A Leap of Faith

I recently worked on a post regarding the changes to Celtx and how one could get and keep their original offline versions of software so those who have invested into the platform could maintain it.  But as I have been also posting about I have been slowly getting back into my filmmaking side and exploring ways to proceed into it.  But it has been sometimes since the days of past where I could pull up my favourite editor and whittle away the hours tapping away on a keyboard but more one my issues with that later. 

It has occurred to me that the software I once used is no longer supported in fact the guy who wrote has dropped off the face of the earth.  The other collaborative tool I used was Celtx and it has changed significantly since I last used it.  Final Draft has gone under 2 revisions (and it still is pretty much the same software) and I have never touched Movie Magic.

But there are other players, free, not so free and the outright bizarre.  I am not going to look into each and do a massive review, but the one thing I will be looking is the leap of faith people take and then find their product has gone, not supported, shut down or a shadow of themselves.  What does one do when this happens?  I look a new player in the landscape in general but not to the field is Adobe with their Adobe Story.  A script writing platform, which is web based only, offer a free and a premium version for a subscription cost and provide some cloud storage.

Its premium version has scheduling and production reports (the full suite I do not know), can export into Excel, which I am presuming allows for budgeting but it is the lack of offline versioning that makes it tricky.  If you decide to take the leap, since “I will be using Premiere and After Effects” then why not.  It speaks of integration but I have yet to try it and I think I will when I go the whole hog, when I have spoke with some people to determine what collaboration I can get I will look further into this and provide a more end to end up date on it.  But, that said, I am trying it for one project, but for those who go the whole hog, web only, documents in the cloud and the service shuts down, they can, it is in their terms of service, they would burn a lot of bridges if they did that but it is a reality.  What then?  My friend and I had 26 different scripts and that equated to about 290 or so files including all of the different versions and this was on Celtx.  They stopped providing the software to use the old system and were unrepentant about it, but through some diligence and searching I found their last version, installed, hope it worked and downloaded them all.  My issue is now it is all in the format of the software that is no longer supported.

I have scripts in Final Draft, which is still available but I have to find my licence for it.  I have them in Sophocles formats and so on.  Each one, has their pros and cons and not one can provide me with everything I want.

Another one I found out recently was Fade In, not long ago there was Movie Outline and I still get spam mails from there about their product which I believe started as an outline and pre-script tool and progressed into a fully fledged application.  There is of course Final Draft, Celtx and Movie Magic Screenwriter.

So for those uninitiated I have just shown 6 different screenwriting applications all providing one thing in common, if not more, they all write screenplays.  Their costs vary and being in Australia it is even worse for some.

Product Price
Adobe Story Free ($9.99/month Story Plus)
Celtx Free ($9.99/month Standard, $19.99/month Premium)
Fade In $49.95
Movie Magic $160.00
Movie Outline $199.95
Final Draft $249.99 (AU$319.64)

It is an interesting cost difference for software that does very much the same thing as what I am using now, or what Microsoft Word does.  I know there will be people who argue it, but to devote so much of your time writing, creating stories only to be bound to a product or worse be left with manually converting scripts because you selected product is now gone.  Not to mention actual cost investment.

Some of these packages aren’t cheap, Final Draft likes it prices high because if you look at their testimonials page we have so many Hollywood screenwriters endorsing their use.  I remember a post did a while back regarding George RR Martin and what he uses for his writing, and old DOS machine. Which he gets to work it enables him to write his books and then export it and send it to the publisher for editing and finally publishing.  Does anyone of these products enable you to write a BETTER script, no, since that is up to you.  If I pay the money for Final Draft and more academy award winning screenwriters use it does that statistically mean I will receive an academy award one day or at leats have a statistical chance to get one.  Well one thing I can say is statistics do not take into account other than actual numbers and under those I would say yes, there is a statistical chance if I use it I will get one.  But the reality is, I have an equal chance of getting an award for screenwriting using ANY of the above products.

So which do I use, which platform do I decide to sink my teeth or my money into.  Well the biggest draws at the moment are Adobe Story or Celtx for one main reason, collaboration.  I can, with my friend sit down with the application open, and run through at different locations and use Skype and update the script.  My friend has been my First AD and chances are will remain to, while I direct as he is the best one I have worked with and his work ethic is second to none.  But I am looking at it from a project by project aspect and it isn’t an easy choice but at least Story enables importing Final Draft which I do have documents of floating around but the Celtx offering still enables so much more than script writing and as a pre-production took, like the Sophocles product I used to use, it is a stand out.

I am wary of a leap of faith again and I might keep my options often and export and keep backups of all my version in a nice open format that I can use anywhere depending on the situation and what happens to my platform of choice, like Celtx and Sophocles of past.

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Posted on February 6, 2015, in Article, Michael Rogers and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Go for FadeIn! I use it all the time. I’m an Android user and they have an mobile app for $4.99 or a free version. I’m not an Apple fan. It’s also a one time fee all upgrades are free.

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