Screenwriter Pro

The full release, version 6, of Movie Magic Screenwriter Pro has just been released.




Do I remember correctly, that you were a beta tester for this version? Can you tell us a little about it?


Yes Sean.

Keep an eye on the demo site:

I have used it through its development to write two film scripts. I printed them out as PDF’s for the producer. The producer wanted copies for editing in Final Draft. It was a cinch to accommodate him. I had the chance to talk with him about the new version of MMSC 6 and he was waiting to buy the full version in the package, when it was released.

I am confident that those who use it for a few hours will be just as convinced. It really is the goods as far as heavy lifting for major film production scripts goes. I feel that it beats FD on nearly every major feature. It has that creative potency that Scrivener has when Scrivener is compared to say Jer’s or Storyist. The competition is OK but does nothing to your heart the way Scrivener does. MMSW 6 has that same kind of sizzle. It is not just a flight of fancy either - really is full of serious film writing features - all listed on the Screenplay site. The backup for the application is really first class. I can wholeheartedly recommend it.

If you have FD keep on using that but try MMSW 6. If you have neither application then there is no question that MMSW 6 will serve you best if you are serious about film writing.

Learning curve to competence is about an hour, to mastery is about two or three hours - but it’s an easy learning curve. MMSW 6 is very, very intuitive.


i love move magic screenwriter, although i wish it had kept its original name.

I’m here to solicit some advice, Lord Lightning.

Here’s the salient info:

  1. My last Montage demo has long expired - and won’t allow me to renew.

  2. the new MovieMagic 6 doesn’t have a demo posted.

  3. Everyone I work with uses Final Draft. So, from the moment I send in a script, I’m forced to use Final draft too.

  4. So I’m looking for a Final Draft alternative which fills the space between a Scrivener-generated outline and rough draft, to a polished first draft. I’m talking about making the experience a little more pleasant - cosmetically, almost as much as logistically. (No point being dishonest)

Even last time I tried Montage, it was attractive but buggy: it’s flakiness made me nervous. I like the look of the new M.M., but can’t try it out. Even the OS X screenshots are limited on that slightly dodgy website, so I don’t get much sense of MM’s overall look and feel.

I know that you’re a fan of both apps, so, given that I’m shallow and am looking for an app to enjoy while I put a first draft together (after which I’ll return, of necessity, to Final Draft) which would you recommend?

Hi NeilCross

I am also a Montage beta tester and 1.3 is three months out from its Cannes debut, so it is due very soon.

Again, it is just a matter of time - SOON!

MMSW 6 Features:

The demo is awaiting a couple of early maintenance updates - SOON!

I still think Scrivener is pretty solid for screenwriting. I do understand the cosmetic issue as well. But the real deal is writing without being diverted by bells and whistles - so finding an app and staying with until you habituate to it. Goodness that sounds pedantic - I don’t mean it to be.

Given another month or so all your problems relating to Montage and to MMSW 6 should be addressed.

It is probably of no help whatever but my process is to write in Mindmap - it saves months of structural editing heartache at the end. I convert the mindmap to an outline and rtf it to Scrivener where the bulk of the writing happens, That gets transferred to MMSW 6 so I can see it as a fully professional screenplay and I do my real editing there - structure, flow, dialogue and character.

I PDF that to a producer. If the producer wants it in FD , that’s what they get.

The secret to success in this business is to ‘give them what they want.’


I’d like to suggest that what ‘does something to your heart’ is very individual.

While there’s no argument that Scrivener is way deeper and more versatile than Jer’s Novel Writer, the discovery of JNW gave me a creative kick in the butt that few other programmes have done, re-launching with a vengeance the work on my novel project, which had languished in the dark lands of W–d.

The uncluttered interface, the priceless margin notes and the sheer simplicity of JNW did indeed do something to my heart and it remains my tool of choice for creative writing (not talking screenwriting here, but general fiction).

As a matter of fact, even the cosy JNW app icon does something to my heart.

Best regards,


Thanks L.L.

Yeah, Scrivener is great for outlines and first drafts - although primarily I use it to write fiction. For scripts, I use it for outlines and treatments, and on into the first rough draft. And cosmetically, I like it too. If I could spend all day, every day in Scrivener, I would. It’s Final draft I have the cosmetic issue with.

I’ve got my workflow sorted, and Scrivener has a very important, indeed singular place in it. (I did like the idea of Mindmaps for a while, but in the end they didn’t suit me).

My problem is just terribly vulgar, I’m afraid - every production company I work for uses Final Draft - and I just don’t like FD that much (I know: me and everyone else.), I’m just trying to delay as much as possible the moment when each script is finally exported to FD. I’m looking for a pleasant, OS X-feeling environment to spend between Scriv-generated rough drafts and contracted submission in FD.

(PDFs don’t work for me, btw, because revision mode is unfortunately crucial to me, sometimes until the last day of production).

Thanks for the heads up on MM and the forthcoming Montage update. This isn’t an urgent issue for me - whatever I decide, FD will continue to dominate my screenwriting life. So I can watch and wait for a bit.

I suppose it’s just - Scrivener has made the process of writing fiction so much more enjoyable than it ever has been. I want all my working day to feel like that…

You are describing the Montage philosophy. Can’t you use 1.2.2 of montage for now Neil? It sounds just perfect for your needs.


I suspect so. (I LIKE Montage, it just makes me nervous.)

You reckon with the upcoming 1.3, that air of random flakiness has been addressed?

I guess the common factor here is Todd Ransom. He designed and coded Avenir (now at 2.3.5) and Montage. He also contributed to Scrivener. I am sure there is a good deal of mutual respect between Keith and Todd - Keith has saluted Todd’s apps on this site. should turn up stuff on Avenir.

I would use Avenir myself if it had the Binder solution that Keith invented. Avenir puts its subfolders and files in a panel over the workspace area so gradually you run out of workspace - they should really be hierarchical in the left hand panel, not split over two panels, one vertical and one horizontal. I think Keith’s solution is much better design.

Apart from that, Avenir 2.3.5 is a good test of the design philosophy of Montage. I am fairly comfortable with the adaptation of Avenir to scriptwriting, and that is what Montage is - a special purpose version of Avenir. Avenir is now a very mature writing application and I am sure Montage is headed that way.

It will never have the gravitas of FD or MMSW 6, but that is not its market.

Montage will appeal to writers who want all of the stuff that now lies about in piles on a desktop - clippings, notes, pictures, industry contacts and so on to be at hand in the same application they are using to write their screenplay. That is not far from Scrivener’s capabilities.

In a nutshell, Scrivener and Montage are much closer cousins than Scrivener and FD or Scrivener and MMSW 6.

Is Montage industry ready? Yes and No. You could take a scrawl on a cafe napkin and take it to finished screenplay in Montage. Then you would probably have to convert it to a PDF for a producer or to FD or MMSW 6 for a script editor or production development.

You can definitely go from original idea to finished script in Montage (and Scrivener, if you don’t mind the deliberate decision to leave out film industry bells and whistles.)

Montage is a screenwriter’s application and FD and MMSW 6 are industry applications.


cheers, L.L. - appreciate it.


My first post on these forums and I regret to say it’s a nitpick.

I’ve been looking forward to the new version of MMSW for ages and upgraded just a few days ago. I have to say I’m disappointed. Given the time taken (and the version number skip) I had hoped the devs would rewrite it in Cocoa. Nope. Still Carbon.

And boy is it needlessly (and carelessly) bloated. There are two identical copies of the Help file (9.7 Mb each) inside the app package. Plus a slightly cutdown version installed in the Documentation folder. All the template and sample files are duplicated in the app folder and the MMSW folder inside the Documents folder. And it installs one superfluous folder – Sample Scripts – which is empty. Plus another empty one – TV format Definitions.

I feel like giving up on the manual since it constantly refers to tutorial files and folders that are not actually present in the installation. I also suspect some of the text has simply been copied and pasted from the Windows version since it refers to selection and navigation techniques that don’t exist in Mac OS X.

The Page Up/Down buttons in the Right Toolbar don’t work either. It took me all of 10 seconds to discover that.

I was disappointed, too, that the Index Cards view has not been changed to allow more than 12 on the screen, which makes a Cinema 23" monitor rather a waste. Then again, MMSW’s implementation of Index Cards seems misconceived to me. When I lay out a structure using the cards, I don’t want my scribblings to be replaced by what I write in the script. With MMSW I have to save two files – one for the meat of the script and another for the index cards. At least Final Draft gets this right (in my view). Regrettably, the latter’s windowing scheme reduces the cards to postage stamps whenever you try to view the arc of an act or a long sequence.

I’m conscious of the fact that this is a dot-zero release and that it needs a few maintenance updates to make it ready for prime time. For the moment, however, I think I’ll continue to use version 4.8.12. Maybe I’ll have figured out the manual by then…

Hi Dave Bourke.

Not nitpicking - actually really helpful information no one else has picked up. I’ve grown up with Screenwriter from the very first release, so a lot of stuff probably just gets under the radar. It often takes someone with fresh eye to see stuff the rest of us are blind to.

I will direct your observations to Stephen and see what he has to say.

Many, many thanks

PS I just got into negotiations with a producer and we were discussing this subject. I showed him Scrivener - he was floored! I think he is a convert to Scrivener, so the dialogue about other applications is obviously healthy. I might even convert him to MMSW 6.


Hi, Dave,

This is MY first post, too.

I understand that there is a perception that there’s a difference between Cocoa and Carbon, but considering the significant work Apple has put into Carbon, and the very custom-designed nature of Movie Magic Screenwriter, I’m not sure that those differences would be readily apparent to the average end user.

While Cocoa is in the cards for Screenwriter, it was nowhere near as important as making Screenwriter 6 a true Universal (Intel / PowerPC) app. And, it’s important to note: Screenwriter 6 is a Carbon app, yes, however it is not a CFM app – it’s a Mach-O binary – it was not designed to run under OS 9. In fact, OS X 10.3.9 is required.

There was a mistake in creating the installation package. I believe it was corrected in the first 6.0.1 maintenance release. It’s possible that installing the maintenance release may not delete the extra copy.

I believe the duplicates have also been resolved, although some templates are moved into the document folder for safety, in case the user modified the standards.

Also corrected in 6.0.1, but probably the original not removed by the installer.

Manual contained non-linked pages that turned out to be searchable. We have just corrected those last week, and they’ll appear in an upcoming 6.0.2 or posted on the tech support site.

I’m not sure what you mean – could you be more specific? Those aren’t page UP/DOWN buttons – they move to the top of the previous / next Page Break.

I pretty much agree with your comments about index cards. That area will get a major overhaul in the future. The NaviDoc permits similar kinds of operations, and perhaps more powerful operations, but I get what you’re saying and it will change in the future.

This is one of the neatest features of the way Screenwriter 6’s NaviDoc works – you can integrate information without it appearing in the script (more correctly, it doesn’t print in the script and can be hidden when you’re not interested in working on a particular area). And reducing down the items it one of the cool features of the NaviDoc.

I use the Mac version of Screenwriter 6 everyday – as a screenwriter, and it is amazingly solid and a vast improvement over 4.8. Aside from a few items corrected in 6.0.1, there’s only a few minor bug fixes I expect for the next Mac maintenenace release.

I would like to say that we think our track record on providing reliable software and addressing issues has been historically good, and with Screenwriter 6 we’re trying to improve on that record. As you probably know, some developers will release software that not only consistently crashes, but also destroys files or causes lost data. But that’s not Screenwriter.

LL and the other screenwriters,

As of now, I’ve written all my screenplays with an ordinary word processor, later with Celtx. I’ve been constantly trying the demo of Final Draft, Screewriter and Montage, and would like to understand better the differences, from a writer’s point of view, between the commercial and the free programs.

I’ve never been involved in a large-scale industrial movie project, so I can only say that Celtx is serving me well for short movies and screenwriting proposals. I wonder what I will miss when the long movie is finally approved for production.

At the same time, in Celtx there are some unique things that have been proved useful in short movies, and they are the list of things, and the scheduler. I guess I’ll find the new storyboard feature useful as well, when it is completed.

But I’m still attracted by the commercial programs - yet, not yet convinced.

(I’ve not yet used Scrivener for screenwriting. I will, sooner or later; maybe with the forthcoming long movie project).


Here’s an intelligently-written review by Academy Award nominated screenwriter Roger S. H. Schulman. Like LL, he was also a beta tester of Screenwriter 6, so this is one of the earliest reviews.

NOTE regarding demo version: we’re working on getting the demo version ready to post shortly.


Thank you for pointing me toward the nice review. While I wait for the demo, please let me ask you to also think to screenwriters using a language different than English.

For example, why not giving access to the integrated spelling checker of Mac OS X? This way, there would be no need to separately purchase dictionaries in our language.

Also, I hope it will be easy to type, say, EST for ESTERNO and NO for NOTTE. Scrivener looks really nice in this, since the replacements are totally customizable. Also, I hope the A4 paper format can be used.

However, I’ll wait for the demo. It will say more than a hundred words.


Many thanks for your comprehensive and speedy response, Stephen. I had been intending to post the same comments in the MMSW forum today but that’s probably redundant now.

While Screenwriter 6 does respond to commands in the Services menu, the average user would not have access to tools for its customisation and management. And when you become used to placing the cursor over a word and hitting Control-Command-d for instant access to the system dictionary and thesaurus, or to Cocoa’s word completion system, it rather seems like reinventing the wheel to have separate tools for these (although I must admit that running lists in MMSW might be a complicating factor).

I’ve delayed responding here in order to wait until I had a chance to reinstall from scratch. I’ve just trashed the Screenwriter 6 folder, the MMSW folder in Documents, and the SW6 Receipt package, and reinstalled from the SW 6.01 updater.

There are still two copies of the Help file inside the app package, one in the Components folder and another in the Contents/Resources folder. All of the sample files and all of the templates (with the exception of the Default.def file) are still present in both the application folder and the MMSW folder in Documents. The two empty folders I referred to earlier are also still present in this fresh installation.

OK, I don’t understand what you mean here. What I meant was, for instance, this sentence on page 55 of the Mac Screenwriter Help.pdf:

"2. Double-click the Tutorials folder and open the file called “Promoting & Demoting Tutorial”.

There is no such folder and no such file installed. There are a number of such references in this document to non-existent tutorial files. “Spec Script,” for instance. Here’s another inconsistency on page 20 of the Screenwriter 60 Manual.pdf:

“To the right of that is the Insert/Typeover Button, which toggles between Insert and Typeover modes.”

I can’t find this button in SW6 and, in fact, it’s not present in the manual’s accompanying graphic either. The manual continues:

“NOTE: To enable the Insert/Typeover Button, Allow Typeover must be checked in the Text Entry/Editing area of the Tools > Options window.”

Except there is no “Options” entry in the Tools menu (or, indeed, any of the menus).

Page 14 of the Screenwriter 60 Manual.pdf:

“Right Toolbar has an Up-Down Scrollbar and Push buttons for Page Up/Down…”

In SW4, these buttons are labelled “Up” and “Dn” and when I open the original version of a script in SW4, clicking the “Dn” button moves me to the next page. These buttons are non-functional in SW6. And here’s something else I’ve just found now: page 21 of the Screenwriter 60 Manual.pdf implies that the Scenes Listing can be invoked by right-clicking on the Page Number Button. For me, this (or Control-clicking) just brings up the Goto Page # dialog.

A final example: page 90 of the Mac Screenwriter Help.pdf refers to three ways to check or uncheck a checkbox. The first and the third don’t work in Mac OS X.

That’s great news indeed, Stephen, and I look forward to it. I will also continue to investigate new ways of working by using the NaviDoc. In fact, Scrivener has been instrumental in opening my eyes to the potential offered by outlining and I am still learning. To that end, it would be of enormous benefit to have a manual that doesn’t read as if it’s for a different version of the application entirely.

Please don’t misunderstand me here. I much prefer using MMSW to FD (I own both). I recognise that MMSW offers probably the most comprehensive text application manual I’ve ever seen. But since, IMO, the real power of any application lies in its documentation, it behoves the developer to do his/her best to get it right. Once that’s done, and the teething troubles have passed, I will once again be an enthusiastic proselytizer for Screenwriter. I will continue to explore MMSW6 and look forward to its brighter future.


FIrst, let’s be sure we’re both talking about the Mac version here, 'cause this is the version I just looked at.

On my installed copy, those two buttons – they look like double triangles – one points up, the other points down – do the exact same thing for me as they did in the 4.x Mac version: they scroll up or down until the page number at the top of the next or previous page is displayed at the top of the screen.

Are you saying clicking in those areas in a script longer than 3 pages does absolutely nothing?