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Friday, November 03, 2006

No, not those polls. Stewart McKie polled (mostly) working screenwriters. And he found the following:

Screenwriting programs -- have used:

84% have used Final Draft
36% Movie Magic Screenwriter
30% Microsoft Word Add-Ins
16% Celtx
12% Montage
12% Sophocles


58% prefer Final Draft
24% prefer MS Word Add-Ins
22% prefer MMS
8% prefer Montage
6% prefer Sophocles
2% prefer Celtx

You can find more information out at his site, ScreenSoft.

Some of the numbers seem a little wonky, I'm assuming because 26% of those polled were not writers but "in other film industry roles." By wonky I mean that 25% of respondents have never used Script Revisions. I suspect those 26% and 25% are mostly the same people -- development execs who use Final Draft to read scripts they've been emailed, or production designers who want to make notes on scripts. I'd like to see which programs are preferred by (only) professional writers (including writer-directors).

It would also be interesting to see (a) what percentage of writers are on Mac vs. Windows (I s'pect over 50%), and how the Final Draft v. MMS war compares on the Mac front vs. the Windows front. I s'pect the Final Draft numbers are even higher on Mac, and MMS scores relatively better on Windows.

Interesting to see there are actually people who prefer Montage, considering it is a new release which as yet does not have the ability to mark revisions. That bodes well for the program.

Would someone tell me what a Microsoft Word Add-In is? Is it like a style sheet on HGH?


There are gobs of MS Word Add-Ins available all over the net. Compared to dedicated screenwriting software, they are generally clunky and frustrating EXCEPT for the amazing add-in that is the standard (or used to be) for BBC Television They created something called Script Smart Gold that, like other MS Word add-ins, is a combination of Macros and Styles, but it works identically to MMS or FD without any disadvantages as far as screenplay formatting ease and accuracy. The BBC nailed it. The other options though are a very distant second place for MS Word screenwriting, as their macro programming and general planning leaves the add-ins severely lacking. But for any student or professional who cares not to buy or learn dedicated software, I now always point them to Script Smart Gold. I myself have been spoiled by the 2006 Beta of Sophocles, and will never use anything else!

By Blogger Andrew, at 12:17 AM  

Alex - Thanks for posting this and to Andrew for clarification of Word Add-Ins.
Regarding Montage, polls like this are always a little suspect because generally only zealots bother to respond and as you rightly say in your latest post (and have said to me by email) busy and successful screenwriters may not have the time or inclination to respond to polls.
But I think the results are indicative of what one would expect, which I guess is not that interesting!
What surprised me was the general level of disinterest in screenwriting technology, very few people bothered to suggest features they really like or that they would really like to see (this could be a fualt in the survey design of course), which to some extent your own comments also reflect.
I think this is a shame as the screenwritng software market has been rather moribund for some years so an injection of innovation could be interesting.

By Blogger Stewart McKie, at 8:37 AM  

Maybe it's moribund because the tools do the job. There are still jobs for which the brick is the perfect building material, and aside from some minor efficiencies in ovens, and possibly slightly improved formulae for the clay, a brick is still a brick.

However, I was surprised to see how few screenwriters use MMS. I was under the impression it was about equal with FD.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 10:04 AM  

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