You’re on the subway, when suddenly, out of the blue, you have an idea for your screenplay. You want to be able to write down the dialogue exchange that will make your script ten times better, but unfortunately, you don’t carry a computer with Final Draft as you’re going from point A to point B. What to do, what to do?
Well, if you have an iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad, that’s easy enough. The Scripts Pro app, created by Stephen Levinson, enables screenwriters to work on their scripts wherever they happen to be. Having the app, which costs $5.99 on iTunes, means that you’ll never have to scribble down script ideas on spare sheets of paper again. Levinson answered some of our questions on what separates Scripts Pro from its competitors, and what the future holds for the screenwriting app.
Rebecca Pahle (MM): What led you to make this app? Why do you feel it’s important for a screenwriter to have the ability to write on their iPhone/iPad?
Stephen Levinson (SL): Last summer I was working on a script for my animated short. It may seem odd, but screenwriting is more of a hobby, I’m a character designer and animator by trade. Anyways, I was at dinner and viewing the PDF of the script on my iPhone and felt so limited to only reading it. I came up with a ton of new jokes but had to write them all down in the notes app and then add it to the script when I returned home. At the time there weren’t any screenwriting apps in the app store so i went ahead to make it. I found a great company and the rest is history!
The ability to write and edit properly formatted screenplays on the go is definitely a must. I wouldn’t imagine anyone to write an entire screenplay on the go on an iPhone, but to be able to view it and make quick edits is a completely different story (no pun intended.) While it’s certainly possible to write an entire script on an iPhone with Scripts Pro, the iPad is a more reasonable way to write on the go. Being able to take advantage of the large screen and touch interface will allow features that will feel great to use and increase productivity.
MM: What sets Scripts Pro apart from other screenwriting apps available on iTunes?
SL: Let me start off with a list of features Scripts Pro has that the competitors do not. TAB key, title page creation, suggestion pop-ups for characters/transitions/time of day, preview modes with title page (allows you to see how many pages you’ve written, which scenes are on which page and what your script will look like when printed), import/export of both .celtx and .FDX (ScriptWrite and iScreenwriter don’t even import!), private wifi storage between only you and your device(Screenplay requires importing to be done through their servers), weekly updates, lowercase-to-uppercase and for the iPad the addition of uppercase-to-lowercase(soon to come to the iPhone), scene re-ordering (with the exception of Screenplay). I’m sure there are more, but you’d think all the features Scripts Pro has that the others don’t would be standard in a screenwriting app! Now let’s talk about what really makes Scripts Pro great.
Scripts Pro is just easy. Apple didn’t include a TAB button in the iPhone OS, but I didn’t look for way around that. As you know, every screenwriting program uses the TAB and RETURN key to switch between elements. There’s a reason why every single desktop app works this way. It allows continuous thoughts to flow out of your head while the program itself stays out of your way. There wasn’t any other way I thought mobile screenwriting would work. So, we added it in.
The other applications use complex sliders and toolbars to work from one element to the next, while Scripts Pro uses a text window with one TAB button. With Screenplay you must press each element when you want to use it. When writing each element you are also brought into separate windows and can only see the element you’re writing. So, if I’m adding dialogue I will only see my dialogue until i exit back to reveal the entire screenplay. The user interface gets in the way of writing and is a pain to work on. Who wants to be required to press a toolbar for each element? If you want to add a character you must press the ‘Character’ button, add a new character and then press his/her name after writing it to insert it into the script. With Scripts Pro you press Tab, type the name, press return and then you’re in the dialogue area. You’d have to press the dialogue button in Screenplay, after you add the character to write some dialogue.
Another app, ScriptWrite, uses the same toolbar method. However, you have to memorize which icon relates to which element. At least in ScriptWrite you don’t have to write in multiple windows. This application feels very amateurish and when choosing each element the cursor jumps to the wrong position, which is very confusing. You also can’t import scripts. They’ve been promising an update for April, but I’ve yet to see one.
Scripts Pro is updated every week.
Scripts Pro is just as familiar as Celtx or Final Draft. A fair analogy would be that all of my competitors are Rube Goldberg machines. Complex ways to do simple things.
Also, I answer my emails extremely quickly. Usually within 30 minutes. I feel customer service is very important and I truly want to help my users.
MM: What sort of positive feedback have you been getting from the app?
SL: I’ve been receiving a ton of emails from users saying how much they love the app. If you haven’t seen in the app description already, I get tons of emails saying how Scripts Pro blows the competitors away. Those are real quotes from real users. I also get a few emails a day just telling me what they love about Scripts Pro without even asking any questions. About 10 users I know of bought an iPad specifically because of my app, to write their screenplays. After all the time and effort I have put into my app, It’s a great feeling to hear how I’ve helped people be creative. I’ve also heard from many users that they want to replace their laptops with the iPad for screenwriting simple because the iPad is so mobile and easy to carry around. I think many iPad users do with their iPads what they typically do on the computer, screenwriting being one of them. Obviously not all users will feel this way and I don’t blame them which is why integration with the standard desktop screenplay programs is a must. I’m always listening to customer feedback and take everyones suggestions into consideration. My app is all about what’s best for my users.
MM: Scripts Pro just came out with a version for the iPad. Are there any other new developments around the corner?
SL: Absolutely! First I’m just trying to rid the app of bugs I wasn’t aware of when I submitted the app. Scaling of the script, dropbox and iDisk support, PDF export, improve title page editing and more. A new text editor is in development that will allow font styles, maintaining cursor position and other little features related to the text editor. Big plans are underway for future features. I’m looking to develop Scripts Pro into an all-in-one on-set production tool. I’m going to take advantage of the large screen and multiple-touch interface as well. Scripts Pro is about 1/4th of what it will be after we implement all of the features. I always encourage user suggestion requests. There are many features being developed simply because users have emailed me their ideas and I thought they were great.
MM: Anything else you’d like to add?
SL: One thing I’d like to add is that app store reviews is not the appropriate place to leave bug feedback or ask questions. I’m always around. Email me and I’ll be happy to help you! Oh, and if I fix an issue, I’d appreciate users to update their reviews. I can always be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.