choosing screenwriting software sides
October 17, 2007 10:59 PM   Subscribe

Final Draft, Movie Magic Screenwriter, or Celtx, or something else altogether?

I've searched the archives, and the last screenwriting software debate was in 2005. What's happened since? Is Final Draft still the industry standard? Has Movie Magic taken over? And what's this Celtx thing I've just discovered? Or has something completely different and better come out since?

I just wanted to get some scriptwriting software, and I don't know which one to get. It's Avid vs Final Cut Pro all over again! Help me figure out which one is the shiznit.
posted by mooza to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Everyone I know uses Final Draft.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:03 PM on October 17, 2007

yeah. Final Draft. Never actually met anyone who uses anything else.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:04 PM on October 17, 2007

FD is the industry standard.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 11:05 PM on October 17, 2007

Final Draft. Still the industry standard, still the best. You can directly upload and register your work to the WGA through the program.
posted by Roman Graves at 11:06 PM on October 17, 2007

I own both. Final Draft is the industry standard, but I hate it. I definitely prefer Movie Magic Screenwriter, as do others. Looks like I'm in the minority, though.
posted by sharkfu at 12:01 AM on October 18, 2007

I'll stick another one in the fire: I actually use Sophocles.

Easy to learn, works great, small footprint and great price point.
posted by willmize at 12:10 AM on October 18, 2007

I use Final Draft exclusively, but solely for compatibility reasons. Final Draft 7 seems much more prone to crashing than any of the previous releases, likely because it's grown pretty bloated w. interfacing/cowriting options that I have never seen or heard of actually being used. And as ubiquitous as FD is, there still seem to be a lot of needlesome bugs that can turn a writing session into a horribly frustrating reformatting session.

Scripts imported from MMS/FD 6/etc. will often need to be reformatted element by element As for the the import/export tools, the 'register your script' doohickey, all are nice enough ... but since when has it been hard to upload a script to the WGA's website?

The shortcutting and hot key options that FD offers are handy, though it's equally easy to train MMS / Microsoft Word to respond in exactly the same way. The 'script libraries' or whatever that're touted to make your spec follow show formats could come in handy, if that's your M.O.

Basically, I'd advise getting Final Draft for professional reasons, and lumping it out, even though Movie Magic is probably the superior software.
posted by mr. remy at 12:18 AM on October 18, 2007

For what it's worth, I've been using Movie Magic Screenwriter. It seems to work just fine but not having used the others, I have nothing to compare it with.
posted by lpsguy at 5:56 AM on October 18, 2007

Final Draft.
posted by filmgeek at 5:58 AM on October 18, 2007

Celtx is a gnarly little program, new-and-it-shows, and I find it unpleasant. If you have the money to but software, buy Final Draft - it's the de facto 'standard' and is customized easily enough. Though as sharkfu pointed out, it's got its detractors, and MMSW has its adherents (I've never tried it). This bears mentioning: Final Cut is an ugly piece of software, ungainly, bare-bones, and (at least on my Mac) a true standout in terms of visual tackiness. It saddens me that a world (ours) exists in which Final Cut is the premier scriptwriting application. But them's the shakes.

Final Draft's much more convenient than any MS Word macro (e.g. Screenforge) - e.g. it sensibly repurposes the Tab key and does (cont'd) insertions as you edit. Short version: if you're gonna write more than a page and you have either money or no scruples about thievery, don't use a Word macro.

I only jumped on the FD train recently so I've never had import/export issues; if something like Scrivener (a much more interesting, impressive app than Celtx, for God's sake) floats your boat, the voices tell me you can export easily enough from Scrivener to Final Draft. And vice versa I'd think.
posted by waxbanks at 7:58 AM on October 18, 2007

I use MovieMagic and don't have to worry about crashes like FD users do (on the Mac). The only industry standard is a great script.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 8:26 AM on October 18, 2007

A typewriter.
posted by secret about box at 9:12 AM on October 18, 2007

The only industry standard is a great script.

Only, that's not really true. When you email someone a project in an editable format, it's always in FD. If you need something that produces a print copy, of course, use whatever you want.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 9:22 AM on October 18, 2007

Final Draft is still industry standard. I've used it, Scriptware and Celtx. I like them all equally well, Celtx is really nice if you're going to mount an entire production on your own. If you're only writing the script, may as well stick to Final Draft, since that's what everybody uses.
posted by headspace at 10:05 AM on October 18, 2007

Final Draft is the Industry Standard.

If you're on a Mac, also buy a copy of Scrivener to do your actual writing in, then move it to FD for final output.

Scrivener is cheap ($35), and you'll thank me when you start creating with it.
posted by ScarletPumpernickel at 10:10 AM on October 18, 2007

Just for anecdotal fun, M. Night's script for Unbreakable was written in Microsoft Word, used Times New Roman, and had several typos. It sold for $5 Million. (That's not the important fact of the story, just goes to show that none of those things held him back.)

I try to use that as a reminder for myself to concentrate on the work, not the gear.
posted by sharkfu at 7:35 PM on October 18, 2007

final draft
posted by prophetsearcher at 3:20 AM on October 19, 2007

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