Thursday, January 31, 2013

Final Draft Pro 8 and script writing

Today I finally used Final Draft to write a script!! 

So far, I'm loving the program. It was so easy to take the short story I was working with and format it into a truly professional looking script. I can see why this program has been the industry standard for script writing for so long. I'm actually itching to start working with it some more. 

I guess I'm kind of a nut that way. Most people would be super excited about the artistic creation of a story from their mind into reality. I, however, am excited about using the program and formatting things correctly. In a way, learning the tools to do things properly can really only assist you once you get to the the process of actual creation. And I really do enjoy the actual craft of making things, so I guess it's not that weird.

Anyway, enough rambling. I figured I would share a few of the tutorials I found helpful while taking my first crack at Final Draft Pro 8.

The following tutorial was a great one for just opening up the program and getting started. It shows you how to set up the header and create a character and how the program will assist you in formatting everything along the way.

From the various sets I have worked on so far and by listening to AD's (Assistant Directors) vent about how poorly formatted scripts are one of the constant irritations in their lives I've learned a fair amount about what a good script looks like. I figured I would share a couple beginners mistakes to try to avoid.

  1. Keep the action simple and descriptions to a minimum. 
    1. Script are not novels. They are all the facts a production needs to make the story come to life. If a character walks into a splendidly ornate room you simply say that, with out going into further details about the flocked wallpaper and immaculate wood parquet floor. 
  2. Keep everything in the present tense.
    1. everything in film happens in real time, even if it showing a past event- we film and think of it in the present. It's a simple thing, but tense changes is one of the key indicators of a new script writer.

Here's an example of a scene in Narrative form:

Mary walked down the darkened street, the mist chilled her cheek as she hurried down the lamplit street. She pulled her wool coat tighter, and glanced around nervously, thinking of the tales of murder she'd been hearing in the news. She grumbles to herself feeling foolish for working so late.

And here's the same scene done in scripted format:


MARY walks down the misty lamplit street. She pulls her coat tighter and glances around nervously.

And here I am wandering the streets in the middle of the 
night with some psycho killer on the lose. Good thinking Mary. Those reports were totally worth it.

Once you have the script all typed up there are a few formalities to add before they make it into production. The following tutorial will show you how to add those final touches using final draft.

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