Strings Attached Day One wrapped recently. Writing a web/tv pilot involving a cast of reprehensible puppets was some of the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Shooting webisodes for a cast of reprehensible puppets was a daunting challenge, but one that ended up being a good time as well. Pictures courtesy of Sophocles Papavasilopoulos, who is composing the theme song. Come see the rest of the Strings Attached shoot.
Theatreforte starts the day with a challenging post:
Someone very smart wrote that if you can fulfill one of three needs, people will do anything for you.
* Aid their health.
* Make them richer.
* Do something for their kids.
So, how does Theater address these needs?
People who are engaged in their communities and have strong social bonds are physically and mentally healthier. Theater, unlike watching TV or surfing the web, provides human interaction. It goes beyond film, which is also experienced as a group, by the live contact we have with actors. It’s an art form that was created to elicit discussion and create a dialogue with those around us. By forcing us question and define our shared values, Theater, by its very nature, is exists to strengthen community. A stronger community means a healthier community.
Theater isn’t co-opted by commercials. When you watch a play, you aren’t interrupted every thirteen minutes by announcements of new medications for completely made-up conditions. No pop-ups, product placements, or coming attractions. Isn’t it great to sit in your seat and get exactly what you paid for? For 90 minutes or so, you can be completely engaged in a work of the imagination. Does this make you wealthier? Maybe not, but at least you don’t walk out wanting more crap you didn’t need in the first place.
Think of the children:
I can only speak for myself on this one. Seeing my first play (The Wizard of Oz, Pabst Theater, Milwaukee, age 8) is one of the childhood experiences that I can recognize as life altering. I still vividly remember walking into the opulent, century old building. When the curtains parted, the show tapped into my imagination, engaged me on a level that went beyond anything I’d been exposed to at this point. It was the first experience in my life that made me feel that there might actually be magic in the world. (I was a kid who pretended to believe in Santa Claus for the benefit of my parents) Later on, as a High School student, I rediscovered theater, which I fell into almost by default. I didn’t like sports, play an instrument, and found myself sort of adrift. If I hadn’t wandered into our school’s theater department, I can honestly say I would probably be pumping gas at the local Citgo right now. Theater became my only reason to come to school. For a depressed teenager who found little to care about, Theater was something that involved me, activated me, and gave me a means to express myself. It provided a kid who probably would not of obtained a diploma, a set of skills that not only got me through high school, but also helped me to excel in college. It gave me a love of reading, writing, and taught me to think abstractly and critically. I often make sarcastic comments about being playwright, writing for a dying art form, having a skill that will never feed me on its own, etc, etc… When it comes down to it, and I know it sounds a little overstated, Theater saved my life.
Looking for screenwriting software? Wringing your hands over whether to spend your hard-earned cash on Final Draft or Movie Magic? They’re both serviceable programs, with various pros and cons. Either one will set you back at least 150 bucks, not exactly a bargain. What if I told you about an excellent alternative, and one that was absolutely free? Free you say? Yes, says I! Ruben, you sure are one cheap bastard, says you.
I’ve been using Celtx for over a year, and now can’t imagine life without it. The new Version .9.9.5 released this year with upgrades that could put its two competitors on the endangered species list. For users familiar with professional screenwriting programs, the interface is recognizable, with options that format your screenplay automatically as you go. Celtx remembers your character names and locations, and has all the basics that allow you to focus energy on writing rather than fiddling with margins.
Celtx, like Final Draft and Movie Magic, has settings for Plays, Radio Plays, AV Scripts, Documentaries and Music Videos. With the new version, you can also create index cards, storyboards, breakdowns and schedules. Not bad, right? An exciting Celtx feature I haven’t tested, is its ability to enable collaborative work. With Celtx, projects are saved on your hard drive, as well as on the Celtx online server. You can keep your work private, or share it with others. As I’m about to go into pre-production with a new video project, I’m really excited to test out this project-sharing mode.
My favorite thing about Celtx is its PDF generation. In the past year, I’ve uploaded all my previous plays and projects into Celtx and converted them into PDF files. This has allowed me to start submitting work digitally, something I was reluctant to do in the past. I’ve found uploading Word files into Celtx to be pretty convenient. It automatically formats scripts written in Word, but you’ll find you’ll have to do a bit of format-tweaking afterwards (something you’d have to do with FD or MM).
The new version has eliminated most of the gripes I’d reserved for the software. Celtx .9.9.5 runs really smoothly, and some of the small formatting bugs that used to crop up seem to have been dealt with. There’s also a handy video tutorial that expertly explains the basics, so you can get right to work. Celtx runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux, and uses Firefox code as a platform. Why not give it a try, and let me know what you think!