Following up on my earlier post about my experience with putting a script up on the Black List website, there have been a couple of things I’ve been asked, things I forgot, numbers that could be filled in, etc.:
A quick bit of catch-up for those who don’t know what the Black List is: Almost ten years ago, Hollywood development executive Franklin Leonard started (anonymously, at first) compiling an annual list of the best unproduced screenplays of the year. His industry-insider survey of fellow development people quickly became an eagerly anticipated yearly announcement — even outside the industry, including considerable attention from the mainstream media. Then, a couple of years ago, the Black List umbrella was expanded to include a website where screenwriters could upload their work to be read and evaluated by accredited Hollywood professionals.
The topic of screenplay pagination has come up a few different times in a few different places recently. No, really, it has. The explanation of things from Fade In’s point of view has been sitting half-typed on my laptop for a couple of weeks, so I thought I’d get it finished up and posted here.
On John August and Craig Mazin’s Scriptnotes podcast, a recent subject of discussion was screenwriting software development. They solicited feedback from listeners, which got me, as a listener who has a little experience with the subject, thinking about a few things for which I could possibly provide some additional clarification and particularity.
Happy New Year!
But maybe I should stop doing this. If I really wanted to keep things short (and yet still completely accurate), this year’s State of the Screenwriting Software Art could be something along the lines of: “Not a whole lot has changed from last year.” And if I wanted to get extra wordy: “Or the year before that.” With the exception of Fade In, no other professional screenwriting software has seen a whole lot of new in recent years.
I’ve done this a couple of times now — sat down annually to summarize the state of the art in screenwriting software — and it’s not completely off-topic to wonder just what the point is, especially to do it as often as every year. After all, the 12-point Courier screenwriting format has existed pretty much unchanged since the first caveman banged out the first screenplay and went looking for an agent.
A fair point, maybe. But. While the screenplay format may well be the one single constant in human history, everything else changes.
Last week Final Draft finally released its iPad-only Final Draft Writer, and announced that its regular price would be $49.99.
That $50 price tag for an app is pretty awesome. Not nearly as awesome as it would’ve been if Final Draft had the balls to ask a thousand dollars for it, but…pretty awesome all the same.
Granted, there aren’t as many bankruptcies in the industry as there were in the going-bust heyday of ten years ago or so — there just aren’t as many theater chains left — but those that are still standing are, well…they’re surely wondering just how the hell they’re going to stay in business for the long run, even with huge crowds still packing in to see the latest blockbusters, of which, these days, a new one seems to open every weekend.
I’m going to tell you why they’re not:
Movie theater chains are going out of business because they’re no longer any good at what they’re supposed to be in business doing.
There were a couple of discussions about Fountain here and there in the last few days, and one thing that came up was how a plain-text format screenplay was futureproof and therefore safer for long-term storage than a proprietary binary format.
That’s the reason that Fade In uses Open Screenplay Format.
© 2014 Kent Tessman