Software

Notes from the other side (Part Three)

THINGS WHICH PISSED ME OFF

 

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I know I was no great shakes as a script-editor. I know I probably pissed people off by giving them what they thought of as stupid notes. I’ve had those notes, I know what it feels like to send in a script thinking it’s amazing … only to feel like you’ve failed miserably because it’s not loved unconditionally.

Notes are part of the process. Rejection is part of the process. Even when a script is good, parts of it have to be rejected – this is just what happens. It happens to the best writers in the world, it’s going to happen to you.

How you deal with the notes is what sets you apart from other writers. The best writers on PERSONA dealt with the notes in a timely, imaginative manner, with good humour and professionalism. These were the majority of the writers – I loved reading your work, you were, and hopefully still are, wonderful.

But I was under a lot of pressure, working late into the night every night for no reward on something I didn’t believe in. Sometimes writers, good and bad, did things which made me really, really fucking angry.

If you did any of these things during the writing of PERSONA, it doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad writer. It doesn’t change how likely I am to hug you if I meet you in public+ or to buy you a drink^. I’m keeping these anonymous because I don’t want to point fingers or name names – I just want people to understand some of the additional pressures your note-giver might be under and how a writer’s attitude, behaviour or style might come across.

These are the things I found particularly irksome, the things I will be trying not to do to anyone giving me notes in future:

 

1. NON STANDARD FORMAT

Go Your Own Way

When you’re reading a lot of scripts very quickly, then you need to be able to read them quickly. Peering at a script trying to work out if the bit left-justified, halfway up the page in a narrow block is action, dialogue or an accident is just fucking annoying. Learning the craft means learning the format – a small army of people all have to be able to read this thing in order to make it. Standard format makes it easy for everyone, if you want to invent your own, write a novel.

I’m not talking here about things like when to use caps or when to underline stuff or whether you use passive voice or not – none of that shit matters, not really. Not writing dialogue which goes all the way across the page with the character names on the same line – that’s important. Don’t do shit like that.

Or shit like this:

Morgan

Morgan

Nathan

Morgan

confused

Morgan

You're Morgan too?

Nathan

Sorry, that's the limit of my German.

Morgan

Your name's not Morgan?

Nathan

Nathan thought Morgan was saying hello in German!

Nathan talks about himself in the third person.

Morgan

What?

Versus this:

                MORGAN
          Morgan.

                NATHAN
          Morgan!

                MORGAN
             (confused)
          You're Morgan too?

                NATHAN
          Sorry, that's the limit of my German.

                MORGAN
          Your name's not Morgan?

                NATHAN
          Nathan thought Morgan was saying 
          hello in German!

NOTE: Nathan talks about himself in the third person.

                 MORGAN
           What?

Okay, it’s still shit; but at least now it’s readable shit.

 

2. HARD TO USE FILES

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I don’t know if it’s still the case, but at that time CELTX didn’t play well with any other software. Scripts for PERSONA had to be put into the house style, and collated into a master document for the editor to assemble the appisodes. If I couldn’t export the script to anything, then I had to copy, paste and reformat or retype every script by hand.

Once you get past midnight, that becomes old really, really fast.

I know CELTX is free and is probably really fun/easy to write in … but (back then) the files it produced were completely fucking useless unless everyone on the production team switched to new software. That’s not going to happen. By all means use whatever software suits you, but deliver it in a format the rest of the production team can use/edit.

I apologise to the makers of CELTX if there was a simple way of exporting their files to something editable on other other software; but if there was I couldn’t find it. I fully accept this may be my failing, not theirs.

Still made my life needlessly more complicated though.

 

3. SCRIPT GURU TERMINOLOGY

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I come from a movie background, I think in three acts. Or rather, I talk in three acts. I actually think in four. The point is, three acts is an industry shorthand most people understand. Specific TV shows might have more or less acts and that’s great – you have to be able to use the terminology of the show. Myself and the producer/directors of PERSONA spoke in terms of three acts … so when I’d get replies to my notes from writers who talked in terms of whatever script book they’d read that week – it was difficult to translate.

I wasn’t just dealing with that one writer, I was dealing with up to nine at any one time. And when those nine are variously talking about 5 acts, 22 steps, 8 sequences or 16 keystone moments … I can’t keep up. I can’t really be expected to read every theory going and translate the prodcution team’s opinions into a different script language every fucking time. If those things help you write, then great – use them; but when you’re dealing with a note-giver who’s also dealing with eight other writers and a production team … just learn the common language.

Also, if you’re going to buy into your favourite script guru’s terminology, then please …

 

4. LEARN WHAT THE TERMINOLOGY MEANS

you keep using that wordAn inciting incident is an incident which incites. It should be both inciting and an incident. Two people talking about a third person’s shoes isn’t really either. Telling me it is because it comes on page x and your favourite script guru says that’s where the inciting incident always is doesn’t make it more inciting or incident-y. You can’t just point at random bits of script and declare that they’re inciting incidents in the same way you can’t point at a car tyre and declare it’s a carburettor.

Well you can, but it won’t make building a car any easier.

 

5. FINAL DRAFT

3u75m8Writing FINAL DRAFT on the title page of your script because you think you’ve done enough … yeah, don’t do that. I’ll tell you when it’s the final draft. It’s the final draft when it’s right, not when you get bored.

 

6. THE UNDERLYING CAUSE

Missing-the-PointOne script we had generated only one note – the protagonist wasn’t really in it. The main character didn’t appear in well over fifty percent of the appisodes – that’s not good. The writer disagreed and drew up a chart illustrating that the protagonist was actually in at least 75% of the appisodes.

Bear in mind here, some of these appisodes are a week apart. If your protagonist isn’t in two in a row, they won’t be seen for over a week. Also, there are four stories running consecutively, all mixed together in a different order on different days – if your protagonist isn’t in the appisode, the audience may not know which story this piece belongs to.

I rechecked the script and the writer was completely right – the protagonist was actually in 75% of the scenes. In the background, not speaking. The wallpaper was also in the background, that doesn’t make it a protagonist.

If someone can read your script and NOT NOTICE WHETHER THE PROTAGONIST IS PRESENT OR NOT, then you have a problem. It doesn’t actually matter if the reader is wrong – the problem is still there. The difference between an absent protagonist and one we didn’t notice is exactly the same.

Because, and here’s the thing, people have to film this. Cast members have to be scheduled – if the three of us didn’t notice her; maybe no one else will. Maybe no one will notice until the day of the shoot … and then we find the actor is in Tahiti.

Or something.

A lot of people have to read and UNDERSTAND your script in order to film it. If it’s important, make it stand out – make if noticable. If the note-giver is accusing you of not including the vital information you know is there, then don’t argue – just go back and make it stand out. Put it in bold if you have to.

 

7. UNDERSTAND WHAT CONSTITUTES A SCENE

where-the-fuck-am-i-lets-ask-that-statueEach new location is a new scene. This is fairly basic stuff. The reason each new location is a new scene is because the entire crew have to move to a new place. That’s a lot of people. Okay, so you can have a continuous move from one room to the next, assuming the location has a kitchen next to a lounge (or whatever); but if the lounge is on the first floor and the kitchen is in the basement then a continuous scene is going to involve a lot of stairs. In a 30 second episode … there’s no fucking time for stairs!

There isn’t really time to move from one room to another unless they’re talking while they’re walking.

We had quite a few occurrences of:

She enters through the front door, walks up the stairs and into the bedroom.

That’s your entire appisode, right there.

It gets even worse when people write things like:

He follows her across the bridge, along the street, past the shops and watches 
her climb the steps to her front door.

What the fuck?

Unless this is a really small bridge, with shops on it, which are also really small and the flat is above the shop which is less than four feet away from the place the character started … then it’s at least three scenes. At least.

But, hey, you know … everyone has to learn. Most of these writers had never had anything produced, so we have to be kind and make allowances. So in this case, I did. I reformated it to separate scenes and explained, politely, all about camera set ups and what constitutes a new location.

HINT: AN ENTIRE CITY IS NOT A LOCATION AND THEREFORE NOT SUITABLE FOR A SCENE HEADING

But here’s the key thing – when you’ve written something unfilmable, had it pointed out and explained to you and had it properly reformatted at great time-expense by the script-editor … don’t submit the next draft WITH THE SAME FUCKING MISTAKES IN IT.

That’s quite annoying, that is.

 

8. PAGE COUNT

the-countOne page equals one minute of screen time.

Roughly.

Not always, but roughly.

The only way to know for sure is to read the script out loud and act out all the parts.

Even then, you will be wrong because actors love dramatic pauses and directors love slow panning shots. But, in general, one page equals one minute.

So if, for example, the show you’re writing for has at that point expanded it’s appisodes to a minute and a half … you need to submit a page and a half of script.

Roughly.

A page … maybe. Two pages … yeah, if it’s all fast paced banter.

6 pages?

No.

Really, no.

Most importantly, and this is really, really important, after having been told the appisode is only a minute and a half long and then having submitted 6 pages of script … don’t claim it’s a directorial issue.

It really fucking isn’t.

Also, when the script editor asks you to cut it down, saying “I don’t want to because it will lose intensity” just isn’t going to fly. I guaran-fucking-tee it will lose more intensity if it’s filmed as is and the editor randomly chops four and a half minutes off the end.

 

9. DEVELOPMENT HELL

think-before-you-tweet

If you’re the same person who did both of the above, don’t fucking go on Twitter and claim you’re “Stuck in development hell” because you don’t know what a scene is or how page count translates into screen time.

You’re not stuck in development hell, you’re just a fucking twat.

This is draft two. Draft fucking two! Draft 200 is development hell. Not draft 2, especially when it’s your fucking fault for not knowing how to write a fucking script.

And guess what, we know what Twitter is! And we can read. You just said that to our faces.

If it’s that bad, just give up. Say you don’t agree that one page equals one minute or that a bridge, a street, a shop and a flat is more than one scene. Tell us that, call us names and just fuck off. Or convince us we’re wrong.

Either would be fine … complaining about it on Twitter is just …

Well, it’s a mite annoying.

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I could go on. I have gone on. And on. But I think that’s enough, don’t you?

The essence of these last three posts, in case you hadn’t guessed, is I didn’t really like being a script editor; but (briefly, sort of) being one gave me a much better understanding of what it’s like to be giving notes on a script which is going into production. Not just an opinion on a friend’s spec script, which is a different thing; but on something which is actually going to be filmed very soon.

Essentially, what I learnt is: it’s really fucking hard, frequently frustrating and mostly unrewarding … but completely necessary. Those of you who do it on a regular basis as your profession – I salute you. It’s a hard job, congratulations on being good at it.

I’m not and I’m not doing it again.

Probably.

—————————————————————————————-

+Very unlikely, I’m not one of life’s huggers.

^Quite likely.

Categories: My Way, Persona, Rants, Software, Someone Else's Way, Things I've Learnt Recently | 7 Comments

2011

As the year limps to a close in a trickle of damp grayness, it’s time to reflect on what’s gone before and wonder vaguely about what may come.

How was your 2011? Mine went something like, if not exactly the same as, this:

 

JANUARY

I began the year by joining Twitter. Actually, I began the year by tweeting using an account some mysterious person set up for me against my will a year earlier. I still don’t know who that was, but would dearly love to know.

Wrote a post about a project so secret I can no longer remember what it was about.

Offered to write someone’s name on a fighter jet.

And then gave a free video projector to anyone who wanted it. Turns out the people who wanted it most were the people who were supposed to have been given it eight years earlier until idiocy intervened.

 

FEBRUARY

I was a guest on #scriptchat (transcript here) and waffled at great length about getting work without an agent.

Karma Magnet turned up online. You can still watch it here.

Persona launched!

If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, then I’ve failed and that’s pretty much all there is to it.

I revealed my deepest secrets. No, wait, not secrets … just a bit of witter about junk files.

And then tried to encourage everyone to whip off their drama condoms and ride that script bareback. Dramatically speaking.

 

MARCH

In which I finally explain how to read.

Gave some people £25 each.

Explained what a reboot means for the hard of thinking.

And explained why having your script re-written was exactly like having your best friend spunk in your face. (An analogy which came back to haunt me months later when someone pointed out I’d spunked in their face.)

 

APRIL

Karma Magnet was shown at the Brighton Movie Bar and I was invited to talk shit about it. And talk shit I did. And I won the movie quiz. ME! I WON FOR I AM THE WINNER (on this specific occasion).

Had a bit of a rant about sexism.

And another rant about getting excited in the wrong places.

And another one about why you should all feel inspired by my presence.

Then apologised for not ranting more.

 

MAY

I went on holiday and did this to my child:

Stole ideas from Jason Arnopp.

Felt guilty, so I linked to the Stormhouse teaser:

Was amazed to find out half of Neil Gaiman’s Doctor Who episode was exactly the same as half an episode I’d outlined for Big Finish. Just not the good half.

Told you all how to eBehave. Actually, this one’s important, you should all go and read it and spread the word.

Took you on a tour of my rooms on the secret writing island:

And reviewed a book I didn’t want to read about a program I don’t use.

Actually, somewhere around here Strippers vs. Werewolves went into production; but for reasons too horribly complex and horribly horrible, I didn’t actually mention it until months later.

 

JUNE

Explained why having to do re-writes mid-production is a good thing.

Denied I’d written The Dark Knight Rises. Because I didn’t.

Shouted at critics for reviewing the script they haven’t read instead of the film they have seen.

And promised to include more joy in my scripts. Joy like this:

 

JULY

I learnt a new word! Callipygous … and then explained why you should never use it in a script.

Explained why comedy is and isn’t subjective.

Called a producer a parochial twat.

Wrote a film-makers’ glossary. Wish I hadn’t.

Swore at Final Draft. A lot.

Debated misogyny. Still not convinced I spelt it right.

Gave you one of the most useful writing tools you’ll ever use: snippety-snip.

And voiced an opinion on gangsters and the low budget movie industry.

 

AUGUST

I explained why I keep swimming with the gangster fishes.

Demanded you tell me what to feel.

Explained my career in a series of pretty graphs and charts. Like this one:

Explained why I quite like being replaced on a project. Sometimes.

Warned everyone to stay clear of hyphenates … whilst consistently using a slash instead of a hyphen. I did a flowchart too:

And unsuccessfully tried to give everyone £30.

 

SEPTEMBER

Finally admitted I’d done the production re-writes on Pat Higgins‘ Strippers vs. Werewolves:

And listed all the lovely press about it.

Told people to stop hassling me, the script will be done when it’s fucking done.

Ranted about notes … before remembering Sam Bain said it better.

 

OCTOBER

Persona relaunched.

This time for the bargain price of free!

iPhone app here: http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/persona-drama/id417940950?mt=8

Android app here: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.appmedia.persona

Explained the secret of success

Talked about the sheer horror of realising someone’s made a bad film out of your script.

Stalker had its London Première – hooray! Here’s the trailer:

Strippers vs. Werewolves had a fantastic set report in Bizzare Magazine:

http://www.bizarremag.com/entertainment/movies/11503/strippers_vs_werewolves.html

Highlighted why slagging people off and then asking them for a job is a bit daft.

Re-wrote Monty Python’s Parrot Sketch in an ill-advised attempt at humour.

Mumbled about being depressed in the middle of every script.

Was disappointed by the American art for Strippers vs. Werewolves:

Tacky. And has one notable lie on it.

Blogged about Fade In scriptwriting software – nearly what I want, but not quite.

And finally revealed the AFM Promo for Strippers vs. Werewolves:

My favourite comment about that promo is:

Looks pretty bad, but I like werewolf movies and tits, so I’ll probably watch it.

NOVEMBER

In which I finally admit there are no stupid notes.

Explained why Scrivener is brilliant … but no use to me.

Defended soapstars.

Reaffirmed the old maxim: PATRICK STEWART IS ALWAYS RIGHT.

Gave away a (very) small library.

And began using Fade In scriptwriting software because the developer developed it to suit me. Sort of.

DECEMBER

Explained how to think.

Debated the lack of comedy tribute acts.

Explained how to action a note now and undo it in the future.

Expounded my theory on how writers sideline themselves.

Went to see Piers‘ production of Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tales. It’s awesome, if you hurry, you’ll catch it too.

Rambled on, at great length about mystery in TV

And rounded off the year by analysing decades old Star Trek films. Because I like to be topical.

—————————————————————————————-

So that was 2011. Wow. I explained lots of stuff, didn’t I? Did you need those things explaining to you or was I just being presumptuous? If the former, you’re welcome. If the latter, sorry.

But onwards and upwards!

What does 2012 hold?

Well, hopefully it holds nothing new.

Or rather, nothing new film-wise.

I’m hoping not to get involved in any more writer-for-hire jobs for a year or so. I really, really want to write some spec stuff, you know, something just for me.

I’ve got one or two commitments to tie up and then I’m going to (hopefully) spend the whole year writing stuff I want to write so I can build up a decent catalogue of spec scripts and venture into pastures new.

I say hopefully because I am easily swayed by money and may end up doing something completely different. Feel free to sway me. I like a good swaying.

How was your 2011? Did you enjoy it? Have you learnt stuff? What will 2012 hold for you?

Whatever happens, have a great New Year and I’ll see you in January.

Categories: Career Path, Future Tense, Industry Musings, LVJ, My Way, Persona, Progress, Publicity, Random Witterings, Rants, Sad Bastard, Software, Someone Else's Way, Stalker, Strippers vs. Werewolves, Things I've Learnt Recently, Writing and life | 2 Comments

Fade In (Redux)

Three weeks ago, I wrote a post about Fade In scriptwriting software  – this post, in fact:

https://phillbarron.wordpress.com/2011/10/28/fade-in/

The headlines were:

THE GOOD

Works similarly to Final Draft including all the bits I don’t use.

Can open .fdx .rtf, .pdf and .celtx

You can specify the page size instead of relying on printer settings.

THE COOL

Syncs with Dropbox

Android and iPhone app so you can write on your phone.

App also syncs with Dropbox so you can seamlessly move from one to the other.

THE BAD

No ruler for easy line tweaks.

No button for quick case change.

Page count discrepancy when converting from .fdx to .fadein and back (which I guessed was to do with the defaults in the demo version).

About five days after I wrote the post, Kent Tessman (the developer) dropped me a line about the review. We had a brief email exchange and that was pretty much that.

Or so I thought.

Yesterday (two weeks later) I got another email telling me the latest version of Fade In has the ruler and the case change button.

Just to clarify this: at that point I hadn’t bought Fade In, I’d just tested the free demos. Nor had I actually contacted the developer to complain or suggest new features, it was just an unsolicited review on a blog normally full of swearing and producer-induced frustration.

I don’t know about you, but I love that kind of pre-emptive support. Adding features to a program, not on request, but on the vague, rambling whim of a guy who isn’t even a customer? Come on, that’s pretty good!

So I’ve bought the full versions now and I love them. The ruler is actually slightly better than Final Draft’s – you can see out of the corner of your eye what the margins are. The workflow between PC software and Android app is seamless – I can close a script on my laptop and immediately carry on on my phone – love that.

The page count thing is nowhere near the issue it appeared in the half-featured demo version. There is a slight discrepancy; but it’s about 3 pages over a 100 page script which isn’t the end of the world. I think it’s because the Courier Final Draft font is slightly wider spaced on Fade in than it is on Final Draft. Dialogue is pretty much the same; but action can creep onto the next line.

However, the bonus way of looking at this is if you write in Fade In, when you save it as an .fdx you actually reduce your page count.

Mind you, that’s assuming the producer has got his printer set for the right paper and they’re using the right version of Final Draft – different versions seem to display scripts differently anyway. One project I was working on, the script was jumping from 93 pages on my machine to 152 on the line producer’s.

Turns out the Courier Final Draft font was mysteriously missing from their machine and Final Draft was randomly selecting a different font. They just thought I was a moron who liked to write in a unique font in a pathetic attempt to be different.

So a couple of pages difference? Neither here nor there.

And there you go, I’ve switched to Fade In and so far it’s working really well. There’s a free demo of both program and app, and the actual program is dirt cheap anyway. If you’ve got time or haven’t yet settled on a writing program, you should give it a go. I’d love to hear what you think.

Categories: My Way, Software | 8 Comments

Scrivener and me

In the spirit of trying new things, I’ve been playing with Scrivener. Now, I know you Mac people have been using it for years and maybe even some of you Windows spods have been fiddling with the beta for a while, but it’s completely new to me.

Strongly recommended by LVJ director Chris Taylor, I’ve got to say Scrivener is an awesome program. If you’re not familiar with it:

Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft.

Basically, it’s a single program which allows you to collate ideas, research and scribbles, allowing you to move from random notes through index cards to an outline and onto screenplay format. It’s fantastic at organising information and does some really clever things with searches and tagging various elements of a story.

If you aren’t already using it, you really should check it out. It’s very, very clever … and absolutely no use to me.

Which probably sounds odd, I know; but I have a process which works for me and part of that process involves not importing information from one stage to the next. I tend to follow the same stages every time:

SYNOPSIS

INDEX CARDS

TREATMENT

SCRIPT

Occasionally I do some character profiles; but generally I only do those if the producer asks for them; or I haven’t actually started the script and need to knock out something fast which looks like I’ve been working hard instead of watching telly. Everyone works differently, but for me the stages run like this:

 

SYNOPSIS

This needs to be a stand alone document at some point.

It will probably go through at least four drafts before scripting and maybe one or two afterwards.

Apart from the producer (and, sometimes, the director) it gets sent out to investors, sales agents and all the other people I imagine have to wear a suit on a daily basis. Sometimes, it even ends up on the back of the DVD cover.

It makes no odds what software this is written with, any word processor will do.

 

INDEX CARDS

Scrivener does this really well. So does Final Draft or Celtx or Fade In … I don’t like to use any of them. I like physical cards I can scribble on with a pen for several reasons:

  1. It gets me away from the computer. Anything which allows me to not stare at a computer screen for 12 hours a day is a good thing.
  2. I can get an overview of the whole film … and still be able to read individual cards. I can’t do that on a monitor – the monitor-size/eyesight equation doesn’t work. If I do it on screen, I can see overview or detail but not both.
  3. I find them easier to move around and place correctly. If I have a card which belongs in the second half of act two, I can put it there with nothing around it and know exactly where it is in relation to the other (non-existent) cards.
  4. There’s something about changing from one medium to another which fires me up and makes it all seem fresh.
  5. Trundling down to Staples to buy new cards/pens is a vital procrastination technique which also counts as exercise. Honest.

I only tend to do one version of the cards, but they get shuffled a lot during the process. It’s probably equivalent to another two drafts.

 

TREATMENT

Again, this needs to be sent out on its own, so needs to be a separate document at some point. It’s as easy to write it in a separate document, as it is to expand the synopsis and compile it to a separate document later.

Any word processor will do, it doesn’t matter.

I tend to refer to the synopsis to make sure I keep the theme and the overall story at the forefront of my mind; but generally I just take each index card one by one and write up the scenes. Usually this process allows me to spot missing scenes or sequences and fill them in.

I try to stick to one page of treatment = ten pages of script … but it doesn’t always work out that way.

The treatment will go back and forth to the producer (or director) a few times, frequently there’ll be three or four drafts before everyone’s happy.

 

SCRIPT

And then there’s the script.

I use Final Draft, I’m thinking about switching to Fade In; but probably not just yet.

I know some people use Word or whatever, but software designed specifically for writing scripts tends to be easier and faster to use than generic software which has been modified.

Or at least, I think so.

I went through a brief phase of cutting and pasting the treatment into Final Draft and then expanding each paragraph into a scene (or scenes) but this made for some really bad scripts.

I find it’s much better to write the script by referring to the treatment rather than copying it, that way I’m in touch with the natural flow of the story and can easily spot gaps in the logic and fill them. I find if I expand the treatment into a script, then mistakes go unnoticed and the story is dull and frequently nonsensical.

I find no benefit in using the same software to write the script as used to write the treatment. I want to take the information from one place, run it though my brain and splurge it back into the computer. It’s just better for me.

What I like about my process is the first draft of the script is actually the tenth or eleventh draft of the idea.

The ethos of Scrivener, one program to do it all just doesn’t appeal to me. I like the ability to keep everything in one project … but that’s kind of what a folder is anyway, so it’s not enough to make me want to use a new program.

However, this is just my process and everyone’s different. If you like the idea of organising all your research in one place and using one program to go from idea to script … then you should definitely give Scrivener a go.

Categories: My Way, Software, Someone Else's Way | 2 Comments

Fade In?

I’ve been having a little fiddle with the Fade In scriptwriting software.

It’s not that I’m unhappy with Final Draft and actively seeking a new program; but rather because I want to be able to view and edit scripts on my phone, laptop or desktop as I see fit.

What I want is simplicity and choice (two things some technology companies seem to feel are mutually exclusive). If I’m writing a script on my desktop, wander out for the day and suddenly feel the need to edit or add something – I want to be able to just pick up my phone and carry on where I left off.

I can do that with Word, Excel or Powerpoint files (even though I use neither Excel nor Powerpoint) so why can’t I do it with a script?

Well, Fade In seems to let me do exactly that.

To be fair here, I’ve only been playing with the free Windows & Android versions. If you’re working in an Apple environment it may be better or worse or exactly the same. Similarly, if you’ve paid for the app/program then it might be totally different again.

THE GOOD

Fade In seems to work in a very similar manner to Final Draft, everything’s clear and logical (to me, possibly based on years of familiarity with FD) and it does pretty much what I want it to do in the way I want it to do it. Including, showing each page as a separate page instead of a single, 90-page-long, roll of paper.

This doesn’t seem to be a massive issue for everyone, but for me I need to see what each individual page looks like. The film isn’t my artform, the script is. This is my finished product and I want it to look as good as possible.

One of my massive bug bears with Final Draft is the paper size is derived from the printer settings. If you write a 100 page A4 script and send it to America, it opens up at 100 and something pages. If you’re working with American and British producers, then you have a translation nightmare as one person’s telling the other they don’t like page 95 … which is different for each person. No matter how many times you explain that to people … one of them just won’t get it. Fade In doesn’t do that – you specify the page size.

Fade In can open and save as .fdx as well as .rtf, .pdf and .celtx among others – this, to me, is essential in a world which frequently asks for the script as .fdx (actually, more commonly as an .fdr) and .pdf file.

In general, it’s a scriptwriting program which does pretty much the same as all the others. Including the bits I don’t use like navigation and colour coding and scene synopses and all the other gubbins I don’t want.

THE COOL

Fade In syncs with Dropbox. So does the phone app. I can literally stop work on my laptop, pick up my phone and carry on. If I’m on the Secret Writing Island, I can finish work at night then review or edit what I’ve done in the restaurant on my phone the next morning.

Okay, so it’s not a fully featured script program – you don’t seem to be able to edit the title page or the margins or … well, pretty much anything really; but you can add text in the right format (dialogue, action, scene heading … etc.) and you can still access the navigation (if you use it, which I don’t).

In other words, you can quickly add to or edit the script on the move – which is all I want. I don’t expect to be able to write one from scratch (which you can, sort of, do). As a phone app, it works exactly as I want it to. I don’t even mind the continuous roll of paper thing – just isn’t really a problem for me here.

THE BAD

The main program is missing a couple of features. One minor and one which would really irritate me.

The minor one is a button to quickly toggle between upper/lower case. I frequently introduce characters, then go back and add another scene which introduces them earlier. I need to be able to highlight and switch cases quickly. Not all the time, but quite often. I couldn’t see a way of doing that without going through the menu, which is a bit annoying but not the end of the world.

Actually, there is a shortcut (ctrl + K) but I just prefer a button. The more I think about it, this is an exceptionally minor point.

Please ignore it.

The irritating one is there’s no ruler and doesn’t seem to be an option to view one.

By the way, if I’m wrong about either of these points, please correct me.

I need a ruler, because I’m forever tweaking margins to hide widows and orphans. It annoys me no end when the last word of a sentence drops onto the next line simply because of a full stop. Over a 100 page script, it can add a couple of pages.

Yes, I’m anal. Sorry.

If it’s one or two characters, I adjust the margins. If it’s a whole word, I’ll spend a lot of time looking at the sentence to see if I can re-write it to make it shorter.

I spend so much time doing this, when I read scripts full of orphans, I get unreasonably angry and assume the writer just doesn’t care about their script.

Yes, I know it’s nothing to do with the quality of the story or the writing … but it just fucking annoys me. I know you think I’m wrong, I do to (a little bit) but there you go. Next time the producer asks you to lose five pages from your script, fiddle until you’ve got rid of the widows and orphans and you’ll probably lose two pages instantly.

If there’s no ruler, and no way to visually tweak each line … you can’t do this.

At least, not easily.

So both of those points are a bit of a non-issue really. I could easily export to Final Draft to fix them.

But then that’s the other issue. One which might only be to do with the free version or maybe something which needs addressing; but when I converted a 96 page script from .fdx to .fadein and back … it added 20 pages.

Fiddling with the font in FD put it back to 98, and I’m assuming the extra 2 pages is the result of all my widow/oprhan fiddling being reset.

This worries me, since I can’t guarantee how long my script will be when opened by someone else.

Mind you, you can’t really guarantee it in Final Draft either – if the other person has their printer settings wrong, the page count is all over the place.

To be fair again, I think this is a problem with converting there and back and using the free program which doesn’t have all the formatting options available. I think either purchasing the full program and/or writing from scratch in Fade In would fix that.

Maybe.

So overall, Fade In is almost exactly what I want. To be honest, it’s just that lack of ruler thing which stops me buying it right now. Being able to switch to phone and back is something I really, really want … but not at the expense of not being able to format my script the way I want to.

If the ruler is something you never use, check out Fade In – it’s cheap and it looks great. In fact, check it out anyway, make up your own mind.

And if I’m wrong about the ruler, please let me know so I can publicly apologise.

Categories: My Way, Software, Someone Else's Way | 2 Comments

2010

I know it’s traditional to do your end-of-year-blog-round-up at the end of the year you’re rounding-up, but I didn’t, so I’m doing it now.

And no, I haven’t caved in, bought an iPhone and then failed to wake up for three days in a row (although I do find it highly amusing and can’t wait to smile smugly at certain friends of mine whose most cherished and deeply held belief is ‘Apple products never go wrong’.); but I’ve just been excruciatingly busy with Persona … which the more eagle-eyed among you may have noticed completely failed to manifest itself two days ago. There is a reason for that, but it will have to wait.

So, what did I do in 2010 (which I can’t believe I’m talking about, it’s so last year)? Well, I did something rather like this …

JANUARY

I explained how to be happy, in a rather long winded post which went on for so long it annoyed the piss out of me; Lord knows how you felt about it.

I discovered there was a 5,50 in the morning, ate my first school dinner since I was 11 and became the world’s first, ginger Bollywood consultant.

Updated Quicktime.

Discovered a watched kettle does boil and took a video to prove it:

Equated ‘In the Night Garden’ to genital piercing.

Then ran head-first at a wall and played with some bunnies.

FEBRUARY

Posted lots of behind the scenes videos for ‘Just for the Record’.

Talked about Piers‘ Writers’ Social.

Got lost in America and had to ask where I was.

Updated iTunes.

Spend a weekend in a fabulous house on Anglesey (which may or may not have some connection to St Seiriol) with a Lord who taught me how to con money out of people on Waltzers and a young woman who tries to bring helicopters down by hitting golf balls at them (but is considering giving it up because she almost hit a car and feels that’s a bit dangerous), whilst working out a plan to invade the Falklands as the first step towards exploiting the untapped mineral wealth of Antarctica and being served dinner by William Wordsworth’s great-granddaughter … surprisingly, this wasn’t a dream and did actually happen.

Failed to get mentioned in The Sun, Broadcast and GMTV.

That was pretty much it for February.

MARCH

Wondered if Caprica would get any better – decided it wasn’t worth spending the time to find out. Did it get better?

Got given a note I didn’t understand.

Accidentally saw Superman Returns and got all shouty and upset.

Updated Quicktime and iTunes.

Explained how to deal with notes by wearing a skirt and letting other men in skirts stab you.

Broke down exactly how I deal with a thirty-day deadline … badly, is the answer, in case you were wondering.

Went to Piers‘ Writers’ Social.

The DVD for ‘Just for the Record’ became available to pre-order.

Remained unconvinced by 3D. I’m still not convinced – good idea or pointless gimmick?

APRIL

Got very stressed because I was working on five projects at the same time – five! How pitifully small that number seems now. My stress dissolved in the face of this pretty picture:

Which may or may not be in pre-production around about now. Probably isn’t.

Got held prisoner in France due to a dastardly plot involving my parents, British Airways and an Icelandic volcano.

Got a bit disappointed by the Daleks and their magic Easter egg.

Decided I don’t trust anyone’s opinion.

Updated Quicktime.

Got in a bit of a tangle about an exclamation mark!

MAY

Updated Quicktime.

Spent three days shitting myself here:

Stayed awake for 36 hours, whilst travelling eight hours across five time zones so I could get to here:

Just so I could attend the premiere of ‘Just for the Record’

Updated iTunes.

Went to see ‘Just for the Record’ in the same cinema I went to see all of the films which initially inspired me to be a writer. A film (based on) a script I wrote showing in an actual cinema! And not just one cinema, several across the country. Something I wrote got a theatrical release! … Shame it was a bit shit really.

Explained how cold reading helps get you out of holes you dig by being thoroughly unprofessional.

Realised IMDb ratings may be a slightly better work of fiction than the films themselves.

Was deeply surprised to find ‘Just for the Record’ in the DVD charts. Number 13, if you’re interested:

Updated Quicktime.

Went on a long and pointless rant about builders.

Updated iTunes.

Went on a long and pointless rant about isms.

JUNE

Was surprised to receive a smattering of complimentary emails.

Updated Quicktime and iTunes.

Stole some money:

Wrote my most popular post of the year: It’s not fair

JULY

Listened to two Jamaicans argue about the best way to spray paint an elephant.

Had a First Look at LVJ:

Got called a lying bastard for failing to recognise Apple as the true inventor of video calling.

Updated Quicktime.

Updated Quicktime.

Updated Quicktime.

Pause/beat – not the fucking same.

‘The Wrong Door’ came out on DVD! No one bought it! Hooray!

Got angry about some spelling.

Updated iTunes.

AUGUST

Updated iTunes.

Promoted some random shit.

Updated Quicktime.

Saw some films.

Updated iTunes.

Failed to understand semi-colons.

Updated Quicktime.

Invented a new sport.

Failed to win at the sport I’d just invented.

Updated iTunes.

Got removed from a project for waiting too long for them to send me some feedback.

Updated Quicktime.

Made some robots swear:

Updated iTunes.

Swore I’d make the robots swear once a month, just for fun.

Updated Quicktime.

Failed to make the robots swear ever again. This will probably be a lifelong failure.

Updated iTunes.

Got annoyed with people slagging off Richard Curtis.

Updated Quicktime.

Someone set up a Twitter account in my name … still don’t know who.

Updated iTunes.

SEPTEMBER

Realised I don’t know what iTunes is or why it’s on my computer. I mean, I know you can use it to buy music and stuff; but what’s all the rest of it for? As far as I can tell it’s something which gets between your computer and an mp3 player or a phone and … makes it all a bit more complicated. A bit like a geriatric butler who insists on chewing your food for you. I mean, what the fuck is it for?

Decided to uninstall iTunes.

Got excited about a poster I haven’t seen for twenty-five years.

Liked ‘Roger and Val Have Just Got In’ even if no one else did.

Uninstalled iTunes.

Moaned about people fucking up my (admittedly poor) scripts by removing, changing or otherwise tampering with the protagonist AFTER the fucking script has been shot.

Uninstalled iTunes.

Updated Quicktime.

Updated Quicktime.

Uninstalled iTunes.

Went to the theatre – nothing blew up, no one got naked and there was a surprising lack of giant killer robots; but it was actually very enjoyable.

Updated Quicktime.

Expressed a desire to project a photo of my balls onto various people’s faces.

Uninstalled iTunes.

Uninstalled iTunes.

Updated Quicktime.

Uninstalled iTunes – what the fuck is this shit? Where does it keep coming from? I don’t want it. I don’t need it. Please, please fuck off!

Gave up and updated iTunes.

OCTOBER

Tried to name a space shuttle ‘Brian’.

Updated Quicktime.

Learnt there is such a thing as a one word pitch.

Updated Quicktime.

Had a warm gooey feeling because I did something uncharacteristically nice.

Updated Quicktime.

Got confused between my imagination and a piece of paper.

Updated Quicktime.

Tried to decipher the numbering system of a script competition.

Updated Quicktime.

Updated Quicktime.

Updated Quicktime.

Updated Quicktime.

Updated Quicktime.

Realised iTunes seems to have given up asking to be updated.

Updated iTunes.

And Quicktime.

NOVEMBER

Confessed my sexual fondness for a cartoon character.

Updated Quicktime.

Ranted about working for two producers who hated each other.

Updated Quicktime.

Wished Apple would just make Quicktime work properly in the first place. Or at least the last place, since it seems to update every fucking two days and still doesn’t actually fucking work. What exactly is updating? Is inability to play any fucking file whatsoever?

Uninstalled Quicktime.

DECEMBER

Reinstalled Quicktime so I could watch a film trailer.

Updated Quicktime.

Updated iTunes.

Updated Quicktime.

Updated iTunes.

Updated Quicktime.

Talked about the snow for fucking ages.

Updated Quicktime.

Realised I’d spent more time updating Quicktime than fucking breathing. In fact, I’d go so far as to say updating Quicktime is 80% of my social interaction with the world.

Talked about some loveliness.

Realised Quicktime hasn’t asked to be updated for a week. I miss that little guy.

Did something I didn’t want to do and enjoyed it.

Made writing ridiculous complex with all sorts of colour-coded formulas.

Where’s Quicktime? Why isn’t it talking to me any more? Have I upset it somehow?

Got really excited about the trailer for:

And began the nine day countdown to … nothing.

UPDATED QUICKTIME! HE’S BACK! HE DOES LOVE ME! … Bollocks.

And that was about it. There wasn’t a lot of actual blogging happening this year, primarily because 2010 was the year of taking on too many projects. 12 features in all. 12 – fucking ridiculous. Behind the scenes, unblogged, I managed to work my way through 9 of those 12 features – 3 of them are still waiting patiently in the wings; invented the format for, hired writers for, developed, wrote and script-edited Persona (which has been delayed, but is definitely starting in January this year); attended a lot of meetings; met the world’s most pretentious man; travelled 8402 miles in 16 hours just to wank into a pot; became a sort of Producer; was forced to interact with actors; set fire to lots of things which went fizz …. bang; ruined four rolls of really expensive wallpaper; loved my wife and my daughter and generally had an absolute fucking ball.

What does 2011 hold?

Well, Persona for one thing. Those last three films and then a break from films for a while. Probably. Maybe some features going into production. Twitter – maybe? I might just follow people for a while and see what happens. And … um … sleep. I need some sleep. Quite a lot of it, really.

Happy New Year!

Categories: BBC, Career Path, Industry Musings, Just for the Record, LVJ, My Way, Opportunity, Persona, Progress, Publicity, Rants, Sad Bastard, Software, Someone Else's Way, Sparkle, That Band, The Wrong Door, Things I've Learnt Recently, Two steps back, Writing and life | 2 Comments

2009

So here we are at the end of the year, hell at the end of the decade and …

Actually, when does the decade end? Is 2010 the end of this decade or the beginning of the next one? Tricky number, zero. Still, fuck it. If the Romans couldn’t get to grips with it then why the fuck should I? I mean, they built roads and shit while all I’ve ever done is push buttons on a keyboard … and even that I do pretty badly.

Mind you, have you seen the roads in Rome? Shockingly bad. Fuck knows how those people supplied an empire.

But I digress.

Did you have a good Christmas? Did Santa bring you everything you wanted? I asked for World Domination and some French Fancies but the fat git failed on both counts. How was 2009 in general? Mine went almost exactly like this:

JANUARY

I realised we were living in the 21st Century … nine years after the fact.

Discovered Oli stops reading when he reaches his own name and then talked briefly about magic puppies with Lego faces.

Tries to get someone to hold my hand.

Learnt, once again, communicating by email results in appalling scripts and that the more notes someone has for you, the better the script is.

Revealed I had a BIG IDEA … with no time to write it.

Had a pile of work, so massive and so daunting … I decided to fuck everyone off and go to Disney Land instead.

Didn’t go to Disney Land, just knuckled down and attacked the pile of work.

Talked about a Writer’s Vision – basically how to lie in order to get money.

Revealed to the world that Satan talks to me through the TV and told me I have to leave Pipex and sign up to Sky Broadband or he’s going to make me rape, kill and eat next door’s babies.

Fielded an email from an American Production company looking for something almost exactly like the BIG IDEA. It’s right easy this marketing lark – you just sit there and wait for them to call you.

And then saw Seven Pounds and got depressed because I can’t write like that.

FEBRUARY

Had a pointless conversation with an Air Hostess in the middle of a forest.

Got bored.

Decided, more or less on a whim, never to speak to anyone ever again.

Named and alphabetised my T-shirts.

Decided I didn’t want to be in Battlestar Galactica.

Revealed my obsession with Creative Screenwriting Podcasts.

Got confused about Easter.

And got bored once more, this time by Benjamin Button. Fuck it, if he doesn’t pay any interest in his own life, why should I?

MARCH

Failed to blog about THE A TEAM V DAD’S ARMY and DAISY DOGNUTS. No, I have no idea what that means either.

Talked about the technical difficulties involved in writing a script … although for the life of me I can’t remember which fucking script I was talking about. I may have been making shit up to make myself seem cool.

Shit a solid gold brick.

Explained why this:

Made me into a writer.

Discovered a clone of me from the future used to stalk me in the past.

Got attacked by a T-Rex and rescued by Spiderman.

Got nominated for a Rose d’Or. Sort of.

Met up with Lara Greenway and Terry Wogan in Madam Tussauds.

Got emails from actors asking if they could be in a film I didn’t write. Only to find out I may have written bits of it, sort of.

Realised I could carry all my scripts around on my phone, all the time.

Got annoyed about mugs and companies who sell themselves as cool without actually telling you what their products do. Like Apple.

And offered to buy people lunch.

APRIL

Got nominated for a BAFTA. Actually, this has nothing to do with me.

Dropped an imaginary phone into an imaginary vat of home brew at Dan Turner’s imaginary house.

Wrote a script to an extremely complicated and prescriptive set of rules. Rules which the producer who set them immediately complained about.

Karma Magnet came out as a DVD extra.

Pimped some stuff for someone else.

Got fucking angry about the media’s ‘information’ about Swine Flu and declared it was all fucking bullshit and no one was going to die from it. Bird Flu, anyone?

Warned people their ideas would make a 90 page script into a 180 page script. They didn’t listen, I wrote the script, they got upset.

And filming started on a sitcom pilot … so I hid in Crouch End.

Wow, nothing really happened in April, did it?

MAY

Got annoyed about story drops – the point in a film/TV thing where you could stop watching and not feel like you’d missed the next hour.

Got really unreasonably upset about MOMENTS LATER. That must have been a particularly bad day.

Just for the Record began filming. I went to hide in the Caribbean and got sucked off by an air steward in First Class. There was a video of that and everything … but I seem to have lost it.

Got a phone call from the Mail on Sunday who wanted to talk to me about not being in Cannes.

Took a meeting in a room chock full of little rubber pigs – every single one of which bore a sticker proudly proclaiming: THIS IS NOT A TOY

Went to Nuneaton. Never again.

Apparently I went on holiday somewhere, but for the life of me I can’t remember where.

Oh, and I bought a new laptop:

Touchy touchy!

JUNE

Came over all positive for a moment and said some nice things. Hopefully that was just a phase.

Launched Jack Tweed’s movie career. Great.

Went to the Screenwriters’ Festival and drew some sperm:

Muttered something about being forced to promote stuff even when I thought it was shit

Saw a preview/promo for Fleeced:

Saw a trailer for Just for the Record … which has since been removed. Damn.

Saw a poster for Just for the Record … which has since been binned.

Tried to make sense of Spatulas, Iguanas and a fruitbowl.

Attacked a man on the bus so I could rip this page from his paper:

Because of this paragraph:

Which is about a sitcom pilot I co-wrote.

And came over all nice again and promoted other people’s short films.

JULY

Finally explained about the movable goalposts of excitement.

Held a meeting in a street which was on fire.

Attended a screening of Splendid. It was.

Got hassled by an all female Squad of pissed up Motown fans. One of whom insisted she was a natural blonde with the landing strip to prove it who went on to kick me in the chest with a spiked heel. I quite enjoyed that day.

Got angry about morons giving James Moran a hard time for writing good telly.

Did this:

For these people:

Deleted more than I wrote.

Ran out of ways to procrastinate and very nearly had to do some work.

And saw the trailer for the sitcom pilot I co-wrote:

AUGUST

Oh, and a music video from the same:

Another trailer for Just for the Record. This one’s still there!

Took part in a three-way conference call between New York, Barbados and Crawley. (I was in Barbados, but strangely my car was in Crawley).

Was told I wasn’t allowed to photograph an imaginary gorilla and used it as an excuse to show this trailer again:

Finally realised (but haven’t fully accepted) that NO ONE FUCKING CARES ABOUT SCRIPT FORMAT.

Confessed I frequently imagine I’m Steve McQueen.

And tried to work out what I wanted out of the SWF.

SEPTEMBER

Are we all still here? Are you as bored as I am yet? Yes? Good, moving on.

Saw a trailer for Exposé.

Signed contracts and received feedback for the BIG IDEA. Wait, did I mention I sold the BIG IDEA without trying? No, not to the American Production company, but to a different American Production company. Actually, my friend sold it for me without my permission or knowledge. Suits me, as long as I don’t have to do any work.

Made some cats out of blue icing.

Talked about two adaptations and how they’d missed the fucking point. Since I’m now working on two adaptations I look forward to people throwing that blog back in my face.

The Dutch gave me some money, via the BBC.

So did Sweden, Denmark, Italy, America and Russia.

And, for reasons which escape me, babbled about furniture for far too long.

Is that it? Is that all I did in September? Was it a short month this year?

OCTOBER

Hooray! This is nearly over and I can go and do something more interesting!

In October, I lost my rag with Microsoft.

Got suckered into thinking this was a real school orchestra:

Got stuck in a rant about designing cars and then bought one to cheer myself up.

And … that’s it? That’s fucking it? What the fuck was I doing in October?

NOVEMBER

Went to the Screenwriters’ Festival – fannyed around, didn’t really make the most of it and met a lot of nice people. Like Hayley McKenzie – she’s lovely. Oh, and I compared cock size with Simon Beaufoy. I’m not telling you who won.

Masturbating monkeys … I still don’t really want to talk about that.

Tried to sell my car via my blog. Bizarrely, I actually sold it in absolute darkness, during a storm and a power cut to two Eastern Europeans who paid cash and didn’t want to test drive or even inspect it.

Got all mellow and wibbly over stuff like this:

Wrote an open letter to directors.

Wrote an open letter to writers.

Wrote an open letter to producers.

Hmm … looks like I did more in November than October but still, come on! Have I really been too busy to blog?

Yes, I have as it happens …

DECEMBER

 Moaned a lot about writing constantly without actually writing any scripts.

Pointed out the target audience for a script is the producer and the director, not the people who pay to go and see a film. That’s the target audience for a film.

Spoke to a wall.

And that was it. That’s the entire fucking year.

I can’t help noticing the beginning of the year involved a lot more blogging than the end of the year. I’m sorry about that (unless you hate my blog, then I’m happy for you) but I have been exceedingly busy. I’m currently working on four feature scripts as well as keeping all the other plates spinning and blogging has become an expensive luxury.

January and February 2010 promise to be absolutely fucking mental and possibly completely impossible – but hopefully once this lot is out of the way, normal blogging service will be resumed.

And by normal service I mean me talking shit in extremely long-winded, ill-thought out and ill-advised posts.

Happy New Year to you all, see you in the next decade!

Or maybe the last year of this decade … depending on how you count it.

Categories: BBC, BBC Sketch Show, Bored, Career Path, Exposé, Festivals, Fleeced, Industry Musings, Just for the Record, Karma Magnet, LVJ, My Way, Progress, Publicity, Random Witterings, Rants, Sad Bastard, Software, Someone Else's Way, That Band, The Wrong Door, Things I've Learnt Recently, til Death, Two steps back, Writing and life | 1 Comment

Tin foil

Well, that was a bad week.

I think I can honestly say the last week has been the worst of my fledgling career so far. Horrible just about sums it up; but doesn’t really convey the gut-wrenching fear, disappointment and rage which left me on the verge of tears.

And by ‘verge of tears’ I mean ‘bawling my eyes out, lying curled up on the bathroom floor, wrapped in tin foil and screaming for my mummy’.

Why tin foil?

I don’t know, that’s how upset I was.

Still, it seems to be almost over now and life is becoming sunny again. I may blog about it at some point, but probably not. It’s all a bit embarrassing and totally my fault.

So instead I’m going to talk about some random shit I was too numb to notice during the last seven or eight days.

Like on Monday, when I visited one of the locations for K and watched the fight choreographer put some of the actors through their paces. There were swords and tonfa and … well that’s all I saw; but they were being flung around all over the shop.

Or night club, I suppose.

Then we visited a rooftop location to discuss how we’re going to throw an actor off without it costing too much.

I think hiring twins is the answer.

One who can act and the other who’s suicidal.

I’ve finally discovered what the issue was with the difference in page count – it turns out Final Draft fixed a bug which added the odd blank line into the script. I was running 7.1.1 on my desktop (104 pages) and 7.1.3 on my laptop (102 pages) – which is not a problem until you lock the script for production and suddenly it all goes haywire.

I’m away from home a lot and need to be able to work on the script from both machines.

The solution?

Well, the best solution would have been to update my desktop; but the production team have all been working from the 104 page version. So solution number 2 is to uninstall Final Draft from my laptop and reinstall the older version.

Great, then I can work on the script while I’m out and about.

Except … no, wait. There was a reason why I updated the laptop – it’s running Windows Vista and Final Draft 7.1.1 won’t save as PDF in Vista.

So now I have a script I can work on, but no way of sending it.

Ah, no! I can print the revised pages using a PDF printer (CutePDF – because I like the name).

Okay, now we’re cooking.

Except no, the director can’t open pages printed to PDF, only ones saved as PDF.

Why?

Who fucking knows?

So now I have to send the CutePDF printed pages out to the First AD for distribution, with a one page per scene version for the continuity person.

I’m sure she has a technical name, but I don’t know what it is.

Then I have to email the Final Draft version back home so Mandy can save it as PDF and send it back. Then I can send it to the director.

Yay!

No.

Bugger.

For some reason the text is mostly green. Green is the current revision colour, but it shouldn’t save green text into PDF.

Now I’m really confused; and, as some of you may have noticed, wittering on about PDF formats to stop myself thinking about …

Fuck it, it’s no good.

I need more tin foil.

Categories: K, Progress, Random Witterings, Software, Two steps back | 5 Comments

Sophocles Beta 2007

I got an email this morning (or was it last night?) asking if I’d like to participate in the beta testing of the new Sophocles scriptwriting software.

Now, I don’t know about this. I use Final Draft and I’m quite happy with it. Apart from a few moronic decisions in the early versions  of FD7, namely saving each page as a picture when you convert it to PDF (why?), I have no problems with it and it does everything I want it too.

I don’t really use any of the scene navigator functions or whatever else is in there. I use it for typing and that’s about it. I’m aware people don’t like it and there are other programs which perform better with more functionality; but I really don’t care. It does what I want and that’s fine.

But in the spirit of curiousity, I’ve downloaded Sophocles and had a look. First impressions?

There are things all over the screen! Hundreds of things, what are they? Buttons, tabs, menus … what the fuck is all this?

I had to switch it off and have a little lie down.

I’m back now and I’ve had another look. At a second glance I still find it quite confusing, I think it will take a while to get used to what it all does. I also find it quite weird that the default setting puts the ‘paper’ in a small window to one side instead of in front of you. And you don’t get page breaks, just a continuous stream of paper with thirty second intervals marked on the side. No page numbers? How does that work? I like page numbers.

I’ve just checked to see if it actually does have page numbers or not and I couldn’t find the program. It’s not in the programs list in my start menu, where the hell is it? Oh right, I’ve found it. What the hell is it doing over there? Nope, no page numbers.

There is an option to switch it to a page view, but that just puts a thin dotted line across the endless page. Every now and then Word does something like this and I hate it. I like the pages to look as much like a piece of paper as possible. The other problem is the explorer at the side. When I worked out how to get rid of it, the paper moved to the centre, but the text is too small to read. I’m trying to find a way to enlarge the view, but I’ve no idea how.

Right, I’ve found that.

And we’re off. Okay, so this is starting to make sense now. The story outlining aspects might be useful; but I like to do those on a piece of paper first, then move to a board so I can get a total overview. I’m not sure I like having the scenes on the screen, I find shifting my attention to another medium helps me think about things in a different way. I guess it’s something I could get used to and is useful if I’m writing away from home.

This then is the real test, if all I want it to do is exactly what my pre-existing software already does, then how much use is it to me? It’s a bit different and I could get used to it, but do I want or need to get used to a different program?

I’ll give it a fair run, though. I’ve got a script which needs a re-write so I’ll do it on Sophocles, see how it goes and report back.

Don’t take my word for it though, try it for yourself. The beta version is available for all and sundry here:

www.sophocles.net/beta

Categories: Sad Bastard, Software | 8 Comments

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