iPad’s Final Draft Writer: The New Industry Standard (iOS App Review)

Several years ago, while formally studying the fine art of screenwriting at my local university, I was introduced to Final Draft for the very first time.  Outside of that, all I knew about the product was that for many years now, more than I wish to count now, it has been known as the “industry standard” in the business and other than seeing screenshots on the back of the retail boxes in the Apple store, I hadn’t yet touched it.  The latest and greatest version of Final Draft was properly licensed and loaded on all the laboratory classroom PCs.  However, there was one big problem.  It’s great having the software accessible on the lab PCs at school, but what about at home?  Don’t worry; my professor had an answer for that.  It was called Celtx.  And for anyone that doesn’t know, Celtx is a screenwriting utility that’s available via freeware on their Internet website.  It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, but it does the job…if all your interested in is writing a screenplay.  I say that because when you export your script to a .PDF file, it’s basically indistinguishable from Final Draft.  That much it’s good for.  BUT…the bells and whistles of Final Draft are where it’s at.  My frugal behind may not have been a believer back then, but read on and find out why Final Draft is not only the industry standard in the business, but in my opinion the EXTREME AUTHORITY.  And even better…IT’S NOW AVAILABLE ON THE iPAD!  OH YEAH!

I learned the hard way about a year ago that there’s no substitute for Final Draft if you want to make it and be taken seriously in this industry when I made my co-writer Bob Graziosi write our most recent screen play together, TAKE IT TO THE GRAVE, in Celtx.  He was familiar with Final Draft and that’s all he used.  I, on the other hand, was a Celtx fanboy.  But as they say, opposites do attract.  I made Bob learn and write in Celtx because I had already started the screenplay in Celtx.  I know…selfish of me.  Then it came time to do the filmmaking budgets.  I had always wondered why Bob was fooling around trying to import the Celtx files into Final Draft.  The answer to my pondering was pretty clear and evident once I started using Final Draft.  The reports!  OMG!  Has any one ever used them before?  In less than the time it takes to type an email address, the reporting functionality in Final Draft can save you a lifetime of agony, pain and misery.  Ever try making a film budget using Celtx reporting?  Good luck!  I can’t stress that enough.

Well I can go on and on about why you should be using Final Draft if you’re serious about making it as a screenwriter in the industry, but that’s not why we are here today.  You already know Final Draft is the best.  There’s no argument there.  What you may not know though is that Final Draft Writer is now available on the tablet of choice…the iPad!  Can I get a halleluiah?

Thanks to the kind folks over at Final Draft I have been a beta tester of the iOS software for almost a month now and I “literally” couldn’t be more ecstatic and pleased about the overall product, its presentation and its rich set of intuitive and productive features.  You see, I was boarding a plane to Las Vegas at the beginning of the month and you know how they say you never know when inspiration is going to hit you?  Well, that couldn’t have been truer.  Thanks to my third viewing of The Dark Knight Rises days before and while listening to the soundtrack in my car and thinking about that phenomenal ending on the way to work, I cracked a story of mine that had been sitting on a shelf for almost six months in a complete stand still.  Eureka!  But wait!  Oh crap!  I was about to leave for a 5-day vacation and I wouldn’t have my MacBook Pro with me, just my iPad.  What’s a screenwriter supposed to do?  When inspiration to write strikes, you have to act on it quickly or else forever risk your screenplay/idea retiring early to a proverbial grave until the end of time.  I did not want that to happen.  Not on this screenplay!  But what weapons did I have at my disposal?  Have you ever tried using Celtx on the iPad?   I’d rather just use Pages and insert/make my own tabs, margins and spacing than be bothered with having to create an online Celtx account and hoping I can sync it over the cloud.  But low and behold I was saved.  The good guys over at Final Draft had an answer for me…like Moses coming down from the mountains with the Ten Commandments, they bestowed upon me the second to last beta version of Final Draft Writer.  I expected the worse as one instantly thinks when they heard the word beta version, but what I got was like when you see the “hottest band in the world” Kiss perform, I received the absolute finest iPad experience this guy has ever known.  Minus a couple small nitpicks; nothing has ever kept me on the iPad longer, not even Angry Birds.  Forty plus pages have never flowed so fast from my creative veins.  In fact, I have not used my desktop since for screenwriting.  There’s a new king in town and let me tell you all why.


What’s easier than using an iPad?  I know!  Not much at all.  Now just think of how much more effective and productive you are going to be on the go with Final Draft Writer in your iPad arsenal.  In my opinion, screenwriting has never been more fun.  And now there are “literally” no excuses to get that script done.  Whether you’re on the road, at the dinner table, on the yacht (if you’re so lucky to have one) or even on the couch…you know your iPad is never far from you.  So stop procrastinating and just do it.  You finally have the power to achieve great things in life!  And best of all…you can easily move your Final Draft v.8 (FDX) files from desktop to iPad and back again via email, Dropbox and more.  I should know.  I’m living proof of this.  You can take that to the bank and cash it because I know it works seamlessly.  Your scripts will appear perfectly paginated and formatted to the industry standards every time.  But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.  Let me give you the full tour.

The Final Draft Writer iOS iPad app (requires iOS 5.0) features professionally formatted templates in TV, Film and Stageplay.  In addition, no pun intended, More’s and Continued’s automatically paginate to industry standards while SmartType remembers your Character Names, Scene Headings and more.  The app’s intuitive engine allows you to quickly change elements with Tab and Enter.  Personally, I found the app’s menu bar to be a breath of fresh air.  I never have to search or contend with any drop down menus or lists.  It’s just all-there right in front of me on the onscreen keyboard.  You also have the ability to add, categorize and edit ScriptNotes while Character Highlighting allows you to keep track of your characters for table reads or even more important…character development.  You still get all the rich desktop features of Final Draft like multiple revisions, Scene Numbering and Locked Pages and most importantly….THE REPORTS.  Cast Reports, Scene Reports, Location Reports…you name it. ..you got it!  I found the one report that keeps a profanity count simply amazing.  It actually may be a good thing I did not write my last screenplay on Final Draft.  Ha ha.  I’m just f#$ing kidding!  The miraculous reports are literally just a tap away from you on the iPad.  You really couldn’t ask for a more easier, friendly and intuitive experience than what we are given here.  But don’t take my word for it.  Let’s watch a short video below and you can see for yourself why Final Draft Writer, like its big brother, is the new “industry standard” to be reckoned with on the busy, hustle and bustle go-go world of computer tablets (we all know there’s only one).

I’m excited to see what the guys over at Final Draft have in store for future app updates and even more stoked to be part of the testing team.  While there’s a few shortcomings like the inability to export a .PDF version of the script, voice playback or outline view, there’s really not much this application can’t do that its bigger brother can do other than make you a better writer.  You just need to work harder and hone in on your craft.  And thanks to Final Draft’s newest app, you have no reason why you can’t brush up on your writing skills anywhere and everywhere you go.  Act now and catch Final Draft Writer while it’s on sale until the end of September in the Apple App store.  Even at its regular price of $49.99, this app feels like a steal that every writer should possess in their portable arsenal because we all know that we’re brothers in the craft who all use Apple products, right?  Right!  This one was definitely worth the wait.  Thanks for releasing a solid version 1.0 product out of the gates!


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

4 Responses to “iPad’s Final Draft Writer: The New Industry Standard (iOS App Review)”

  1. Sean Ferguson

    Nice review Brian. This looks pretty cool.

  2. Adrian Bain

    The product is welcome and I have been waiting a long time.

    However, I am very disappointed at the DropBox transfer. There is no check as to whether the local or DropBox version is the latest, so manual checking of timestamps is required. While I waited for the Final Draft app I have used Fade In on desktop and ipad – each side checks if the local version is the latest or not and prompts to load the latest version from dropbox. This meant I could just use any device and the software would check for the latest script version and prompt me. In Final Draft I will have to check manually before I write on Desktop or iPad…how long until I lose something? I will wait for the next release and see if the workflow improves.

  3. Brian White

    Thanks Sean. I appreciate it.
    I hear you Adrian. I can assure you that the FD iOS team is reading this post and will definitely take your suggestions into consideration in the next update. These are things they look for. Thanks for your valuable feedback. I know they appreciate it too.

  4. Steve Renier

    Thanks, Brian.

    Although I do not yet own an iPad, I’m a big fan and will probably purchase one soon. Your endorsement of Final Draft Writer is certainly an important incentive.