Automotive Holiday Deals Books Gift Guide Books Gift Guide Shop Men's Cyber Monday Deals Week Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon Train egg_2015 Fire TV Stick Grocery Gifts for Her Amazon Gift Card Offer mithc mithc mithc  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 Kindle Voyage R6 Siege Shop Now bgg
Customer Review

288 of 296 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A necessary semi-evil, February 11, 2012
This review is from: Final Draft Version 8 (Software)
I see that reviews for this program fall into two categories: (1) Wow, so this is how screenplays are supposed to look! This program automatically formats them. Awesome! I can write screenplays now and make movies! (2) I have to use this program for a living and this program is no more glamorous to me than a plow is to a farmer.

I fall into the latter category.

(Although I envy beginners their enthusiasm for formatting and begrudge them none of their excitement at entering the world of screenwriting -- that phase doesn't last more than a few months.)

If you're a professional screenwriter, especially for TV, then you pretty much have to use this program until someone comes out with something better that fulfills all the professional requirements needed by TV and film production companies. Sad, but true. Sad because, since this is a business of art, it would be nice to have a really elegant program upon which to ply said art. But FD gets the job done.

Final Draft support has been spotty over the last fifteen years I've been using it. Sometimes good, frequently not. They are quite a small company, and management has not always been... "people-oriented," shall we say? Many a show (I work mostly in TV) has suffered through innumerable glitches and crashes over the years, and there are still -- even at version 8 -- some oddly persistent problems:
-- nonstandard Mac interface (for example, pressing the Command and the , keys simultaneously should select Preferences like every other Mac program. It does not.)
-- still has many pagination bugs.
-- still has display issues that corrupt the display of the script occasionally.
-- nonintuitive interface that feels rather Windows 95 instead of Mac OS X.
-- bugs in the Revision Mode presets.
-- inability to set certain defaults in a new script, such as making Character Name follow Dialogue automatically. Instead, you must reset this every time you make a new script. For some reason, the programmers think an action line follows every piece of dialogue in every script.
-- company resources spent making useless features like speaking your script out loud and using index cards instead of fixing bugs.
-- thesaurus is barebones.
-- the "feature" called CollaboWriter that supposedly lets you collaborate online with a distant partner is nonfunctional. It has never worked in the real world. BTW, it doesn't work on Movie Magic Screenwriter, either. Do a google search and you will find that not one single reviewer or user has ever managed to get this "feature" to work. So, how they can advertise that their program has this function is beyond me. (I would LOVE to be proven wrong on this, as it would be extremely useful.)
EDIT: A colleague just showed me how to collaborate over the internet: use Skype! Do a video call, and then check the little box that says "share screen," and your partner can see your entire screen as you type! This is awesome and works very well.
-- since many writers are still using version 6 (or if they're unlucky, 7, which you should avoid at all costs) it would be nice to make a default "save" so that you could automatically save as an .fdr file instead of .fdx. It would also be nice to have a default zoom level and window positioning on the screen.

They are a small company, and they don't sell millions of copies of this software, so I think they make the bulk of their money by selling upgrades to new versions. They're not making enough to have a big customer service department, and the quality of that service has gone up and down over the years.

I pointed out a few bugs in the latest version (8x), and the head of the company told me, and I quote: "Yeah, we're not fixing those." He didn't even have the decency to lie to me and say he'd address in in a future incremental upgrade! You know, in Hollywood, when you don't care enough to lie -- that's bad news. He also made on odd confession to me. He said "You know, we don't sell nearly as many copies of this as people think we do." Hmmm...that explains a lot.

Anyway, version 8 for Mac works pretty well these days and I've had none of the fatal crashes and bugs of yesteryear.

I wish they would fix the online collaboration feature, but I don't know if they can since it would require resources they probably don't have. It seems oddly primitive that the only way to collaborate long distance is to save a file, email it, then repeat that process over and over. In these days of facebook and online chatting, we've gotten quite spoiled and you can't blame us wretched writers for wanting to see remotely what a writing partner is typing on the screen. But this is hardly an essential feature.

And you also can't blame us for holding residual grudges for all the times we've gotten burned in the past by this program. Writing is damned difficult, and when the actual software gets in the way, it's a ready target for our frustrations that may be stemming from the writing process itself.

Anyway, if you're a professional, you have to use this and you already know it. No matter what any review says. (Unless you don't need compatibility with a production company). If you're not a professional yet, but you really want to be someday, you may as well learn its quirks now. That way you can suffer along with the rest of us.

Bottom line: it works. It ain't elegant, but it works and it's solid these days -- I haven't had a crash in several years. (I've had pagination bugs and corrupted scripts but no crashes. Which reminds me -- SAVE your script after every few lines. Command-S on the Mac. I do it like breathing now because otherwise sadness will occur when files are damaged. Which is rare -- but it happens.) When they update the interface and address current bugs, I'll upgrade my review to 5 stars. But for now, they get 3. They lose stars for 10 years of frustration and failing to address current bugs. But they gain some for finally being stable, otherwise I'd give them a one.

Footnote: I'm writing this review as a professional screenwriter, for better or worse. For those just starting or contemplating starting a writing career, software is the least of your concerns. Don't obsess about it. No software in the world is going to make you a writer. No book is going to make you a writer. Go get celtx, a free screenwriting program and see how you like this writing thing. If you love writing and like your work, then go buy FD. It's a decent enough plow. Here's the best screenwriting advice I can give you: find your own voice. Don't try to fit in. Be original. You'll feel better and get hired more and be rewarded by the industry. (Unless you want to be a TV hack and turn out CSI episodes, then please suppress any originality. On the upside, the check from CSI will always clear and you'll have a very nice car.)

Happy writing.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in


Tracked by 10 customers

Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-10 of 23 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 27, 2012 8:34:07 PM PDT
Thanks for taking the time to share your experience and opinion of FD. I've often felt that many software programs fall short yet seem to never get fixed. After reading your experience, I now know why. Many thanks.
(And yes, I'll probably go ahead and make the investment in time, money and frustration as there is really no other choice for the moment.)

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 17, 2012 8:29:21 PM PDT
I especially appreciate your Footnote, FaveDave. Thanks for the sobering and practical thoughts!

Posted on May 9, 2012 1:57:57 PM PDT
Summer Star says:
FaveDave: Wow! Thanks so much for that gret and lengthy post. It was very interesting. My big dream is to make it as a screenwriter as you. I do have Final Draft7 but since I need to replace my old computer I now need to upgrade to Final Draft8 because FD7 is not compatible with my new computer and need to upgrade to FD8. Also, I'm having some issues with this new computer and don't know if I should get another 64bit. What is your opinion on this?

Posted on May 14, 2012 4:03:28 PM PDT
Bacchus says:
Nice thorough review. However, having also worked in Hollywood writing movies, I can't fault the company for being honest about their lack of intent to fix the problems.
Just because lying is an accepted business practice in Tinseltown doesn't mean it should be encouraged anywhere.

Posted on Jun 10, 2012 4:40:39 PM PDT
Insomniac says:
That was the best screenwriting advice I have ever read. Thank you.

Posted on Jul 8, 2012 10:43:10 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jul 8, 2012 10:44:28 PM PDT]

Posted on Jul 8, 2012 10:45:21 PM PDT
Great review, Dave. A necessary semi-evil is a great log line for this software (you made me think about writing a script of that name... LOL... or maybe I shouldn't be LOL... it's a cool name...)
I also hate the fact that they think every time a character makes a comment he then does something... EVERY TIME. I always thought conversations sometimes involve more than one line... Guess I must have been misled all these years of being alive.

My biggest issue happened recently - my computer crashed and I had to get a new hard drive. When I went to re-install my v6 and get it authorized by FD, they refused to do it, claiming they "no longer service version 6". So, now I have to use the CD EVERY TIME I WISH TO USE THE PROGRAM. Azholes said I had to buy the upgrade but v6 still did the job for me, no problemo. Such is life in the software world, I suppose.

Thanks for all your time in writing that review. (Now that I've sufficiently kissed your azs, wanna hear my screenplay idea?)

Posted on Jan 4, 2013 9:46:29 PM PST
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Jan 21, 2013 5:19:13 PM PST
S. Burr says:
This is probably the greatest review for anything ever on the internet. Well done, thank you

Posted on Feb 7, 2013 9:14:34 AM PST
Houdini says:
Thank you for your review. Having used Final Draft for years myself, I can only say I've had nearly an identical experience to what you've described, including odd comments from the owner. Your review is spot on. This is a three star program - it's always been three stars. But it works, and this version is now stable. Until an elegant substitute emerges, stable, with actually useful features, I am stuck with Final Draft.
‹ Previous 1 2 3 Next ›