Saturday, March 31, 2007

Showcase showdown

Though oft-maligned as buggy and crashy, the Final Draft screenwriting program remains -- with Movie Magic Screenwriter -- the industry standard (if there is such a thing). I, myself, have not experienced any problems with Final Draft since the universal binary update for OSX was released last year. In that time, the company has also begun to branch out into other areas of the screenwriting world. It purchased Script, the GoBots to Creative Screenwrting's Transformers of the screenplay magazines. A quick glance at the latest issue on the newsstand looked promising; it felt like there was more, and more substantive, content in it than the previous iteration.

A second area into which Final Draft appears to seek to make inroads is screenwriting conventions. Coming up on April 20-22 is the 2nd Annual Scriptwriters Showcase, at the Sheraton Universal in Universal City. It seems positioned as a smaller, slightly less expensive alternative to Creative Screenwriting's yearly Screenwriting Expo. Registration is limited to 999 attendees (Expo, in comparison, draws 4 to 5 times that many). Their "Take a Meeting sessions last 15 minutes versus Expo's 5-minute pitches (although cost $99 per session; Expo's pitches are $25 each). The agents/producers listed as committed to being present for the sessions didn't overwhelm me.

Another difference is live script coverage with the ScriptXpert Live service: 4 to 5 pages of analysis and 30-minutes of face time with the reviewer at the Showcase for $249. Comparable to what a critique/consult would cost a writer, on average, outside of the event. I didn't see on the website what "Xperts" are providing the coverage at the Showcase, however.

The panels appear to be the usual mix of nuts-and-bolts screenwriting advice, e.g., "Professionally Speaking -- Television Writing," and career development tips, e.g., "Represent! Agents v. Managers -- Writer Development." The panelists scheduled to appear are solid: Jim Uhls (Fight Club); Zak Penn (X2); and Simon Kinberg (Mr. & Mrs. Smith), for example. It doesn't appear that the keynote speaker(s) have been announced yet.

Packages start at $99 for a one-day pass, up to $399 for all-access, one (1) Take a Meeting, and other goodies. I'm on the fence about going to any part or all of this year's Showcase. I like the limited attendance aspect and the fact that it's close enough for me to just hop on the Red Line up to Universal to get there. On the other hand, it does feel just a notch below Expo in terms of the content and bang-for-the-buck. Did anyone attend last year's inaugural event? Any experiences to share? Does anyone plan on attending this one next month? I'd be interested to hear. I can envision this growing into a true alternative to the Expo, in the same way Script may soon be on a par with Creative Screenwriting as a magazine, but I'm not sure it's quite there just yet.


Post a Comment

<< Home