Topsheet provides COVID-19 touchless payroll for productions
Erin Pearson
July 14, 2020

63 Best Filmmaking Software and Tools

How do you work faster and become more productive at filmmaking? You do so by using the most effective software.

At Topsheet, we have composed a list of our favorite filmmaking software. We have broken it down by categories so it will help you out in all phases of production.

Table of Contents

Screenwriting Software: Writing & Collaboration

1. Coverfly

Coverfly works to connect screenwriters and industry professionals through a database of screenplays and competition placements, searchable by industry professionals who are looking for fresh talent.

Coverfly offers a “Coverfly Score” which is made up of an average of all your screenplay competitions across most of the major industry writing competitions and hosting services making it easier for industry professionals, who have been carefully vetted by Coverfly, to discover your work. Coverfly also offers Peer-to-Peer Script Notes, Open Writing Assignments where you can submit directly to producers who are looking for a specific type of project, your own Writer Profile and an Educational blog with tips to help you improve your skills.

2. The Black List

The Black List helps you get discovered by industry professionals. Upload your screenplay and receive evaluations by professionals with tips to improve your story. Every December since 2005, the Black List has released its annual list of the most liked (by film executives) unproduced screenplays for that year. With so many screenplays flooding the market every year, it’s easy for gems to fall through the cracks. The Black List works to highlight some of those gems. Some of the films on past lists have included Oscar winners like The King’s Speech, Argo, and Juno. ​

3. Final Draft

Final Draft is known as the screenwriting software the professionals use. If you are just getting into screenwriting, consider trying out some free or less expensive options to begin with to make sure, for you, screenwriting is what you really want to do. Final Draft is not cheap, but there is a reason why most, if not all, industry professionals choose to write with Final Draft. It has all the bells and whistles and easily integrates with Movie Magic Budgeting which is another industry staple. ​

4. Launch Pad

Launch Pad has helped over 300 writers launch their careers through the utilization of three competitions- pilots, features and manuscripts. Launch Pad offers advanced coverage services and a community of writers, executives, agents, managers, and producers. ​

5. Writerduet

Writerduet was built with collaboration in mind. With features like real-time co-writing, intuitive commenting and in-app video chat and text makes working with your writing team that much more fluid. Their screenwriting software offers perfect formatting, stats, reports, production tools, and compatibility with most file types. Outlining is made easy with brainstorming tools that help you organize your thoughts and create with a mind map and scene cards. Additionally, Writerduet is cloud-based so you can work from any device with auto-sync, mobile device and online-offline desktop app. Writerduet has affordable options for every type of writer. From a free plan to several low-priced monthly subscription plans, it should be easy to find the right fit for you. ​

6. Celtx

Celtx gives you 3 free scripts with limited bells and whistles before they ask you to pay for a subscription. As far as a free option, to begin with, it’s pretty good. Their scriptwriting is intuitive and uses industry-standard formatting for film and TV, short-form video, theatre and interactive narratives along with many story development tools. Celtx also offers storyboards, index cards, in-line script breakdowns to identify everything you’ll need for your production quickly and much more.

7. Highland 2

Highland 2 boast that it was made by writers, for writers. Founded by John August, writer of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Big Fish, Aladdin, and the Arlo Finch book series. The app is free to download from the Mac App store (in-app purchases cost $49.99) with an unlimited free trial. ​

8. StudioBinder

StudioBinder offers industry-standard screenwriting software where you can go from script to shooting schedules, shot lists, breakdown reports and more. You can sync and resync your script whenever you want to make changes and instantly update across all features. Their predictive features auto-complete, offer keyboard shortcuts, and auto-save your scripts. ​

II. Gear Rental

1. KitSplit

KitSplit is known as the Airbnb for cameras. With KitSplit, you rent from individuals so prices can be negotiated and gear owners can be found across the country.

On KitSplit, you’ll find high quality, fully-insured production gear. KitSplit boasts over 50,000 gear listings, more than 5000 gear owners, and over 100,000 completed rentals. This is a great place to rent gear for your film or to rent out your gear to other filmmakers when you aren’t using it. ​

2. ShareGrid

ShareGrid is a location-based gear rental company that helps you find gear close to you. If you are in need of a last-minute rental or are getting ready for a quick shoot, you’ll easily be able to find cameras, drones, lenses, etc from insured and peer-reviewed renters near you. ShareGrid is also a great place to share your own equipment, when you aren’t using it, for a profit. ​

3. LensRentals

LensRentals offers a wide selection of cameras like Sony, Canon, Fuji, Leica, and Nikon. LensRentals requires a minimum of one-day rental and is a more affordable option than some of the larger production rental houses. ​

4. Parachut

Parachut offers a unique solution to equipment rentals. Parachut is a subscription-based platform that matches you to the right gear for your project. For starters, at a monthly fee of $249, you can get up to three items in your hand to work with. Once you’re finished with your kit, you can exchange it for a new one. ​


1. Topsheet

​ Topsheet offers a full-stack solution for entertainment payroll services, production management, scheduling, call sheets, and more. With Topsheet, you have the power to manage your crew with ease. Schedule, hire, update, or release crew members at the tap of a button. You’ll have everything you need to effortlessly create, update, track, and distribute call sheets to your crew in seconds. Yes, it’s 100% free. Forever. You can track your crew’s hours, adjustments, and union standards seamlessly. Pay your crew on time, directly deposited into their bank account. Topsheet offers the fastest entertainment production payroll paired with W4 and W9 support.


Before you get started on your crowdfunding campaign, do your research. What projects - similar to yours - have been successful in reaching their fundraising goals? What did they do that worked and what didn’t? What kind of marketing can you do to help drive traffic to your crowdfunding page?

We recommend a combination of push and pull marketing. Build a website with highly searched terms surrounding your project’s topic and start a YouTube channel to draw in a portion of your audience. For the rest of your audience, it’ll take a little more leg work.

Use sites like Facebook business to find your target audience and their interests, join forums on related topics, and engage in conversations with them.

Crowdfunding itself can be a great way to get your audience excited for your project and a form of the advertisement itself, but you have to make sure you get people to your page first.

Carefully formulate your plan then execute it! And stay in contact with your supporters, update them on your progress. They may continue to support you throughout your career or they may give to your campaign multiple times as they see you moving forward. ​

1. Kickstarter

Kickstarter is an all or nothing crowdfunding site. You must reach your financial goal in order to see any of the money your champions pledge to your project. Keep in mind, Kickstarter takes a small cut of your earnings, so make sure to budget for that.

Give your audience the information they need to get excited about your project. A well-made trailer, storyboards, interviews with the director, producers, cast and crew explaining the idea behind the story can help your audience envision the end result and compel them to give to your campaign.

2. Indiegogo

Indiegogo tends to have more of an indie film focus and, you have the ability to receive all the funds donated to your campaign- whether or not you reach your full goal. Indiegogo takes 9% of your earnings if you don’t meet your goal and only 4% if you do, so be sure to factor that into your fundraising costs. ​

3. GoFundMe

GoFundMe tends to focus more on cause-based funding, so this may be a great platform for documentaries that bring awareness to issues around the world. ​

4. Slated

Slated is an attention-grabbing site that focuses on the networking and relationship building aspect that other crowdfunding campaigns can offer. Their network of high net-worth investors is looking for films with budgets of over $500,000. No money is transferred through Slated.

5. Patreon

Patreon gives you the freedom to do your best work, and the stability you need to build an independent creative career through the monthly revenue given to you by your patrons. Creators provide their backers with updates, community, and exclusive bonus content of their ongoing work. Patreon keeps 5, 8, or 12% of your monthly earnings through their platform based on the package you choose.

Casting & Finding Crew

1. LAcasting

LAcasting is known for its vast number of members, making it easy for casting directors, talent agents, and film producers to find their talent in the Los Angeles area. ​

2. Backstage

Backstage has a database of more than 250,000 actors that allows you to filter by age, gender, union status, and location. Actors can find gigs and filmmakers can find talent. Backstage makes it easy to message and manage your talent right from the site. ​

3. Breakdown Services

Breakdown Services has been committed to providing services to casting directors, talent representatives, and actors since 1971. Breakdown Services is part of a family of companies including Actors Access, CastingAbout, The Creative Index, Talent Link, and Showfax. Their database consists of over 845,000 actors and the release of over 43,000 breakdowns annually. ​

Production Management: Budgeting & Scheduling

1. Topsheet

Topsheet gives you the power to manage your crew with ease. At the tap of a button, you can: hire, schedule, give permissions, update or release your crew, making workforce management just that easy! When you have a film or project ready for hiring simply create your project on our app and invite your crew using just their position and phone number. You also have the power to give permission to crew members to manage call sheets, time cards, or crew, from their own devices.

Topsheet provides everything production companies need to effortlessly: create, update, track, notify, and distribute call sheets to your cast and crew. PLUS, “nearest hospital” and “weather report for the day” are automatically generated based on the location of the shoot. Simply create a call sheet, enter the pertinent information, add notes that allow you to communicate to your entire set instantly, notifying them of any updates and select the users you want to send it to. They will receive their call sheets instantly on their mobile devices.

Using Topsheet to digitally distribute time cards allows production management to track your crew’s hours, add adjustments, add union standards, create your own standards for groups or individuals, sign and approve easily.

Topsheet provides you with the fastest entertainment production payroll paired with W4 and W9 support and direct deposit. We process payroll 25x faster than paper-and-pen production payroll companies. We offer a suite of tools to service your films, television, new media, and commercials.

2. StudioBinder

StudioBinder is known for its easy to use interface. Stidiobinder offers software for screenwriting, call sheets, shooting schedules, breakdowns, storyboards, shot lists, contact management, and other project management tools.

3. Movie Magic Scheduling & Budgeting

Movie Magic Scheduling has been the go-to industry standard for many years. Their traditional approach to film scheduling and budgeting streamlines the process and generates reports for identifying budgeting issues. Movie Magic has long been known for its easy integration with Final Draft.

4. Assemble

Assemble helps you sync your entire team with a production calendar that adapts to your project. You can save your most common tasks and drag and drop for a quick calendar building. Assign tasks to team members, shift timelines, and automatically notify your team of the changes made. You can organize your project by the department and track approvals. Assemble makes communicating with your team easy with feedback threads and private feedback threads as well as shareable review links.

5. Preprocloud

Preprocloud is a cloud-based software option that is easy to use for line-item budgets and allows for quick, unlimited, and free bidding. A one-time fee is charged per activation and is due after the bid has been awarded. You can create and save unlimited bids, modify line items, collaborate with users, manage your budget, visualize real-time metrics and variances, email, and download reports.

Film Editing

1. Final Cut

Final Cut is an Apple product that allows you to edit more complex projects and work with larger frame sizes, higher frame rates, and more effects. It’s built to harness the extreme power of the new Mac Pro for next-level performance. ​

2. Wipster

Wipster is a review and collaboration software for creative teams. Wipster is useful if you are approving a high volume of videos every month. You can gather feedback on your videos, VFX, graphic design, music, and much more. Wipster works with Brightcove, Vimeo, Wistia, Slack, Dropbox, and Adobe.

3. Adobe Premiere

Adobe Premiere offers creative tools, integration with other apps and services, and is considered to be the leading video editing software for film, television, and new media in the industry. Adobe Sensei helps you turn your footage into professional films and videos. Premiere Rush allows you to create and edit new projects from any device. ​

Social Networking

1. Stage 32

Stage 32 A.K.A. “LinkedIn for film, television, and theater” is free to sign up and get started. The interface is similar to that of Facebook and focuses on education and networking for filmmakers. Over a half-million film, television and theater creatives from around the world are part of the Stage 32 community and members are made up of students to Academy, Emmy, and Tony award winners. The education consists of over 1000 hours worth of resources provided by more than 500 industry executives from around the world.

2. Slated

Slated is primarily a social tool that connects investors to projects. Through Slated you can set up meetings with producers who may be interested in your film. Slated is a great networking tool.

3. Facebook Groups

Facebook is made up of more than 1.9 billion users and has groups for every niche under the sun. In the search bar, you can look for screenwriting groups, cinematographers, directors, make-up artists, literally anything you can think of. You might even consider joining groups created for people who love specific genres of film that you can bounce ideas off of and build your fan base.

4. Instagram

Instagram is a great place to build a fanbase for your film, production company, or for yourself as a creative. With proper tagging and content, you can gain the visibility you need to become successful. ​

5. Movidiam

Movidiam instantly connects you to producers, other freelancers, and filmmakers on the site when you upload your videos. It’s a great place to connect with other creatives as it is a curated network of the world's leading strategic, creative, and production talent. The platform has been designed as a one-stop to discover, network, and hire the right team for your project. ​

6. YouTube

YouTube has grown into a video hosting space with almost one billion users. It is a great place to build your audience with behind the scenes videos of your process, trailers, and extra features or to upload your feature film itself.

7. Vimeo

Vimeo is very popular amongst indie filmmakers and Vimeo submissions are often accepted by film festivals.

8. ProductionBeast

ProductionBeast is another networking tool where you can create your own profile and connect with other film industry professionals. You can connect your IMDb page and link it to a production company. Additionally, this is a great space for hiring your crew.


1. Film Hub

Film Hub is a digital marketplace for connecting finished films to their audiences. Film Hub allows filmmakers to upload their films for free, while streaming channels discover, order, and stream your work worldwide. Once revenue starts flowing, 80% goes to you. No deductions or fees. That's it. ​

2. YouTube

YouTube is very commonly used for film and television distribution. Whether you are a novice or an accomplished filmmaker, YouTube has a huge market of nearly one billion users. If marketed well, your film or series could be seen by millions. ​

3. Vimeo

Vimeo, like YouTube, makes film distribution a breeze. You may not make as much from adding your film to these platforms, but millions of people view videos here daily. By using Vimeo’s design feature, marketing tool, and statistics, you can strategize your release and find your audience with relative ease. If your goal is to be seen, Vimeo is a great place to start. ​

4. Reelhouse

Reelhouse is another online marketplace where you can host your project, market, and sell merchandise. Reelhouse offers a fair hosting fee and is a great place to distribute your projects.

Stock Footage

1. Dissolve

Dissolve lets you search for stock footage by themes like, “handcrafted”, “symmetry”, “social distancing”, “tropical destinations”, “static streets”, and many more. Dissolve also offers a slew of stock photography.

2. Shutterstock

Shutterstock has a wide variety of stock footage and photos and the price is based on the resolution.​

3. Pond5

Pond5 offers high-quality video, music, sound effects, after effects, images, and 3D models that can work with any budget. Filter by resolution, price, specialty and more to find exactly what you are looking for.

4. ArtGrid

ArtGrid has committed to providing high-quality cinematic footage from Arri, Red, and Phantom in formats from raw to 8k. Their package prices range from $24.92- $49.92/month and are well worth the cost. Any footage that is downloaded with an active subscription can be used in perpetuity. They will never ask for additional fees in the future or that your video be removed from circulation even after your subscription expires. Once you download footage with a subscription it's licensed to use forever.

1. Clerky

Clerky assists the “do it yourself” type in all things legal as far as forming your own company or working with IP. Clerky boasts that they are the only online legal service obsessed with helping startup founders get legal paperwork done safely. ​

2. Legalzoom

Legalzoom has helped more than 2 million companies get their start. Whether you are setting up an LLC, S Corp, C Corp, Non-Profit, EIN, or don’t even know what is best for your business, LegalZoom is a great place to start. ​

3. DocuSign

DocuSign is a great platform for automating and connecting the entire agreement process. DocuSign can set you and your partners up with electronic signatures, streamline agreement generation, review and approval, and much more. A suite o

4. HelloSign

HelloSign is an eSigning solution that is easy to use and helps to streamline the process of signing contracts and other documents for your productions. ​

5. Upcounsel

UpCounsel has a database of over 5,000 experienced lawyers that you can choose from to fit your legal needs. When running a production, it’s best to know the law so you can avoid pitfalls that could derail your project. Get started by telling them about your business and legal needs. It only takes a minute and your information is strictly confidential.

6. Adobe Fill & Sign

Adobe Fill & Sign is a free app that streamlines the paperwork process and enhances productivity with contracts, business documents, and more. You can fill, sign, and send any form quickly and reliably. You can even take a picture of the document you need to sign and fill it out on your phone or tablet, e-sign, and send.


1. Helios Sun and Moon Position Calculator

Helios Sun and Moon Position allows cinematographers, photographers, designers, etc to pinpoint the position of the sun, moon, and stars and add in light simulations so you can visualize exactly what shots will look like at any location at any time of the year or day. Helios creates a 3D mesh of the surrounding terrain so you can see how the light will change over the course of the day over the hills, mountains, and valleys.

Through the use of OpenStreetMap, city photographers can see how the light will strike the buildings through their 3D reconstruction of the buildings and streets. Helios works without a network connection, so you can see what you are working with, even when you are filming in the middle of nowhere. They use 7 modes to track the sun; HelioMeter, Virtual Sun View, Sun Path View, Map View, Sky View, Inclinometer, and Compass. Helios is compatible with iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and requires iOS 8.0 or later.

2. AJA DataCalc

​AJA DataCalc helps you calculate how many GB or TB of storage you will need based on the information you enter, like RAW or ProRes, a number of frames, days, or hours, so you can make sure you are prepared. ​

3. Sun Seeker

Sun Seeker is a solar tracking and compass app for the iPhone and Android that maps the sun’s path for each time of day. It shows the sun’s hourly direction intervals, equinox, winter and summer solstice paths, sunrise/sunset times, twilight, golden hour, and more. By using this app, you can better plan out each of your shots. ​

4. pCam Film + Digital Pro

pCam Film + Digital Pro requires iOS 8 or later and includes Color Correction, Diopter, Time Lapse, Underwater Distance, Beam Intensity, Conversion Calculator, Depth of Field, Field of View, Angle of View, Sensor Sizes, Focal Length Matching, Exposure, Shooting to Screen Time, HMI Flicker-Free, Light Coverage, Focus Chart, Insert Slate, and more.

5. Shot Lister

Shot Lister is an organizational tool that lets you schedule and categorizes your shots and determines what type of gear you will need. Shot Lister iOS is free and comes with all the features you will need to create your shot list and build a comprehensive schedule for your shoot. The free version is limited to two projects at one time. Easily organize & store hundreds of scenes and thousands of shots with the flick of a finger.

Create a shooting schedule on a shot by shot and minute by minute basis. Rearrange scenes in Stripboard view and easily check what still needs to be shot or scheduled. Use “Live” production mode to see exactly how you are doing to the minute and reorganize the day in a matter of seconds. Shot Lister is fully customizable, supports multicam options, offers a desktop option than can import directly from Excel or Numbers, share and dropbox PDFs, sync with other Shot Lister users, import scripts, add storyboards and circle your best takes to export the data in SHL or PDF.

6. Digital Cinema Pocket Guides

Digital Cinema has the guides of 30 different cameras so you can quickly find the right one for you, no need to spend hours searching online.

7. FiLMiC

FiLMiC is a mobile app that can be found in the App Store or on Google Play. This professional tool offers high-level functions like temperature and tint controls, frame rates, and focus peaking. It’s easy to use and great for the low budget filmmaker. You’ll have full control over focus, exposure, white balance and so much more. FiLMiC boasts Sundance and Cannes level quality.

Post Production

1. Final Cut Pro X

Final Cut Pro X is an Apple product that comes with VFX. Final Cut is easy to use and budget-friendly and offers advanced color grading, HDR support, and ProRes RAW. ​

2. Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Creative Cloud allows you to edit footage in any format, from 8K to virtual reality. Adobe Creative Cloud offers software and video editing options like Premiere Pro that works seamlessly with other apps and services, including Photoshop, After Effects, Adobe Audition, and Adobe Stock and Animate or integrate with hundreds of third-party extensions. ​

3. DaVinci Resolve

DaVinci Resolve combines professional 8K editing, color correction, visual effects, and audio post-production all in one software tool. Easily move between editing, color, effects, and audio with a single click. DaVinci Resolve Studio is also designed for multi-user collaboration so editors, assistants, colorists, VFX artists, and sound designers can all work live on the same project at the same time. ​

4. integrates with Adobe Premiere and After Effects, Final Cut X, and Slack, for a streamlined video collaboration experience. Their cloud-based collaboration platform enables you to stay connected with all your teammates through videos, images, and more. ​

5. Wipster

Wipster is a review and collaboration software for creative teams. Wipster is useful if you are approving a high volume of videos every month. You can gather feedback on your videos, VFX, graphic design, music, and much more. Wipster works with Brightcove, Vimeo, Wistia, Slack, Dropbox, and Adobe.

About Topsheet

Topsheet is an entertainment tech company specializing in production payroll. We service clients from commercials for Fortune 500 to feature films. We are born in technology, built with filmmakers in mind.

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