Norman Berns of ReelGrok, the website “Where Filmmakers Get It,” has reviewed several of the programs available for indie filmmakers to schedule and budget their movie projects. He reviews Movie Magic, Showbiz, Gorilla, Hot Budget, and scenechronize.
Despite its advanced age, Movie Magic (https://www.reelgrok.com/review-detail.cfm?rid=8) remains the feature film budgeting/scheduling choice at most studios. While quite workable, the stodgy studio standards creak under the weight of an aging interface, unfixed problems, and a plethora of workarounds. Many filmmakers continue to use it. Some swear by it, others at it; many continue due to inertia and studio demands.
The best programs were the long-gone duo from Axium (https://www.reelgrok.com/review-detail.cfm?rid=6) which I still use. When the company crashed and burned, their software was scarfed up and locked away by Entertainment Partners. Despite many requests, the amazing Axium code was never used in Movie Magic. There’s word that much of the thinking that went into that software may be resurrected by Ease Entertainment, but I haven’t worked with a copy of that yet.
That leaves three outstanding programs to choose.
Showbiz (https://www.reelgrok.com/review-detail.cfm?rid=7) is a great program in its own right and something of a chameleon, shifting seamlessly from full-blown AICP forms to feature films to an absolutely amazing layout for episodics. While still lagging (unfairly) as the first choice for features, Showbiz seems to be the goto program for TV productions. It’s ability to track actual costs against budget estimates puts it way over the top in usefulness.
Gorilla (https://www.reelgrok.com/review-detail.cfm?rid=147) – despite a recent rewrite designed to position it for mainstream features – remains the all-in-one choice for smaller indie films. Its one-stop-shop approach makes it ideal for smaller films that need to be self-contained. The company has been especially responsive to users’ needs and requests.
If your film is small enough to work with an AICP form, Troy Takes’ Hot Budget (https://reelgrok.com/Hot-Budget-Commercial-Bidding-Software) is the program to use. While its design is intentionally limited to the commercial world, it can easily be pressed into doing double-duty on simple features. Not only is it a seriously solid program, it’s well-supported and free.
The links above connect to various reviews or the Hot Budget download, all on reelgrok. Each review links to the appropriate website. There’s more product information on reelgrok at https://www.reelgrok.com/products.cfm?Category_ID=2.
Easy to use, smart and fast, scenechronize is the ideal production tool for quick (and reliable) script breakdowns, production schedules, and extraordinarily-thorough script tracking. It’s a dream for indies, especially with pricing that starts from free and goes up very slowly as production needs rise. All files are stored online for easy access. Its only drawback is the lack of an integrated budgeting module. Then again, more familiar scheduling/budgeting combos (except Gorilla) don’t swap much data either, so it’s a readily surmountable problem. I tend to schedule in scenechronize, export as much data as I need, then finish my budget elsewhere. If you like to store you breakdowns online, if you need serious script tracking, this is the program.
Norman C. Berns
reelgrok – where filmmakers get it
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