Fan Film, Fan Films

5 Free Online Screenwriting Programs

I owe both my books (the illustrious Homemade Hollywood and Crank It Up) to the fact that I won Script Magazine‘s screenwriting contest a few years ago. After the winners were announced, I was contacted by a few Hollwyood agents who wanted to read the screenplay, and the unanimous reaction was “Looove it—when you moving out to LA? You’re not? Hey, good talkin’ to ya.” –CLICK–

“Some writer I am,” I groused. “I don’t live in LA where they make movies; I only live in New York where they make books.” Suddenly a lightbulb went on. “I live where they make the books!” DUH.

Anyway, the reason I tell you this story is that in order to win in the first place, I had to shell out big bucks to buy some screenwriting software to write the script. My amazing prize for winning? More screenwriting software, which I promtly sold on eBay for about half the cost of the software I bought. That’s economics for you.

Today, however, you don’t have to spend a fortune on script applications if you don’t want to; they’re available for free on the web—and I don’t mean pirated copies of Final Draft either.

The latest thing going is free, web-based screenwriting applications, where you write the Great American Script in your web browser; there are no less than FIVE sites offering variations on this concept.

On the upside, many of the five offer features like real-time online collaboration and social networking, and because they’re accessed in a web browser, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Windows, Mac or Linux user.

On the downside, you have to be online to write. If you’re like me in that you like to work on a commuter train or other places where you can’t get internet access (how are you reading this anyway?), then this concept is not for you.

When you’re making a fan film—or any kind of movie—anything free is worth looking into, so let’s take a gander at the sites.


All text below is taken from their respective sites and is somewhat edited for space.

“Plotbot is a web-based collaborative screenwriting application where you can write a screenplay with as many or as few people as you like…. Adopting the wiki approach to screenwriting, each element is editable by any member of a project. You can also comment on, delete or restore any element. There are both private and public projects…. Only the people that you invite can read or contribute to a private project; if you just want people to comment on your screenplay, no problem.”

zhura ZHURA
“By hosting the software online, we are able to offer easy and intuitive collaborative features. Users can work privately as they do today, collaborate with a few friends, or even collaborate with the entire web community. We automatically manage revision history and maintain a record of authorship. Also, by offering a web-based application, we can easily reach a diverse population of writers and build a dynamic community that is not possible with traditional screenwriting applications.”

“From the grandest epic to the funniest viral video, Scripped aims to encourage and support the needs of all scripted content writers…. Scripped Writer Beta is the first free-flowing, web based script writing software you can use right in your browser. There is no software to download, no files to manage, and no costly updates to install…. You get everything you need to write a professional, industry standard script without all the clutter of a production-minded authoring software.”

five sprocketsFIVE SPROCKETS
FiveSprockets is a group of online applications that are for story development and scriptwriting; pre-production; production; post-production, and marketing and distribution. The site also offers job boards, social and professional networking and other features. The screenwriting application’s features include: “Industry standard formatting; element style picker; enter and tab accelerators; INT/EXT completion; location memory and completion; DAY/NIGHT completion; character memory and completion; personal direction formatting; transition lists; shot lists; global find and replace; spell check; and undo and redo.”

scriptbuddySCRIPT BUDDY
ScriptBuddy incorporates all of the industry-standard screenplay formatting rules, from margins and indentations to proper page break placement. The ScriptBuddy workstation displays your screenplay exactly as it will look on the printed page, just like modern word processing software. …It also has an outline of your screenplay with numbered scenes as well as an editable character list making it easy to find your way around your screenplay.”

So there you have it: Five free alternatives to purchased, packaged screenwriting software. Have you tried any of them? Share your thoughts below in the comments section.

And, of course, most important of all: HEY HOLLYWOOD—I still have a kick-ass slacker comedy script for sale; have your people call my people and we’ll do lunch.

And I’m still not moving to LA.

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2 Responses to “5 Free Online Screenwriting Programs”

  1. scriptwriter

    zhura is the only one that provides the auto (cont) for when a character is talking across a page break. but you have to pay for importing any previous work.

    Scripted editor is insane. nobody in their right mind would wants to work element by element like that.

  2. This is great. All I ever wanted. I cannot afford script writing softwares… It’s so not fair we can’t write what we come up with!

    But now… I’ll try them all. I’ve started with scripped, it’s a little confusing, but it’s better than nothing. Which one is better anyway?

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