Author Topic: Screenplay formatting  (Read 8776 times)

Eric James Stone

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Screenplay formatting
« on: February 03, 2006, 12:48:28 AM »
I've been working on a screenplay, and I thought I'd share a resource I've found.

Screenplays require special formatting.  One option is to buy screenwriting software such as "Final Draft."  (I recommend against "Hollywood Screenwriter," for reasons I won't go into now.)

However, if you're not ready to spend the $190 or so for dedicated screenwriting software, here's an alternative I've found useful: "ScreenPro."  ScreenPro is a screenwriting template for Microsoft Word.  Basically, it adds all the proper formatting as "styles" in Word.  It has buttons you can push to choose between the character name style, the dialogue style, the action style, etc.  It also tries to guess what the next style should be (i.e., if you've just done the character name, the next line is probably dialogue), and if it's wrong you can use the tab key to cycle through styles to find the one you want.

ScreenPro is shareware, which means you can test it out for free.  If you like it, registration is only $8.50.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2006, 01:15:03 AM by EricJamesStone »
Eric James Stone
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Oldie Black Witch

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Re: Screenplay formatting
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2006, 01:07:11 AM »
That's a really great price for screenplay software. Final Draft is the de-facto industry standard right now, but it is extremely expensive.

I wouldn't recommend Hollywood Screenwriter either, but very likely for entirely different reasons.

Parker

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Re: Screenplay formatting
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2006, 02:02:30 AM »
The one we used in my BYU screenwriting class was "Movie Magic Screenwriter," which I liked quite a bit, and it was only like $75, if I recall correctly.  Is this the same thing you guys are referring to as "Hollywood Screenwriter"?  If so, what didn't you like about that one?

Eric James Stone

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Re: Screenplay formatting
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2006, 02:20:45 AM »
Maybe that was a student discount?  The manufacturer's retail price for Movie Magic Screenwriter is over $200, although Amazon has it for only $160.

The biggest thing I hate about Hollywood Screenwriter (a different program, but from the makers of Movie Magic Screenwriter) is that it's copy-protected to require that the CD-ROM be in the drive when you run it.  For someone like me, who writes on three different computers (home, work, laptop), that basically makes the program unusable.  (I even used CD-ROM drive emulation software to try to make it possible to just run it off a hard drive image of the CD-ROM, but it didn't work right.)

A lesser issue is that I'm used to writing in a true WYSIWYG environment, and Hollywood Screenwriter doesn't offer that.  It uses
========================================
to indicate page breaks.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2006, 02:22:46 AM by EricJamesStone »
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Parker

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Re: Screenplay formatting
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2006, 12:25:58 PM »
Yeah--it must have been a student discount.  And I seem to remember having that same requirement--to have the CD in when you're writing.  Since I mainly use one computer as a "home base," it wasn't that big of a deal.

House of Mustard

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Re: Screenplay formatting
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2006, 04:04:58 PM »
So, I've never tried writing screenplays, but I've read them, and I must say: what the frickin' heck?  What in the world is so complicated about the formatting that it would require $200 software?
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Eric James Stone

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Re: Screenplay formatting
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2006, 05:44:00 PM »
Well, it doesn't require such software -- it's possible to format a screenplay correctly using a typewriter.  But it is a lot more complicated than your average novel manuscript formatting.

The Word template I mentioned above helps a lot by giving you styles that handle the particular formatting for different elements.  But since it's in Word, you still have available everything Word can do that is not proper screenplay format.  A well-written dedicated program would restrict you to using proper screenplay elements and formatting.

You might find the list of features for Movie Magic Screenwriter interesting.
Eric James Stone
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House of Mustard

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Re: Screenplay formatting
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2006, 06:57:22 PM »
Hey neat.  You can download the entire program as a demo -- you just can't print.  I'll need to try it out.
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Re: Screenplay formatting
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2006, 06:34:43 PM »
I need a good screenwriting program! I tried to write a screenplay without it and it's a headache, especially when you go back and edit and you have to put (cont) after each piece of dialogue that drags onto another page. The program will do ALL of that for you. I just have to get some money to get it!
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kaimipono

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Re: Screenplay formatting
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2006, 06:31:08 PM »
This looks useful, Eric.  It's light-years ahead of <tab><tab><tab>, anyway -- thanks for the tip.  

Since this is a good tip you've provided, I'll make sure to name one of my screenplay characters after you.  Perhaps the undead kleptomaniac robot.  Or maybe his next-door-neighbor, the dance instructor who gets eaten by an airsick platypus at the end of Act 2.  

Either way, you're in.  There's no such thing as bad publicity.  
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Eric James Stone

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Re: Screenplay formatting
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2006, 12:28:36 PM »
I just hope you can come up with a fresh take on the hoary old "undead kleptomaniac robot" cliche.
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Re: Screenplay formatting
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2006, 08:06:34 AM »
My airsick platypus wants it known that he objects to your depiction of platypi in such a negative light. when will the oppression end?

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Re: Screenplay formatting
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2006, 03:43:37 PM »
Experts have been asking the same question for nigh on fifty years.
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Eric James Stone

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Re: Screenplay formatting
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2006, 06:54:33 PM »
Unfortunately, discrimination against platypoda is endemic to the entertainment industry.  Among egg-laying species, dinosaurs probably get the most respect, followed closely by birds (penguins are very hot right now). Reptiles' reputation for cold-bloodedness doesn't endear them to anyone, but they are still respected (although a lot of people still look down on them.)  Fish didn't get much respect at all until Finding Nemo, although sharks made a good niche for themselves in the horror genre after Jaws.

But if you're an egg-laying mammal?  Forget about it.  I've got a good friend who's a platypus, and he actually got a fairly good part in a movie a few years back.  He thought everything was great until he saw the final credits.  In the cast list, it showed his part as being played by "A Duck."  It turned out that there's a blacklist against movies with a platypus in the cast, so the producers got around that by billing him as a member of a different species.

Since then, such cross-species trickery has become quite common, but my friend was the original duck-billed platypus.
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Re: Screenplay formatting
« Reply #14 on: February 15, 2006, 02:10:23 PM »
Holy platypus, EJS. Goodness, that totally made me burst out loud laughing. I accidentally scrolled down to the end of the thread w/o reading the other posts and I get this zany story about anti-platypus practices in film. haha. Good stuff.
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