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One of the biggest jobs in the film industry is reading scripts. Every producer, studio executive, and assistant carries home stacks of scripts every night that must be read by the next morning.

Screenwriting guru John August came up with the idea for an iPad app that reads Final Draft’s proprietary XML-based screenplay format (.fdx). With Final Draft being the industry-leading format, most programs use it, or will at least export in this format (such as Movie Draft SE, reviewed here). But while Final Draft pushes back its release of its “coming soon!” iPad app, the industry is left needing something to get real work done in the meantime.

The fruition of August’s idea is a clean, iBooks-style reader that can import FDX files from iTunes, email, and Dropbox named FDX Reader. At just $7.99, there’s little reason not to pick it up.

What’s Macgasmic

The most Macgasmic thing is outside the app itself. If you’re in the film industry, and reading is part of your job, you can head home with just your iPad tucked under your arm — no more giant stacks of screenplays.

Secondly, I can see this possibly being beneficial for aspiring screenwriters. With space considerations diminished and the need to tote stacks of scripts eliminated, readers may be more inclined to consider the content of a script before tossing it. Maybe.

As for the app itself, it’s clean and functions great. There are other apps (such as Scripts Pro or Screenplay) that will import FDX files, but as they are meant for editing, they’re not nearly as nice for reading as FDX Reader.

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It has few controls, all of which are simple and straightforward. You can change text size, go to a specific page, and see printed page breaks no matter the electronic pagination. Very simple, streamlined, and straightforward.

It comes with two samples to get you started. One is a “how to use this app” doc and the other is the screenplay for Big Fish.

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What’s Not

This app is pretty industry-need-specific. If you’re not reading screenplays for a living, there may not be a need to spend $8 on an app to just read FDX files. If you’re a writer, you’ll probably want an editor rather than just a reader, at least for your own stuff. PDFs are of course an option for light loads, or you could always hold out for that Final Draft app, whatever it turns out to be.

Conclusion

FDX Reader is an elegant reading environment for screenplays. If you’re a reader in the industry, this is a must. If you’re a student of film (formally or otherwise), you ought to be reading screenplays, so, again, this is a must. If you’re a writer, it’s a handy tool to have on hand at the very least.

For pure reading, FDX Reader is the only screenplay app you need. Check it out via the link below.

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