From Movie Magic Budgeting, to Showbiz budgeting software, to film budget templates in Google sheets, film budgeting software is the line producer’s art form and most valued tool.
In this article, we cover the best and latest in film budgeting software for 2023.
But first, let’s look at some of the key uses for a film budgeting template. Are you looking to win a bid on a big commercial project or are you already greenlit to pre-production on a feature? Your project needs will inform which film budgeting software is best for you!
Production budgets can be used for a variety of important reasons in various stages of a project, such as:
Producers use film budgeting software when first bidding on projects or fundraising a project they want to make.
Budgets are put together here to both show that you know what you are doing and to propose what cost you can (and are willing to) produce the project for.
Once you’ve landed the project, your production budget is frequently updated to show changing costs for both yourself and as a client-facing tool. If your budget needs are mostly client-facing, you’ll need budgeting software that is both workable for you and presentable to your client. Here, the visuals matter!
Unions will want to see your budget before agreeing to work with you on a project. SAG-AFTRA, for example, requests a budget when you submit your signatory packet, along with a slew of other regulations.
It’s why we wrote a whole article on how to budget SAG payroll.
Don’t forget to include line items for SAG rates, agent and manager fees (if applicable), and union talent fringes such as pension & health and payroll taxes.
Just like a production schedule, your production budget is a living, changing document that update well into post. So it’s vital to find the right user-friendly film budgeting software that is both trustworthy and comprehensive to your needs.
And if you are working for a production company or studio, they will likely have their own unique way of working that you’ll have to adopt.
However, an ideal budgeting solution would allow you to manage your costs all in one place. Far too often, payroll is in one tool while purchase orders and petty cash are in another. Thankfully, Wrapbook's Cost Tracking and Budget Tracking tools make it easy.
Wrapbook already tracks your payroll, but our new Cost Tracking feature allows you track and manage your costs in real time. Create and track PO's and petty cash digitally. Be confident that you're tracking every dollar in or out as crew upload receipts on-the-go from their existing Wrapbook account.
Wrapbook's Budget Tracker takes this to the next level. Just import your budget from Hot Budget, Movie Magic, or Showbiz. Wrapbook's Budget Tracker will reflect each payroll, purchase order, and petty cash transaction in real time. Each transation is coded against your project Chart of Accounts. You'll have a line-by-line breakdown of costs!
Just as it goes for production, when it comes to production budgets, you often get what you pay for. Here’s a shortlist of the best film budgeting softwares that money can buy.
A product of Entertainment Partners, Movie Magic Budgeting is the great scripted whale of film budgeting softwares. In addition to film budgeting software, Movie Magic also offers one of the leading scheduling softwares in the scripted space, aptly named Movie Magic Scheduling.
Film budget example: Watch this Movie Magic budgeting tutorial straight from the software creators - Best Film Budgeting Software 2022.
Movie Magic budgeting is most frequently used for scripted content, both long and short. You can’t always (or ever) rely on computer-populated script breakdown so this old school program may take you a bit longer in the setup but it’s a useful tool for a detail-oriented shoot.
Most recognized film & TV Format: It is still the scripted gold-standard in film budget templates.
Templates galore: The software comes with some great film budget templates from the major studios on down.
Student Rate: if you are a current student or faculty member, you can get a very nice discount.
Tons of educational materials: there are some excellent Movie Magic Budgeting tutorial videos to teach this software to a producer at any stage in their career.
Accessibility: As a long-running program, Movie Magic Budgeting struggles to keep up with the tech times. It’s a desktop software that doesn’t communicate very well with it’s own scheduling software. There is no cloud.
The look: This film budgeting software has been around a while. For some, it shows.
Pricey, unless you’re a student: $489 for the latest version, Movie Magic Budgeting 7. But, the “Academic Edition” (Student/Faculty discount) is only $189.
Showbiz Budgeting software comes from the team at Media Services. A rival to Entertainment Partners and Movie Magic Budgeting, it’s a nice middle ground between Movie Magic Budgeting and Hot Budget.
One of the best film budgeting softwares of 2022- it may not be free film budgeting software, but it certainly is worth the price.
Showbiz Budgeting Software is best for commercials and music videos, of all sizes. Showbiz Budgeting Software can be used for scripted as well, if you like that sort of thing. If you are mostly in the commercial and music video space but do the occasional scripted project and are looking for a one-stop shop, Showbiz budgeting software may be for you.
Built-in film budget calculator: Showbiz Budgeting Software’s OT Translator function gives you a self-updating overtime calculator.
Tailored to the producer: Showbiz Budgeting Software’s purchase order system and petty cash workflow allow for streamlined actualization.
Client-facing: Showbiz Budgeting software is well regarded in the commercial space and a recognizable format.
Weird layout: Showbiz Budgeting’s layout isn’t that easy on the eyes, and we’re being honest, a bit clinical.
One trick pony: Showbiz budgeting software is slightly more conducive to commercial than scripted content.
$$$: The software is a tad pricey, roughly comparable to Movie Magic Budgeting at 2 software licenses for $399.
Hot Budget is to commercials what Movie Magic Budgeting is to film and TV. In its short lifespan, it has arguably become the industry standard for commercial budgeting software.
Great for spinning up a budget to win bids, Hot Budget is easy to use as well as affordable.
Hot Budget is actually cheaper when purchased with Hot Bricks, making it a favorite for those that already use Hot Bricks and is simply just one of the best film budgeting softwares of 2022.
Questions on how to program professional video equipment insurance and calculate Film equipment insurance costs in Hot Budget?
Recognizable: The most popular commercial budgeting software around.
Built for the bid: The top sheet is in an easily read with a clean client-facing format.
Easy importing: Easily import your own (or the company your working for) chart of accounts. Timecards can be uploaded directly to the payroll log.
Commercial Focused: Not often used as a film budgeting software tool. It’s most useful if you’re working on a SAG commercial or a non-union commercial shoot.
Hidden pricing: In addition to their website being confusing to navigate, their pricing details are not disclosed. The rates here are a bit confusing but it is subscription based and costs around $100/ year. Discounts seem to be available for those who utilize their production rentals company, Hot Bricks.
Not Cloud based: As an excel plug-in, Hot Budget is a desktop software, which means you’re bound to one computer.
Saturation is a collaborative budgeting tool that marries the leading industry standard principles with modern collaborative workflows - think Google Sheets meeting Movie Magic. It offers a suite of integrations and automation capabilities designed to supercharge your production workflow. Saturation was born out of the frustrations of a working producer who felt limited by the outdated tools available in the market.
Ideal for commercials, music videos, and independent films; Saturation facilitates a smooth and efficient budgeting process that accommodates the unique needs of different projects.
Saturation offers a free tier for users working on a single project, making it a great option for independent creators and small teams. For those who need to juggle multiple projects, there is an unlimited plan available for $20 a month, and for companies requiring workspace collaborators, the cost is $65 a month.
Collaborative Approach: Saturation is built to support modern, collaborative workflows, making it a great fit for teams.
Integration and Automation: Saturation is designed to seamlessly integrate with other tools, and its automation capabilities can help streamline your production workflow.
User-Friendly and Intuitively Designed: What really sets Saturation apart is how intuitive and user-friendly it is. You'll find yourself sliding into your budgeting tasks with ease, thanks to its well-thought-out design.
Flexible Pricing: Saturation offers a free tier for those working on a single project, with affordable options for unlimited projects or workspace collaborators.
New Software: As a new entrant in the market, Saturation may not yet offer all the features found in more established software like Movie Magic. However, it is constantly updating with new features every month, showing a commitment to growth and improvement.
Celtx budgeting software comes from the makers of Celtx Screenwriter which is a well-known mostly-free screenwriting software that is a great entry point for emerging creators. They recently rolled out their digital production suite that includes Celtx budgeting and some engaging perks.
It is a solid full-service option and a great place to look if you are just starting out or want everything in one place. Recommended for full-service indie producers working in film, digital, and smaller scale commercials.
Celtx’s budgeting software is included in their “video production plan,” for $30/month if billed monthly, $27/month if billed annually. However, it's currently offering your first year 50% off with prices starting at $15/month, and $13.50/month respectively. While not a free film budgeting software like their screenwriting software, this plan comes with a bunch of bonuses, including their “scriptwriting plan plus,” scheduling software, and call sheet and cost report generators.
Complimentary perks: A subscription to Celtx comes with great bonuses including scheduling and screenwriting software.
Cloud-based system: Login in wherever the internet is found!
Pricing: Celtx is affordable – opt in month to month.
Sleek interface: Fun to look at, yet easy to work with.
Fully integrated: The screenwriting software has a script breakdown function that itemizes by department and then adds these elements into your Celtx budgeting software.
Too modern: If you’re a stalwart for tradition, this format may be too new age for you.
Somewhat confusing interface: Though the layout is clean, it can sometimes be confusing to navigate your way from software to software.
Some bugs: It’s pretty new compared to the heavyweights, so some user kinks may need to be worked out.
Budgeting on a budget? Have no fear, there are some great free film budgeting software options and film budgeting templates out there for you as well. You may have to wade through a bit more muck to find the right one for you (and beware trial modes that don’t allow you to download PDFs) !
Whether you’re looking for a film budget template for Google Sheets or want to keep things on the desktop with an excel program, templates are a great way to customize the process to your needs! Google Sheets is a great place to import a customized film budgeting template. Many commercial producers who utilize this have inherited a film budget sheet template, passed down from generation to generation of line producer.
They are a great tool for an emerging producer as sometimes they have remnants of costs from past shoots, like how much was paid for professional video equipment insurance. But these film budget templates are coveted and hard to come by. So if you don’t have an in, you either need to design your own or purchase a film budget sheet template from a company.
Control over layout: If you are a wiz with a spreadsheet, you can customize to your hearts delight.
In the cloud and on the drive: If you love google suite and organize your digital wrapbook there, this is nearly a one stop shop.
Probably free: Many websites offer a solid free film budget template for Google Sheets. Or you can purchase templates from a number of places for a flat fee. Places like BoilerPlate sell their formats starting at $49 and you can plop it into Excel or throw it up to the drive.
Must love Excel: If you’re not a whiz with a spreadsheet, this is likely not for you.
No integration: Doesn’t auto-populate from a complimentary program, like your scheduling software.
Too broad: If you don’t find a template tailored to a specific project type (commercials or features), your film budget template might not give you the nuance you need to win bids.
*The majority of these companies offer both budgeting and scheduling software.
As you can see, there are many options out there for film budgeting softwares and it often comes down to personal preference.
Whether you’re planning to use your own film budget template or you're ready to throw down for Movie Magic budgeting or Showbiz film budgeting software, don’t be afraid to test out a few before making your final decision. You might have an equally hard time choosing the best filmmaking software to use before or after you worry about the budget. But the budget will always be thereAs the saying goes, it takes a video village to make a movie, and also money, crafty, and great film budgeting software.
Scouting production locations? We’re breaking down 10 states with considerable film tax breaks so you can get the most bang for your budget buck.
Wrapbook's newest resource is our podcast, "On Production," which features experts in the field and tips on how to navigate the production world. Check it out!