Sure, you’ve got gumption, a can-do attitude, and thick skin. But do you have the right tools to maximize your productivity? Here’s a rundown of our favorite, must-have filmmaking software, apps and gadgets for working filmmakers and producers.

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Contents

Video Production and Filmmaking Software - Story Development

1. STORY DEVELOPMENT
Screenwriting & Storyboards

Video Production and Filmmaking Software - Film Production Management Software

2. PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT
Scheduling & Budgeting

Video and Filmmaking Software - Film and Video Crowdfunding

3. CROWDFUNDING
Production-oriented Funding

Video Production and Filmmaking Software - Hardware

4. GEAR & HARDWARE
Producer Tools & Gear Rental

Video Production and Filmmaking Software - Casting and Crewing Up

5. CASTING & CREWING UP
Top Talent Sites

Video Production and Filmmaking Software - Productivity

6. PRODUCTIVITY
Documents & File Sharing

Video Production and Filmmaking Software - Post-Production and Video Collaboration

7. POST-PRODUCTION
Editing & Video Collaboration

Video Production and Filmmaking Software - Legal

8. LEGAL RESOURCES
Release Forms & Insurance

Video Production and Filmmaking Software - Film Festival

9. FILM FESTIVALS
Top Submission Sites

Video Production and Filmmaking Software - Film and Production Social Networking

10. SOCIAL NETWORKING
Networking for Creatives

Video Production and Filmmaking Software - Video and Film Distribution

11. DISTRIBUTION
EPK Resources & Buyer Networks

Video Production and Filmmaking Software - Story Development

CHAPTER 1

Best Filmmaking Software for Story Development

Most of the time when you’re working with screenwriters and editors, you can let them do their work on their own systems without any worry. But it does happen (and not infrequently) that you have to go into their files to make adjustments. For this reason, you should always have screenwriting and editing software installed. You won’t need these until you do (and then you’ll really need them).

Final DraftCeltx, and WriterDuet

31 Best Filmmaker Software and Tools of 2016 - Final Draft - Celtx

Chances are, if you’re working on a screenplay, it was written in Final Draft. Movie Magic Screenwriter was a popular choice for many years, too.

Occasionally, you may find writers who use other programs such as Celtx which offers its online screenwriting module for free.

WriterDuet offers free a cloud-based solution to screenwriting, allowing you to write scripts in a GoogleDrive-like interface.

Whatever software your writer uses, make sure you can access those files. In the event you need to convert script formats, check out WriterDuet’s Free Script Convertor.

Pro tip: Final Draft is a more robust program than you might realize. It has built-in reporting features that can help you in all stages of pre-production and production.

StudioBinder or StoryboardFountain

Best Filmmaking Software and Tools - StudioBinder@1x-min

Once your film producer and/or director has locked in a draft of the script, it’s usually time to storyboard out the project.

StudioBinder’s storyboard builder function allows you to create storyboards directly from your script. Preview your screenplay, label each board with shot details which generates a shot list at the same time, and save it as a slideshow that your whole team can watch.

StoryBoard Fountain is a web app features a modern user interface that allows you to sketch in your vision via a digital tablet. It’s free, and although new, has already drum up substantial new users.

The Black List and Launch Pad

Best Filmmaking Software and Tools - The Black List - StudioBinder@1x-min

Ask veteran executive producers, and they’ll tell you: “a screenplay could always use another round of notes.”

For both screenwriters and film producers, coverage sites are invaluable filmmaking tools to get feedback on a script at any stage in production.

The Black List serves as the gold standard for screenplay coverage. Upload your screenplay to be discoverable by industry pros. Get evaluations by professional readers on where you can improve your story. It can run on the costly side, but hey, it’s Hollywood, baby.

The Launch Pad, a subsidiary of Tracking Board, is “dedicated to launching writing careers.” Like The Black List, they offer coverage and competitions that get you feedback.

Video Production and Filmmaking Software - Film Production Management Software

CHAPTER 2

Film Production Management Software

There was a time when breakdown sheets, stripboards, day-out-of-days, and other production documents were typed up and carried around in giant binders. Woe to the clumsy assistant with the too-full cup of coffee!

These days, all that stuff gets done digitally. Here's a list of the best filmmaking software currently available.

A cloud-based production management software, StudioBinder offers a modern interface to create and send call sheets, shooting schedules, breakdowns, contact management, shot lists, mood boards, storyboards, and project management tools.

And that’s not all.

StudioBinder is most known for its easy to use interface and integration between scheduling, breakdowns, and contact management. StudioBinder offers a free plan and pro plans that begin at $25/mo. 

Yamdu

Best Filmmaking Software and Tools - Yamdu - StudioBinder@1x-min

Yamdu offers less features than StudioBinder, but shares one thing in common: team collaboration.

Offering a plethora of functionality, from production calendars to tasks to scheduling features, Yamdu is totally web-based and its plans start at $50/mo.

For an in-depth comparison between Yamdu vs StudioBinder click here.

Movie Magic or Gorilla

Movie Magic Scheduling, followed by its younger rival, Gorilla Scheduling, are the traditional options for running your production. These are robust programs that live on your desktop computer.

Chances are, your line producer or production manager are using software like this to create everything from the production schedule to script breakdown sheets.

The software is reliable, but user experience and lack of collaboration makes them feel clunky. Make sure to allocate enough time for training and ramp up.

Movie Magic Budgeting has been the go-to industry standard for many years. It’s a robust program that streamlines the process, and generates reports that identify budgeting trouble spots. Gorilla Budgeting is a slightly cheaper and newer competitor, and offers similar functionality.

For a deep-dive comparison, check out StudioBinder vs Movie Magic Scheduling and StudioBinder vs Gorilla Software.

Film budget template (spreadsheet)

Many producers and line producers like to use Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel to create their budgets. Spreadsheets are completely customizable and easy to share with other members of the production team.

The best part of using a spreadsheet is that you don’t have to start from scratch. There are many available budgeting templates that can start you off.

Video and Filmmaking Software - Film and Video Crowdfunding

CHAPTER 3

Best Filmmaking Tools for Crowdfunding

Can't find a Hollywood producer to back your project? Looking for some extra support on your indie film? Look no further, as we list the best crowdfunding sites and break down which one is best suited for your project.

Kickstarter or Indiegogo

Best Filmmaking Software and Tools - Kickstarter - StudioBinder

Thanks to crowdfunding sites, average people with dollars to spare are quickly replacing Hollywood producers.

Kickstarter is the time-honored goto place to raise money for your project. A great trailer, some storyboards, and a great explainer video can connect you with the fan base you never knew you had. They do take 5% if your campaign meets its goal.

Indiegogo offers the same service but with a greater indie film focus.  Unlike Kickstarter, you can opt to receive all funds donated, regardless of hitting the goal you set. That being said, they do take 9% of a partially funded campaign.

Running a successful campaign is a great way to grab the attention of an established Movie or TV Producer.

Seed&Spark or Slated

Best Filmmaking Software and Tools - Seed&Spark - StudioBinder

Seed&Spark is a new, yet formidable crowdfunding site for filmmakers. Every user is required to go through a greenlight process to make sure they can execute their project.

Like a wedding registry, donors can give more specific donations for specific items on your production (gear, camera, catering, you name it). They take 5%, but donors can cover this charge!

Slated operates by connecting your project to high net-worth investors with taste suited to your project. No funding is actually transferred through Slated, but the relationships with film producers are worth quite a bit.

The site is intended for feature films with budgets over $500,000.

Patreon

Best Filmmaking Software and Tools - Patreon - StudioBinder

Looking for a TV Producer? Then Patreon may be the crowdfunding solution you’re looking for.

Perfect for Youtubers and web series, Patreon funds filmmakers on a monthly basis. In exchange, creators provide their backers with updates and exclusive bonus content.

It’s always a good idea to provide concrete goals on Patreon as well, like “Once I raise $1,000, I can finish Post on episode 2).

Video Production and Filmmaking Software - Hardware

CHAPTER 4

Filmmaking Tools for Producers & Gear Rentals

No two line producers are different. Not every filmmaking tool can be on the computer. The top hardware is as follows.

SanDisk Ultra MicroSD Cards and BaseQI

The Film Producer's Toolkit - Sandisk and BaseIQ-min

Much of your work as a film producer involves a flood of digital data on your laptop. Make sure you have enough storage space!

If you need more disk space but don’t want to lug around an external drive, we recommend a leave-in MicroSD for your laptop. The MicroSD card will appear as a drive, and will immediately be available for use. It’s basically like having an invisible external drive without any of the required power consumption. 

We recommend the SanDisk Ultra series for performance and reliability. SanDisk’s MicroSD cards range from 8 GB to 200 GB (costing anywhere from $7-$80). If you’re on a Macbook, we suggest also picking up BaseQi’s Ninja Stealth Drive, an aluminum MicroSD adaptor that fits snuggly into the SD card slot for a more “seamless” brushed aluminum finish that blends in.

The Ninja Stealth Drive adapter retails for around $25. You’ll also need to buy an SD card.

Intocircuit Power Monster

31 Best Filmmaker Software and Tools of 2016 - Intocircuit Power Monster

Unfortunately, laptop batteries just don’t last very long. This is problematic for producers who rely on their trusty laptops to manage production software and documents on set. If you are shooting in a remote location without any wall outlets, the best way to extend your laptop’s battery life is with an external battery.

We’ve used quite a few external batteries in our tests (many with little luck), and our favorite is the Intocircuit Power Monster. We’ve seen a laptop’s battery life nearly double when plugged into this little guy.

If you’re on a Macbook, you’ll also need to purchase one of these cables separately.

Nomad Roadtrip Car Charger

The Film Producer's Toolkit - Nomad Roadtrip Car Charger-min

The Road Trip is a unique car socket charger that comes with a built-in external battery for charging on-the-go. The idea is that you plug it into your car socket and plug your phone in the other end.

As you’re driving to set, it charges your phone first and then fills up the 3,000mAh battery.

When you reach your location, unplug the charger from the car and take it with you to keep your phone charged.

The Film Producer's Toolkit - Apple Smart Battery Case and Mophie Charger-min

A smartphone is a producer’s swiss army knife on-set. It can field calls, emails, check weather, traffic, scan documents, take photos, or become a wifi hotspot for your team. As such, battery life can quickly become an issue.

The Mophie is essentially a phone case with rechargeable batteries built-in. It adds some bulk, but it’s a small sacrifice for nearly doubling your iPhone’s run time. Mophie and others also offer several external battery options that you can just plug in and use to receive a boost when needed.

If you’re on an iPhone 6s, Apple their own version of the Mophie called the iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case. The Mophie is still our top pick since it offers longer battery life and costs a bit less.

Video Production and Filmmaking Software - Casting and Crewing Up

CHAPTER 5

Best Filmmaking Tools for Hiring Cast & Crew

One of the most daunting parts of being a film producer is casting your project and hiring a crew. While your various coordinators will handle the actual hiring, it doesn't hurt to familiarize yourself with the best tools for finding your cast and crew.

After you’ve drawn up a casting call and the appropriate forms, it’s time to post your listing so the right actors sign on to your project.

Backstage is by and large the best place to post your film’s casting call. Tailored to actors of the stage, silver screen, and big screen, Backstage breaks down your casting call into an intuitive interface. Actors can easily search for parts, perfect for them, and submit to your project online for an easy project.

LACasting is invaluable as well for finding talent. Easily accessible by casting directors, talent agents, and film producers, LACasting is a must when searching for actors in the greater Los Angeles area.

Breakdown Services has serviced such clients as Cartoon Network, Marvel Studios, Disney, and casted hundreds of projects from Moonlight to Mr. Robot. With an easy to navigate structure, Breakdown Services ensures your cast listing reaches its voluminous base of actors.

FilmandTvPro and Facebook Groups

Best Filmmaking Software and Tools - FilmandTVPro - StudioBinder

Whether you’re sending out the latest press kit or receiving a new cut of the trailer, you’ll likely find yourself transferring large files online.

FilmandTvPro markets itself as LinkedIn for filmmakers and film producers. Create your own website, access a directory of filmmakers, and post job listings to find a film crew for your next project.

While not tailored to filmmaking per say, Facebook is a great place to post a crew listing. With hundreds of Facebook Groups tailored towards filmmaking, posting a listing is a matter of entering your project details and clicking.

We’ve outlined the best Facebook Groups here.

ProductionBeast

Best Filmmaking Software and Tools - Production beast - StudioBinder

ProductionBeast lets you source “from the best crew in television and film industry.” You can search potential crew hires by what they’ve worked on and who they’ve worked with.

It’s your one stop destination for freelancers; you can easily post a job.

Video Production and Filmmaking Software - Productivity

CHAPTER 6

Best Filmmaking Software for Productivity

As a producer, you're running a business, so make sure your productivity software is loaded and ready to go.

Office 365 and Google Drive

31 Best Filmmaker Software and Tools of 2016 - Office 365 - Google Drive

Film producing is comprised of a plethora of spreadsheets and documents, so no toolbox would be complete with an office suite of applications.

Office365’s lower business plans are cloud-based and come with all the essentials like Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint at just $6/mo.

We recommend upgrading to the $10/mo plan since it includes desktop installations which are handy when you’re on-location and outside of internet range.

Google Drive is an equally great alternative and free. But beware! If you’re on-set without a wifi connection, you won’t be be able to access your files.

AsanaTrello, and StudioBinder

Best Filmmaking Software and Tools - Asana - StudioBinder

Film producing is comprised of a plethora of spreadsheets and documents, so no toolbox would be complete with an office suite of applications.

Asana takes task management to the cloud. Film producers can easily create and to-do lists and have them completed on a cloud interface.

Trello organizes your production into to cards. Like sticky notes on a trusty wall, you can move them into custom columns as tasks are completed.

StudioBinder incorporates the same functionality as Trello and Assana, all within a suite of tailored filmmaking software. Easily create tasks, assign to production heads, and shift around cards to track your production.

Whether you’re sending out the latest press kit or receiving a new cut of the trailer, you’ll likely find yourself transferring large files online.

Dropbox has been around for a while, and offers 2GB of online storage for free. Newer alternatives offer more space. Google Drive offers 15GB and Cloud365 offers 20GB for free.

Hightail is a good option for sending large video files but its free plan caps storage at 250mb. Storage on pro plans are unlimited and come with tasks and approval workflows for teams.

I’ve enjoyed using Cubby for business file sharing since you can make any folder on your desktop shareable and collaborate on the same files.

Video Production and Filmmaking Software - Post-Production and Video Collaboration

CHAPTER 7

Post Production Resources for Filmmakers

You may not be editing your own film. But sometimes you do  (and not infrequently) that you have to watch dailies and cuts to give your two cents. For this reason, you should always have post production software handy.

Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro X or DaVinci Resolve

31 Best Filmmaker Software and Tools of 2016 - Adobe Premiere CC - Final Cut X - DaVinci Resolve 12

I’ve seen countless situations where a video needed a minor change (sometimes as simple as “add a counting leader”), and my fellow producers couldn’t get it done without hiring an editor.

Whether it’s Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro X or Davinci Resolve, you’ll sleep better at night knowing that you can tweak your film when needed.

Frame.ioWipster, or FileStage

Best Filmmaking Software and Tools - Frame.io - StudioBinder

Frame.io integrates with Adobe Premiere and After Effects, Final Cut X, and Slack, for a streamlined video collaboration experience.

Unlike the other video review software, Wipster is great if you’re approving a high volume of videos per month, but does run on the pricey side.

I always know where I am in FileStage–it’s traffic light system easily allows me to see the status of any video clip. Supporting PDFs, video, images, and audio files, reviewing media is actually sort of fun in FileStage.

Endcrawl

When you finish a film, you’ll have worked with more talented people than you can probably count. But how exactly do you lay them out into the end credits of your movie?

Endcrawl offers an easy solution by allowing to simply enter the names and titles of your crew into their web-based portal. The app does the heavy lifting, easily sorting all of your data into dozens of slick customizable templates.

Whether you’re looking to speed up your post or just want to save yourself the pain, Endcrawl’s the best option for dealing with film credits order.

Stock Footage

There’s nothing worse than wrapping a film only to find that you’re missing shots. While reshoots can be expensive, more often than not, your solution can be stock footage.

While “stock footage” used to carry a derogatory connotation, now many sites are giving it a fresh new name. With Pond5 and Shutterstock leading the pack, it’s easy to find a stock footage site that fits your needs with our top list of the best stock footage sites.

Video Production and Filmmaking Software - Legal

CHAPTER 8

Legal Solutions for Filmmakers

As a producer, you're constantly dealing with paperwork. We recommend the following services to streamline the process.

The law still applies to indie film! It’s best to have a lawyer for your production. With tools like UpCounsel, it’s much easier to find one and hire them on-demand. This is great if you’re operating on a tighter budget and need to avoid retainer fees.

Although it can be risky, if you’d like to tackle the legal stuff on your own, such as forming a company or working with IP, online tools like Clerky and the oft-referenced LegalZoom can get you started.

As a producer, managing and signing agreements is a big part of the job. Finding an e-signing solution to streamline the signing process can add up to hours saved. Websites like Docracy and HelloSign streamline the paperwork-signing process by requesting digital signatures online. They also double as cloud storage for executed agreements for easy reference afterwards.

Scanbot or CamScanner

31 Best Filmmaker Software and Tools of 2016 - Scanboy - Camscanner

If you’re on set and need to sign-scan-and-send agreements, smartphone apps like Scanbot, or my personal favorite, CamScanner, will save you a bunch of time.

Both apps allow you to use your phone’s camera to scan and e-sign documents. Afterwards, the scans can be converted to PDF and delivered via email.

I use these apps to scan contracts and releases on set, so I have everything signed and filed away before the shoot day ends.

Video Production and Filmmaking Software - Film Festival

CHAPTER 9

Film Festival Submissions Portals

As a producer, you've got to get your feature, short, or indie film the love you know it deserves. These are the top resources for submitting your film for accolades:

With hundreds of film festivals out there, Withoutabox has eliminated most of the headache by providing a platform to post your project on.

For a monthly subscription, you can host your video on its sight, frequented by festival judges, talent scouts, and Hollywood producers.

Filmfreeway operates as a directory for filmmakers and producers to find festivals that suit the nature of their project.

Like Withoutabox, you can submit directly to festivals through the app portal. Unlike Withoutabox, Filmfreeway has lead to 500,000 entries submitted through its site being selected as official entries.

Pretty impressive.

Video Production and Filmmaking Software - Film and Production Social Networking

CHAPTER 10

Film & Video Production Social Networking

As everyone in the film industry knows, it's all about those connections. Make some online with these services: 

ProductionBeast lets you source “from the best crew in television and film industry.” Operating as LinkedIn for the film industry, you can create your own profile and connect with those in the industry. Connect to your IMDB page and link to a production company for easy search-ability on this subscription service.

Movidiam operates on a similar basis. Upload a reel to instantly connect yourself to producers, other freelancers, and filmmakers on the site. It’s particularly perfect if you’re looking to connect with artists in the branded content and commercial sphere.

Slated operates by connecting your project to high net-worth investors with taste suited to your project. While also classified as a funding site, Slated doesn’t revolve around the transfer of money. Instead, it mostly functions to get meetings with producers which then lead to relationships (and huge funding).

Stage 32 has been called “LinkedIn for film, television, and theater creatives,” by Forbes. Operating on an interface not unlike Facebook, Stage 32 is free to sign up and get started.

Video Production and Filmmaking Software - Video and Film Distribution

CHAPTER 11

Film & Video Distribution

Resources coming soon!

Lastly, the film producer's most important production tool

31 Best Filmmaker Software and Tools of 2016 - Coffee

What producing toolbox would be complete without a really good double-walled stainless steel coffee mug.

As your best friend on set, especially on a chilly 5am call time, it prevents coffee or tea spills, keeps your drinks toasty for hours, and gives you something to hold on to when production is underway.

I still have one that I bought years ago when I still worked at Starbucks.

After all, if the production is prepped correctly, there shouldn’t be much for a producer to do. You might as well enjoy your coffee!

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Wrapping Up

Production is a complicated process, and there are many ways to get through it successfully. We all have our favorite filmmaking software and hardware.

I’ve described some of my favorites, but I’m sure there are others that I missed.

What are your favorite tools for filmmaking and producing?

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