So Zhura are the second screenwriting-software-for-free-online to pop up recently (and the first which doesn’t require you to be in the US or Canada – because obviously screenplays don’t travel well over the internet if they stray too far from Hollywood). Go there. Watch the little video.
Seriously, there’s a video of two people each trying to write a screenplay, who give up and shred their work, only to run into each other in what we could charitably call a hallway but is clearly just the bit of landing between their two bedrooms. They realise that putting their two efforts together they can create a jim dandy screenplay. Or at least one page of one. It’s unclear what their original problems were (I think they were just using the wrong colour paper), but obviously working together helped them resolve those niggling difficulties and lack of overall talent. Voila: screenplay!
Zhura are focussed on collaboration, so you put up your idea, screenplay, whatever, and license it so that other people can contribute. Obviously you all retain copyright for whatever work you do on it, which will just make it pretty much impossible that anybody would ever actually pay for it (also I suspect WGA arbitration is gonna kick in automatically if you even mention Zhura in future).
None of this bothers me, really, since I’m just looking for an easy way to type up scripts. It doesn’t seem too bad, although the formatting options are limited, but the idea’s good and it’s easy to use. Of course I didn’t entrust anything I actually care about to it – so I gave up after two scenes based on an idea I pretty much typed in without thinking. I’ve made the idea public, in the hope that it will appeal to writers who don’t have any talent, thus thinning the gene pool somewhat. It’s called “Agent Elsie”, and the pitch is:
Elsie is a fourth grade teacher. While sitting at home one night thinking up ideas for a class history project, she is visited by the shadowy Colonel Raven, who says that the military needs her help. He is killed before he can explain all the details, prompting Elsie to run from his killers, to Fort Lauderdale, discovering along the way secrets about her family and upbringing that she had never considered.
It is quite possibly the worst idea I’ve ever had. Think of it as Private Benjamin meets The Long Kiss Goodnight. Or The Shadow Men meets the last scene of Out of Mind, Out of Sight. In an alternate universe where the US military conducts all its secret operations in Miami.
So expect to see it at a multiplex near you in summer 2009.