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Quick Review

Rating: 4/5

The Good
Big time saver for anybody who is serious about writing professional scripts. Mac / Windows cross platform compatibility.

The Bad
Minor bugs in windows version, difficult to import scripts, user interface needs to be updated, doesn't work with a PowerBook 5300.

The Price: $269

The Advise
For those who plan to write a sitcom or screen play, this is a must have piece of software.


Movie Magic Screenwriter 2000
PC / Mac
ScreenPlay Systems

Movie Magic Screenwriter 2000
Screenwriter 2000 brings script formatting into focus.

By Ben Miskie

Movie Magic's Screenwriter 2000 is a word processing program specifically designed for script writing. Along with a basic spell checker and thesaurus, Screenwriter 2000 hosts a bunch of goodies that help the screenwriter spend less time focusing on the formatting.

Screenwriter 2000 works smart.

For people that have written scripts, the power is immediate. The less key combinations and mouse selections a writer has to make, the faster he can type. To make a character name, simply push tab. Immediately the text is capitalized and properly indented for a characters name. Start to type, and the charter list of previous used names in the script will immediately pop up next to the name you are typing and gradually be narrowed down as the writer types more of his desired name. Simply press return and the line of text is already properly indented for dialog. Type your dialog, press return again, and your line of text is immediately indented for action.

Type int., ext. or simply press return twice, and the text is formatted for your slugline with a location list popping up with the same ease as a character list. These features translate into major speed boosts for the writer. They help the writer focus on writing instead of formatting.

Notecards and Scene Pilot combat anxiety.

Because of a script's sheer length, writing a script can quickly become very overwhelming. Screenwriter 2000 once again comes to the rescue by having the ability to break up scenes onto note cards so the writer can quickly get a feel of the scene flow. In addition, Screenwriter has another helpful feature to help a script feel less overwhelming called "Scene Pilot." This handy feature lets the user quickly navigate through the script by scrolling through sluglines instead of the whole script.

Other goodies and treats.

Screenwriter 2000 puts the icing on the cake by hosting a bunch of other features. Even though there are certain specific formatting fundamentals required in all professional scripts, there are still some discrepancies. Screenwriter allows you to make tweaks and adjustments in headings, margins, page numbers, heading styles, etc so the writer can match his script to a style he may be trying to match.

Screenwriter 2000 also includes a feature called iPartner which helps two people collaborate on a script over the internet. In addition, Screenwriter 2000 has features to help with revision history, breakdown sheets, as well as other helpful production goodies.

Almost perfect.
This is a excellent piece of software that has very few competitors. However, the product is not perfect and could be given a slicker user interface. Maybe my Windows 98 Sony VAIO is broken, but on multiple occasions when scrolling through a 50 page document, sentences of dialog would be missing! When I highlighted the area where the words should have been, the words would reappear. None of the data was lost but, it was still a little disconcerting. In addition, I found it difficult to import scripts from other word processing programs. The text would import fine, but it would not automatically be placed as the correct elements, so the user has to manually adjust the different elements(i.e. characters, sluglines, action and dialog). Unfortunately, the only way to change a section of text that has already received an element characteristic is to use the mouse. Because of the lack of key commands for commanding the elements, this task of using the mouse to adjust the elements of a script when importing a script becomes very tedious. (editors note:Recently was made aware that it is possible to change element types via key commands. On a Windows computer, press 'F4' then the corresponding underlined letter matching your desired element type. For the Macintosh, you can use the same keystrokes or assign a function key (in Edit > Preferences > Keyboard) to change to a specific element type .)

Many laptops made more than three years ago are still in use. Fortunately, I am lucky enough to be the owner of one of those laptops. I own the 1995 Apple Power Book 5300. It meets Screenwriter 2000's requirement for processor speed, hard drive space and memory, but unfortunately it lacks a CD ROM which makes the program impossible to use. In order to install the program, I was able to map a CD ROM over a local network to the PowerBook and install the program. But, in order for the program to be used, the program must be registered or have the original CD in the computer of the local CD drive. I thought to myself, "no problem, I will just register the program." Unfortunately you must have the CD in the computers local CD drive to register the program. I was S.O.L. (editors note:This review was performed on version 4.0 for mac and pc. Since then, version 4.5 has been released. This version corrects the PowerBook instalation problem.)

The bottom line.
Screenwriting takes a great amount of dedicated time and focus. Ultimately, Screenwriter 2000 gives its users back those 2 elements by letting the user focus more on the work and less on the idiosyncrasies of formatting. Once using the product, it would be very difficult for any screenwriter to go back to using a standard word processor. If Screenplay Systems can get rid of the minor bugs, add individual window scrolling to the windows version, add key command control of elements, and figure out another method of copy protection so that computers without CD ROM drives can use the programs, this piece of software would receive the highest rating allowed.

Sure I was pissed that my old Macintosh couldn't use the program however, to be able to use this program may be worth buying a new laptop. -B.M.