Anyone submitted a Scrivener outline in query?

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Sean Coffee
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Wed Mar 07, 2007 1:56 am Post

It sounds like everyone loathes FD, but that FD does do a good job at final formatting. So no one wants to write on FD, but they feel compelled, because of its adherence to the standards, to use the formatting functions of FD. Is that right?


It's more of a production issue. FD has (and works well with other apps that have) a lot of features that make it easier for producers to break down a script -- to figure out the who/what/where of the script so they can assign dollar amounts to those elements and budget the movie. That's what makes FD the industry standard. (This is especially true of the "indie" film world, where smaller producers are budgeting all by themselves.)


might it not be possible to set up a template in another WP, such as Mellel to do the formatting? Or even to find someone who's interested in writing a formatting-only app to do something along these lines?


If formatting were the only issue, FD wouldn't have such a stranglehold (especially in a PDF world that makes file format a non-issue). Screenplay format is essentially just tab settings. The standard format that Final Draft spits out was created on manual typewriters, and you can set up pretty much any word processing app to emulate it. Because there are so many of these little formatting things, writing a properly formatted script in Word, say, is a pain in the ass without FD's shortcuts, but it's certainly possible. There are templates (not to mention other apps -- Movie Magic Screenwriter, Celtx and Mariner's Montage among them) all over the web that can help. But FD is what most people have, and it's what most producers use.

mi
michaelbywater
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Mon Mar 12, 2007 2:00 pm Post

I've just come back to this thread (after being locked away finishing a draft...) and I just want to clarify the point I made about Final Draft which sort of hijacked the thread in my absence.

Apart from the relatively very few people who make a living -- or any money at all -- as screenwriters, what FD and its competitors are actually selling is a dream. The dream of being In Hollywood. (The dream is being sold, naturally, to people who don't realise that being In Hollywood as a writer is like being in a turkey-shoot as a turkey.)

_How_ the dream is sold is by the assumption that, where formatting is concerned, "the converse is also true", which we were all taught in school mathematics.

They don't actually say it, but the schtick all tends to a false syllogism:

(1) If your screenplay is improperly formatted, it will not be accepted.

(2) Final Draft (or whatever) will ensure your screenplay is properly formatted.

(3) So use Final Draft (or whatever) and your screenplay will be accepted.

We all know that's untrue. But we also know that wearing a rugged manly watch won't make us rugged and manly, or that those yellow Timberland boots aren't going to erase the belly and the years and turn us into explorers. But we still buy them.

I may be particularly biased because the first script I sold (it was commissioned) was done with no formatting, on an Olivetti. They had it professionally typed up.

For sure, I do very little script work now, and undoubtedly things have changed as the industry has become more standardised and mechanised in every aspect of production. But if it's got to the point where original work is passed over in favour of "properly" formatted me-too stuff, then no wonder Hollywood gets blinded by a Little Miss Sunshine year after year...

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popcornflix
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Mon Mar 12, 2007 3:26 pm Post

Final Draft is "industry standard" for a few reasons.

It was the first WYSIWYG script processor. Before FD, you had to write your scripts with embedded code, and use a program called SCRIPTOR to reformat it and see your page breaks. WYSIWYG changed the industry, and killed Scriptor. The only reasons MMS is still on the market is that FD ignored Windows for years, and MMS slipped into the market gap.

It lets you write and not worry about formatting. Once you learn the tab/return system, it's pretty intuitive to write a script in FD. Any template system takes some fussing. Screenwriters are a bunch of near-Luddites, and don't like to fuss. FD handles everything from margins to mores & continueds.

It handles production specific formatting easily. Show me a Word template that handles revision marks properly. Or how Mellel can tell the salmon pages from the goldenrod ones. Final Draft handles revisions, locked pages, A&B pages, colored revisions -- all with ease. It was designed for it.

Everybody has it. If you're sending an editable file to anyone -- writing partner, producer, agent, etc. Final Draft is the program that everyone has. If you don't have Final Draft, you're kind of out of the loop.

All that being said, Movie Magic Screenwriter is a close second. Their sales are nearly as big, they have as many celebrity endoresements, and several high-profile writers have migrated to MMS because of FD's crappy service of the last few years.

Both programs are making bold strides into the 1990s as far as software design is concerned. That's why I love Scrivener. It's a modern way to write a screenplay. I want to keep my process in Scrivenenr as long as possible before I have to convert to Final Draft and send out the draft to the rest of the world.
.:popcornFlix:.

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popcornflix
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Mon Mar 12, 2007 3:30 pm Post

michaelbywater wrote:being In Hollywood as a writer is like being in a turkey-shoot as a turkey.


Need to work on that self-esteem a little? :wink:

I think the "selling the dream" thing is accurate, but it doesn't bother me, because I need the rugged boots and manly watch for my job. They have to work, and they have to last. I don't care if wannabe's are buying tools they don't need. I care if the tools I do need are well-designed and maintained so I can be competitive in my work.
.:popcornFlix:.

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Sean Coffee
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Mon Mar 12, 2007 4:56 pm Post

I agree with Popcorn's comments above, although I do think that "selling the dream" is a priority for Final Draft. And by "selling" I mean "exploiting". And by "priority" I mean "central reason they seem to have stopped developing their software for the last decade". My thoughts on this are well documented in this forum, and that's all I'll say about it here.

I take serious issue with a couple of Michael's comments:

I may be particularly biased because the first script I sold (it was commissioned) was done with no formatting, on an Olivetti. They had it professionally typed up.


I want to apologize to any prospective screenwriter to whom I gave advice about proper formatting. I stupidly glossed over the method of getting a commission to write a script, writing it any way you want and having someone else format it for you so producers can figure out how much it's going to cost. While perhaps not the most efficient way to go about things, it certainly is one way. Also, I understand if you rub certain lamps, a genie will grant you wishes. That's another good way to get your script made.

Sorry for the sarcasm, Michael, but yours is not an argument against proper formatting at all. In the end, your script was properly formatted. Or, to use your term, professionally formatted, which I think is a correct description.

undoubtedly things have changed as the industry has become more standardised and mechanised in every aspect of production. But if it's got to the point where original work is passed over in favour of "properly" formatted me-too stuff, then no wonder Hollywood gets blinded by a Little Miss Sunshine year after year...


Screenplay formatting hasn't changed to fit a more standardized industry. The main point of the formatting is its consistency over the years -- the page-a-minute format has proven to be an effective means of budgeting a very expensive process, and proper format exists to keep page count as reliable as possible.

Nothing's changed, Michael. Casablanca was written in that format. His Girl Friday was written in that format. As for indie films like Little Miss Sunshine, standard format is even more important. Small films have less money to play with, and a producer's ability to properly budget a little movie is vital.

What has changed is the number of submissions studios and agents get every day. Screenplay writing has become, in some circles, viewed as a lottery of sorts -- a get rich quick scheme -- and anyone with any power in Hollywood will tell you that the number of submissions they get every day is flat out unmanageable. Making initial judgments based on format is one way for readers to get out from under. That may be an unfair criterion, and may in fact be antithetical to finding unique creative work, but that's the way it is.

Professional screenplay format exists because it makes good business sense. It wasn't created to be a tool of exclusion, but its very necessity has made it one. An aspiring screenwriter ignores it at his or her peril.

P.S. Being a writer in Hollywood is not like being a turkey in a turkey shoot. It's like being the guy who said "let's get these turkeys all in one place, so it's easier to shoot them" -- only to discover later that it's the guy with the gun who gets all the credit. As, y'know, a master turkey... killer. Or something. Because he's the director, see? Wow, I suck.

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spinningdoc
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Mon Mar 12, 2007 5:01 pm Post

What we have here are two different cultures.

From what I can understand, Hollywood's production line approach means that a wrong margin will mean you fall at the first hurdle.

The UK, where I am and where Micheal is, isn't as fussy. The markets for a new writer are far more forgiving.

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Sean Coffee
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Mon Mar 12, 2007 5:29 pm Post

What we have here are two different cultures.

From what I can understand, Hollywood's production line approach means that a wrong margin will mean you fall at the first hurdle.

The UK, where I am and where Micheal is, isn't as fussy. The markets for a new writer are far more forgiving.


I get that, I do. And I really don't want to come across as a blind supporter of the Hollywood method of using a technical criterion to judge creative merit. I do think it's fussy and narrow minded, and that it probably disqualifies a whole bunch of quality work.

But the fact is, Hollywood is by far the largest market for screenplays in English (or some reasonable facsimile of), and format matters in Hollywood -- especially if you're an unproduced writer looking to get read.

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spinningdoc
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Mon Mar 12, 2007 5:32 pm Post

It is if you're in America. But most of us aren't.

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Sean Coffee
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Mon Mar 12, 2007 6:00 pm Post

It is if you're in America. But most of us aren't.


Hollywood is the largest market for screenplays written in English no matter where you live. If you live in Tibet, Hollywood is still the largest screenplay market available to writers in English. Live on a kibbutz? Yeah, it's still Hollywood. I am merely suggesting that, if one were to attempt to break in to that market, one would do well to do so knowing some of the barriers to entry.

I don't have some cultural-imperialist agenda. I was just answering some earlier questions about how things work (and why) in Los Angeles. I was trying to do so in a way that helped potential screenwriters. I have a strong competitive sense that's telling me to say "It doesn't matter what your script looks like, as long as it's creative -- feel free to submit a handwritten script in Esperanto. With drawings." Because, y'know, more for me, right?

But the spirit of this forum seems to be one of writers helping writers, so...

[EDIT: Changed the joke to "Esperanto" because my other choice was politically loaded (unintentional) and -- read in a certain light -- obnoxious on my part."]

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michaelbywater
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Mon Mar 12, 2007 6:15 pm Post

Sean Coffee wrote: I have a strong competitive sense that's telling me to say "It doesn't matter what your script looks like, as long as it's creative -- feel free to submit a handwritten script in Farsi. With drawings." Because, y'know, more for me, right?


I recall some CG movie coming out at the same time some other CG movie came out and the director of the first CG movie was being interviewed on the radio.

So the interviewer said: "Aren't you worried about this other CG movie which is coming out at the same time as your CG movie?"

And the director said: "I don't think you quite understand... this is Hollywood. For my movie to succeed, it is not necessary that his movie fail."

ho
howarth
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Mon Mar 12, 2007 6:21 pm Post

Sean Coffee wrote:What has changed is the number of submissions studios and agents get every day. Screenplay writing has become, in some circles, viewed as a lottery of sorts -- a get rich quick scheme -- and anyone with any power in Hollywood will tell you that the number of submissions they get every day is flat out unmanageable. Making initial judgments based on format is one way for readers to get out from under. That may be an unfair criterion, and may in fact be antithetical to finding unique creative work, but that's the way it is.


To quote from my favorite scene in Say Anything, the one where Lloyd finds his pals at the Gas 'n Sip on a Friday night:

Whoa, you're bringing me DOWN, man!

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Sean Coffee
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Mon Mar 12, 2007 6:30 pm Post

.For my movie to succeed, it is not necessary that his movie fail.


I totally agree. Which is why I've really tried to give constructive advice.

To quote from my favorite scene in Say Anything...


Nice! Although in a forum about Hollywood screenwriting, you may want to go with: "I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed. Or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that."

Although, I should point out, that script was written in proper screenplay format. I am, again, just sayin'.

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michaelbywater
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Mon Mar 12, 2007 6:48 pm Post

Sean Coffee wrote:
.For my movie to succeed, it is not necessary that his movie fail.


I totally agree. Which is why I've really tried to give constructive advice.

To quote from my favorite scene in Say Anything...


Nice! Although in a forum about Hollywood screenwriting, you may want to go with: "I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed. Or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that."

Although, I should point out, that script was written in proper screenplay format. I am, again, just sayin'.


Yeah well I'm not saying anything in case it looks like I'm trying to get the last

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Sean Coffee
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Mon Mar 12, 2007 6:52 pm Post

Yeah well I'm not saying anything in case it looks like I'm trying to get the last


I have no such compunction. And my friend, if you think this is the last of this discussion, you really have been away from this forum for awhile. :D

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spinningdoc
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Mon Mar 12, 2007 6:59 pm Post

Although in a forum about Hollywood screenwriting


Which this isn't.