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Screenwriting : "Final Draft" software -- the best? And how do you get a discount on it?? by LindaAnn Loschiavo

LindaAnn Loschiavo

"Final Draft" software -- the best? And how do you get a discount on it??

I have heard about other script software and I would like to hear your opinion(s). Thanks!

Andrew Griffin

Hi LindaAnn. Personally, I use Celtx which is a free app, despite having Final Draft on my computer. FD is more fully featured but there is an immediacy with Celtx that I find more liberating if that makes any sense. There is also a bunch of other production apps that work with it, so if you're making a film yourself it smoothes the process a little. Good luck choosing! Griff.

Anthony Cawood

I'm with Andrew, I use Celtx on my laptop and iPad, despite having FD too... I only use FD if a producer/director specifically asks me to.

Richard Toscan

If you have a student ID, FD offers it for about $130. Amazon had FD9 for about $175 instead of $299, though haven't really looked to see if it's the full pro version.

LindaAnn Loschiavo

Richard, I just found a nice discount on Stage32 that brings the price down to under $190 for Final Draft 9. I have used Celtx. It's OK for a free program -- but I never got used to it.

David Ennocenti

I actually got used to Celtx. I like it. In fact, like some of it's features over Screenwriter Magic. One thing I don't like is the printout default font seems too light. But as a software package it works fine.

Andrew Penner

Don't use Final Draft, just don't. It's old and clunky and there are a dozen better options. Thanks to the Fountain format you can write a screenplay in Google Docs if you want to. Don't let anyone tell you you need Final Draft, no working screenwriter I've ever spoken with has ever said such a thing.

Lisa Clemens

I have to use Final Draft because so far everyone I've worked for asks for the final copy of my scripts in FD (or FDR if they have an older version than mine. ) And now you know a working screenwriter that said so :)

Travis Byford

I've used Final Draft since version 6. I got Final draft 8 and the upgrade to 9 with a fairly decent student discount. It's amazing software if you invest the time to learn how to use it. ~t

Philip Sedgwick

Right now Movie Magic is onsale (through 12/02) at the Writers Store. And there's the Stage 32 discount. Easy to use, compatible with budgeting and scheduling, it surely is my preference. I have FD and Movie Magic and Celtx. MM is my choice.

Pertinax Aureolus

Good to know what screenwriting world prefers what. Thanks, Steven.

Larry Gilmore

That's good advice, Steven. LindaAnn, I would also have a look at Celtx: https://www.celtx.com/index.html - it's free and is literally used by millions around the world. Another really, really nice piece of software which is cheap is Movie Draft: http://www.moviedraft.com/ which sells for under $40. It is excellent. Final Draft seems to be a feature film industry standard, but the absolute best writing software I have ever used (for anything!) is Scrivener: http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php It has THE best features, can be configured in multiple ways and even exports into Final Draft if you need it to. Powerful research features too, including a place to store websites. It allows you to construct your screenplay non-linearly and even has "cards" that can be moved around on a virtual corkboard. Scrivener probably has the biggest learning curve out of all of them but from what I have tried (and I do use Final Draft for finishing my screenplays) it is the absolute best. I use Scrivener for working on notes, gathering research and constructing the screenplay before going to Final Draft, but you can write your screenplay in Scrivener as well if you want to. Right now it appears to be on sale, too. I cannot speak too highly of Scrivener. You can write anything with it WITHOUT have to open multiple files all the time to check your notes like you need to in programs like MS Word. Good luck choosing!

Stage 32 Staff - Julie

Stage 32 offers discounts to our members on Final Draft 9 in our deals section: https://www.stage32.com/marketplace/Final-Draft-9

Dash Riprock

I use Fade In. It's cheap, clean and easy to use. Why spend a lot of money on bells and whistles when, at this stage of your career, you don't need them.

LindaAnn Loschiavo

Thanks, Tom. I went to the site and FADE IN is only $49 and there is a free download to test it out. Thanks.

Armando Minutoli

I use Celtx. It's for free accurate and more than suitable: http://celtx.soft32.com/free-download/?lp=dsa&tg=us&kw=_inpage%3AHome+Wi...

Deb Havener

I've been using Movie Magic for years and love it -- but I think Final Draft is the one more peeps use for screenwriting. This link will take you to the free trial page for Final Draft: http://www.finaldraft.com/support/installer/final-draft-9-trial

Hank Isaac

I've used MMSW since it was called "Script Thing." It's not arrogant like FD (i.e. deciding absolutely how your formatting should look). Also, the folks who support MMSW are accessible and friendly. Having received a bunch of copies of FD as prizes from contests over the years (which in itself is rather bizarre), I've tried to use it. Honestly. But, no way. I've given away all my copies. But if you like it, cool. And as for lots of people using FD... Remember the original battle over DVD formats? The best doesn't always win. Is there a not-so-subtle lesson here?

Franz Salvatierra

I've taken to using story.adobe.com/

Jean-Pierre Chapoteau

Yeah I've been using MovieMagic for 8 years. I love it. I think I bought it for $130. My friend has both and he got it for free on a torrent site, but... I think that's a gamble.

Sydney Cuthbert

Try Fade In software. Only $50 and it imports and exports to Final Draft if you need to, also imports celtx and MMWS as well as fountain. Does everything you'll need to do as a screenwriter.

Chas Franko Fisher

Write in Fountain or Celtx. Both perfectly good and free. Fade In and Final Draft are both excellent but also contain a whole lot of bells and whistles that are only necessary when you are reaching pre-production. When starting out, anything that gets the formatting right and reduces the amount of times you have to hit the "tab" key will do.

Steven Seidman

I personally recommend Final Draft first software I started using and will most likely be the only Screenwriting software I will use. It's simple and does exactly what you need without any setting up the software.

Marla Young

I've had Final Draft for years. Yes, there are 'bells & whistles' I don't use but it is very easy to use. FD is really good about sending a new version (a link via internet) if you lose your FD through a computer blow-up (has happened to me more than once). Very customer-oriented. I've used Celtx in working with a director on a short, but it is a bit unwieldy and we had trouble communicating through it. FD is worth the investment & is accepted (and acceptable) to most producers/directors/agents etc.

Sydney Cuthbert

Ron, I have to agree with you whole-heartedly. I started off with FD and used it until i came across FI which I've found does everything FD does that a screenwriter might need.

Steven Seidman

I should look into Fade in at some point. Screenwriting software is like football teams lol

David Kurtz

Hard to beat the free version of CELTX

Thomas J. Herring

I have FD vs9 and Movie Magic Screenwriter. They usually take it as a PDF file anyway.

Pertinax Aureolus

How do Cetlx and Scripped compare?

David Kurtz

PA, I'm not familiar with Scripped but Celtx is great, user friendly and does everything I need. As usual there are a few tricks to discover, so feel free to ask me if you have a problem.

Pertinax Aureolus

Thanks, David. Yeah, I signed up with Celtx because of the chatter here on it and like it so far. I stumbled across Scripped and wonder if anyone here had any thoughts about it.

David Ennocenti

I've never used Scripped. I like Celtx, it does the job.

Becca-Chris M

Pertinax- my co-writer and I won a membership to Scripped in a logline contest, but haven't really explored it yet, as we're using Celtx.

Pertinax Aureolus

Becca, was it with Celtx you won the contest? If so, why mess with success on switching and too funny. Pb, makes sense about the PDF for the readers. That said and with the advent of the collaborative technologies (e.g. the software you guys mentioned, Google docs, email, social media and whatever else you can think of), are hardcopies required much nowadays? (I hope not)

Becca-Chris M

Pertinax- We placed as quarter finalists in a contest while using Celtx. We didn't have to create the logline in Celtx. And I agree with Pb. It's nice to not have to worry about the proper amount of brads and such. Sending PDF is way easier! Plus, as he said, it's quicker. AND saves money too.

Chas Franko Fisher

I could not agree more Jeremy just above

Chas Franko Fisher

If you are starting out, use free or super cheap software and spend the money on life experiences. That idea will be worth more to you in the end

James David Sullivan

That's simply NOT true. Most script-writing programs have a distinctive "water-mark" that can tell a reader EXACTLY what software created the PDF. FD uses a utility (Amyuni PDF Converter in FD V9) which puts its mark in the PDF file, as do all other screenwriting programs of which I am aware. Also, there are a lot of small peculiarities which can easily tell readers what software created the PDF. The title page fonts are usually a dead giveaway, for instance.

Lisa Clemens

Well I'll be darned, I never knew that so I checked it out. When I right click on the PDF file and click on, "Get info" sure enough it tells me that the content creator is Final Draft! Cool! Thanks James!

James David Sullivan

LIsa, that's not the only way you can tell the PDFs apart. There are lots of clues in several different locations, most of them a lot more subtle than what you mentioned.

Mark Sanderson

Don't skimp on price, don't go for the FREE, spend money on your career and do it right. Whatever software you use (I am biased as I am a FD Brand Advocate) and have used it for all of my 28 screenplays, don't use some word doc formatted into something... it's not professional. The moment you don't have the recognized software, producers will immediately wonder about you and think "Uh, huh amateur." LindaAnn contact me if you want to discuss a FD discount. http://www.fiveoclockblue.net/Reel.php

Michael L. Burris

I bought Final Draft 9 last year, got the free upgrades to 9.3 or 9.4 but it can be a pain because it will throw out this non compatible version crap. If you rewrite a lot, once you get it just stick with the version you have, it should be sufficient. The upgrades are quite frankly useless even for production drafts. Probably not a better software out there though. My experience is windows version.

James David Sullivan

@Ron, the most important readers (producers) do know how to do that and they can spot writers who are using FD and MM quickly - and they know who is serious enough to purchase professional software and who is not.

James David Sullivan

@Ron, there is clearly something you don't know about using MS-Word templates that would either make it prohibitively time-consuming to use "properly" or make it instantly obvious that FD or MM wasn't being used. I am not talking about contests. I am talking about where it really matters - with a producer.

James Chalker

Purchasing software doesn't make you a serious writer. I could argue that being a serious writer means being able to change margins or hit the tab key a couple of times without dropping onto the floor into the fetal position. Working on your writing makes you a more serious writer.

Sydney Cuthbert

Martyn, I agree. His Fade In software uses a fountain base and for $50 does everything you need including importing and exporting to FD and importing celtx and MM.

Pertinax Aureolus

For a major feature, has anyone seen a properly formatted script rejected because it wasn't written with the "right" screenwriting software program? On the flip side, what about those scripts that SOLD despite it was written using something other than FD or MM -- anyone experienced or witnessed of that? Wouldn't it make more sense that it is the story itself that draws or repulses the reader (and the follow-on decision makers) than the software program the screenwriter used? Back in day when the old-fashion typewriter was the tool of choice. Was there ever an industry debate over the preferred brand and model?

James David Sullivan

@Ron, you can start apologizing, that's what you can tell me. I'm working with a producer right now. When I need to get the FD reports he needs, I don't have to play games with MS-Word - I don't have to do any time consuming conversions - I don't have to make any excuses. The fact that an A-list writer uses something else is completely irrelevant. A-list writers have earned the right to do what they please. If you are going to try to compose a defense of your philosophy, you need to do a much better job. Furthermore, the person in charge of the pitch sessions on Stage 32 often gets complaints from producers when writers submit scripts that are in PDF format but not originated in FD; producers can tell instantly. And he has made that clear to those who pitch - use FD if you want producers to take you seriously. He deals with a huge number of well-known producers all the time. This "debate" is over. You just don't know what you're talking about. So, please stop wasting my time and pretending you have a point - you don't.

James David Sullivan

@Ron, the following is a direct quote sent out to those who have pitched through Stage 32 in the past: "I don't want to see any more scripts submitted that are not written on Final Draft. Writing a script on anything but Final Draft will never make sense to me. An exec will open the file and immediately make a negative opinion about the professionalism of the writer if it is not written on Final Draft." That guy is the head of the pitch sessions on Stage 32. He deals with top-notch execs, producers, and managers every day. He should know. Case closed. Get over it. You're wrong. Admit it. Move on.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Ron, Final Draft is "generally" considered the industry standard. It's not about pdfs. It's about functionality and ease of workflow. Final Draft is a program that can be used throughout the script development workflow and production of a film with its many additional features. If your script is sold and goes into development, many other people will be handling the original file, not the pdf -- casting, director, producers, executive assistants, perhaps other writers, et cetera. It is a benefit to use standard tools that streamline the process. But, with that said, it's always professional to ask which program your producer would prefer and to thus accommodate. Most prefer Final Draft, Movie Magic or Celix. Why not be ahead of the game? Create your script in a program that can accommodate its fruition and completion. Can't get more professional than that. :)

James David Sullivan

@Martyn, let me see if I understand your logic. If an eye doctor wants to continue to use a scalpel for lens correction, rather than a laser, why would a patient not just flip a coin to decide which doctor is better? Beth makes a very tactful and logical case for using the most professional software for the project. Why use a computer rather than a sliderule? Why use a tractor rather then a horse and plow? "The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind."

LindaAnn Loschiavo

There are certain industry standards -- and this software is available to writers for $200. Would you invest $200 to make a good impression? If we were landscapers just starting out, we would need to buy a truck, carry liability insurance, and also purchase required tools ---- so we're talking about $15,000 in start up costs for a landscaper. Come on, writers. Getting Final Draft for $200 - - - it's not breaking the bank.

James David Sullivan

@Martyn, first of all, opticians write prescriptions for lenses, they do not perform eye surgery. Oculists and ophthalmologists are true "eye doctors". Your credibility goes way down when your examples don't employ proper terminology. Second, your example of rendering software is not something that would normally be used by producers; as a result, that example is irrelevant. Screenwriting software, on the other hand, often is used by both writers and producers for rewrites and for reports.

James David Sullivan

@Martyn, in your profile, I noticed that you state "In my spare time I'm learning to write screenplays...." I didn't realize you were so highly qualified to enter this discussion. My mistake!

Dash Riprock

If someone (producer, manager, agent) was more concerned about which software you used rather than being focused on your SCRIPT, ask yourself if that's really the type of person you want aiding your career.

Dash Riprock

You're absolutely right Lisa. And if and when it gets to the development level, I'll switch to whatever software they want. But I'm like most of the folks here: a writer of spec scripts, trying to break in. That's why I use FI. It gives the reader a clean, formatted and finished product. And at this point, that's all I need and that's all the reader wants.

Michael L. Burris

Ron tread lightly and think for second, believe me I feel like the kettle calling the cauldron thing here but this is my take about Stage 32. It is opportunity for amateur's, aspirer's even mid-level writer's to get some practice and honest feedback at the very least. How much is a creative writing course at a University per say. There are no promises, guarantees any more realistic or unrealistic than the in-person world. This industry is as much about standardization as finding brand, uniqueness for a writer. I suppose you are entitled to your opinion, everyone is. But to call it a scam seems like your own frustration, been there in so many ways and trying myself to rise above it. Will I still get frustrated and rant once in a while? Sure, I'm human but I try my best not to bash while sticking up for myself. These people are definitely not lying to anybody making them utilize their money in any way the people giving the money don't see fit, hence no scam. That's the way I see it anyway and I have absolutely no vested interest in Stage 32 other than a networking place to learn. Michael L. Burris "I want to believe nothing is pointless"

LindaAnn Loschiavo

Wow! People are arguing over FD software that costs under $200. Warning: don't have dinner in NYC (where I live) because that is what the restaurant bill will come to. (smile)

James David Sullivan

People are not arguing here about the software. It is about their egos and their inability to support their positions with facts.

James David Sullivan

Ron Moskovitz was "Awarded the 2005 AMPAS Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting (with co-writer Seth Resnik) for their script 'Fire in a Coal Mine'. That doesn't necessarily mean the top prize, just one of the fellowships. He also has, according to IMDb.com, written and directed a short (2004), and served in the sound crew of three projects (2001, 2003, 2005). So, it's not clear to me how Ron knows so much about contests, since he only appears to have entered one. There are two contests that I entered and received reviewers comments on indicating that they knew I was not using professional software. I don't know if that counted against me, but they definitely noticed.

Danny Manus

James, if they noticed you weren't using professional software then yes, it probably did count against you. It may not be the disqualifying factor, but your script would have to be THAT much better to overcome that.

Armando Minutoli

You know don't believe all the hype...As long as its legible in proper form with a reasonable page count i wouldn't worry...remember its the story that counts and a well written synopsis will open their eyes... Remember they are looking to make money... the bottom line if the story smells of money it can be written on the back of paper bags......HahaHeeeeee

LindaAnn Loschiavo

Speaking as a judge for PLAYWRITING festivals and competitions, as well as on the panel for literary prizes - - - two areas where the formatting instructions can get very nit-picking and there is an avalanche of submissions - - - the dramatists, poets, and the fiction writers do not have to use special software. Even a typewriter will do, in many cases. But the submission instructions can be draconian. It is understood that the readers are looking for any little thing to disqualify an entry. Oh, you put the page numbers on the right instead of the upper left? Out! Oh, your bio-note exceeded the 50-word limit?? Out! Oh, you didn't submit BLIND? Boy, are you out! So when you enter a contest, and it's expected to draw hundreds of entries, do not do anything that might disqualify you or cause a reader to toss your entry away unread. My two cents.

Armando Minutoli

Yes I agree LindaAnn... But lets face winning one of those amounts to a minor miracle.. Some of those contests have over 7,000. entry's It's networking...that may get you there ... Think about some of the junk that is produced tell me their wasn't an angel involved... But , you are correct...doing it the "right" way may help.... I'd like to cut down a 60 character screenplay with multiple locations into a stage play...No any surgeons who will work for the love it? Best

LindaAnn Loschiavo

Dear Armando: "The 39 Steps" (the Broadway version) had all the characters Hitchcock used -- - - played by FOUR actors. It's interesting that you mention your dilemma. The screenplay I am writing has a small cast and very few locations - - - stamped "written by a NYC playwright" all over it perhaps. (smile)

Armando Minutoli

I know LindaAnn your so practical but what do i do with the other 54 characters? read my book: The Hester Street Kids if you dare to help me tackle it HAHAheeee

LindaAnn Loschiavo

Armando, fortunately, I have a few angry birds pecking on my antenna over here. This week I am (in no particular order) reviewing a stage play (with my theatre critic hat on); completing my latest book "Flirting with the Fire Gods"; and digging my heels into my screenplay "Nightfall at Shadow House." I go to the theatre about 3 times a week, so I'm always thinking about "characters." My suggestion: go to 6 plays in your area and review them. As you critique the work of others, you will gain perspective on your own writing. Writing criticism keeps your pen sharp.

Armando Minutoli

Wow..good luck with all that...don't forget feed the dog...I mean the birds..... If you can fit it in like you to take a look at my web site newly updated specifically the sections on screenplays and film investor's would like to have your opinion/critique...best

James David Sullivan

@Danny, that's one of the reasons I switched over to FD. I've got a copy of MM as well. FD can be a pain - it's slow at times, but it does things that the cheaper software can't - things that are expected.

James David Sullivan

@Danny - When are you coming back to Dallas?

James David Sullivan

But they might remind you to put an apostrophe in "wont".

Pertinax Aureolus

Perhaps not if written in FD. ...yeah, yeah, I know, utterly childish of me -- I couldn't (ok, wouldn't) resist.

Mark Sanderson

Okay those who want to jump on Final Draft - it couldn't be cheaper this coming Monday - Dec. 15 buy it from The Writer's Store and it's $149 out the door - upgrade If you haven’t yet—to FD9 for $59 upgrade http://bit.ly/1yzbn06

LindaAnn Loschiavo

@ Mark Sanderson --- I bought FD 2 weeks ago at a higher price. A bit of boo-hoo now for buyer's remorse.

Mark Sanderson

Oh, well — at least you have it! And look - 92 comments!

K Kalyanaraman

I am with the other Celtx aficionados in this discussion. I never felt the need to buy FD, as Celtx is on free offer and does a wonderful job. It lets me do what I want, rather than imposing its own behavior on me! The only issue is-it does not allow me to center setting text, like writing ACT 1 etc...and I am yet to try its collaborative support.

David Kurtz

K, I started with the free version of Celtx, love it and have found no reason to change. There are some tricks here and there, like how to add a blank line to move a dialogue block to the next page so (more) can be avoided. What sort of text are you trying to center?

K Kalyanaraman

David, I have started new work for TV. I would like to demarcate each act or episode in centered bold text, and ideally 1 or 2 point sizes larger. So that each section stands out distinctly. Now, everything is left aligned. I will be happy if you can share your thoughts...without investing so much of your time. I managed to do page breaks without the "more". Thanks!

David Kurtz

K, I use Celtx for writing screenplays, not TV - but i agree with Lisa! DON'T GET CREATIVE WITH FORMATTING!

Richard Toscan

LindaAnn, Noticed FD has a sale going on now at 20% off but they're showing FD9 at $250; Amazon has it for $180.

K Kalyanaraman

Thanks Lisa and David for your thoughts.

James David Sullivan

Until midnight tonight (12/15/2014), The Writer's Store has FD in a box (plus shipping) or for download at $149.99; OR $59 (download only) for upgrading from a previous version: https://www.writersstore.com/final-draft-screenwriting-software?CID=1820... You also get for FREE a screenwriter's starter package: https://www.writersstore.com/screenwriting-starter-package/ By the way, I think The Writer's Store uses Mountain Standard Time for purchases even though they are located in California, so that's a hour less than you would have otherwise. You'll know for sure when the price changes on the first Web page above.

LindaAnn Loschiavo

@ Richard, thank you! I bought Final Draft 2 weeks ago on Stage32 for a discounted price (though I was too hasty because the price has dropped even lower now). Sigh.

Geoff Holder

I've had the same problem with the upgrade for Mac from Writer's Store crashing constantly. Did you have to buy it again from FD ?

Thomas J. Herring

I had the problem of it crashing when I hit quit. Was this taken care of?

Thomas J. Herring

Well, it did it on mine just now. I hit quit and then a problem page popped up. Something's not riht. I can still hit save and keep what I wrote. It's just annoying to quit the program out twice.

Jack Ritter

There is actually a discount on this Site for 10% off if you go to the deals section.

Geoff Holder

Turns out my problem was that I was running Apple OS 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard) - and FD9 needs OS 10.7 as a minimum - other users of old Macs take note. Having lost half a day downloading and installing OS 10 Yosemite (which is free) I'm slowly back on course - and FD 9 works fine. Andrew Bruce Lockhart - many thanks for your help, which set me on the right path.

Geoff Holder

Lisa , even worse, your old OS is no longer supported by Apple, which means no security upgrades.

Thomas J. Herring

I'm using 10.9.5 OS Maverick. That's as high as I can go on this. It's going to have to do until I come into a wad of money someday. I bought my Macbook in 2008.

Karen Keslen

I use Celtx, it's free and with amazing and easy options.

Steven Fussell

I second the use of Scrivener. When writing in format, it's almost as easy as Final Draft with shortcuts and auto formatting etc. But the true beauty of it is how it allows to you to structure, draft, rearrange scenes and add metadata. To me it is indispensable. Scrivener looks prettier than FD, but on an old computer or a smaller screen that may not be an issue. If you are worried about the final formatting then you can export from Scrivener into FD when you are finished revising and ready to submit. I assume you could even do it into a trial version of FD if you didn't want to pay for it. Anyway, I don't submit scripts very often, so I haven't used FD in a while. I also write other things so I'm used to using scrivener for novel, short stories, flash fiction. Anyway, bang for buck, FD is $200 and I haven't used it since I got Scrivener. Scrivener was $50 and it use daily.

Kevin Carothers

My experience is if you have a paycheck from a school (even if you aren;t a teacher) you can get an education discount. Sometimes if you are just an employee at a school or public utility. If you have a teacher spouse, register it in his/her name.

Aray Brown

Get Fade In

Keith A Jessop

Fade In is the BEST. Full-featured and remarkably priced. Imports and exports to many formats including FD. Have used it for 5-6 years now and wouldn't be without it.

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