10 Best Screenwriting Software For Film (Free and Paid)

Best Screenwriting Software For Film

As a screenwriter, when you have incredible ideas and you want your words to pass through your brain to your fingertips and onto the page, you don’t want formating to slow you down.

That’s where using screenwriting software for film and tv can make a major difference to the screenwriting process. No filmmaker wants awkward, outdated, and complicated software to get in the way of their writing goals.

Screenwriting software helps you perform composition, editing, formatting, and printing of scripts used in films, television, or video games.  

That’s why a screenwriter or filmmaker needs to use a screenwriting software tool that has the features they need, and the stability to never have to worry about losing your work along the way.

If you’re a screenwriter looking to break into the film industry, you don’t have to live in Hollywood or brush elbows with movie producers daily, all you need is a computer, screenwriting software, a literary agent, a skill for writing, and a little luck along the way. 

But what is the best screenwriting software? There are many different options out there. While there are some great free options available, and some seem to be priced a bit too high, that’s the reason this article was made, to find the best screenwriting software that is best for you.

Here are my picks for the top 10 best screenwriting software to use. Keep in mind, this isn’t a full list of “free” screenwriting software, because with all software if you want to unlock all the features, you realize most of them actually require payment. 

Related Article: Your Key To Filmmaking Success: Learn Filmmaking Online With Masterclass

Best Screenwriting Software For Film

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What is Screenwriting Software?

Screenwriting software helps writers perform composition, editing, formatting, and printing of scripts used in films, television, or video games.

It supports scriptwriters in maintaining the rigorous formatting guidelines of the industry, studies and corrects language and grammar, and maintains back-ups of their documents. 

This type of software eliminates the need for manual formatting to get your script in line with industry standards.

With simple keyboard shortcuts, screenwriters can add action, dialogue, sluglines, scene headings, transitions, parentheticals, character names, and more to create the perfect formatted screenplay. Sounds great, doesn’t it? 

However, there are numerous screenwriting programs available on the market today, and to help you go from a blank page to a full script, I rated and reviewed the best screenwriting software to use going forward in your writing career.

Let’s begin and help you find new screenwriting software that’s the right fit for you.

What is the Best Screenwriting Software?

Here are my picks for the top 10 best screenwriting software to use:

Final Draft

Used by 95% of Film and Television Productions.

fd11 screencaptures MAC BeatBoard screenwriting software screenwriting software

For over 25 years, Final Draft has been the industry standard and market leader in screenwriting software.

What software do writers use to write scripts? Final Draft is used by 95% of film and television productions, Final Draft is the first choice for both professional and aspiring screenwriters, producers, directors, and industry executives.

Best For

With its wide range of features, Final Draft 12 is best suited for those looking to use the same industry-standard screenwriting software that major television shows and motion pictures use.

Key Features

  • Advanced brainstorming and visualization tools to collaborate with writing teams.
  • Automatically paginates and formats scripts to industry standards.
  • It allows you to organize and customize “beats”, including character arc, plot points, location ideas, research, and more.
  • Story maps connect your visualizations and beat boards into your script.
  • You can visually plan key milestones and plot points.
  • Alternate dialogue lets you store as many versions of lines as you want.
  • Keyboard shortcuts like Tab and Enter allow you to switch between dialogue and action quickly.
  • It provides automatic file back-ups so you never lose your data.
  • Revision mode provides a history of all changes when taking a script through production.
  • Its fonts support over 97 languages.
  • Text-to-speech support.
  • Over 100 different templates to choose from.
  • Available on and compatible with Windows, OSX, and iOS.

Pros

  • It is well crafted for Screenwriters
  • It is easy to use 
  • It has different types of writing templates
  • It supports real-time collaboration with other writers
  • Extensive development tools
  • Instant formatting to industry standards

Cons

  • Collaboration is limited to 1 person at a time
  • Costly compared to other software
  • Users must be signed in on the platform and work from there

Pricing

Final Draft’s regular price is $249.99 as a digital download and allows two activations per purchase. They also offer a 30-day free trial to test it out. If you’re an educator, you can purchase an educational license for just $129.99. If you are upgrading to the latest version of Final Draft, the upgrade price is $99.99. 

Overall, it’s a great price to learn the most important piece of screenwriting software on the market.

If you are looking for the best screenwriting software 2021 and 2022, Final Draft is the industry choice.

Try Final Draft

Celtx

Industry-standard script editors for film & TV, short-form video, theatre, and interactive narratives backed up by a plethora of story development tools.

From pre-production to production, this software provides you with tools that help you create better content quickly. Being a cloud-based software makes it easy for you to access your accounts from anywhere you want.

Furthermore, you can take advantage of Celtx’s powerful reports to gain actionable, production insight.

Best For

Celtx is best for screenwriters as well as filmmakers looking for software collaboration within a team. It helps the user turn simple, scattered ideas into full-fledged plans quite easily. It is also quite useful for playwrights and novelists.

Key Features 

  • Has a simple, easy to learn, and intuitive user interface
  • You can work online or offline with mobile apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android
  • A single master file (for better organization, you can work off a single master file)
  • Uses a rich text editor module for novel writing
  • It can support the creation of production calendars and strip-boards
  • Allows directors and writers to tag elements within each script
  • Fully cloud-based solutions
  • Designed for real-time collaboration
  • All-in-one pre-production management
  • Team tailored production workflow

Pros

  • Excellent features for the price
  • Cross-platform

Cons

  • Registration is required before downloading the free trial

Is Celtx free anymore? The unfortunate thing about the latest update to Celtx software is no longer available for free. What used to be great free writing software for beginners, is now a monthly subscription.

Pricing

Celtx comes with three pricing plans.

  • The ‘scriptwriting’ plan costs $15 per month, payable annually.
  • The ‘video production’ plan costs $27 per month, payable annually.
  • The ‘game production’ plan is $27 per month, billed annually.

If you pay annually, you can save up to 33%. You can also obtain educational discounts by contacting customer support to get an estimate.

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Scrivener

Scrivener is the go-to app for writers of all kinds, used every day by best-selling novelists, screenwriters, non-fiction writers, students, academics, lawyers, journalists, translators, and more. Scrivener won’t tell you how to write—it simply provides everything you need to start writing and keep writing.

Best For

Scrivener comes with features like footnote support, MathType integration, and the ability to refer to a research library. This is the perfect screenwriting resource tool for historical, fictional, and non-fictional authors. Templates for writing general and academic non-fiction projects are also available.

Key Features

  • You can switch instantly from editing a section of your document to editing the entire document
  • Has a user-friendly and intuitive interface
  • Familiar text editing (allows you to use bolds, italics, and other formatting options)
  • You can import your files from numerous Word processors and extensions, including Microsoft Word docs, text files, PDFs, and more
  • Includes an in-built ‘Corkboard’ that allows you to rearrange files using a simple drag-and-drop option Pools all features onto a single platform for easy reference
  • Easy collection of documents into one chapter 30-day free trial period
  • Choose your own font
  • Video tutorials available to understand the software

Pros

  • Scrivener’s Binder lets you keep everything you need in one place
  • Enjoy the two easy to use templates included with the software
  • Script write with two documents side-by-side in one app

Cons

  • It takes time to learn the software
  • The same license isn’t applicable for different product platforms
  • There are some paid updates

Pricing

The cost for the screenplay writing program varies depending upon the platform you will use it on. The Mac and Windows versions will cost you $45, while the iOS version is $19.99. You can also access some student discounts.

Click Here To START A 30-DAY FREE TRIAL

Highland 2

Highland 2 was created by John August, a screenwriter, and author who wrote films like Go, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and most recently, Disney’s live-action adaptation of Aladdin. And it’s clear from the get-go that Highland 2 has been crafted by and for screenwriters.

Best For

Highland 2 is one of the best scriptwriting software apps for Mac users, individuals, and those who blog that have a constant need for images. The numerous shortcuts that the software provides are also handy for blog editors and screenwriters who are just starting out.

Key Features

  • In-built automatic formatting mode (so that you don’t have to format)
  • Take advantage of the new ‘Sprint’ feature that allows you to track time while you get your work done
  • Offers an in-built gender analysis tool (first scriptwriting software to introduce this)
  • Regular updates so that you are always on top of the latest technology
  • Feature-laden free version (5 PDF templates, two built-in editor themes, and much more)
  • Get automatic plain-text back-up at the frequency of your choice
  • Provides excellent customer support
  • Script write with the ‘Scratchpad’ feature to take and leave notes about projects, much like using index cards or beat boards
  • You can design and set your own themes with the ‘pro’ upgrade 
  • You get plenty of keyboard shortcuts

Pros

  • Reorders scenes and notes using the drag-n-drop feature.
  • Speaking parts tracking.
  • Automatic backups.
  • Free version.
  • Fourteen templates & 10 themes with the Pro version.
  • Support using a Slack channel.

Cons

  • The free version has watermarked PDF
  • Only available for Mac
  • Complaints of bugs with dual dialogue in PlayScript mode

Pricing

Highland 2 currently offers a free version with basic features. But, if you are a screenwriter looking for more enhanced features, you can purchase the paid version for $49.99.

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WriterDuet

WriterDuet is a popular screenwriting software for writing and editing screenplays and other forms of mass media. Apart from screenwriting, WriterDuet can be used in the case of video editing and gaming as well.

The software allows real-time partner collaboration of writers from remote locations and writing from different devices. Although it is not a free software tool, it allows three free scripts upon signing up.

Best For

WriterDuet is best for screenwriters and professional writers who need real-time collaboration to write down their outline, ideas and so much more during the writing process. It is also useful for educational tutorials.

Key Features

  • Allows you to install various plugins for better customization (for example an offline, traditional, file-based desktop software experience)
  • Supports mobile devices and multiple browsers
  • Signing up is free
  • Supports a wide range of formats (offers high customizability here as well by enabling changes in script template)
  • Fully integrated with SSL certification (scripts aren’t shared except through user request and authorized guest codes)
  • Allows back-up copies to cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, and your system
  • Offers seamless services both online and offline
  • Allows you to track all your edits
  • Intuitive and user-friendly software
  • Provides free, in-built tutorial upon signing up

PROS

  • Supports real-time collaboration.
  • Screenplay auto-formatting included.
  • Balanced interface.

CONS

  • High subscription fees.
  • Not many templates.
  • Few tools for long-form works.
  • Absent support team.
  • Lost a document in testing.

The only disadvantage to the free version is it only allows for three free scripts, and any further scripting requires a subscription. While you can use the screenwriting software offline, if you want real-time collaboration, you must be online to collaborate in real-time.

Pricing

With WriterDuet, you get three free scripts. After that, you need to upgrade to a paid plan. The first plan is ‘Plus,’ which is available for $9.99 per month, payable annually.

You get a discounted price of only $79 if you take an annual subscription. 

The second plan which is ‘Pro’, is available for $11.99 per month payable annually.

With these plans, you get all the updates free for a lifetime.

Sign Up For Free Here

Trelby

A free, multiplatform, feature-rich screenwriting program!

Trelby is simple, fast and elegantly laid out to make screenwriting simple. It is infinitely configurable.

Trelby is free software, that you can contribute to.

Best For

Trelby is ideal for screenwriters and individual writers who are on a low budget looking for screenwriting software that is free to use. It is also suitable for educational purposes, demonstrations, and tutorials.

Features

  • Screenplay editor: Enforces correct script format and pagination, auto-completion, and spell checking.
  • Multiplatform: Behaves identically on all platforms, generating the exact same output.
  • Choice of view: Multiple views, including draft view, WYSIWYG mode, and fullscreen to suit your writing style.
  • Name database: Character name database containing over 200,000 names from various countries.
  • Reporting: Scene/location/character/dialogue reports.
  • Compare: Ability to compare scripts, so you know what changed between versions.
  • Import: Screenplay formatted text, Final Draft XML (.fdx), Celtx (.celtx), Fountain (.fountain), Adobe Story (.astx) and Fade In Pro (.fadein).
  • Export: PDF, formatted text, HTML, RTF, Final Draft XML (.fdx) and Fountain (.fountain).
  • PDF: Built-in, highly configurable PDF generator. Supports embedding your chosen font. Also supports generating PDFs with custom watermarks, to help track shared files.
  • Free software: Licensed under the GPL, Trelby welcomes developers and screenwriters to contribute to making it more useful.

Pros

  • It is free, reliable, and easy to download. 
  • Best for the beginners where we can write with no errors. 
  • It is the best app where a beginner can use, and it is user friendly

Cons

  • The revision tracking feature needs some improvement
  • Available only on Windows and Linux (not compatible with Mac OSX )
  • No bold, italics, or underlining option
  • Long term support lacking (most recent updates are many years old)
  • Online collaboration option is not available

Pricing

It is an open-source screenwriting software free software tool.

Movie Magic Screenwriter

Movie Magic Screenwriter is an Industry leader used by top professional Hollywood directors, screenwriters, novelists, movie studios, television productions, and preferred file format of the Writers Guild of America, West Online Script Registration.

For screenplays, sitcoms, stage plays, musicals, graphic novels, comic book scripts, animation scripts, radio plays, with professional movie and video production features.

Best For

Movie Magic Screenwriting Software is best for the film industry, but it can also be used in the educational sector for assignment and research paper writing and submissions. Nevertheless, despite new features, the steep price makes it challenging for small organizations to use it.

Key Features

  • Very intuitive and flexible
  • Automatically formats scripts to current industry standards easier (real-time, intelligent formatting)
  • Allows you to tag characters and follow locations (when exporting to a scheduling program
  • Has built-in collaboration tools (real-time) Color-coded features for easy reference and organization
  • Highly customizable (changes the layout and modify interface)
  • Includes a custom ‘NaviDock’ interface (this can contrast your script based on a variety of factors) Offers professionally compiled templates
  • The option of real-time script write collaboration with multiple stakeholders from remote locations (iPartner feature) ‘Text-to-speech’ transformation feature
  • Has a notes commander that allows you to quickly organize, access, view, and script your ideas

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Lots of color coding and other organizational features
  • Works in conjunction with many other programs for pre and post-production.

Cons

  • One of the most expensive screenwriting software tools (although features are not as great as Final Draft)

Pricing

Movie Magic Screenwriter has multiple pricing plans. The Movie Magic 6 is $250. And only available for PC. Buy Now on Amazon!

Fade In

Fade In Professional Screenwriting Software is a complete application for writing motion picture screenplays, including tools for outlining, organizing, and navigating, plus extensive screenplay formatting and robust tools for managing rewrites and revisions.

Best For

Best for screenwriters who want seamless integration between their thoughts and the software they use. Fade In is primarily used by screenwriters working on major motion pictures in the film industry.

Key Features

  • Universal, state-of-the-art application interface Automatic script formatting
  • Comes with an in-built autocomplete typing feature (suggest words as you type)
  • Offers real-time collaboration (you can work on projects with multiple collaborators from remote locations) Provides complete image support (allows you to insert images directly into the document)
  • Page-only, no distractions, full-screen mode available Support multiple file formats (text, HTML, and more) Offers cloud storage service (easy access from any location)
  • Free software updates

Pros

  • Fade In offers what a lot of other similar apps do, but at a much lower price! 
  • It’s feature set is robust and it allows you to pull in different file formats easily.

Cons

  • May cause compatibility issues between working from inside and outside the film industry
  • The free version comes with the company watermark

Pricing

You can use ‘Fade In’ for a limited time for free. After that, you need to purchase it by paying a one-time fee of $79.95, which is one of the most reasonable rates in the market as of now. A distinct advantage is that the software updates in the future will be free.

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KIT Scenarist

KIT Scenarist is a program for creating screenplays oriented at international standards in the field of film production. The program is a full-featured studio for creating stories from the birth of the idea and before the transfer of the script to production.

This free and open-source software provides a very high degree of customizability that’s used by more than 3000 authors worldwide and keeps up with the latest technology by providing updates nearly every month.

Best For

Very useful for high-level scriptwriting work in feature films and television series. It is also useful for authors and novelists and perfect for writers with a requirement in multiple languages, and statistical analysis.

Key Features

  • Compatible with Windows, Linux, Mac, iOS, and Android Has an all-in-one research module (collect necessary information, manage a list of characters, and store a variety of materials)
  • Provides in-built card module (helps you build story development, providing you visualizations to work with) Comes with an in-built, rich formatting tool with script editor so that you can concentrate only on writing
  • Offers services in multiple languages
  • Export scripts in multiple formats (PDF, FDX, Fountain, and Docx)
  • Option to use multiple themes (dark or light)
  • Provides in-built statistical tools
  • Fully integrated with in-built character and set management

Pros

  • You can map stories, use index cards, lots of available features in the free version. 

Cons

  • An online collaboration between multiple users is possible but at a subscription fee
  • Cloud service use is a paid feature, after an initial 30- day free use
  • Although it supports Android and iOS, the compatibility comes is not available free of cost

Pricing

KIT Scenarist is a screenwriting software free tool, available on the internet for use. But, if you want to use cloud services, you need to subscribe to a paid plan, after a 30-day free trial.

StudioBinder

StudioBinder offers the next step to create a truly holistic approach to pre-production: screenwriting software. This software will guide you through the creation of professionally formatted scripts, the ability to share and collaborate on each draft, and allows you to sync new drafts across your entire project without losing any previous work like script breakdowns and scheduling.

With the addition of screenwriting software, you can move seamlessly from script to development to physical production — all in the same program. StudioBinder will guide you through what makes this software unique and how it integrates with the existing StudioBinder applications.

Best For

StudioBinder is perfect for large-scale companies or advanced filmmakers working on high-profile motion pictures or television projects. It is a bit difficult for small companies to afford. The free plan provides great options for educational use. 

I used StudioBinder for a recent short film and while it was great for everything a producer, director, and 1st AD needs for smooth pre-production, it was pricey.

Key Features

  • Call sheets (create and send personalized call sheets and track RSVPs). You can add personalized call times and upload attachments
  • Script breakdowns (import scripts and tag elements) Robust, highly customizable shot lists, and storyboard builder
  • In-built drag-and-drop interface
  • Collate and send messages to the crew, vendors, and clients, all at the same time
  • Offers a free version for use as long as you want

Pros

  • Easy to send call sheets to the cast and crew, see when they received them, know they are confirmed for the shoot
  • Ease of use and intuitive layout. Its features rival a lot of larger project management software.

Cons

  • The price is not feasible for small scale companies Too many options to choose from, which might get confusing for a beginner (the software is designed keeping experts in mind)

Pricing

StudioBinder offers an instrumental-free version that can be used indefinitely.

Keep in mind, they also offer paid subscriptions for individuals and businesses. The individual plans start at $29 per month and go up to $99 per month, payable monthly. If you pay annually, you can save up to 15%.

For businesses, the price starts at $249 per month and goes up to $1499 per month, payable monthly. Again, if paid annually, you get a chance to save up to 15%.

Summary

When it comes to software for scriptwriting, it comes down to which program works best with your creative style. There are many other screenwriting programs out there besides the ones above that all have the same goal and that is to make things easier by assisting you in your journey towards producing a clean, formatted, error-free, pitch-ready script.

Just remember that there isn’t a scriptwriting software program that will make you the next Quentin Tarantino, Aaron Sorkin, or John August overnight, but it will make it easier for you to become a better screenwriter over time.

What do I use? I use the tool that 95% of TV and movie studios use, and that is Final Draft. But, any of the software mentioned above will suit any screenwriter.

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About the author: Trent (IMDB Youtubehas spent 10+ years working on an assortment of film and television projects. He writes about his experiences to help (and amuse) others. If he’s not working, he’s either traveling, reading or writing about travel/film, or planning travel/film projects.

Best Screenwriting Software For Film

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