The Best Filmmaking Software & Tools of 2020
Nothing can replace the blood, sweat, and tears shed on set. But filmmaking software can certainly help.
From apps to websites to online services, we’ve compiled a list of the best filmmaking software to aid you in any phase of production.
Best Screenwriting Software of 2020
Stories start on scratch paper and cocktail napkins. Scripts start in screenwriting software.
Here are the best on the market currently.
Considered the industry standard, this screenwriting software is a must-have for Hollywood writers. While a no-brainer for scribes, producers may want to consider purchasing the software, as well, so you can track changes and send drafts.
However, at $250 per license, it’s going to cost you. But it’s not called the best screenwriting software for nothing.
Unlike Final Draft, WriterDuet is web-based app that’s totally free. Perfect for screenwriting partners, WriterDuet allows you to edit scripts in real time with other collaborators.
Think of WriterDuet as the Google Docs to Final Draft’s Word.
Created by John August, Highland is a powerful screenwriting software, made “by screenwriters for screenwriters.” Endorsed by the likes of Phil Lord, Highland is smart as it is new.
Unlike Final Draft, where you have to tell the software whether you’re formatting dialogue or action lines, Highland is smart enough to auto-format for you.
It’s free for the basic package, with options to add on premium features.
The newest screenwriting software on our list, StudioBinder is perfect for the writer-producer.
100% free, StudioBinder’s screenwriting software syncs with their many other suites of software, so you can easily go from script to pre-production in a matter of seconds.
Easily, go from script to script breakdown to shooting schedule to call sheet all in one app.
Best Scheduling & Film Budgeting Software of 2020
Once the script is locked, the next step on a producer’s agenda is figuring how much the project will cost to make. Thankfully, there’s some great filmmaking software to help with this extremely important process.
And since budgeting and scheduling are so closely linked, we’ve provided our favorites together.
Assemble is an end-to-end project management platform designed for film producers. It features production calendars, task lists, asset review, feedback and approval tracking, as well as production specific features such as casting and location management, a call sheet builder, frame specific video commenting and more.
Assemble allows you to easily collaborate with your team and track progress for every phase of the project, keeping your assets and communication centralized in one place.
Assemble offers a free 30 day trial to take their platform for a test run.
Importing a script into StudioBinder will immediately churn out a stripboard you can organize into a shooting schedule. Easy-to-use, StudioBinder is perfect for creating shooting schedules, which can be turned instantly into call sheets with just one click.
When it comes to Yamdu vs StudioBinder, StudioBinder simply has a better design with more functionality. However, they don’t have budgeting software available at this time.
PreProCloud allows you to generate and tweak film budgets from a web-based application. Perfect for production companies and freelance line producers, PreProCloud allows you to invite team members and visualize your budget break down in real time.
While offering a demo, PreProCloud charges a one time activation fee per project – and then again if your budget bid is accepted.
Created by Entertainment Partners, Movie Magic Budgeting and Movie Magic Scheduling are considered industry standard.
But industry standard usually means “been around the longest.” With a clunky design and overly complicated interface, you’re probably better off using a combination of StudioBinder and PreProCloud.
That being said, Movie Magic Scheduling & Budgeting are used on most every major production making them an essential if you’re working as a coordinator or UPM.
Best Payroll & Accounting Software of 2020
Ask any crew member and they’ll tell you their favorite part of the job: getting paid on time.
Since union contracts are complicated beasts, most filmmakers turn to entertainment payroll companies for help with getting people paid and to ensure they get a tax credit for their production.
Created in 2018, Wrapbook is powerful entertainment payroll service that allows you to pay your cast and crew all from your browser. With everything on one dashboard, you can easily review expenses and timesheets, pay people with a click, and share important documents like call sheets with your entire production – all in one place.
Unlike most entertainment payroll services that keep their prices behind quote walls, Wrapbook has a one-time activation fee and charges just 0.75% of the payroll you run. If you’re looking to cut costs on your indie film, Wrapbook is perfect for you.
Wrapbook also supports direct deposit, unlike other payroll companies.
Best Equipment Rental Sites of 2020
The best deals for renting equipment are often found in tiny rental houses only your friend’s friends know about.
However, like everything else, the internet has made renting convenient, and affordable.
You don’t need to know a friend of a friend with a camera anymore. Thanks filmmaking sites like ShareGrid, finding equipment is easier (and cheaper) than ever.
ShareGrid is an online rental house, connecting you to film equipment of all types, right in your area. From cameras to lenses to drones, ShareGrid carries just about any equipment you might need for your shoot. Plus, everything they rent automatically comes with equipment insurance.
All equipment is user reviewed, so you can evaluate before you shell out some of your budget. You can even rent your own equipment if you want to make some cash on the side.
First time renters receive $20 dollars off of their first rentals.
If you’re looking for gear online, you might also want to visit KitSplit. An alternative to ShareGrid, the company has a slightly stronger focus on cameras.
KitSplit recently announced a 100% theft protection guarantee, ensuring all gear is 100% covered in all scenarios. While their prices are transparent, if you’re looking to rent a ton of gear for a shoot, definitely reach out to one of their agents – as they might be able to cut a deal for you.
As with any equipment rental sites, be sure to review terms and conditions before renting or lending out your own equipment.
Best Film Editing Software of 2020
Perhaps the place where filmmaking software comes most in handy is during the editing process. From giving notes to actually making edits, you probably can’t make it through the production process without using one of these:
If you’re working with a remote editor or churning out many videos in a short span of time, check out Wipster. Similar to Frame.io, Wipster allows you to give notes on your film…right onto the frame.
By uploading your project to your accountant’s cloud, collaborates can then add “sticky notes” to your film. You can easily add comments to notes, and once your editors have completed them, they can check them as completed.
This filmmaking software is a must for video teams working remotely.
Produced by Apple, Final Cut is one of the best pieces of film editing software on the market.
Intuitive, user-friendly, and sleek, this filmmaking software is used by both huge studio productions and YouTube videos, alike. It’s definitely pricey though, so be sure to check your other options before purchasing.
Adobe Premiere is the standard filmmaking software for video editing, and for good reason: it allows you to do so much.
Perfect for color grading, splicing clips, and building complex timelines, Premiere is a film editor’s dream come true – as long as you watch a few dozen tutorials.
While Final Cut is more a “complete package,” Premiere is best used in conjunction with Adobe’s other products, like After Effects.
Best Fundraising Sites of 2020
However, no two crowdfunding sites are alike – each offers different benefits that can make or break your project’s budget.
Seed & Spark was made by filmmakers for filmmakers.
Tailored specifically to indie film projects, Seed & Spark allows donors to give generally, or earmark their donations to specific areas of production.
However, your project isn’t greenlit unless you hit your funding goal.
Like most crowdfunding sites, Seed & Spark charges 5% of your goal to process your project. Unlike other sites, Seed & Spark lets your donors cover it.
When registering your project, you can allow contributors to cover your project fee, so all of your money goes directly into the budget.
This, coupled with high success rates, makes Seed & Spark an incredible filmmaking resource.
Featuring campaigns for tech gadgets, comic books, and all other sorts of indie endeavors (get it?), IndieGoGo is often a popular choice for crowdfunding.
While Seed & Spark is exclusively made for filmmakers, IndieGoGo offers both fixed and flexible funding.
What this means is if your project doesn’t hit its goal, you still get to keep the money you raised along the way.
This can especially come in handy on a filmmaking project, where a decreased budget just means calling in more favors from friends.
The platform fee is 5%, which cannot be covered by contributors.
At the end of the day, your film production tools are only as good as the people wielding them.
Filmmaking software can save you lots of time and headaches, but just make sure you’re getting the best deal.