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.
- STORY DEVELOPMENT
Screenwriting & Storyboards
- PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT
Scheduling & Budgeting
- MUST HAVE HARDWARE
- CASTING & CREWING UP
Top Talent Sites
Documents & File Sharing
- CINEMATOGRAPHY TOOLS
Editing & Video Collaboration
- LEGAL RESOURCES
Release Forms & Insurance
- FILM FESTIVALS
Top Submission Sites
- SOCIAL NETWORKING
Networking for Creatives
Softwares for Story
Writing and Collaboration
Best Filmmaking Software
Collaborate on scripts and storyboards
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 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).
Also, it doesn't hurt to have software that allows you to collaborate seamlessly. Instead of sending scripts back and forth, it's easiest to edit all in one place, for obvious reasons. Certain softwares work better for that than others...
Best Filmmaking Software
1. Final Draft, Celtx and Writerduet
First up, let's talk some classic screenwriting softwares.
These three are the ones you are probably most familiar with. They are solid in their writing functionality, but don't have full collaboration capacity.
Chances are, if you’re working on a screenplay, it was written in Final Draft. It has built-in reporting features that can you help through many stages of production. And is the industry standard. 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.
best filmmaking software
StudioBinder is next up on our list. It hasn't been around for as long as some of the others, but it's just as efficient as any other industry standard software, but dare I say, even goes beyond it. The scriptwriting feature is just one aspect of StudioBinder's production management software. And because of this, it sits at the top for collaboration functionality.
You can use the scriptwriting software directly, or if you already have your preferred writing program, StudioBinder allows you to import your script.
Once imported, you can now make use of all of the other features the software has to offer.
If you're unsure if a scene is working, leave a comment, and get the real-time feedback you need. Any member of the team invited to the project can add comments or notes on the script.
And 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.
Another great software is StoryBoard Fountain.
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.
What we like about this one is that it allows you to visualize if a scene is working from the jump. Write your script then draw it up to see if the words on the page match the animation.
The next two mentions aren't software programs. But they are incredible tools to help you with story. After using one of the above softwares, send out your script for professional feedback...
Filmmaking Tools for Story
3. The Black List and Launch Pad
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.
Scheduling, budgeting, and More
What matters most?
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. And there are softwares that digitally do it better than others. Across the board, we judge a program based on the ability to execute on what a producer needs most, and what they can get done in one place. Efficiency people.
Here's our list of the best filmmaking production management softwares currently available.
Film Production Management Software
A cloud-based production management software, StudioBinder offers a modern interface to write screenplays, create and send call sheets, shooting schedules, breakdowns, contact management, shot lists, storyboards, and other 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. This integration streamlines your entire process from writing to shooting.
It also allows you to communicate with your team in real-time, thanks to the easy to use comment collaboration feature.
StudioBinder offers a free plan and pro plans that begin at $25/mo.
FILM PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE
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 Scheduling, followed by its younger rival, Gorilla Scheduling, are the traditional options for running your production. These are large programs for filmmakers that live on your desktop computer. They are solid film budgeting softwares.
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.
Aside from budgeting, these two softwares offer assistance when breaking down your script, but again, not quite as intuitive as StudioBinder's breakdown feature:
film production management software
4. 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.
film production management software
What about payroll?
Are you still hunting down all of the forms from crew members, making sure your production coordinator is on top of all of it?
With Wrapbook, you can onboard crew members in minutes. The app handles all compliance documents for you. Receive all requests for payment right in the app - including timecards, expenses, and invoices.
You can even calculate union dues and taxes right in the app. Then just run your payroll whenever you’re ready.
Crowdfunding Tools for Filmmakers
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.
Best Filmmaking Tools for Crowdfunding
1. Kickstarter OR Indiegogo
Thanks to crowdfunding sites, average people with dollars to spare are quickly replacing Hollywood producers. And these two particular sites are a common "rivalry." Let's take a look at both of these frontrunners so you can determine what's best for your project.
- Kickstarter is all or nothing: if you do not reach your goal, you receive $0. If you do reach your goal the website takes a 5% cut – be sure to factor that into your budget when you decide the amount you’re going to raise.
- The all-or-nothing factor may seem intimidating, but the result is actually designed to benefit both donors and creators. For donors, if you want to support a project, you want it to be what you’re signing up for: a $300 short film looks very different from a $30,000 short.
- For creators, this similarly assures that you will only be making the project if you have the financial and community support to get it off the ground.
- Having the necessity to reach a goal can motivate the entire team to make it happen.
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, but will only take 4% if it's fully funded.
- If you meet your goal, you will save 1% more than you did on Kickstarter. Indiegogo therefore inspires creators to aim for loftier goals with the understanding that they don’t “need” to reach their goal.
- Indiegogo makes for a more relaxed campaign, knowing that the goal isn’t as critical. This can be both a positive and a negative trait. Just don’t forget that 9% is a major cut of your hard earned crowdfunding.
Another big name you've probably heard of or even used, is GoFundMe. While they have attracted a large user base, the site hasn't really attracted as many film projects as the two previously mentioned. Typically, GoFundme focuses on "cause-based" fundraising.
It's always good to weigh the pros and cons before you decide. Some platforms are better than others for certain things. While there is a success a rate associated with some of these, the most important factor is that you trust the company you're using.
You know that the big platforms have paid out millions of dollars to tens of thousands of successful campaigns. There are very few glitches left, so you know that from a technical standpoint, your campaign will run smoothly.
But at the same time, smaller companies may give you more of their attention. And there are a few smaller platforms that hold up, regardless of their names aren't known yet.
BEST FILMMAKING TOOLS FOR CROWDFUNDING
2. Seed&spark or Slated
Seed&Spark is a new, yet formidable crowdfunding site for filmmakers. Every user is required to go through a green-light 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.
Running a successful campaign is a great way to grab the attention of an established Movie or TV Producer.
There are other sites that benefit on-going content creators, rather than backing a one-off project.
BEST FILMMAKING TOOLS FOR CROWDFUNDING
Looking for a TV Producer? Then Patreon may be the crowdfunding solution you're looking for.
The service has attracted many Youtubers and web series content creators who need a recurring source of revenue to support their ongoing work. 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.
best filmmaking tools for crowdfunding
TubeStart also focuses on digital video creators like Youtubers, or those with an established online audience. They require at least 15,000 subscribers to build a project on their site.
They offer four Funding Models:
- Fixed funding (4% all or nothing)
- Flexible funding (8%, and if you meet goal 4% is refunded)
- Subscription funding (ongoing or one-time at 4%)
- Pledge funding (backers pay amount amount for every video you release, or one-off at 4%)
Their perks are what differentiate them from other platforms.
- Handsfree: Tubestart partnered with Spreadshirt and Cafe Press to offer 800 customizable products that are fulfilled as ordered, versus ordering large runs. Example T-shirts, hats.
- Biddable: Auctions rewards to backers. Example: walk-on-role, producer credit.
- Sponsored Rewards: Qualifying projects only. Brand offerings integrated with your rewards – you keep all the profit. Example: Coupon codes, sponsor merchandise.
- Co-funding: Tubestart works with publishers and studios interested in crowd vetted productions who are willing to support projects with 10-50% of their funding goals.
For more information visit Tubestart’s handbook.
Certain projects might affect your platform selection. And that's great. Give them all a try. Or if you swear by IndieGoGo, that's fine too. Ultimately, they all come with their own perks and shortcomings.
Below is a cheatsheet on the different fees of each, but if you want a deeper dive into earning percentages, failure penalties, and all other fees, check out our post dedicated to crowdfunding movies.
We also go into more detail on each platform in our crowdfunding videos post, with an additional few platforms tailored to specific kinds of projects.
Must Have Hardware and Gear Rental
A Producer's toolbox
Helpful hardware and rental sites
Aside from your typical camera rental houses or production rental companies, there are sites that cater to time and budget.
There is also hardware we highly recommend when you're in the renting stage. It also might just be helpful to purchase some of these items below to make your production as seamless as possible.
We'll start with the sites then get into the must haves.
Online Film Equipment Rentals
What we love about this site is that helps you find gear based on your location. This is great for quick shoots, or last minute rentals.
The site helps you rent cameras, lenses, drones, and any other video equipment from people around you. You're renting from peer-reviewed renters, and ShareGrid insures all rentals. It also lets you share your own equipment and make a small profit!
Startup Sites for Film Rentals
Parachut is a great up and coming site. This startup provides a reasonable subscription based service, and could be worth it if you rent often. For $149 a month, subscribers can choose from a catalog of camera and lens kit. Once you're finished with a kit, exchange it for a new one.
The cool thing about this site is that they have you fill out a photographer profile. You answer question about your skill level and what you want to accomplish, and they match you with the appropriate gear.
You can explore some top of the line gear here but keep in mind, it does get a little pricey if you aren't renting regularly.
Film Equipment Rental Sites
This isn't on the bottom for any particular reason. This is probably one of the most trusted online rental services. The only big difference is you're dealing with a more established company so their level service isn't consistent with ShareGrid's community values or startup leniencies that sometimes come with smaller companies. Also, unlike the others you can't rent for a few hours, your minimum rental must be one day.
They offer a wide selection of cameras, most notably, Sony, along with Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Leica, with old and newer models available.
Of course you can always go to a local production rental company, but sometimes sites are beneficial to a smaller budget, and overall efficiency.
Speaking of efficiency, let's jump into some helpful hardware to keep shoot days running smooth.
Filmmaking Tools for Producers
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.
More Hardware for Producers
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.
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.
Budget Friendly Necessities
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.
Casting & crewing up
Top Talent sites
Movie Production Tools
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.
Best Filmmaking Tools for Hiring Cast & Crew
1. Backstage or LAcasting or Breakdown Services
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.
tools for hiring cast and crew
2. Filmandtvpro and Facebook Groups
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.
tools for hiring cast and crew
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.
On the flip side, it's the one stop shop for freelancers. You can easily post a job, and they can find one.
documents & file sharing
Best Apps For Filmmakers
Pre production tools and file sharing
As a producer, you're running a business, so make sure your productivity software is loaded and ready to go.
Best Filmmaking Software for Productivity
1. Office 365 and Google Drive
Film producing is comprised of a plethora of spreadsheets and documents, so no toolbox would be complete without 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.
BEST FILMMAKING SOFTWARE FOR PRODUCTIVITY
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.
BEST FILMMAKING SOFTWARE FOR PRODUCTIVITY
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. Learn more:
Even if you keep files on Google Drive, Office Suite, or the apps below, you can always attach a file in StudioBinder when you need it most.
Let's say you've just held a round of auditions. You have some resumes and headshots of the few actors you liked. You can attach those files directly on the card, so your team can see.
Feel free to assign tasks here as well. StudioBinder's functionality for collaboration and just general production management stores it all in one place.
best filmmaking software for productivity
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.
Initially, having multiple tools is helpful – you can pick and choose what works best for you. But when you get going on your project keeping everything in one place (as much as possible) will ultimately aid in your productivity. Organization is key for productivity.
If you're working with a team, it's also in your best interest to work in the same program. This is helpful when transferring files, scene information, anything production related, as a seamless system is the most efficient.
Best Cinematography Apps
Best Apps For Filmmakers
A guide to cinematography apps
From video to lighting assistant apps, we'll show you a few of our favorites that will make your life easier through the entire production process.
Best Cinematography Tools
1. Sun Seeker
This app is available on iPhone or Android, and has incredible value for filmmakers. Sun Seeker is a comprehensive solar tracking and compass application. This is especially helpful for those attending the tech scout, or even way ahead of time with your location scout.
It maps out the sun's path for each time of day.
So if I go to my location, knowing I need a dusk shot, and I want to capture a very specific lighting, I can use the app to determine if it's possible in that space. You can take screenshots of the Sun's path and send to other team members to determine schedule changes, etc.
Sun Seeker has a full version for $9 or a free Lite version.
Best Cinematography Tools
What I love about this app are the current updates. To begin with, it works without network connection, which is critical when you're out in no man's land location scouting.
There are 7 modes to track the sun:
- HelioMeter – representing the direction of the sun on a compass dial, also indicating elevation and shadow length.
- Virtual Sun View – showing the sun’s path overlaid onto the live camera image
- Sun Path View which shows the path of the sun the old-fashioned way
- Map View – showing the direction of the sun overlaid onto a map of the location
- Sky View – a representation of the sun’s path across the sky
- Inclinometer- determines at which times the sun will be at a certain elevation.
- Compass – showing the azimuth of the sun in both degrees and time of day
Compatible with iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch. Available in the App Store for $29.99. But does require iOS 8.0 or later.
best apps for film producers
This is especially useful if you're a cinematographer and need to know a little more about the grip department.
The app will refresh you on grip terminology and provide you with a ton of tools needed to direct your grip department on set.
Requires iOS 7.1 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Available in the App Store for $7.99.
Video Production Apps
4. AJA DataCalc
This one is super unique. It's the ultimate storage tool, but for your camera's data. If you enter in the time you'll need to shoot - days, hours, even number of frames, what resolution you'll be shooting in, and what format (RAW, ProRes), it will calculate how many GB or TB of storage you will need.
Requires iOS 7.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch. Available in the App Store for FREE.
Video Production Apps
While pricey, this is the ultimate app. Emmy winning with exceptional reviews, this one has everything you need. It includes:
Depth of Field, Field of View, Angle of View, Sensor Sizes, Focal Length Matching, Exposure, Shooting to Screen Time, HMI Flicker-Free, Color Correction, Diopter, Time Lapse, Underwater Distance, Beam Intensity, Conversion Calculator, Light Coverage, Focus Chart, Insert Slate, and more.
Requires iOS 8.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch. Available in the App Store for $29.99.
Artemis is something I’ve waited for for a long time - it helps me plan the shots faster and share them with the director who may be right next to me or on the other side of the world just as easily.
— Rachel Morrison ASC
This cinematography app allows you to replicate any camera's viewfinder. It's excellent for location scouting, even blocking, and some iconic filmmakers keep it in their back pocket. Roger Deakin uses Artemis, as well as some other notable filmmakers like Rachel Morrison and Simon Harding, and many, many more.
Shot Designer Videography App
7. Shot Lister
This a great cinematography tool that rarely comes mobile. Shot Lister is a professional level shot listing and scheduling app that allows you to categorize shots and determine what kind of gear you'll need. You can even upload scripts, breakdown each shot, and store storyboards.
Requires iOS 7.1 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Apple Watch. Available in the App Store for $13.99.
Best Filmmaker Apps
I love this one because it's great for the established DP, or even the newbie. Skim through the guides of 30 different cameras, and quickly find the one you need. The guides are formatted in a dynamic, clear layout making it simple for any level filmmaker to find what they need.
What's even better is the ability to download them to your phone, tablet. This is helpful if you don't have network connection on set. You can also print them out.
Compatible with iOS, OSX, Android, and Windows devices. The guides are $0.99 each, or you can buy the entire bundle for half the price at $14.85.
Best Filmmaker Apps
9. Google Maps and Google Street View
Google Maps is a given, you probably already have it, but if not, it is one of the better basic tools to determine location, pins for parking, or any other pertinent information that will go on the call sheet.
Google Street View is even better for finding locations because you can take 360 degree photo. The app will actually index the photo and its location. This is perfect for the location scout running around to a million places.
What's even cooler is that the app features other user's pictures. So this means you can do location scouting from the comfort of your own home, (or desk).
Best Video Production Apps
This is great for the low budget filmmaker who wants to shoot to edit right from their phone. Luckily for you, this app is top notch. It's a professional tool filled with high level camera functions, like focus peaking, temperature and tint controls, frame rates, and zebra stripes overlay for exposure. It also has a ton of resolution and file format options.
While this primarily exists for the editing pro, it has an easy-to-use interface to allow anyone capture quality footage.
For tools dedicated to editing, keep reading.
editing & Video collaboration
Best Programs and Apps for Editors
Post production resources
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.
Post Production Resources for Filmmakers
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.
All three are robust editing softwares. What you choose will depend on what you're looking for.
Adobe Premiere turns raw footage into a cinematic experience, while Final Cut Pro X focuses on speed.
Final Cut also comes with VFX Effects while Adobe does not. Adobe is cloud based, and better suited for collaboration.
Final Cut is easy to use and a bit more cost effective.
Adobe takes the lead for having one of the best color grading options than any other software on the market. Except for maybe DaVinci Resolve. DaVinci is known for its brilliant color grading feature and renders significantly faster than Adobe. It is also available for free, but unlike the others it doesn't provide a dynamic link to After Effects software.
Want more on Premiere? Check out how to use lower thirds in the software.
Best Video Production Apps
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.
post production resources for filmmakers
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.
post production resources
4. 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.
Pond5 works on nearly any budget. You can filter by resolution, FPS, and speciality video like 360 VR. Sites like Pond5 reverse the old reputation ‘stock video footage’ carried.
Shutterstock is widely used and offers free promotions of footage from time to time. Pricing is based on video resolution.
For more info, check out our top list of the best stock footage sites. This page goes into greater detail on 15 different stock footage sites that might save your budget and your film.
release forms & insurance
Best Apps for Filmmakers
Legal solutions and sites
As a producer, you're constantly dealing with paperwork. We recommend the following services to streamline the process.
Legal Solutions for Filmmakers
1. Upcounsel, Legalzooom or Clerky
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.
legal solutions for filmmakers
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.
legal solutions for filmmakers
3. Scanbot or 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.
top submission sites
Best Apps for Filmmakers and Festivals
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:
Film Festival Submissions Portals
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.
Best Apps for Filmmakers
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.
film festival submission portals
This platform typically caters to those doing the selecting, a tool to make their lives easier. But more recently, there has been an increase in film opportunities for the filmmaker.
Each year, the this short film competition through the AT&T Film Awards gives out $60,00 worth of prizes. And it's also free to enter!
film festival submission portals
Founded in 2006, Festival Focus helps you submit to festivals worth the entry fee. They have a massive database of any festival you might be interested in, along with detailed information on next steps.
more submission sites
FilmFestivalLife allows filmmakers to plan and distribute their films to film festivals nearby and internationally.
The platform has a duel purposes and also provides programmers with the tech to make their festival selection.
This company can connect you to the "next big thing" through critical planning and evaluation, or prepare the filmmaker to land an opportunity of a lifetime.
film festival portals
Similarly to the previously mentioned portals, FestHome is a short and feature film submission service. But they partner with certain film festivals. So you create an account, upload your film, and can submit to as many festivals are in the system. It stores all of your data, so you only have to add it once.
And of course let's not forget...actual film festivals.
7. Individual film festivals
Yes you still can directly send your films to festivals. We won't go into detail here about all of the ones that are available because we've curated an exhaustive list o the ones worth the price.
networking for creatives
Best Apps for Social Promotion
Using sites to spread your reach
As everyone in the film industry knows, it's all about those connections. Make some online with these services:
Film & Video Production Social Networking
1. ProductionBeast or Movidiam
While we touched on ProductionBeast earlier regarding hiring crew – it's also a useful tool to stay connected
ProductionBeast operates 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.
film & video production social networking
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.
Slated we mentioned earlier as it related to crowdfunding, but again, there's no transfer of money on this site. So we wanted to remind you of it in this section because it's primarily a social tool.
Just as a refresher, it operates by connecting your project to high net-worth investors with taste suited to your project. It functions to get meetings with producers which then lead to relationships (and huge funding).
film & video production social networking
3. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
Back to the basics.
Facebook is a great tool to connect with others. With 1.9 billion users; it's probably a good idea.
Through your Facebook page, share photos, videos, production updates and other related content to a dedicated group of followers. Make your posts as shareable as you can to encourage fans to repost your content.
While Instagram doesn't have pages like Facebook, and users can't share your posts, (although now they can share stories), there is a way to promote well on the platform. With the appropriate tagging you can gain the visibility your film needs. Learn more here.
And of course, Twitter. While it has fewer users than both Facebook and Instagram, it does have a relatively far reach. Many celebrities, politicians, and journalists are active on the platform, and there are some features that might actually get their attention.
social and video
4. YouTube and Vimeo
YouTube, with nearly one billion users, is probably one of the best spaces to host your (short) film. Even if you just want to post some footage of your process, a trailer, anything, there are now a ton of ways to make money on Youtube.
Most people know this so with all of the competition, it is helpful to educate yourself on tips to make your channel stand out.
Vimeo is also fairly common, and the perk is that you can set a password for each video. Film Festivals often accept Vimeo submissions.
1. Sales agents and screenings
If you have a rep, getting a screening will be much easier. It's always helpful to have someone else on board, (preferably someone with leverage), to talk up your film and help spread the word. A rep will also try and connect your film to a distributor, or arrange their attendance at the screening. Of course, they'll take a fee to do it.
This is chance to host a screening of the film and invite movie distributors. Offers can come out of these, but it's hard to pull off if you don't have a good sales agent. But is possible. The low budget Clerks, and low budget Clerks screening gave the world Kevin Smith.
Film Distribution on a Budget
2. Self distribute
More and more this is becoming an option. As we mentioned above, there are a ton of sites you can use to push your film. You can even sell some rights to the film to movie distributors and retain others.
You can, of course, put a finished movie on Vimeo, or get a movie on digital platforms like Amazon, iTunes, and Netflix. (Putting your film up on some of those sites previously mentioned like Withoutabox and FilmFreeway are great tools to attract distributors).
But most people use social media to bring attention to themselves because they want to be discovered, not because they necessarily want to self-distribute. If you're eager to get into a film festival, use social only to tease your film. Make those hungry distributors wait.
Film Distribution w/ Film Festivals
3. Screen it but don't give away premier
Film festivals are a great way to get distribution. But make sure you pick the right festivals. Carefully plan a festival strategy because certain festivals will not let you premiere if you've already shown it somewhere else. SXSW is an example.
If you give away your premier to smaller festivals, you can be disqualified in the major ones. Don't waste your film on the little guys, they'll be time for them later.
If you think you have a chance, just submit. If you are not accepted, the buyers will not know unless you tell them.
Film Distribution Tips
4. Sell to hungry buyers
Distributors typically work around a market calendar when acquiring films. This especially applies to those who buy for foreign distribution.
Keep this in mind when selling.
The Major Film Markets:
American Film Market (AFM in Santa Monica) - late February
Cannes Market (France) - May
MIFED (Milan) - late October
Art films are also popular in the Berlin market, and there are a number of TV markets including NATPE in the states, and MIP, and MIP-COM in France.
5. Film Hub
Film Hub is a great new resource that helps filmmakers to get access to movie distributors.
It’s a digital marketplace that helps connect finished films to audiences. It has the potential to cut out so many of the middle men and “gatekeepers” that prevent creators connecting their product to the right audiences.
Producer's Best Tool
Last but not least
What producing toolbox would be complete without coffee and 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!
Again, all of these tools are at your disposal. The goal of the producer is to make production as smooth as possible. Keeping everything in one place in a free movie production software is one way to do that. Keep reading for more organization tips.
How to Use Production Calendars
There's no reason to be overwhelmed in the production process anymore. There are a ton of tools to help you keep your head on straight.
Managing your tasks for your next shoot can be easily organized and distributed with StudioBinder's production calendars. Read the next post to make your next project as smooth as ever.
Project management for video creatives. Tasks, file sharing, calendars and more.
Manage video production timelines, tasks, storyboards, shot lists, breakdowns, call sheets. Made for video creatives, new media and film.