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Write On

The Importance Social Media and Cloud Computing to Screenwriters

Justin SamuelsBy Justin Samuels

Hollywood four decades ago was a very different place.  How a screenwriter worked was also very different.  In those days scripts were typed up on typewriters.  It was a painstaking process, scripts went through their multiple drafts and then had to be typed up to checked for errors.  There was no backspace or delete in those days.

A simple flood or fire could destroy your spec scripts.  Making copies of scripts was comparatively expensive.  As was postage.  To make or expand on connections in the film industry, you had to be on the ground in Los Angeles itself.  Even to get a call, you had to be near a landline phone.  Or otherwise you’d miss the call.  But today’s there’s a whole new way of doing things.  Laptops and other computing devices, along with internet service make it possible to store screenplays digitally and safely.  One can e-mail a screenplay to others in the industry from anywhere in the world.  And various forms of social media make it extremely easy to stay in touch.

As for as writing screenplays, the typewriter became obsolete awhile ago.  As computers became standard, Final Draft became the standard way of writing screenplays on a pc.  It certainly saved screenwriters on paper costs and made revising and editing scripts much easier.  And one was able to e-mail files in either fdr or pdf format to others in the industry.  Purchasing final draft was expensive, and your copies of the script were stored on your pc.  Should your pc be damaged you were out of look.  And Final Draft was only available in for Windows and Mac machines.  Still, it was a big improvement.   But technology has far surpassed the Final Draft era.  Celtx, an open source program, was created to have Windows, Max, and Linux versions.  It was an open source program, and free.  Celtx eventually offered a cloud service program allowing one to write screenplays from any browser on any device, whether Android, Iphone, Ipad, Linux, ChromeOs, Windows, or whatever else might be out there.  It’s free, but to get full functionality one must pay $50 a year.  Still, anything typed in your browser is automatically saved in Celtx’s cloud, provided that your computer is online.  The downloadable version of Celtx can be used for offline service (as back up should your connection go temporarily down).  It saved screenwriters from having to worry about what happens to scripts should a computer get damaged.  And as Gmail, Yahoo!, and Outlook all have many gigabytes of storage, one can use one’s web based e-mail as additional storage/back up.

In terms of getting read and staying in touch, the internet offers many options.  Screenwriter Kraig Wenmen broke into the industry by submitting to Inktip.  E-mail queries certainly save writers on postage.  While going to industry events in Los Angeles and New York are still extremely important, today one doesn’t have to hold on to cards or just lock contacts away into a rolodex that is rarely used.

New contacts in the film industry can be friended on Facebook or added on twitter.  Frequently using social media is essential to writers and other artists.  Via social media one can notify others en masse of new projects that you’re undertaking or looking for.  Also, if you regularly chat with friends in the industry on social media, you make it much more likely that they’ll want to work with you and vice versa.

And as many of us have residences and lives outside of LA and NYC, social media enables us to keep in touch with what’s on the ground in the business while we’re doing things outside of Los Angeles or New York.  Also, internet records are permanent.  A quick google on an artist will show work that the artist is done.  This creates a free resume of sort for the artists.  Prolific writers can use this to build up a name for themselves as writers.   It’s also a good way to let a writer’s fans keep in touch with what the writer is doing in between film projects or book projects.  The fact the internet allows a screenwriter to create and manage their own buzz is a huge plus.

The more of a presence one has online, the greater interest is generated in one’s work from producers, agents, and editors (depending on what type of writing the writer does).

Overall, new forms of technology have made it much easier to find ways around traditional barriers in the industry.  As technology continues to evolve, the industry and a screenwriters job will change with it.

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