Top 5 Best Film Budgeting Software in 2020
Creating a film budget is one of the most integral parts of the filmmaking process. A well-executed budget and your ability to adhere to the budget can spell the disaster or the success of your film or television show.
We have all seen the films that look like they were filmed on a really low budget and we have all seen the films that were filmed on a huge budget and still tanked. The size of the budget is only part of the success. Creative solutions and wise budgeting are the real skeleton keys.
Film budgets can be thought broken down into four main cost categories:
- Other costs
Above the Line
Above-the-Line consists of costs determined or spent before filmmaking and usually include screenplay rights and salaries of top talent like actors, directors, and producers. As well as paying for the casting director, screenwriter, and others involved in the high level financial and the creative direction of the feature film or tv series.
Below the Line
Below-the-Line refers to cast, crew members and production team who don’t fall into the “above-the-line” category as well as direct production costs.
Post-production includes things like sound and video editing.
Other consists of things like film insurance and completion bonds.
5 Best Film Budgeting Software
One of the best ways to achieve a well-budgeted film is to use film budgeting software. We have compiled a list of the best film budgeting software on the market today.
Movie Magic Budgeting is known as the industry standard for their budgeting and scheduling software that helps you with production management. Movie Magic Budgeting helps with calculations, estimating costs, and sharing information with your team.
Movie Magic Budgeting format may be what everyone is used to, but some complained that the interface was outdated, not user friendly and it’s rather expensive. But it seems they have listened to their clientele and have recently updated their software. They’re still expensive, but Movie Magic Budgeting now boasts of:
- Improved interface
- Simplified workflow
- Updated “Find and Replace” feature
- Central online storage location
- Revised sub-budget for starting budgets without starting over
- Saved budgets even when offline
- Set up libraries for quicker budget creation
- Fringes, groups, globals, and location can be saved
Movie Magic Budgeting features include a lot of educational resources for using their product, a student discount, and tons of budget templates. This software also comes with some helpful features like automatically adding fringes and allowing the user to apply for tax credits. And because it’s the industry standard, you won’t have to worry about compatibility issues when sending your budget and schedules to producers.
ShowBiz Budgeting is Media Services’ answer to Entertainment Partners’ Movie Magic Budgeting. While it may not be the “industry standard”, this is still a highly useful and easy-to-use budgeting tool that is used primarily for television. The moderately high cost of $399 may well be worth it for you.
Showbiz Budgeting features:
- Tracks cost against budgeting estimates
- Easy to use
- Actualize your budget to keep track of spending
- Film budget calculator
- Tracks purchase orders, payroll, and petty cash
- Creates production reports
- Share an install
- Fringes, global and sub-groups
- Multi-city or multi-county budget comparisons
- Split budget into segments
- Print detailed reports or make it a PDF
- Import from Movie Magic Budgeting, Point Zero, and Powerbid
Gorilla Budgeting Software is a great choice for the indie filmmaker who doesn’t want to spend a ton of money on budgeting software ($249) but also wants to have software that meets all of their film budgeting needs. While free options like Google Sheets or Excel can be a cost-effective option, the time required to format your film budget using those free options may not be worth it.
Gorilla Budgeting software is similar to that of Movie Magic or Showbiz and helps to budget things like fringes, tax credits, and globals. Gorilla Budgeting is also more user friendly - even for the beginner. Gorilla Budgeting offers extensive walkthroughs on how to use all of their software. Some of the benefits include:
- Import schedule
- Global rates
- Tax credits
- User friendly
- Add-on union rate book
- Easy to read layout
- Easily integrates with their other film software
Celtx is an all-in-one production software that is used- not only, for budgeting, but also for screenwriting, scheduling, call sheets, and more. Their low monthly subscription cost is very appealing to the indie filmmaker, as well as the option to go from script to shoot using the same software. Celtx is easy to use and includes many features like:
- Scheduling software
- Screenwriting software
- Easy to use interface
- Fully integrated with screenwriting software that has a script breakdown function that itemizes by department then adds them to your Celtx budgeting software.
Since Celtx is strictly cloud-based now, they no longer have a desktop app, so you’ll need to have internet access to use it. This can be a little tricky if you’re out and about or on location, but with Hotspots becoming more and more common and signals getting stronger as technology develops, it’s not likely to remain a “problem” for long. And at only $29.99 per month, it might be worth the internet shuffle.
5. Hot Budget
Hot Budget is primarily geared toward commercials and has quickly become the industry standard for commercial budgeting software. Hot Budget was built to help you win the bid with their easy to create and clean to read top sheet. Some of their main features include:
- Commercial focus
- User friendly
- Easy importing. Time cards can be uploaded straight into the payroll log.
Hot Budget is an affordable commercial budgeting tool that costs a mere $100 annually and offers discounts for those who use their production rentals company, Hot Bricks. Unfortunately, Hot Budget is not cloud-based and is desktop software- which gives you the freedom and ability to not need internet access, but you can only access it from one computer.
Alternative Options for Film Budgeting
If your budget for budgeting software is $0, you might consider some alternatives to the fancy movie budgeting software.
StudioBinder offers a free budget template, boasting that it “works as well as the top budget software”. Their budget template is a free alternative. This template is user friendly and helps you start organizing your development and pre-production.
Google offers a highly shareable design with all of its products. Google Drive, Google Sheets, and Google Docs are all easy to use and share.
You can give permissions to view, edit, or comment by creating free accounts for all of your producing team members. You can create your own film budget template, download a free one you find online, or a film budget template that has been handed down to you by your mentor or one you got a hold of in film school.
While this option is free and you can upload a film budget template, there is no integration, meaning, nothing will auto-populate. Additionally, there is more leg-work involved.
Spreadsheets, in general, are clunky and not appealing, if you are not the type of person who can happily zoom around a spreadsheet, this may be more of a headache than the “free” price tag is worth.