Have you been looking for a free solution to write your screenplay? Lots of beginners do not like to invest in expensive software to start writing screenplays, but it is very important to have your script formatted properly, which can take hours to do manually, so it is a great help to use some sort of specialized screenwriting software.
As of this writing, I am going to direct you to a software called “Screenplay Formatter”, which is an Add-On in Google Drive/Google Docs. I just recently discovered it and played with it a bit and right now I would say it is the way to go if you are looking for free screenwriting software. See instructions at the bottom of this article on how to load this add-on into your Google Docs setup.
What Happened to Celtx?
Celtx was my go-to screenwriting software because it used to be free and outrageously functional.
The key word in the sentence above is “WAS”.
The other day I tried to use the Celtx desktop software I had downloaded a few years ago and it would not open.
I had been using the program for the last 8 years and up until now, I have been recommending it to all of my filmmaking courses (both the producing and the directing courses).
I would always tell people to go use it.
But it’s not free anymore and that bums me out so much, especially for my students.
Celtx now makes people pay based on what production tools they are using.
I’m going to show you some of my workarounds in the future and we will not be using Celtx anymore in my classes (unless you want to pay for them).
What About Final Draft?
I have an old version of Final Draft from a long, long, long, long time ago (over 12 years) and I have never updated it.
I don’t particularly need any updates…But the folks at Final Draft keep saying that I must either get their update or I cannot use the software that I purchased to convert one of my old feature film scripts which I wrote in a Final Draft format but need in .pdf form to submit to a festival.
I’m a little bit aggravated about that because I bought Final Draft and feel that that should be that if I am satisfied with the software.
This isn’t like Norton AntiVirus, where updates are a vital necessity for the software to function properly. This is a perfect screenwriting software that came out over a decade ago and when I was really into screenplay writing it was great.
As a producer with many projects on her plate that span decades (which is not uncommon) I should not be penalized by Final Draft for wanting a screenplay that was written in an old format.
So I am not criticizing Final Draft except to say that I am shying away from them because I do not care for the fact that I cannot use their software anymore.
I tried to load my old Final Draft software on to my new computer (via old-school CD-Rom) and am being told it is not compatible. So my computer and OS is too modern. Grr…
I like the version I have, and they are kind of forcing the update on me saying that despite having the program on the original disk they are asserting, “I’m sorry you can’t use that,” and it is not loading on to my 2016 computer.
This was especially frustrating to me when I was traveling and needed a copy. Customer service said on the phone that I could download old versions from their site but when I tried it, it would not work.
There I was in Los Angeles, needing to convert a script out of Final Draft format and the software was inaccessible. Double Grr…
How To Get “Screenplay Formatter” in Google Drive/Google Docs
If you go into Google Docs (Google Drive account) there is screenwriting software and formatting software in Google Docs.
There are little extensions or “add-on” you can get that will help with formatting.
One of them is screenwriting software called “Screenplay Formatter” and it is FREE.
It’s something of a workaround if you really don’t want to spend any money.
Celtx Is Still Good, I Guess…
I would not want to imply I’m anti. I’m just saying for people who bought my course or who really are low, low, low, low budget and are trying to put their resources towards something else… I don’t want them having to buy software that maybe they’re gonna use once in a while and then it ends up being something that they have to either continue buying via subscription or toss like Final Draft.
This whole Final Draft thing actually burns me the most because I have a script that I needed to open in a Final Draft format and I did write it maybe 10 years ago and the new software won’t open it and I can’t get the old software to work in my new computer. Thank God I still have a computer from 10 years ago that will open it.
So without Celtx and Final Draft, I have been lead to the simple solution of “Screenplay Formatter” in Google Docs/Google Drive. It worked for me.
In a future post, I will talk about how I found a workaround for converting the Final Draft script to a .pdf, because for me it is also a legacy issue and a conversion issue, but should only come up for you if you have been in development with one of your scripts since before 2008.
But I think you will be happy with this solution if all you want to do is write screenplays.
For more information here is an article I found that outlines a number of alternatives that I have not researched or tried yet, but maybe you will find something you like: https://www.scriptreaderpro.com/free-screenwriting-software/
Step-by-Step Instructions for Accessing the (FREE) Screenwriting Software “Screenplay Formatter”
(Add-On In Google Drive/Google Docs)
For the Free Google Drive “add-on” for Writing Formatting Your Screenplay in Proper Screenplay Format, you can go to your Google Drive (http://drive.google.com) and then create a new document. When you have a blank page in front of you, click “Add-ons” in the toolbar under the title of the document and select “Get Add-ons” in the drop-down. You should get a popup. In the search bar, type “screenplay” and there will be a few selections. I chose “Screenplay Formatter” (by http://www.newcinematics.com/) but you can add any of them with the blue button to the right of the title and description.
When You Are Ready to Start Writing Your Screenplay
Go to: https://drive.google.com/drive/
Click on the “NEW” button in the upper left-hand corner
The dropdown will open and you will click on “Google Docs” which should open another tab in your browser.
Under the Document Title, there is a toolbar and one of the items listed is “Add-Ons”. Click on Add-Ons and in the dropdown select “Screenplay Formatter” and then “Launch”.
You can use the menu on the right side of the screen to help select the correct formatting.
Let me know how you like it? Do you have a better solution? I would love to hear it!