Collaboration through the internet

Dakota and I are collaborating on a script, tentatively titled “Amelia’s Ring,” for a short anthology progect we are collaborating with “Matt Eppright”:http://www.mankindpictures.com on. Although Dakota and I are good friends, we’ve been separated by distance for these last few years.

Usually, the way it works is: One of us has an idea for a script. We send it back and forth, adding and critiquing here and there, along with a few long phone conversations. It has worked out well for us in the past.

Now, we’re trying a new tool. It’s a piece of software called “Movie Magic Screenwriter”:http://www.screenplay.com/products/mmscreenwriter/index.html which is basically a word processing program specifically made for scriptwriters. It has a lot of powerful features, but the one we’ve been testing is iPartner. The program comes with a license for three computers, so we installed it on his and mine. After we connect, we can work on the script in real-time, watching each other type into it and chatting. There’s also a voice-over-IP function with a mic and speakers, but we haven’t delved into that yet.

Right now, it’s turning out to be a great way to collaborate. We can talk to each other without tying up the phone line, and we can instantly share and critique our writing in our bathrobes. It’s almost like being in the same room. It has a couple minor bugs — we stopped doing the “live typing” thing since the script flashes on and off annoyingly as you do it — but it’s definitely a step up from what we’d previously been doing.

Incidentally, the internet has turned out to be a great way to collaborate with musicians. All of our scores have been composed from afar. We post video clips with timecode and email detailed suggestions about the score to the musician, along with a script for reference. He will write the music and record it digitally. For Dumping Jenny, “John Thomas Griffith”:http://www.johnthomasgriffith.net sent us CDRs. For Rock Paper Scissors, “Adam Zygmunt”:http://mustec.bgsu.edu/~azygmun/ really went all out. He added the music to the video and posted the clips for us to check out, along with MP3s and WAV files of each bit of score. That way, we could see instant results without having to line it up to the movie ourselves. Right now, Todd Painter (formerly of “The Urge”:http://www.mtv.com/bands/az/urge/artist.jhtml ) is working on the score for Breakups With Guns, all through the internet as well.

It’s not an ideal way to collaborate, but if your resources are limited like ours, it’s a great solution that works well for us. We never could’ve done anything like this a decade ago.

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