Tips & Stories

Evernote for Screenwriting: How Screenwriter Héctor Cabello Reyes Wrote a Movie with Evernote

Posted by Kasey Fleisher Hickey on 27 Jun 2012

Posted by Kasey Fleisher Hickey on 27 Jun 2012

  • Name: Héctor Cabello Reyes
  • Location: France/Chile
  • Profession: Screenwriter


Héctor Cabello Reyes is a Chilean-born screenwriter that splits his time between France and Chile. He penned the script for his film, ‘Bienvenue a Bord’ (Welcome Aboard), in Evernote, and is currently working on his next film, also in Evernote.

I use Evernote, Everywhere:

  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • Mac

I use Evernote for…

Writing Movies

I started using Evernote about two years ago, at first to take notes about ideas I had for potential films. When I began thinking about my latest film, Bienvenue a Bord (or in English, ‘Welcome Aboard’), I started the creative process in Evernote. From the initial idea to the release of the picture, everything was captured in Evernote. Here is how Evernote helped me write a film:

  1. Capture an idea in transit. I travel by public transpiration a lot in Paris. I was in the subway thinking about an idea my co-writer, Eric Lavaine, and I had been working on. It was a story about a woman working in HR who is also the lover of the chairman of a cruise company. Then I thought of adding an element of revenge -after firing and leaving her, the chairman would become the target of her retaliation. I thought it would be a comedy, and I captured all of these details in Evernote on my iPhone.
  2. Add to your ideas to build a story. After capturing my initial ideas in Evernote, I shared them with the film’s future director. He mentioned that we should have the main character be onboard the ship to appreciate the consequences of her revenge. Right in that meeting, I was able to pull up Evernote on my iPad and add this idea to the plot line I had already started.
  3. Add ideas in a variety of formats, every day. From that meeting on, I started adding more and more layers to the story; I would write out ideas and record audio notes so that the story could continue to evolve and the characters could start to come alive.
  4. Incorporate paper notes. As I was building the story, I would meet with various people and jot down their feedback using a pen and paper. I’d then immediately snap a photo of the handwritten note using my iPhone, so that I could process it later.
  5. Take advantage of audio notes for face-to-face interactions. When my director and I began meeting regularly to discuss the film, we would engage in a banter, trying to make each other laugh. Since the film was a comedy, I wanted to be able to capture these spontaneous funny lines and work them into script. I relied heavily of Evernote’s audio note feature to capture our face-to-face conversations. I’d then send them straight from my Evernote account to my assistant, who would type them out.
  6. Collect all of your ideas in one place. With Evernote, I was able to have everything I needed — handwritten notes, text notes, audio notes, images — in one place so that once I was ready to start writing the cohesive story, I wouldn’t have to look anywhere else.
  7. Save finished work in Evernote, access it anywhere. Once I would have about 10 pages or so written in Evernote, I would switch over to Final Draft, which is a screenwriting software in which I could split up scenes and sequences. I would save the entire first draft of the script back to my Evernote account, and could pull it up in a meeting from my Mac or iPad. As we’d review the first draft, I would record audio notes, telling myself what changes need to be made. From there, I could back into the draft and revise. When I met with the production company, I also had Evernote on my iPad, so I could take notes that I could then use to revise the script.

One and a half million people saw Welcome Aboard, and now I’m writing my fourth movie in Evernote, following the structure above. This next project is going to be very exciting, so keep yours eyes open!

Implementing GTD with Evernote

Around the time I started using Evernote, I also began to implement the GTD (Getting Things Done) methodology. Together, they’ve helped me be much better organized in life. I use tags and notebooks to keep things organized; I have a reference notebook for everything I need to refer to as well as an incubation notebook for everything that’s not ready to be acted upon. I also have shared notebooks that my wife can access anytime. In fact, I would say that I’m a better husband because of Evernote! I tend to forget fewer things, and that makes my wife happy.

Writing with Evernote

I think I am a more prolific writer because of Evernote. Right now, I’m writing a $100 million budget movie. It’s a period piece that requires a lot of documentation. I’m able to use the Evernote Web Clipper to capture my research and organize it so that I can create a character that feels alive at a very specific moment in history. Without Evernote, I’d be lost. Evernote helps me feel free. It helps me connect the dots between different notes and ideas and ultimately, Evernote has helped me become more creative. It’s helped me find things I wouldn’t have found without it.

Our computers are full of information you’ll never see again. With Evernote, the time of losing something has gone away. Now, whenever I need something, whether it’s a hand-written note, a document, an image, or something I once saw on the Web, I can get to it instantly.


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9 Comments RSS

  • Puchong

    As a new screenwriter myself, im inspired even more to use Evernote in my craft. Although i do wonder how to setup GTD on evernote.

    If the awesome Evernote team has a plan to come up with Evernote’s own gtd/task management system incorporated into notes, that will be a dream come true!

  • Robert Oschler

    Another great Evernote usage story!

    “Save the cat!” – The late, great screenwriter Blake Snyder’s awesome book on screenwriting.

  • DCB

    I use OmniFocus now but would love to use Evernote for my task manager. Any plans that anyone knows of to develop this?

  • HCL

    I begun to comprehend what screenwriter does in movies but what really impressed me was that how evernote become useful in your work.

  • Sarah

    I’m a novelist and this is one of the most useful blog posts I’ve ever read. I have boxes full of scribbled notes, articles, photos, song lyrics–anything that inspires me while I’m creating a world for my characters. I love the idea of transferring my scrap box into Evernote so I can see it no matter where I am. Thanks for the inspiration and insight into how you work.

  • Mark David Gerson

    As a first-time film director, I see Héctor’s story as confirmation for my plan to use Evernote as the repository for my notes, plans and ideas for the fantasy trilogy I’ve just started prepping for. It had never occurred to me to photograph my handwritten notes. What a great idea!

  • Hector Jaime

    I use Evernote to write all of my blog posts. I commute to work, so having Evernote on the iPad while on the train is great for jotting down ideas, finishing up a post and sharing with my co-workers before publishing. It’s especially nice when the train is crowded. I can still sit on the steps or in an isle and write.

  • Robert Waterworth

    I am an animation producer. I stumbled across evernote a few months ago. Never intended to uses it in my work. Then a couple of weeks ago I discovered I could clip images from the web that I use for reference and make note books for them, I have been slowly using Evernote more and more, without realizing It. I am moving everything over to Evernote now. It looks like I will be using Evernote almost exclusively from now on. Funny how things that are right under our noses go unnoticed sometimes. I really love this work flow.
    For storyboards I used to draw on paper then scan in to the computer, now I just use my Iphone and snap pictures, it is so fast and simple.

  • Amo Tarzi

    Great story! I too do all my research and drafting in Evernote, the only thing keeping me from writing the actual script in Evernote is its lack of formatting options that are needed for screenplays! It’s possible in pages and word, but I haven’t seen a template where you could like type in F2 and have it formatted for character dialogue, action description etc. Hope to see a more advanced formatting coming soon! Best,