Review: BlockBuster 1.0
Published By: John Truby Studios
List Price: $295
I was ready to give this software my lowest rating ever. It turns out that Greg Landweber's Kaleidoscope, and its precursor, Aaron, don't allow BlockBuster to size the screen properly, rendering the software unusable. The programmer said he has no intention of fixing this, although I explained to him the error of his ways. Furthermore, I almost had to retype this review from scratch, because the program locked up my Mac once, and a keyboard restart was my only option.
The program, as it stands, performs adequately. Installation was not as easy as I'd hoped. To allow the installer to run properly, I needed to restart with extensions off. Since I'm running System 7.1 on my lowly Quadra 605 here at home, I needed to take the additional step of installing the Apple Shared Library Manager. Some problems may have cropped up because I was installing to a Zip drive, but this is unconfirmed. In any case, the manual states that BlockBuster must reside at the top level on whichever drive you install it.
The first thing I noticed is the overall look of the program. Yellow and its relatives are not my favorite colors. Also, when I scrolled through some windows, the bar at the top scrolls off the top of the screen. Annoying? Yes. Especially when I wanted to close the window.
Three skill levels are available: Quick Story; Advanced; and Professional. Given my extensive background in the "Entertainment Industry," I felt confident that I could speed through the professional level. However, this was not the case. As I'll explain later, the manual was almost no help, so I stepped through the online Quick Story lessons.
I soon discovered that performing each step in order is required. This is not a natural style for me. I prefer to write using the stream of consciousness style, so I found myself jumping around a lot, but the software doesn't really allow that.
To begin a Quick Story, I first had to have one. A story, that is. To me, a story is what happens to characters you care about. However, I hadn't created any characters yet, so I was stuck. I jumped ahead, created my main characters, and came back.
I came up with a story about a guy who, through no fault of his own, ends up in a small town in Kansas. Next on the agenda was to find the structure o' the piece, or what BlockBuster calls the "seven key dramatic steps," not to be confused with the "22 Steps[TM]" that form the cornerstone of the Truby writing philosophy. From there, I was supposed to be able to create a full-blown scene list, and then attempt my first draft. BlockBuster provides a rudimentary formatting template to get you started, however, the program recommends a separate script formatting package. I agree. Checkout my review of Final Draft in a previous issue.
Screenwriting is an amazing craft. All the script gurus, doctors, whatever you want to call them, have a film or two that fits their paradigm. This program is no exception. The problem is that it tends to encourage formula writing. Another problem is that it's possible to fill in the blanks incorrectly. There's a very good tutorial online. However, I would have preferred te tutorial as a separate book.
The manual is sparse, to say the least. The Table of Contents has an annoying habit of referring you to the wrong pages. This ceased to be amusing the third time it happened. However, as with all good MacIntosh software, you shouldn't require the manual to use it.
Unfortunately, this software doesn't fit in that category.
While this is an adequate attempt to create a software version of John Truby's excellent screenwriting class, I would recommend that you wait until his seminar comes to your area and spend your money on the seminar registration instead.
Copyright © 1997 Mike Shields, <email@example.com>. Reviewing in ATPM is open to anyone. If you're interested, write to us at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.