Okay, so you have an excellent idea for a movie and you want the perfect software to help you write that movie. I just so happen to have some information that might help you out. Keep in mind that I will be writing this article from the perspective of someone who has tried just about every screenwriting product on the market, and I’m not exaggerating one bit about that. In fact, I have spent decades using these products, and I have spent loads of money doing it. Also keep in mind that I’m writing this article with a bias in favor of one of the programs discussed here. That bias is well deserved, but I will try not to let it get in the way of my honest assessment of the other programs.
Here’s a little bit of background. Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter have always been the cornerstones of the screenwriting business. Generally speaking, Final Draft has always leaned toward Writer’s Guild of America, West users and Movie Magic Screenwriter has leaned toward Writer’s Guild of America, East users. This is an unofficial observation, however, and regardless of your WGA preference, you can use either of these programs to write screenplays. Both are available for PC and Mac too, so that’s a good thing.
I made my choice between the two years ago. I chose Movie Magic Screenwriter. I felt it had more features, was easier to use, and it was the choice of many of the professionals I admired in the industry. The customer service was also far and beyond exceptional, which was something that could not be said for Final Draft. If you weren’t a big name celebrity, screenwriter, or producer, Final Draft had no time for you. Movie Magic Screenwriter has always treated all their customers fairly.
FLASH FORWARD – 2015
Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter are still around and still industry standards. Both have all the features you could want in screenwriting software. Both programs have all the necessary formatting tools as well as production tools and unique tools for helping you structure your story.
Final Draft seems to have improved their customer support these days and they are updating their software to keep the user interface looking modern (version 9 allows you to choose between classic or Windows Ribbon view). They are also adding new features all the time.
Movie Magic Screenwriter, on the other hand, hasn’t had an update in, well . . . way too long to make it viable. The interface is archaic, the way it interacts with the world around it needs fixing, and it just can’t compete anymore. The only good thing you can say about it is that it’s cheaper than Final Draft. Still, if you must choose between the two, pay more for Final Draft. I have, for a very, very long time, been an ex-Movie Magic Screenwriter user. I can’t support the lack what appears to be by Write Brothers a lack of interest in making this software better.
There’s Celtx, of course, It started as an online screenwriting system and quickly added screenwriting software you could download for offline work. The software is packed with writing, production, and story-development features and there continues to be improvements all the time. I was never a fan, but those who use it swear by it. Check it out and make your own determination. The system works on a subscription basis, ranging from the basic free stuff to paid access to more advanced tools. Not my cup of tea, and I prefer coffee anyway.
Which brings me to the really biased part of this article. The new kid on the block is all grown up. Many years ago I played with a minimal screenwriting program created by General Coffee Company (note my brilliant and creative use of coffee as a transition from the end line of the previous paragraph to this one). Somehow that modest software grew into a big boy called Fade In. Seems like it happened overnight, but I’m sure there’s some behind the scenes footage somewhere. Anyway, here’s the bottom line. Spend $49.95 on Fade In and you’ll never need anything else. It’s really that simple.
I’m not going to talk about all the features a screenwriter wants. If you write screenplays, you already know what they are. I’ll just say this. Fade In has them all, and so much more. A ton of formatting, production, and story tools all wrapped up in a modern, low-priced program that allows you the freedom to write and distribute your screenplays seamlessly, any time, anywhere. There simply are no limits with Fade In. This is software built by a screenwriter/director for writers who are serious about their scripts. It’s easy to see how much Ken Tessman, the developer of Fade In, loves the program. He’s managed to do what the mysterious “they” said couldn’t be done — give the two above-mentioned cornerstones a run for their money. Not only is he doing it, he’s doing it well. Why in the hell would you spend all that money on Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter, or pay for a subscription to Celtx, when Fade In does it all?
Like I said, I prefer coffee (no sense letting a good gag go to waste).
Fade in is available for Mac and PC, and there’s also app versions for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices, which means you can write and share screenplays seamlessly between all your devices using the Dropbox feature. This gives you the freedom to work anywhere you want to work, any time the inspiration strikes. It doesn’t get better than that. Low cost, all the features you need, and matching apps. By now you’ve figured out where I stand. I’m going to tell you to forget the rest and write your movies with Fade In.
FADE TO BLACK.