One of the best things outside the seminars at the festival this year was the space that was created by the sponsorship of a huge marquee by those lovely folks at Final Draft. Inside one end was a large auditorium space where seminars took place, and in the other half was a hub of support stations with everything a screenwriter might need, including a handy station where writers could purchase Final Draft 8 now with an upgrade included to Final Draft 9 when it launches in 2014 for the same price during the festival. Bargain!
A Final Draft 9 demo previewing what’s new in the software (quite a lot!) launched the festival. It has options for synchronising across devices, is optimised for the latest versions of Windows & Mac to provide the most comfortable and distraction free usage, and has a lot of new features including new Navigator features for character arcs and beats, notes, and keyword filtering. Watermarking is now available for printing and PDF’s and you can have character highlighting and coloured pages. There’s just loads of little added extras on top of the usual features that we all love in FD. It was good to see what’s coming up, and even a luddite like myself who doesn’t like change could see the advantages of an upgrade.
Though quiet between breaks when most delegates were in seminars, the marquee provided a real hub of busy activity and a great gathering space for the delegates, staff and volunteers. And in quiet times it was a nice airy interior space to have a quiet chat, get some legal advice from the legal desk, pop by The Writers’ Guild desk or have a go at making your movies real on Plotagon. Casting Call Pro and Film Crew Pro were there to support for hiring or working on films getting made and the BlueCat Screenplay people were having a logline competition for free entry to their competition. Parties were hosted for networking and catching up and of course the bookshop where several book signings took place with authors who were also giving seminars at the festival so on site to make personal dedications and have a chat with.
There was of course a festival helpdesk and registration area where the extremely awesome staff and volunteers were on hand to help out, offer any help needed and always with a smile. Seriously, the festival work is long and exhausting and there are hundreds and hundreds of delegates who I’m sure all come for help at one point or another (I went at least three times) and there is always, always someone happy, smiling and helpful to answer queries and point you in the right direction. I cannot be more grateful for those souls in festival t-shirts who are there for us for the entire duration. I’m pretty sure Chris and Judy feed them some kind of supervitamins because when the delegates are exhausted the staff are still there full of energy making sure we have everything we need. You’re amazing guys! Thanks so much from all of us!
There was room in the marquee for a great big gathering space with two tea stations that were my absolute mecca during the festival. Oh what heaven. And it happily converted into a bar space for those evening gatherings. On the whole it was great and if Final Draft wasn’t already a writers’ best friend their sponsorship of the marquee would have made them one. Thanks guys for keeping us creative and caffeinated!