Monday, 15 December 2014

Old habits die hard

Academy Originals, a YouTube documentary-style video series produced by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, has been posting a series of videos called Creative Spark. These focus on people working in the film industry, with a particular emphasis on screenwriters, detailing their work process and the tools they use. As a (wannabe) screenwriter myself, I find this sort of thing fascinating. It's a real treat to see how these people work, and the dramatic extent to which their approaches differ. I'm not sure I have a "process" as such, but I can certainly recognise something of myself in these people, particularly the procrastination angle and rather weird working hours. (Though most of them appear to be early risers, whereas I'm more of a night owl.)

My favourite so far is the video on Eric Roth, writer of MUNICH and FORREST GUMP, among others...

...probably because, while the bulk of the writers interviewed use fancy-pancy Macs, Roth is a committed Luddite, working on a rather grubby-looking Windows XP machine (seriously, that keyboard is FILTHY!) and running an ancient DOS-based screenwriting program that can't export PDFs and runs out of memory once you hit 40 pages. As someone who jumps between Final Draft, Movie Magic Screenwriter and Highland depending on which one I'm in the mood for, I know the program you're using can make a huge difference, even though they're essentially all just different variations of black text on a white background. As such, while the program Roth uses looks and sounds maddeningly archaic, I can completely understand why he sticks with it.

As I've indicated above, I'm somewhat different. I chop and change all the time, depending on how the mood takes me. I wrote about half of my most recent script in Final Draft, then switched midway through to Movie Magic Screenwriter. The latter is way more clunky (though let's face it, both programs leave a lot to be desired) and in serious need of an update (the last one was in 2007, and it still contains bugs that have been claiming to be working on for years), but I don't know... something about the way the text looks on the screen just works for me, at least for now. For my next script, I may well go back to Final Draft or Highland.

But anyway, here's to Roth and his old habits. Any process that delivered MUNICH is all right by me.

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