iPhone on … and “Fade In”

Less than a year ago, Apple had 10,000 iPhone apps in store. Today there are 75,000. Are there any good ones for screenwriters? Well, read on!

Cherie Lee road tested some, built our own Top 5 and reviews them for your technological enjoyment.

With this proliferation of applications for the iPhone, writers of any kind have quickly embraced the wide variety of general note-taking and mindmapping apps. It was to be expected that specialised applications would appear to help with specific tasks for filmmakers and screenwriters.

Let’s have a look at five that could take your story from concept to pre-production.


The only one of its kind, this is a scriptwriting application that could not be easier to use.

Name the screenplay, program in the scene numbers and locations and then write in the same format as the script will appear.

It looks like a mini-Final Draft, with options for action, character, dialogue, transition, parentheses and scene headings. Now you can write a script page on the train – in proper format!

First time here? Why not Subscribe! It’s free.

One feature allows you to re-order whole scenes if you need to and you can type the script in landscape or portrait mode.

You can export your script into most scriptwriting programs for the computer or email the draft to yourself (or your editor).

This could become a very popular app for screenwriters, particularly for those who get their scene ideas on the go!

It’s not too expensive at $3.99 either.

Movie Idea Generator

img_idea_generatorThis is a fun little app that could actually be quite useful.

It simply puts three phrases together and there you have it, your next movie. Well, kinda…

It appears that the developers have taken a collection of existing loglines and the Generator shuffles the parts.

The three phrases are: the Hero’s quality/flaw (dimwitted/enchanting/jealous etc.), the Hero’s function (photographer/college student/exotic dancer etc.) and an Inciting Incident an Objective or an Inner Journey (gets run over by a bus/seeks revenge/learns true meaning of Christmas).

Some results may spark an instant cult classic, such as: ‘Agoraphobic farmer craves human brains’; others are broad enough to get you thinking. What about ‘Vengeful mobster gets taste of his own medicine’ ? Could be Tarantino’s next!

This is the kind of application that you could play with for a laugh or use seriously to get past writer’s block.

Anyway, at $1.19 it’s a safe bet.

Storyteller-Story and Character Generator


If a movie starts with the doors of all the houses opening simultaneously, rest assured the screenwriter used this app.

Slightly more elaborate application than the movie generator, this isn’t limited to one plot – and it’s not limited to movies. The Storyteller helps inspire ideas in all areas of the story in terms of setting, theme, character, events, twists etc. There are even visual aids, for example pictures of locations.

Some examples really don’t work on the screen – e.g. the opening line “The weeping stopped.” – and it may not be directly practical to screenwriters but Storyteller gives you a few ways of getting the creative juices flowing again.

We had fun reading the examples on the site, which contain a twist on ‘Hansel and Gretel’ with the main suspect being a flustered monk. It is set in icy mountains with a bomb exploding that starts it all off. The theme of the story is that ‘a leopard cannot change its spots’.

Feeling inspired? It’ll only cost you $2.49.

Super Index Cards

for-web-gallery46For those times of brainstorming and story planning, this application is nifty! It is essentially an organisational application for arranging ideas however you choose. You write stuff on the cards and then you can change the colour of them, rearrange them and look at them in either portrait or landscape mode. There is also a publishing option that sends the cards straight to your email in Word format.

This one costs $5.99 but there’s a version called ‘Super Index Cards Local’ which for $2.49 is probably the better option. The only difference is that it does not sync up to a server or perform back up and your work will not be accessible on multiple devices. You can still email it to yourself though so it’s not a problem!


This one is exceptionally useful for all kinds of filmmakers: it’s a storyboarding composer for your mobile.

Import pictures from your phone onto the board or take photos straight from within the program, then insert the camera movements; tracking shots, zooms, dolly movement and pans.

You have the option to place stand-ins if you can’t get the actors in the photos and need to see how and where they’ll fit into the shot. You can even record audio over the shots, either dialogue from the scene or notes on what’s happening technically. Play it back in the storyboard in real-time and you’ll get a good sense of what it will look like.

Another great feature is the PDF export of your storyboards so that you can share it.

The application may help you brainstorming your film’s structure, or instantly video-test a possible filming location you happen to stumble upon. Take a couple of photos, load them into Hitchcock and there you have it: a basis to start visualising your film.

At $23.99, Hitchcock may seem on the pricey side but it incorporates a lot more powerful functionality than the other apps in this review.

Movie Genie

For film lovers rather than filmmakers – and therefore out of competition – but all the more fun is the nerd-ready Movie Genie. Are you like me, who can’t watch a movie without pulling out IMDB? Who is that actor again? What else they’ve been in? And what other movies has the director done?

Movie Genie accesses IMDB with a simple, clean interface – rather than going through Safari and miss half the movie.

Upcoming functions include movie reviews from ‘Rotten Tomatoes’ as well as trailers for movies. There are well worth sticking around for.

Movie genie is $2.49.

Are you using an application that isn’t listed? Let us know in the comments!

Courtesy of Cinemek, for our US readers we have 5 free copies of HITCHCOCK for iPhone. To go in the draw, send an email to contest@thestorydepartment.com and give us the title of the Hitchcock movie set in a lifeboat.

3 thoughts on “iPhone on … and “Fade In””

  1. Just got Hitchcock. It’s awesome. I’ve tried storyboarding programs for the pc before (name ommited to protect the guilty). This is hands down a thousand times more useful. As a working DP I can whip out my iPhone and in 30 seconds show the director how our setups will play out. As an aspiring screenwriter (with no drawing skill) I can play out a scene on here (might take a smidge longer than 30 seconds for this) and work out my pacing and dialog before anyone else has to suffer through a slow scene.

    This is going to be a handy tool for me (and the price is down since the story was written). It’s worth the price.


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