“Creatively, producing is all about coming up with ideas and helping others bring their ideas to life.”Sarah Schutzki
From the time a film is merely a word document on a laptop screen to the second it graces the big screen—a producer’s work is never done. For one, the lengthy process of film production requires a meticulous eye for detail every step of the way. Guiding a nugget of an idea from its inception to becoming a full-fledged film is by no means a small feat.
We spoke with some award-winning producers and production companies, compiling a list of the best all-around tools to set your work up for success. Whether in pre-production, on set, or in post, here are some ways to keep each step of the process as streamlined as possible.
Shot Designer App
Dramatically speed up the process of making camera diagrams using the Hollywood Camera Work app Shot Designer. Using the app, it’s ridiculously easy to block complex scenes, integrate storyboards, and animate your characters and cameras around your diagram in real time. And when you change a camera in your diagram, it automatically updates your shot list! It’s never been easier to pre-visualize the rhythm of your scene by seeing it play out before you’re on set.
When it comes to finding acting talent, you’re no longer beholden to the audition processes of yesteryear. Try a remote audition service like Backstage for your talent needs. Search for local actors and talent, or post a casting call to reach thousands of actors, performers, or crew. Having sourced for Netflix, Disney, features and TV, it’s safe to say Backstage is an incredible resource for producers working on all kinds of projects.
As you’re making a plan, don’t overthink the way you work. Google provides free tools that may feel obvious, but are available to everyone and can get the job done. Sarah told us: “I generally use Google Drive for everything: tracking ideas, building out copy portions of briefs, prepping shoots and schedules, sharing reference images and presentations.” And she isn’t alone. The team at Stept Studios told us the same thing, saying they use “Google everything”. “We have all our meetings on Meet. We use GDrive, GMail, and Google Calendars.”
When it comes to budgets, you don’t need a CPA to help you build and maintain. Try a software like Showbiz Budgeting, a versatile way for you to actualize your film budget — large or small — at a detailed level. There are built-in tools allowing you to track purchase orders, payroll, and more. When production is complete, you’ll receive a production report to make your wrap package look sharp. It’s the first and last film budgeting program you’ll ever need, creating capacity for you to focus on other aspects of production.
Simply put, StudioBinder provides you a better way to manage your production. Their team knows the ins and outs of production work, and has created a platform that allows you to create call sheets, adjust scripts, and build out storyboards and shot lists in real-time. StudioBinder also helps you manage shooting schedules and provides collaborative workspaces for team members. Now you can have that seamless production workflow, all in one place.
When it comes to gear rental, ShareGrid will help ease your time and budget. Instead of negotiating exorbitant rates with rental houses, ShareGrid gives you access to peer-reviewed rental equipment from individuals or vendors based on your location. They’ve worked hard to provide a platform where you have access to the tools you need so you can get back to focusing on your craft.
Filmsupply offers footage licensing you can stake your reputation on. Our vast library of award-winning footage will help bring the most innovative ideas to life, meeting your creative standards — and exceeding client expectations.
Beyond representing the most creative filmmakers in the business, our platform is built with your process in mind. You can track down the perfect shot with our intuitive filters, explore more clips from the same scene or shoot, and take advantage of our complimentary footage research. It’s all there to streamline your process and make your work better than ever.
For practical needs like transcribing audio from a shoot, try a platform like Trint. It’s an audio transcription software that, as the production team at 5S puts it, will save you “…countless hours of transcription and editing induced headaches.” Using artificial intelligence to transcribe both audio and video, Trint can make your project searchable, editable, and shareable.
There’s no better way to review rough cuts and drafts with your team and clients than with Frame.io. Frame.io’s interface is simple and intuitive, allowing you and your team to leave comments and mark up frames in video files. Their software plays friendly with Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, and After Effects, and with the ability to mark up stills, it’s great for treatment reviews too.
Our good friends at Frame.io never rest when it comes to improving their platform, and their cloud-based service is the epitome of convenience for filmmakers.
A producer isn’t exempt from needing creative breakthrough in their work. Step away from the practical, and find inspiration in the act of creating. The production team at 5S Content told us they have annual memberships to Montreal’s contemporary art museum. “It’s a must to explore alternative ways of creation and communication, while recharging our own creative batteries.”
Another form of creative inspiration can come through reading. TBWA\Chiat\Day Creative Director Zoe Kessler told us she turns to Anthony Burrill’s book, Make it Now! for inspiration. “When I get stuck, flipping through this legendary book helps a ton.” Burrill’s book is chock-full of creative inspiration and execution and applies the principle every producer should remember: find inspiration outside of your project.
As an alternative to inspiration-hunting on Instagram, try a platform like Designspiration. They’re a platform built for cultivating creativity, featuring palette and color explore pages as well as a new, unique color search feature. Sites like this become a great resource for creating mood boards and developing pitches.
Every producer we talked to had their own unique approach to how they consistently deliver great work. And it wasn’t always about big budgets or the latest software.
5S has found an organization hack that’s easy and effective: sticky numbers from Amazon. “It’s a low-tech alternative to classify stacks of hard-drives neatly. Paired with a solid spreadsheet, digging up content from the past has never been easier.”
Stept Studios knows a good playlist can boost morale as the day wears on. “After 5pm, it could be anywhere from rap to country on the speakers… or sports on the big screen!” If you’re looking for some playlists of your own, take a listen to Musicbed’s curated playlists, which gives you the opportunity to license your favorite songs in your project.
While this isn’t an exhaustive list, all of these tools and tips will help you more confidently and efficiently produce a film. How you do your work matters and, by freeing up your time and energy, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to soak in the incredible experience of bringing a film to life.
Read our interview with TCO London’s Senior Producer Josh Hillman about producing under pressure.