the years, other programs have caught up to it with many of the features, but it's still one of the defacto standards.

Claude said...

FCP is horrid...though that's what I use.

I tired MMS for 5 minues and I couldn't take it.

Guess I'm just used to Final Crap Pro.

BTW, FCP 6 is better than 7.

Ken can use post on the wonders of Acrobat and PDFs!? Someone needs to.

Anonymous said...

Final Draft was great right up until version 7 was released, at which point it became one of the buggiest pieces of software I have ever used.

However, the latest version, which I believe is 7.1.1, is rock solid as far as I can tell, and I'm glad of it because I prefer Final Draft overall to Movie Magic Screenwriter or other screenwriting applications.

Of course, when I stepped away from my computer the other day and returned a few minutes later, there was a paragraph of expletives smack dab in the middle of my script. It's even money as to whether the offensive language in question was the result of a hidden Final Draft "feature" or my wife's newfound desire to be open and honest about my work...

James said...

Sophocles is the only screenwriting program that doesn't make me want to take a hammer to the computer monitor or sometimes even my own head.

It is, however, only available for Windows.

Pianista en un Burdel said...

Some guys in Madrid developed a new script program: SCRIPTUM.

www.abcguionistas.com

RKBentley said...

What Claude and anonymous said ^2.

Been using FD for years, FD6 for my mac is fine. Have had no problems at all.

FD7, well, hopefully FD8 will be better...

Vince DC said...

I swear by MMS which was spawned by a wonderful program named SCRIPTTHING. It's much more intuitive and user friendly than FD and certainly not as buggy. If someone sends me a scrip in FD, I'll import it into MMS, that's how much I dislike the program. I still do AD work once in a while and it's the only software that's compatible with MM Scheduling. FD7 claims to be exportable to MMSched, but I haven't had the nerve to try it.

It's all about marketing, the only reason why FD is so popular.

Emily Blake said...

I love Movie Magic. And the only time I had a real problem I couldn't solve, the tech support guy was nice and helpful.

I just wish they had more templates for current shows for download on the website. A guy who works for the company offered to get me some, but I got the distinct impression he wanted me to sleep with him first.

Ken Levine said...

Wow, it used to be sex for an assignment. Now just a template?

The Guy who works for the company said...

You wish.

Jon Sherman said...

Count me among the many here who graduated from ScriptThing to ScriptWare (I think it was called) to Screenwriter 2000 (which seemed a very modern name for, oh, five minutes) to what's now Movie Magic Screenwriter. I love it and even used it throughout my years at Frasier, which meant exporting a file that FD could then import. I'm sure the writers' assistants loved me. I'm curious what people DON'T like about Screenwriter, as I've yet to find something truly annoying about it.

VP19 said...

I first used Scriptware, which was pretty solid but had its limitations. I much prefer Movie Magic -- it's easier to use and more flexible.

Funny stuff about the secretaries, though. Murphy Brown sends her sympathies.

Chris said...

i've been using 7.1.1 for about a month now (just posted a mini review myself) on my macbook. my experience hasn't approached the level of wanting to throw the thing across the room but there is definitely huge room for improvement. SmartKey works reasonably well for me but any amount of scrolling up and down, with the horrible redrawing, usually turns the screen into crap. I'm hoping the universal binary version due this summer fixes a lot of things. I'll give it that chance before I start looking around for a replacement.

Anonymous said...

I had FD version 5 for my pc and loved it. Minor gliches. I wrote my first screenplay ever with it, over winter break. I recently upgraded to an Apple laptop, and thus, to FD version 7. Hold me down, hold me down! That thing is so ridiculously bugged, it makes me nervous just thinking about it. From shutting down whenever it feels like it, to being bothered if I type too fast. Geesh. I will soon upgrade to version 7.1, if I can get over the fear.
-- Kate

Danny Stack said...

Scriptum? Nearly bloody killed 'um.

cru jones said...

are you kidding? final draft is great. the bugs and crashes give me an excuse.

Jesse Wendel said...

The current version of FD is 7.1.1 which is quite stable. I'm using 7.1.1 Build 19.

Earlier versions of 7.x were buggy and crashed all the time, but 7.1.1 is fine. If you're a registered user, you can go to the FD website, and upgrade to the latest version. Caution: Doing so may override any customized settings, including your personal dictionary. You may search FD's technical help section, for advice on how to migrate these settings over.

I use FD and am happy with it, especially how it writes out to PDF, which I can then send to anyone. And I can insert ScriptNotes anywhere in my script, which is useful in reminding myself of stuff I'll need later. In addition, FD comes with additional tools for prepping a script for production.

I won't say there isn't room for improvement, but I can write a script.

Tom The Plutonian Penguin said...

Wow. That post mentioned nude assistants, abortions, and sleeping your way to the top--but really gets a group of writers worked up enough for 17 posts? Final Draft vs. Screenwriter. What a lively bunch.

Shky said...

Free and open source: www.celtx.com

Paul said...

Still using FD5 for PC ---very pleased, works great.

Alex Epstein said...

If you're on Mac, go back to Final Draft 6. It's robust.

If you're on PC, stick with Screenwriter.

If you're on Mac, and try Screenwriter, you will want to hurl the Screenwriter people out the window.

Vince DC said...

Emily, that sounds like Fred. He wanted to sleep with me too.

Adam said...

Ken, if you go to FORMAT > Change Element > You can set preference.

Paul Duca said...

Ken, as someone not in the business...can I ask what scriptwriting software does that a regular word processing program doesn't?

Vince DC said...

Ken, if I can oblige...

Paul, the only difference between a scripwriting program and say, Word, is that the script program gives you the illusion that you're a screenwriter.

rorybaldwin said...

All of this has inspired me to upgrade my FD to 7.1.1.

Dave said...

Paul, essentially, Vince is right.

However, the more lengthy excuse is that the scriptwriting programs are word processors whose only templates are for scripts (TV or film) as opposed to letters, memos, etc.

What they do better than a standard word processor (such as word) is they do keep the script in proper format. This is especially useful during rewrites (when you are adding/deleting things).

People say they're expensive, but if you look around, you can find it free or up to $300. For many, it's worth the $ to not have to worry about format. No character names at the bottom of a page w/no dialogue.

Most of the programs offer a demo as well so you can actually see if it offers more than your current program.

Most important thing is - do you want to spend your time writing scripts or writing macros. I've done both and prefer scripts (although macros do make a wonderful diversion/excuse).

Anonymous said...

I'd like to think the gal who was offering nude photos in the office now runs a top 5 agency...