Fast Screenplay Dictation

As a writer who worked in tech, the evolving marriage of story and technology is my obsession.

Over the years, many different playwriting professors and screenwriting mentors suggested variations on this technology-driven dialogue technique. There are lots of reasons playwrights and screenwriters like the Howard Hawks Method:

  • The first way I heard about it was related to how good it is for creating distinctly different character voices in dialogue.
  • Other mentors talked about the method as a way to tackle a long list of loglines. Start and finish the first draft fast, then in revisions, discover if the premise really holds up. Every unwritten movie is perfect…so get it on the page to see if it’s actually good.
  • In my consulting work in the industry, I worked with many directors and actors who had great ideas for TV & Film projects but for one reason or another, they struggled to narrow down the story into a proper narrative and couldn’t get through a draft.
  • In my experience pitching and selling projects, there have been times when a buyer liked a two-pager and wanted to read the script…which wasn’t finished.

If any of those situations ring a bell…FIRST DRAFT solves all those problems. This is the software I wish I had years ago.

For years in Hollywood, I used different junkyard solutions; bits of tech cobbled together that could automate the Howard Hawks Method. I used old MIT freeware for making subtitle files, combined with different cloud-based speech-to-text companies…for a while I incorporated closed-captioning software, sometimes there was batch-table merges with spreadsheets. It was never easy. I constantly checked for new tools that I could incorporate into my system. Hoping, always, to speed up the process. And all this time I was napkin sketching what the perfect system would look like.

I asked my screenwriting colleagues if they ever did something like the Hawks Method, and if so, what tools they used. What I discovered is that a majority of my writer contacts in Hollywood have indeed tried to record themselves acting out a scene but nearly everyone grew frustrated with the next steps: transcription, and then manually reformatting everything. As speech-to-text A.I. grew smarter, with better punctuation and spelling, that stumbling block has been fixed.

But reformatting the text remained horrible. The process of going through a giant block of words after the audio file was transcribed and then manually adjusting every single line took nearly as long as writing it would have. Yes, I could dictate a 90 minute movie in about 100 minutes, but manually reworking everything took days, weeks.

Finally, I decided if nobody was going to build the perfect tool for a fast first draft, I would do it.
My name is Fred Gooltz, I am a writer and a tech strategist. I created this:


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