Anything Goes : Apps to help with preproduction? by Dan Fearing

Dan Fearing

Apps to help with preproduction?

Hey everyone, What apps do you use for preproduction? These are my top apps that I use in the App Store ShotPro: Previs app Scriptly: Script making app Shot Designer: Blueprint of shots

Vasco Phillip de Sousa

OpenOffice or Microsoft Office: budgeting and some scheduling and contracts. Zoho Docs and Google Docs can be used to share and collaborate, as can Microsoft Office online. I usually build my own templates as Calc and Excel are pretty powerful. Most of it I do on paper. I find apps too restrictive when it comes to storyboarding and production boards. But I have experimented with Maya and Blender and even Daz and Poser for visualization. (Maya's expensive but cool.) I write the final drafts of screenplays in Movie Magic (or, if requested, I also have Final Draft and a few other relics), but that's usually finished before pre-production. The rough drafts can be done on paper, or as treatments in any word processing program.

Vasco Phillip de Sousa

I also know people who use Movie Magic Scheduler and Budgeter, or Chimpanzee or Gorilla from Jungle Software. I tried Chimpanzee, and my main complaint was that it the window didn't fit on the screen for the computer I was using. Jungle Software has other pre-production software that looks very useful.

Simon © Simon

Vasco, Would you share a screen grab of one of your Excel spread sheets. I could use the head start on creating a template to price out my Indy. Really appreciate it if you do not mind. It may have foresight and layout you have found conducive.

Vasco Phillip de Sousa

Simon, I'm sorry that I can't share any financial details, as they are confidential. This blog post uses part of a screenshot from a topsheet to a budget I wrote in an online spreadsheet. It leaves out insurance, general expenses (accounting, overheads, etc), post production (editing, music, effects if there are any), and financing expenses. You can find sample budgets in most film budgeting and scheduling books. I tried to use one as a template, but found you really have to know your project first. Anyway, each script has its own unique budget. You basically need to start with a script breakdown. Estimate six to eight weeks to prepare a budget, schedule, and related items if you do it properly, especially for your first project. (That's after you've done the storyboard.) If you don't have time for all that, it might be an idea to look for development funding.

Vasco Phillip de Sousa

If you found that useful Simon, perhaps you'd also like to see a cost breakdown of a crowd funded documentary. (Excuse the film's title, no pun intended: ) As you can see, there are legal costs to consider, and it really depends on the project and how you intend to film it. Not all projects have the same lines, for instance digital films don't have film stock and processing, but need cards and storage media. I like the fact that the budget you shared had a line for rehearsals, I never saw that before. I'm guessing that's the cost of the rehearsal room. However, I didn't see anything for marketing (festival entry and attendance, press releases, etc), so I'm assuming that went under the general tab. My last budget went over 60 pages, and the top sheet really didn't say much.

Lisa Blaney


Andrew Kennedy

Hello Dan,

This is an old thread, and responses seem focussed on financials rather than tools to explore and test production ideas, but previs tools are very relevant for us now with virtual production techniques proliferating under the auspices of democratising filmmaking, but actually not necessarily making things technically easier or less expensive.

Those technical barriers were the subject of a successful four year R&D project that we finished at the end of 2019. It was to research, design, develop, evaluate, and showcase natural user interfaces that improve previsualisation in film, animation, and the performing arts, and the we have been productising the results since then into 'FirstStage' - a VR-based collaborative previsualisation tool.

So, if your ask back in 2015 when we started the research was not just about financial tools, then FirstStage could very much be of interest. It would be great for us if you could check it out (, and I would welcome talking to you about what your needs for previs and preproduction tools now, and whether we could support them.

Hope to hear from you! Best, Andrew

Mike Gasaway

Filmatick! It is new to the market but it is revolutionary.

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