Brunch

Managing film projects: Enter the production applications

By Kavishna Wijesinghe

 

Last week we discussed how smartphones have revolutionised filmmaking, and within that we touched upon certain apps that make the experience easier. Today, we delve a little deeper into the technology and applications that simplify the production process.

A movie project life cycle usually has three phases:

  • Pre-production (planning the shoot)
  • Production (the shoot)
  • Post-production (editing, dubbing, and revising the shoot)

In these phases, the number of production managers, departments, and their teams conducting tasks are staggering. The amount of time and effort that goes into the scripts, breakdowns, storyboards, and call sheets, and texts, phone calls, and meetings that need to be arranged is herculean.

Therefore, to aid these processes and to add more value, here are a few excellent applications and tools now in use for film production management.

  • StudioBinder – this online platform offers diverse, fully integrated film production management tools, as it is cloud-based and to-do-based. The features load fast, with collaboration UI (user interface) built into each tool. It also means no installs, no loading times, and no runtime updates. In this way, it combines the collaborative efficiency of top project management apps (like Basecamp or Asana) with linear, in tool pre-production tasks. It boasts collaborative features that allow filmmakers to stay connected as they make and customise production shot lists and storyboards, calendars, and trackable call sheets. Since it’s fully integrated, the script breakdown kicks off an organised pre-production flow – which leads to call sheets and production reports down the line. This is used and loved by many filmmakers in the industry, as it simplifies the input and helps to bring up the best.
  • Milanote – this is a note-taking app designed for creatives. A pasteboard-style interface holds images, colour swatches, links with previews of their web pages, and more. Users can publish the boards for others to view or share them with collaborators who can add comments or co-edit them in real time. When Milanote was first launched, it was a limited, web-only release. But it’s now available on both desktop and mobile devices, and it has a web clipper as well. It is ideal for planning moodboards and storing tonnes of ideas during the pre-production process.
  • Celtx – this started as a desktop screenwriting tool but has since gone online and collected production manager tools like scheduling, budgeting, script breakdown, and shot lists. Celtx generates project documents within the tool itself. It also includes client approvals, and shareable links to production documents. While it is good for building documents, its collaboration and sharing functionalities are limited.
  • Dramatify – this is a web and mobile-based production management solution. It includes a Facebook-inspired messaging system UI that connects to an email and contact management system which makes the communicating easier. It includes script breakdowns, stripboards, production reports, payroll tools (including time sheets), location management, and more.
  • Yamdu – Yamdu is a cloud-based film production management software. Its feature set offers pre-production tools such as breakdowns, shooting scheduling, and call sheets. It also offers task assignments, announcements, and crew management. Like Celtx, Yamdu is a good resource for generating general production documents.
  • Movie Magic Scheduling – MovieMagic Scheduling, also from Entertainment Partners, is an offline scheduling application that uses a block-style production calendar. Users can import scripts, create and view schedules, and it incorporates Stripboard functionality. This is a desktop-based programme and it has per-user installs, so it somewhat falls short in the collaborative side.
  • Final Draft – this is used by 95% of the industry and it’s the number one selling screenwriting software in the world. They recently released their newest version (Final Draft Version 12) which supports collaboration by partners on a script as well. Also, it offers a new level of flexibility to accommodate various styles of working. Its functions include “Focus Mode”, which allows users to eliminate distractions on screen as they work, and “Track Changes”, which keeps a record of script edits. A key new feature present in the Final Draft update is an oft-requested “PDF Import” function, which allows users to convert PDF files into editable Final Draft files. Final Draft’s strength is that it helps screenwriters format their scripts to industry standards. In the film and television industries, everyone on the production needs to be able to look at a script and immediately know what is a line of dialogue, versus action, versus a description of a shot, and so forth. It’s all done through rudimentary formatting.

Time and money are two of the most endangered factors in any production, and apps such as these help filmmakers manage both those and also story and crew-related details. With apps like these being continually updated, there is no doubt that more functionality will be added in time to come.

 

In 2015, filmmaking collective High School Junkies started creating short films out of passion and soon gained momentum as a film production house that championed frugal filmmaking. Their second short, EIDETIC, became the first-ever Sri Lankan film to be screened at the San Diego Comic-Con, and has subsequently been screened all over the world. They host guests from Hollywood on their webinar, Junkyard Theory.