Final Draft Screenwriting Software


Final Draft is screenwriting and producing software that was developed in the 1990’s. It is the industy standard and the most used screenwriting software available.

10 facts about Final Draft

  1. FD formats correctly and is the most used software in the business.
  2. Movie length is calculated by page length. A 120 page script is (generally) 120 minutes of finished screen time. Only proper formatting can predict film length.
  3. As a producer you will use FD to export “reports”. You will determine number of locations, number of times at locations, number of scenes for each character etc.
  4. These reports will be the basis of your budget
  5. All departments on set will use these reports
  6. Every option I’ve ever signed has quickly been followed up by a request from the producer for a Final Draft version of my screenplay. (before that all versions are turned in as a PDF) And I’m talking within minutes of sending in the signed option.  As a producer you will ask all screenwriters to submit in FD and if you want quick turn around you don’t have time to reformat it every time you get a version of their script. If you’re a writer the producer won’t wait around while you buy Final Draft, learn how to use it and then reformat your entire script.
  7. As a producer you don’t have time to learn every software program. There are a lot of pre-production software programs that rely on the script being in FD to plan shooting schedules, actors’ report times and location reports
  8. The student version is yours for life and does not lock your content when you go pro or finish school.
  9. In general I update FD every few years and it usually costs around $89
  10. Celtix is free and is reported to be quite good. I’ve never met a screenwriter, who actually works, that uses it.

How Much Does Final Draft Cost?

  1. $169.99
  2. FD has a free 30-day trial that can at any time, within the first 30 days, be converted to a full license. (I do not have any financial affiliation with Final Draft and receive no compensation if you get it)
  3. If you are a student you can use your “edu” email account to get the student discount. It is generally around $120

Warning: Rant to ensue… Heather’s unvarnished opinion

I have very little tolerance for people who want to be professional writers or producers and don’t use FD.

It is expensive, but… imagine deciding that you want to become a professional jockey and you decide to go to a stable for lessons. You get there and the instructor says, “I know saddles and bridles are expensive, so if you want you can use a pillow and some string when you get on the horse. You’d probably think they didn’t know what they were doing and you’d be right.

What if you wanted to become a professional ice skater and were told that it was ok to use an old pair of Reeboks with two steak knives duck taped to the bottom? Again, you’d doubt the professionalism of the instructor.

Professionals use Final Draft.

Just last week I cast a live reading of four short screenplays at the Northwest Film Forum. I have only four professional actors to portray over 25 characters and have to double and triple up on parts. The two scripts that were turned in in Final Draft were a joy to work with. I ran two FD reports and knew exactly how many characters there were, which characters they interacted with and how often the spoke. All of these details were important, time saving gems to me.

The two that did not use Final Draft were a pain in the neck. I had to retype each of them. One that was 12 pages long in the other program, but came out to over 20 pages in Final Draft. We have a strict length for our readings and this writer had overshot it by 100%.

Which writers do you think I would call if I needed a job done? The writers who met all the professional standards and made my life easy, or those who cost me valuable extra hours of my life?

So, that’s my diatribe. Remember, your job as a writer or producer is to get your material read. Read by other producers, financiers, actors etc. Make it easy for them to read your product.

You’re welcome.




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