Movie Magic, Gorilla? Is there an economical subscription based software out there?
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Here's my opinion and advice, for what it's worth: Your choice of (any) software is usually based on economic factors first, followed by habit or preference, but MovieMagic Budgeting is industry standard in the way that Final Draft is industry standard, micro-budget or not. Can you draft a script with Celtx or some other free program? Sure. Will it be looked on favorably by the more established in the industry? Unfortunately, my 21 years in this business says, "no. It won't." In this business, as I'm sure you know, perception is everything and even at the indie (or micro-budget) level, one needs to have a "Fake It 'Til You Make It" attitude. MM and Final Draft cost a lot of money, but they're professional grade formats. Your having paid to get them (assuming you paid and didn't get a cracked software license) is considered to be your form of commitment to the particular job - just as many people won't take actors seriously who haven't found a way to jump through all the hoops required to join SAG-AFTRA. I learned the hard way. I bought Showbiz years ago, and pulling it up on my computer got me looked at as if I'd just created a template in Excel... which I'd also done years before I ever bought Showbiz. In short, I looked like a newbie, and one doesn't want to be perceived that way for long. What you also need to consider in terms of practicality is that, as the process moves down the track, others may (and likely will) need to take over and adjust your budget... whether it's another producer (Line Producer or EP), a UPM or an accountant... and nothing makes people frown like finding out that you used Gorilla or Showbiz when they're all on MM. There may be some sort of conversion software out there somewhere, but that stuff is usually glitchy (dropping or incorrectly converting certain elements) and your team will likely just have to input everything from scratch. (Ugh!) If you plan on producing as a career, get MM. If you're experimenting... or just putting a toe in the waters of producing, you might be fine with one of the cheaper programs. For me? Once I got MM, I never looked back. It was infinitely better than any others I'd tried. Best of luck to you, Mike.
You're 100% right. There is a big push for subscription type software and I was looking for an MM alternative but I haven't found one.
I agree with Shaun. Grow through each project make it a stepping stone to the next; unless you can't afford it at the time, use the industry standard tools. Beyond that, I would recommend completing a budget by plugging in the "real life" values of your cast, crew, locations, etc. and helping those vested in the project to see where things would/should have been financially. This further gives you an edge when you talk to investors later on this or other projects when you can provide true values in the discussion.
I would just add that filmmaking is a collaborative art - if one wants to run everything, perhaps one ought to go into painting. I would also say that any producer looking to be the sole individual in charge of every aspect will find themselves facing an uphill battle and soon, things will inevitably fall through the cracks. Redundancy helps in film. Producers and Director to AD's and so on and so forth.
Don and Shaun thank you for your input. Right on point. Hope others can also benefit.