Monday, May 26, 2008

Free Screenwriting Software? Yep! Meet SCRIPPED


I remember clearly when my friend and fellow (former) ‘Creative Screenwriting’ columnist Michael Lent urged me to “come toward the light.” It was in 2000, and we had just landed a page-1 rewrite deal. Michael used Final Draft and felt it would be easier to collaborate using it. But I resisted. I was perfectly happy using -- brace yourself -- Word Perfect 3.0. I had all my macros set up; it worked perfectly. Well, just one teensy weensy problem—pagination. See, because word processors don’t split up your dialogue properly over a page break, this had to be done manually. And when rewrite time comes around? Oh, what a nightmare. You have to remove all those “mores” and “continueds,” because the positions will shift as you edit the script. When at last I relented and got FD, and it was as if the heavens opened and the freakin’ angels sang “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.”

For those of you still toughing it out using a word processor for screenwriting, (about 25% of you based on the submissions to Coverage, Ink) you’re avoiding screenwriting software for one of two reasons—you’re bull-headed like me ;) or you can’t afford Final Draft or Movie Magic Screenwriter. I hear that. Seriously, they ain’t cheap!

But now along comes SCRIPPED, and it may just be the coolest screenwriter’s accoutrement since Trader Joe’s Pound-Plus dark chocolate bars. Scripped is 100% FREE *online* screenwriting software. You read that right -- it runs in your freakin’ browser!

So what do you get for your (no) money?

- Online-based, no downloading, saves everything
- All the basic script elements are present
- Can import from FD and Word, export as PDF (industry standard)
- Good shortcuts for the basic stuff - tab to next element, etc.
- Did we mention it’s free?

Scripped is the brainchild of UCLA MBA student Sunil Rajaraman, USC Peter Stark Producers' program grad Zak Freer, and Ryan Buckley, an “MIT/Harvard dual degree genius!” says Rajaraman, who also proudly notes Scripped recently signed Ed Burns to their advisory board.

A few years back, Rajaraman and Freer had come up with an idea for an online screenwriting magazine – but the mission statement changed when the duo discovered Buckley had already developed a collaborative writing tool. “The three of us came together and formed what is now Scripped. The story is actually much longer, and much more interesting, but I'll spare you,” laughs Rajaraman. Scripped team member Kristen Azzam, also a UCLA MBA student, tells us that Scripped now has a user base of over 5,000 writers from over 50 countries and all 50 states.

So what’s not to like? Well, Scripped is still in the beta stage. And it is not as of yet as intuitive and full-featured as the big boys, who have had many years and big development budgets to smooth all the wrinkles. Some issues facing Scripped: it doesn’t yet have a smart type feature, which slows it down and means extra typing for the writer; no automatic continueds in dialogue; no automatic parentheses for parentheticals, mores, etc., and there’s no way to jump directly to scenes. Rajaraman responds, “The features you suggested are all things we have in development, but are not yet released. The reason (they’re not available) just yet is because they slow down the application considerably -- which is the reason why Google Docs will never be MS Word, or Excel.” But Rajaraman notes that they are streamlining the interface and implementing more functionality constantly “to help writers complete their works in a more timely fashion,” he says.

In time, Scripped plans to add new features to empower writers (we can't say what yet). They already have over 6,000 screenplays in their database. They also have a great blog and newsletter themselves, and are working to build Scripped into an indispensable screenwriting resource and community. We say bravo! I like these guys. To check out Scripped, just go to scripped.com and give it a whirl. The price is right.

--Jim Cirile

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've tried Scripped and i really really like it. I've been working off and on on a script for 15 years and needed the spark to get it done. Having Scripped made it possible for me to finally start writing!

keith said...

Yeah, I couldn't agree more. There's something super-inspiring about having browser-based access to your screenplay from any PC with no concerns about "proper formatting."

Also, I was able to bang out the first 20 pages of my long-delayed screenplay in 5 days. Great stuff.

Caveat: while this is a phenomenally great concept, it still is very buggy on some levels -- font can be inconsistent, and worse of all, sometimes pages get lost with auto-save.

They are making improvements every day and working around the clock. It will soon provide all the features of the $249 programs.

Anonymous said...

I recommend another site I got hooked on. Similar to Scripped, it's called Zhura (www.zhura.com) and has smart type, automatic continues (when printing to PDF), and saves all the versions of a script, so no worries about your screenplay getting clipped. And it's FREE! Pretty sweet.

Anonymous said...

I've tried Scripped and Zhura but have found a relative newcomer to be even better. http://www.FiveSprockets.com offers the same free, incredible screenwriting software online but also provides so many tools to help you get your project out in the public eye. You can network with directors, actors, and producers. You should check it out; for free, you're not losing anything!