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Indian screenwriting app Scrite available for users in 12 languages

Launched in April 2020, it allows individuals to write professionally formatted screenplays for free.

Sonal Pandya

The past decade has seen a screenwriting boom as technology has enabled more and more individuals to transmute their ideas and visions into films and shows that are viewed by millions. For writers of both series and films, as well as audiences, the script is king.

But how does one flesh out a script that does justice to one's vision and meets the industry standards? An app like Scrite, for starters.

When India first went into lockdown, in March 2020, Scrite creator Prashanth Udupa began working on the app and launched it less than a month later, on 17 April 2020. His mission was clear: to allow any screenwriter to write professionally formatted screenplays easily, that too for free.

In an email, Udupa explained, “An industry-acceptable format is any producer's basic expectation when they read a script. Many writers in India tend to use non-screenwriting apps, which creates presentation issues.”

Moreover, most professional screenwriting programmes are aimed only at English writers, while the Indian film industry produces mainstream features in over a dozen languages. Hence, he said, “We made it easy for writers to seamlessly switch between 12 Indian languages.”

Surya Vasishta, who oversees the UI design for Scrite, stated in the same email that the main challenge in the first initial months is to get the app’s users to trust them. They had to personally reach out to potential users initially. The open-source app is available for Mac, Windows and Linux users.

“The other challenge was more technical,” he said. “Even though we added language support early on, people were still struggling to use it within our app because they were used to certain fonts and input methods on their computers. Once we built the tech to seamlessly integrate their existing fonts and input methods with Scrite, writing in Indian languages became much smoother for everyone. It is still an evolving feature, but it’s already usable and many of our users do write in local languages.”

Since it was launched, the developers have received a positive response from screenwriters; the cost, or lack thereof, obviously is a huge incentive. They have been focused on incorporating their users’ inputs and keep upgrading the product to make it better.

“Professional writers are valuing the Structure and Insights tool, which helps them outline and visualize their screenplays much better,” he added.

In less than two years, Scrite has seen steady progress. In 2021, several new writers adopted it thanks to word of mouth. Udupa stated, “Last year, we were even offered a platform by the SWA [Screenwriters Association] to showcase the app to its members over a webinar. Many writers who attended the webinar have switched to Scrite and are sticking to it to this day.”

He added, “We are also working closely with a leading production house in Bengaluru that has completely moved from a legacy alternative, Celtx Studio, to Scrite for all their in-house writers.”

The feedback the team receives has proven enlightening, as users have been clear that what they want is something more than just a writing app. “They want to be able to map, tag and track story structures, get insights and have access to tools that will help them move to pre-production,” Udapa said. “They want an app that would help them write better and get smarter with production.”

Punit Thakkar, who handles marketing and strategy for Scrite, revealed how the app makes itself unique for Indian users. Firstly, they can easily switch between many Indian languages, including English, Hindi and Kannada. Secondly, it offers a helpful statistics report that writers can use to “understand the insights of their script on a macro level”.

“Scrite adopts a scene-centric approach to writing as opposed to page-centric,” he said. “What this means is that writers can organize their story in terms of scenes or sequences and imagine it visually much better on a canvas using index cards that they can tag with structure beats, while also being able to sequence them on a timeline. This is especially useful for those who want to practically implement screenwriting principles that they may have learnt.”

Scrite, which is still in its beta phase, also offers popular movie scripts to educate and inspire users and even more such screenplays will be made available on the app.

Thakkar also informed Cinestaan that the team is already working on its next set of features which will enable several writers to collaborate on a single screenplay. “With many writing rooms happening virtually now, this has been one of the most requested features and will be useful for professionals who wish to collaborate much better while managing such rooms,” he said.

The team is also in talks with a leading Indian film school to carry out a trial for their faculty and students.

“Going forward, we plan to build the necessary tools for writers to be able to not just craft better screenplays but also help them in their journey from idea to discovery via the Scrite platform,” Thakkar said.

Interested screenwriters can download the app here.