How do you read scripts these days? I am used to reading printed documents and writing and annotating and leaving notes in the margins, but it is becoming really expensive.
And as I look across your blog and other screenwriting sites I notice a lot of people read screenplays on their computer. How can I really learn from and analyze the work without having a physical copy to make notes on? Should I buy a Kindle? iPad? Use a notebook?
— Alandre Drakest Silver Spring, MD
When I read Other People’s Screenplays, it’s almost always on my iPad. For a PDF, I use either the GoodReader app or iBooks. For an .fdx file, I use FDX Reader. Because, you know, I made it.
Reading a screenplay on the iPad means you can’t circle typos or scribble thoughts in the margins. While some of the PDF apps do a fairly good job with notes and annotations, I haven’t found any of them to be better than paper and pen.
When I read My Own Screenplays, I either use FDX Reader or plain old paper. Printing isn’t admitting defeat. You see some things on paper that you miss on the screen.
For quick-and-dirty proofing, I often choose the two-up setting in the Print dialog box, giving me two smaller pages side-by-side. I do this for drafts I only expect to keep around for a day or two before recycling.
Working with a collaborator on an upcoming project, I’ve started using three-ring binders for my active scripts. I’d always been a brad man, and dismissed binders as un-screenwriterly. But I was a fool.
Binders are kind of awesome.
- Pages lie flat, and stay open.
- Scripts in three-ring binders don’t get mangled as easily.
- I can flip back and forth easily between sections.
- For some projects, divider tabs can help you jump to specific sequences. A musical, for example, will have tabs for each song. An action movie might have tabs for each action scene.
- When making notes, I can use Post-It notes and flags.
- Revised pages snap in nicely, so you don’t always need to reprint the whole thing.
- When a project goes into a holding pattern, that binder can sit on the shelf.
As to your Kindle question, the larger Kindle DX is the right size for screenplays, and was briefly popular among the more gadget-inclined screenwriters. But most of those people jumped ship for iPads. I don’t know any who are still using the Kindle for reading scripts.