Let’s face it, numbers aren’t inherently sexy. Most who pursue a career in the film industry are enchanted by the cinematography, acting, and story. But, not so much the budget or how many days it took before wrap. However, without the brilliant minds behind the production, we wouldn’t get very far. Thankfully, there are tools to help make the life of the producers and UPM a little easier. That’s why we selected the Top 5 Film Budgeting Software of 2022!
This isn’t just any kind of Top 5 review – rather, this is the best film budget software according to Grammy-nominated producer, Jamee Ranta.
Want more on producing? Discover more super useful producing tips and rules for success. Or, jump into an interview with Jamee Ranta about producing Halsey’s album-film If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power.
WHAT IS FILM BUDGETING SOFTWARE?
First, let’s define a film budget. A film and TV budget comprise all of the expenditures that approximate the total cost of a particular project.
These expenditures include cameras, equipment rentals, locations, cost of labor, talent, post-production, and more, depending on the size and scale of the project. Larger scale projects will estimate marketing and distribution costs, as well.
Film budgeting software is a computer program that streamlines film budgets, saving time, improving accuracy, and enhancing the ability to manage the production.
For example, filmmaking budgeting software can help productions compare their needs versus the money they have or need to acquire before switching on a camera.
BUDGETING ADVICE FOR FILMMAKERS
Jamee Ranta recommends that you always update your working numbers at the end of each day. That way, you have the most accurate idea of where you are financially. This can set you up for making the best financial decisions that support the vision best the next day.
Best for Scripted Film & TV
Movie Magic Budgeting by Entertainment Partners is the industry standard for managing production budgets. It helps you simplify production budgeting, make estimates, and dive into the details for the most accurate results.
Jamee loves how you can import an existing Movie Magic Budgeting file and EP provides access to the current union ratebook, which is a huge plus.
- The industry’s most trusted budgeting software
- Film budget templates from major studios
- Real-time data access via the Cloud
- Flexible and 100% configurable
- Create categories to keep everything organized and easily accessible with smart tools
- The highest degree of data security
Best for User-Friendly Experience
Gorilla Budgeting by Jungle Software has a user-friendly interface that helps it stand out from some of the other more clinical-looking budgeting software on this list. It integrates with Gorilla Scheduling but you’ll still need a payroll company to finish the job.
- Attach Globals to rates or amounts
- Supports flat rate and percentage fringes
- Tax incentives supported
- Setup as many conversions tables as needed
- Track your expenses against your budget
- Group line items from any section of the budget
- Thousands of industry rates are available
- Import cast, crew, or locations from Gorilla Scheduling
Best for Commercials and Music Videos
Hot Budget is Jamee’s first choice for commercials and music videos. It’s the industry-standard software in both spaces whether your project is SAG or non-union.
For one, it’s ideal for building bids with its simple-to-read top sheet that clients prefer. It’s also affordable and even cheaper when you buy it in conjunction with Hot Bricks. What makes Hot Budget ideal for producers with frequent commercial work is how you can keep track of an internal chart for accounts. And it has the flexibility to integrate features like a travel budget, currency converter, overtime calculator, and more.
- Tools that increase productivity for all production personnel involved
- Streamlines budgeting to send to clients in PDF form
- Simple calculation of overtime based on labor
- Easy actualizing and making direct cost comparisons to an original budget
- Easy migration from one version of Hot Budget to another
- Integrated currency converter (New in Version 2.0)
- Integrated Overtime Calculator
- Integrated travel budget
- Import timecard batch .csv files into the Payroll Log
- Use your internal chart of accounts
Best for the Commercial Space
Showbiz Budgeting Software by Media Services is easily comparable to Movie Magic and Hot Budget, serving as an adequate budgeting tool for commercials and music videos. While Jamee prefers Hot Budget for her music videos and commercial work, Showbiz is certainly a close second.
If you’re the kind of filmmaker who specializes in the commercial space and doesn’t produce narrative content, then Showbiz should keep you happy. But, if you travel outside the bounds of music videos and ads into scripted, you may notice limitations.
- Includes the new AICP 2019 Integrated Bid Form
- Applied Credits can be effectively managed from the Summary page, allowing you to enter and automatically calculate credits from multiple production incentive programs simultaneously
- My Reports feature allows saving frequently used report settings for re-use
- Accounts on the Budget Tab can now be easily repositioned
- Macros for Title Grids available (date, time, filename, etc.)
- Total, Included, and Excluded columns available in SubGroups manager
- Handy Where Used button in SubGroups manager
- Chart of Accounts offers the option to hide inactive accounts
- New CSV export option for Budgets and Vendor Database
- Can import expenses from PEX™ purchase cards
- Globals can now be used in Formula values, as well as inserted into Account names and Summary text by enclosing in brackets, e.g. [MU]
- Percentage values can now be entered in Accumulator columns
Best for affordability and Celtx Studio Workflows
Celtx Budgeting is part of a larger production management suite. Starting as an affordable alternative to screenwriting software, Celtx offers an ecosystem of software that allows production teams to stay on the same page from pre-production to post. When there are transactions outside your set parameters, you will also receive email alerts.
If you’re someone (or a team) who wants everything in one place for a somewhat affordable price, especially considering what you get, this is a great option! Although, the highlight of Celtx is not just its budgeting software but the whole enchilada. 🫔
- Industry-standard templates to build your film budget
- Document and assign costs for all your production needs
- Generate valuable budget reports
- Allows you to keep your finger on the pulse of the forecasted and actual costs of each production
- Easily work and communicate at every level of pre-production, production, and post within the Celtx platform
Best for Beginners
Studiobinder is a great resource for project management in general, including some useful budgeting templates for Google Sheets, which makes it nice and easy for sharing.
While it’s not a filmmaking budget software, Studiobinder supplies its templates for free. It may not be software but it is a great solution for indie filmmakers seeking an economic solution.
You can expect the standard budget tabs like for above-the-line, production, post-production, and miscellaneous. The sums from the tabs will automatically calculate and total on a top sheet.
- Template made in Google Sheets
- Easy to share and for collaboration
- Perfect for beginners to learn how to craft film and video budgets
A complete introduction to the wonderful world of producing!
- 5 Lessons
- 45 minutes of instructional videos
The Art of Producing places you inside the mind of award-winning producer Jamee Ranta. Beginning with how to approach a career in the film and entertainment industry, Jamee shares trade secrets and personal anecdotes from her experiences as a top producer.
Along with the fundamentals of film production, Jamee advises how to work with commercial and music video clients from the bid and budget to handling insurance and managing contracts. She closes the course by revealing how to communicate, negotiate, and manage expectations.
- Detailed Written Breakdowns
- English Subtitles