Final Draft 10 cannot export Fountain … or can it?

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Today I want to show you a little test. I wanted to get a Fountain-formatted plain text file out of Final Draft 10. If you take a look at the export in Final Draft 10 it says you can’t. Because there is no Fountain export listed there. But that didn’t stop me from trying…

Exporting a Fountain file out of Final Draft 10, theoretically speaking, shouldn’t work.

How do I know that?

Well, I took the Final Draft 10 User’s Manual, entered “Fountain” in the search bar, what it said was, “meeeeh”.

Why Fountain?

But, before I go any further, why would you want to export Fountain from Final Draft 10 anyway?

Fountain is a screenplay markup language for writing screenplays, invented by the wonderful John August and a few others.

By the way, if you want to learn a thing or two about screenwriting, go subscribe to the “ScriptNotes” podcast on iTunes with John August and Craig Mazin.

But, I’m digressing, back to Fountain.

I wrote an article about Fountain a while ago to demonstrate what it can do.

To make a long story short, Fountain is basically a possibility to write screenplays as plain text files that you can use on every device that you want. If you open it in a software that can interpret fountain files you have nice standard screenplay formatting, but if not, no problem, you can still write in plain text format and it’s all nice and pretty. It’s just flush left. But that doesn’t interfere with reading nor with writing.

That means, once you get a Fountain File out of Final Draft 10 you can pretty much do with it whatever you want.

Testing Final Draft 10 and Fountain

So, let’s see.

What I did was this:

Fountain is not listed in the Final Draft 10 export menu. But since it’s in fact plain text I just tried every possible plain text export method there is, to see what happened.

Then, I would take that .txt file and open it in a program that can interpret the fountain format. In my case Highland. But you could also use other programs like Fade In of course, the free Amazon Storywriter, or the free Trelby on the PC.

On a side note, Highland can also import Final Draft files directly and convert them into Fountain plain text. But I’m not using that functionality here because I want to see if you can export fountain from Final Draft 10 without additional software. I’m just using Highland to check the formatting of the file that Final Draft 10 exports.

As you can see, the result of the first plain text export is not satisfactory.

Plain Text Export and attempted Fountain interpretation - Final Draft 10 cannot export Fountain ... or can it?
Plain Text Export and attempted Fountain interpretation

So, let’s try the next one.

Text with Layout Export and attempted Fountain interpretation - Final Draft 10 cannot export Fountain ... or can it?
Text with Layout Export and attempted Fountain Interpretation

Errr, no…

Avid Script-Based Editing Export with attempted Fountain Interpretation - Final Draft 10 cannot export Fountain ... or can it?
Avid Script-Based Editing Export with attempted Fountain Interpretation

No….

Tab Delimited Dialogue Export and attempted Fountain Interpretation - Final Draft 10 cannot export Fountain ... or can it?
Tab Delimited Dialogue Export and attempted Fountain Interpretation

Errr, nope…

The pdf workaround

Then I tried exporting as pdf and importing that pdf into Fade In to export again as fountain file.

That in fact would work, apart from some minor title page issues, but that’s an extra step that I want to avoid.

So, I tried to think of other methods to get the script out of Final Draft 10.

And then I had an idea.

Other Final Draft 10 export functions

There is another possibility to export documents from Final Draft 10 apart from the “Export” function.

If you go to “Tools – Reports”, there is a whole bunch of documents that you can export. Most of them are pretty useless for our purpose because they will not export the script, but rather a summary of certain elements.

But not the script report. The script report does export the script. It is there to give you the possibility to deselect certain script elements so for example, you could export a script without camera shots, transitions, or any other element.

And, the script report lets you choose whether you want to export with script formatting, or as a regular text formatting. If you choose text formatting, Final Draft 10 will export all the script elements flush left.

So, let’s try this.

I’m gonna export a script report with all the script elements selected, and I’m gonna chose to export as text document.

Now, let’s see what we get.

We basically get the export of our script with the text all flush left.

Final Draft 10 Script Report Export - Final Draft 10 cannot export Fountain ... or can it?
Final Draft 10 Script Report Export

With one major difference. Since Final Draft 10 has changed the formatting it has also inserted lines in between script elements where you normally wouldn’t need extra lines due to the different script element settings.

And this means, what you get is basic fountain syntax. Now, all there is left to do is export this Script Report as a txt file and you have created a fountain file. You might want to delete the Script Report title at the top but that is up to you.

You can also rename the txt file to dot fountain if you like.

The result

Now, let’s test it, let’s import that into another script software that can deal with fountain files.

And if we import it we see– a beautifully formatted script.

Final Draft 10 Script Report Export, interpreted as Fountain - Final Draft 10 cannot export Fountain ... or can it?
Final Draft 10 Script Report Export, interpreted as Fountain

It has to be mentioned here that there is additional fountain functionality for other script details, like title page elements, bold and italics writing, and more. A bunch of those will be lost in that process here because it’s not really an established workflow but rather a workaround.

But, you get all the formatting out of Final Draft 10 without the need of additional software, so, I’ll definitely make more use of this if I just need to get my script data out of Final Draft 10 in a completely independent format.

Alright, seems Final Draft 10 CAN export fountain after all, it just takes a little workaround to get there. Maybe we’ll find fountain officially supported in the “Export” dialogue in a later Update. We’ll see.

Let me know if that exporting method works for you, if you’re using Final Draft and/or fountain at all. Drop me a comment below, I’m sure other writers are interested and can learn something from the way you work.

If you’re here for the first time subscribe to my eNewsletter, I’ll give you regular tips and advice on software for writers of all kind, so that your software doesn’t get in the way of your creativity but rather helps you create great ideas and achieve your dreams.

Have fun writing everybody. Bye.

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