Advanced Studies in Collaborative Endeavors

Whether you’re working with a team to make your new web series happen, producing a short pilot for a website like Channel 101, or just writing a script with a fellow screenwriter, there is collaborative technology out in the world that is designed to make your multi-person workflow easier.

I dipped my toes in the sea of collaboration when working in theatre first, where the writer relationship to the process is much more hands on. However, the trend in the industry lately seems to feature writers that cross titles: writer-directors, writer-actors, writer-director-actor-producer: whatever dual or triple or quadruple roles are available, there is someone willing to wear those hats (and that’s a lot of hats).

Even collaboration by email is going the way of the dinosaur: with applications like DropBox and Evernote, there is the possibility of what I like to call ‘Insta-Collaboration.’ Often when I start working on visual projects, such as a short piece or a pilot, I find myself trading seven or eight emails a day with other collaborators. Often we all have a hand in producing it, on varying levels, when working with a limited budget, and need access to some or all of the creative information about the project.

This means dialoguing in as many mediums as possible: words, visuals, articles, and concepts. And often my email inbox is out of control enough as it is: I don’t need an email with eight pictures attached coming back to me every five or ten minutes.

Applications such as Evernote are designed with this in mind: you organize everything into Notebooks, which can be shared with other users. Then you can upload photos, copy articles, make to-do lists, and share all of it instantly with your collaborators – and with all of your mobile devices, including a convenient icon on the taskbar of your laptop or desktop. What I like about this kind of process is that ideas can be instantly recorded and shared: often I find myself juggling notebooks while running for the subway with coffee, trying to write down that brilliant idea before I forget.

…and also saving civilians from danger!

Even an application as simple as Google Docs has powerful collaborative tools built in, where document contributors can dialogue within a document by commenting on elements without altering (how great for revisions!).

simplenote is another easy-to-use collaborative application. Like Evernote, you can share with collaborators. Unlike Evernote, simplenote deals with text only (but hey, we’re writers, right?).

If you’re in the brainstorming or outlining phase of a project, MindMeister is your ticket: it allows you to create clearly defined “mind maps” that can be edited easily and viewed in many different ways. MindMeister forces you to organize your outlines in clear and logical maps – which can be good for those of us with unruly minds. If you really get into organization, they even have a convenient Life Plan map (good luck with that one).

Of course, if you don’t care for outside collaboration, all of these can be used just as effectively for organizing and saving your own information and ideas – and having them accessible wherever you go.

Chances are, though, that if all goes right, you’ll be sharing your ideas and thoughts on your projects with high-level execs and directors – and with this type of software sharing your information to your phone, tablet, and laptop, you won’t be forgetting your key piece of paper at home.

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