As long as I have been writing about video, film making and all the bits and pieces that go along with that, there has been Final Draft.
There is absolutely no question it is the pre-eminent tool for screenwriting and now, it has just reached its 12th iteration with Final Draft 12 released for both Mac and Windows.
If you are new to this biz and have no idea what Final Draft is, or is about, the next few paragraphs will fill you in.
Whilst you can use a tool such as Microsoft Word to create a formatted script for a movie, TV show, documentary, play, radio show or whatever, and certainly it is more than capable to do that, to create all the style sheets, macros and so-on to realise the exact formatting you need depending on the project would take days if not weeks (been there done that!)
Additionally, all the extra niceties Final Draft allows such as brainstorming, visualising, tagging, outlining, script notes, “beat boards” and more are not really viable or even available in Word.
The fact (according to the Final Draft folk) that 95% of the entertainment industry uses Final Draft is testament to its popularity, caused by its flexibility – not the least being access to over 300 templates designed specifically not just for generalised scriptwriting but also for screenplays, teleplays, comics, , graphic novels and stage plays based on actual models. For example if you are writing for a BBC TV screenplay, the required style is right there as a template.
There is even a mobile version available for the iPad / iPhone (but sadly not Android).
So having established if you write scripts (and therefore probably already use a previous version of Final Draft) what extras has version 12 thrown into the mix?
In no specific order, these include:
- After creating an outline, you can send it to script and see using Outline Elements show or hide up to 5 outline levels directly inside the script. An associated Outline Editor gives you a bird’s eye view of your script during development.
- A track changes function keeps track of all edits during script development letting you accept or reject any changes at will.
- Flow lines highlights beats and creates connections between them.
- You can now use Beat Board functions in collaboration with other members of the writing team.
- PDF documents can now be imported into Final Draft and converted into a fully editable Final Draft file.
- Focus mode allows you to fine tune your writing environment to your taste.
Final Draft has thoughtfully packaged these new features into a series of quick video tutorials that can be seen at https://www.finaldraft.com/learn/final-draft-12-quick-start/
For new users, you can purchase Final Draft (mac or Windows) online USD$199 (AUD$250 approx) which at present is a saving of AUD$70 over the normal price. A trial version is also available from the Final Draft website at www.finaldraft.com.
Existing users can upgrade to the latest version for USD$79.99 (approx. AUD$100).
Online there is also a bucket load of resources for scriptwriters – beginner and expert alike at https://www.finaldraft.com/learn/