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.
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.
If you’re looking for a screenwriting software that’s a bit more affordable, Celtx might be your pick. Celtx is a cloud-based writing tool that allows you to work from an existing script (upload a PDF, word doc, or final draft screenplay), or write directly in the online editor. Celtx easily integrates with other pre-production tools and the company now even provides much more than screenwriting.
In order to work offline, and actually use this software for all of your scripts, you will have to upgrade. But even still, their prices are hard to match. For their basic tier at $7.50 per month (if you pay annually), you’ll be able to write offline as well as write in multiple formats like stage play or multi-column AV format. Access to organizational tools like digital index cards and storyboards also come at the lowest priced tier.
This tool is just so underrated. While Scrivener may just seem like a basic word processor with a screenplay mode, it’s so much more. The real achievement is how it organizes your work. Each project has a left-side toolbar that displays itself as a binder, allowing you to organize the project per chapter, per act, per whatever you can think of. You can also split the screen and compare two documents. This can come in handy if you’re trying to look at research while writing, or it can be helpful in the editing process trying to determine which version sounds best.
They also have digital index cards, character development documents, and much more.
But the real steal is the pricing. Get rid of monthly payments, Scrivener believes in one time licensing. Prices start at 19.99.
Screenwriting is a hard craft, asking others for feedback can be critical to the process. So trying to find a good reader shouldn’t be as hard as writing the script. Coverfly offers services for fairly reasonable prices from experienced readers. They even host contests to give writers more opportunity.
The ultimate coverage website. Upload your work and get coverage by some of the industry’s best. For a pretty penny, you can get notes on your script and invaluable feedback when you’re trying to make it in the biz. They also have contests that can connect writers to the right people.
From pilot competitions to prose and feature film competitions, Launch Pad’s mission is to well-do just that-to launch writing careers. They offer coverage and feedback services for any level writer. They include developmental notes as well studio coverage (what studios would say about your script), offering unique and honest perspective. Another great filmmaking tool to add to your kit.
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.
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 PreProCloud.
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 digitally pay and onboard your cast and crew. With everything on one dashboard, you can easily review expenses and timesheets, pay people with a click, and share important documents from NDAs to call sheets. This software focuses on helping producers stay union compliant when applicable. Depending on the union, the software can automatically handle timecard calculations for OT rates and gross wages.
Unlike most entertainment payroll services that keep their prices behind quote walls, Wrapbook shares their pricing freely. There is also no subscription or monthly fee. If you’re looking to cut costs on your indie film, Wrapbook might perfect for you.
Wrapbook also supports direct deposit, unlike other payroll companies.
But if you are planning on using another company, there are plenty of great options.
ABS is a solid entertainment payroll solution that is tailored to the indie filmmaker. They can handle everything from corporate recruiting videos to live events.
But they do require a weekly subscription plus a gross percentage based on the scope of your shoot.
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.
This company is solid and highly reliable. But keep in mind, they are definitely a larger company that isn’t as flexible with their services as ShareGrid or some of the others on this list, and their minimum rental is one day. That being said, their camera selection is top notch.
Subscription-based gear rentals are great if you find yourself always renting equipment. Parachut is unique because they ask you to fill out a photographer profile in order to pair you with the right kind of equipment. They match skill level and what you’re hoping to achieve. Parachut charges a monthly fee where you can select from a ton of camera and kit lenses.
Perhaps the place where filmmaking software comes most in handy is during the editing process. At any point in your post-production flow - from giving notes to actually making edits, you're likely not making it through without using one of these:
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 it all, and is one of the best color grading options to date.
Perfect for collaboration, 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 of a “complete package,” Premiere is best used in conjunction with Adobe’s other products, like After Effects.
If you’re looking for an alternative to Adobe, DaVinci Resolve is a great option. Budget-wise, a free version is available, which is very hard to come by, but Resolce’s color grading feature is also top-notch. Not to mention, this post-production software renders even faster than Adobe.
This next one isn’t a film editing software but it does enable better work while editing. Frame.io is a cloud-based collaboration tool that integrates with Adobe products, Final Cut, Slack, and more, to help you stay connected with everyone you work with across everything you work with. This filmmaking software enables a more pleasant video collaboration experience.
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.
Now that we’re talking about other post-production resources for filmmakers, we might as well mention Endcrawl. This post production software creates your ending credits. This is a great example of post production software that’s truly worth it because it fulfills a real need, and is incredibly easy to use. Endcrawl takes away the hard work, sorting all of your data from your film or show and organizing it into customized templates. It saves time and energy, and always looks pretty.
GoFundMe is a common crowdfunding platform and has been used for films but there are others that focus more on the craft. And with these, funding film projects has never been easier.
But no two crowdfunding sites are alike – each offers different benefits that can make or break your project’s budget.
Kickstarter is largely responsible for replacing producers looking to fund projects. Well, not entirely, but crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter have really opened up the doors to the average joe into the film financing world. This crowdfunding tool has afforded really talented filmmakers the chance to actually make their movie.
The only downside about Kickstarter is that if you don’t reach your goal, you won’t receive any of the money. And if you do, they take a small cut.
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, filmmaking software can save you lots of time and headaches, but film production tools are only as good as the people wielding them.
And now that you're ready with the right tools as a creator, you can rest easy...well...almost.
When it comes to financial tools, are you equipped? Up next, we dive into the best entertainment payroll services so you're prepared from every angle.
At Wrapbook, we're all about providing the very best free resources to producers and their crews. However, this post is not a substitute for professional legal advice. Answers do not create a company-client relationship, nor is it a solicitation to offer legal advice. Seek the advice of a licensed attorney in the appropriate jurisdiction before taking any action that may affect your decisions or rights.
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