Producing a great film is no easy feat. Every stage of the process requires its own skills and tools, which can be overwhelming, to say the least.
There’s no shortage of filmmaking software solutions, but parsing through the saturated market is challenging, especially when factoring in your production budget.
Fortunately, we’ve shortlisted some of the best tools vetted by industry professionals to help you execute your craft. Whether you’re an indie filmmaker or a big production house, our 2023 edition of the 20 best film production software offers top-rated options for any budget.
Take care of everything you need before the cameras start rolling with these pre-production tools.
Arc Studio Pro: best for beginner scriptwriters
Need user-friendly software to start your next script? Arc Studio Pro is a great entry-level solution that lets you turn out industry-standard screenplays and integrates with cloud storage services like Dropbox.
The software is pretty intuitive and has plenty of formatting shortcuts to help you finish your writing on time. You can also use unique features like “The Stash” in pro plans to remove sections of your screenplay without deleting them entirely for potential future use.
- Built-in collaboration suite for real-time edits with multiple screenwriters
- Compatible mobile app for working on the go
- Customizable reports for tracking your writing progress over time
Price: You can start with the free plan or professional packages beginning at $69/year.
Final Draft: best for filmmaking professionals
When it comes to screenwriting, the industry-standard software is undoubtedly Final Draft. This intuitive software solution makes it easy to follow individual characters’ dialogue and plot lines throughout your script.
Tracking changes is simple with multiple views, including a Beat Board for a visual representation of your story arc. You can also import PDFs and convert them to Final Draft files if you’ve already started brainstorming elsewhere.
- Format assistant automatically builds your screenplay according to the industry standard
- Story Map and Beat Board workflow give you a high-level overview of your script
- Real-time collaboration tools
Price: Pay a one-time fee of $249 or $99 to upgrade to the newest version.
Storyboarder: best for beginners
Don’t let the lack of a price fool you; Storyboarder is a terrific software solution with a wide range of drawing tools, collaboration tools, and a built-in camera control system. This simple yet powerful software has a clean, friendly UI, helping you get ideas out as soon as they come to you.
Add boards with a single click, enter shot duration and description, and move in and out of Adobe’s compatible Photoshop for more advanced controls.
- Compatible with Adobe’s Creative Cloud Suite
- Start a storyboard from scratch or input your drawing from a photo
- Use the “Shot Generator” as a starting point for your scenes
Price: Storyboarder is open source and completely free.
Storyboard Pro: best for pre-production professionals and animators
For your pre-production needs, Storyboard Pro is the industry standard for leading professional studios. This suite provides complete creative storyboarding freedom with scripting integration, timeline editing, and a full 3D environment.
You can work simultaneously in vector and bitmap and test different brush textures in real time. Plus, bring in temp audio and FX files to time for animatics.
- Adjust camera angles and movements with isometric and mirrored views
- Integrates seamlessly with the Adobe suite
- Sensitive, customizable drawing tools for precise detail on every shot
Price: Monthly plans begin at $71 per month or $557 annually. Note that support packages come at an additional cost.
Collaboration and file sharing software
Work seamlessly with your creative team using these essential tools.
Evercast: best for synchronous remote collaboration
If you’re a studio, production house, or serious production professional, Evercast provides you with an in-studio experience while working remotely, from pre- to post-production and beyond. This software solution offers video conferencing combined with color-accurate 4K video streaming, 7.1 surround sound, and real-time production tools that are hard to find elsewhere.
The software is end-to-end encrypted, approved by every major studio, and certified by the Motion Picture Association’s Trusted Partner Network, making it the polished package for any production team that’s serious about working effectively from anywhere. Participants can join the collaborative “room” at the touch of a button.
- Specially designed for creative professionals and vetted by Hollywood
- Ultra-low latency (<150ms average)
- Stream in up to 4K, 7.1 surround sound, 60fps, and 10-bit 4:4:4 color
- 24/7 white-glove support
- One-stop shop for video conferencing collaboration; stream complex workflows with no lag—chat, draw, and converse all in the same place.
Price: Evercast studio pricing starts at $849/month, and custom plans are available.
Learn more about Evercast here.
Frame.io: best for asynchronous collaboration
Frame.io is a cloud-based collaboration software that allows you to review, share, and export notes on video projects within any internet browser. The tool lets you share your encrypted video link with or without a watermark, providing dependable security while you work toward the final product.
It’s popular with content creators and small to medium businesses alike. Unfortunately, creators don’t have an option for live video conversations or streaming with Frame.io, so you and your team have to settle for asynchronous collaboration (or use an external app for video calls).
- Integrates with Premiere Pro and Avid to import notes for seamless edits
- Very user-friendly and can be used in any internet browser
- Live commenting and annotations make it easy to move to the next edit
Price: Plans range from $0–$25/user per month. Each user gets a “seat,” with the total monthly price based on each seat’s cost.
These production management tools help you run a tight set, from day one to wrap.
Scheduling and budgeting
Movie Magic Scheduling: industry-standard scheduling software
It’s no secret that creating a call sheet for a complex production day in and day out takes a lot of patience and attention to detail. Fortunately, Movie Magic Scheduling reduces the headache by building a calendar based on input values around your script, cast breakdowns, and required breaks.
Build flags and warnings directly into the stripboard and seamlessly distribute them digitally to your cast and crew.
- Online and offline access
- Automated scheduling software with built-in alerts on anticipated scheduling conflicts
- Compare and contrast several schedule breakdowns based on the script, cast, crew, and break times
Price: Plans start at $29 per month.
ABS Payroll: payroll for large productions
Big-budget productions should look no further than ABS Payroll to streamline payment processing, time tracking, tax compliance, and HR management all in one place. This platform provides personalized support allowing you to create customized insights and reports around any project.
Optimized for the entertainment industry, this software has a compatible mobile app for easy use on set.
- Automated payroll processing and tracking
- Integrates with local compliance regulations to meet all rules set by local jurisdictions
- Access to an experienced production payroll team
Price: ABS Payroll takes a percentage of each project, usually between 3–5%. You must have a large enough project or budget to use this service, though anyone can request a quote from the platform.
Equipment sourcing and location
ShareGrid: best for one-off equipment rentals
Looking for a specialized lens? Heading to a shoot far from your usual production house? Use ShareGrid to rent cameras, lenses, lighting and electric kits, drones, and more. ShareGrid connects filmmakers with other creators and production houses for flexible renting and purchasing of gently-used gear.
- Affordable market for indie filmmakers
- Included insurance coverage for rentals
- Secure payment processing and in-platform pickup and dropoff coordination
Price: The service is free to use, and prices vary based on the seller’s rate.
Peerspace: best venue finder
Need a spot to pick up some shots or meet with prospective cast, crew, and investors? Book your shoot location with Peerspace. Shoot in a traditional studio setting, quirky homes, warehouses, galleries, and more.
- Browse by location, category, amenities, or shoot date
- Flexible day rates and by-the-hour packages
- Available in most major cities
Price: Prices vary depending on the lister. Think of it as the Airbnb for shooting locations and venues.
Create together remotely, in real time
On-set data management
StudioBinder: best for pre-production data management
StudioBinder is built for film project management, providing tools for shot listing, creating call sheets, putting together mood boards, and scheduling for cast and crew. The cloud-based software has plenty of collaboration tools, allowing assistant directors to work directly with team members.
- Collaborative shot list creation
- Build budgets and call sheets
- Review and manage audition videos
- Track crew hours
Price: Plans start at $29 per month for up to 10 projects.
Excel: best for indie filmmakers
From budgeting to shot listing, Excel is an excellent tool for data management on and off set. It can take some getting used to, but professionals willing to learn the software have no trouble optimizing their spreadsheets for just about any use case during the pre-production and production process.
- Easily create and manage spreadsheets tracking your budget, shot list, or schedule
- Run Python or VBA scripting directly into the software
- Highly customizable tables and templates for a variety of applications
Price: Buy a license for $159.99 or a monthly subscription starting at $6.99 per month.
A strong edit starts with the right tool kit. Here’s what you need to turn your raw files into art.
AVID Media Composer: best for film and TV
AVID’s Media Composer is undoubtedly the industry’s gold standard NLE. This is one of the most reliable editing software solutions available, optimized especially for commercial projects and professional filmmaking.
The software is effective for team use with shared bins, project locking, and script integration. You can also edit audio directly inside AVID and produce a polished product with workflows organized for film and broadcast.
- Known for providing one of the most stable, reliable NLE workflows
- Limitless flexibility with a robust audio suite, 3D editing, and color correction
- Optimized for film and broadcast workflow
- Built-in collaboration tools for editing across a team
Price: AVID offers both monthly and yearly subscriptions for its service. You can get monthly plans starting at $23.99/month.
Adobe Premiere: best for independent filmmaking
This versatile video editing software is well-loved by hobbyists and serious filmmakers alike. With a customizable interface and seamless integration with Adobe’s full Creative Cloud suite, you’ll have no trouble optimizing your workflow according to your preferences.
You can edit audio and video, color grade with the Lumetri Color panel, and utilize standout features like 360-degree VR editing compatibility and multi-camera editing.
- Provides stabilization, multi-camera editing, and color correction
- Integrates seamlessly with After Effects and other Adobe products
- Customizable interface for flexible workflows
Price: Purchase monthly Adobe plans or annual plans for a slight discount. You can get individual Premiere Pro plans for $20.99/month or $54.99/month for complete Creative Cloud plans, which include Audition, After Effects, and Lightroom.
After Effects: best for motion graphics
Adobe Premiere users look to After Effects when building out motion graphics, compositing, or other visual effects. This software integrates seamlessly with the Adobe suite and supports rotoscoping and 3D lighting.
This flexible software enables custom scripting and is a great starting point for beginners while still providing enough robust infrastructure for professionals.
- Visual effect suite for animation, motion graphics, and compositing
- Excellent tracking and stabilization tools
- Compatible with other Adobe products like Premiere
Price: After Effects individual plans start at $20.99/month or $54.99/month for full Creative Cloud plans with Premiere and Media Encoder.
Nuke: best for compositing and visual effects
For professional compositing, the choice is obvious: Nuke is the leading software for good reason, with its node-based architecture giving you plenty of flexibility from one frame to the next. It’s compatible with Python scripting and planar tracking for easy stabilization.
Nuke provides advanced keying tools and a robust 3D compositing suite for models and animations in live-action footage.
- Industry-leading compositing software
- Complex processing with node-based editing
- Superior relighting capabilities and controls
Price: This software is higher grade for committed studios and seasoned professionals. Annual subscriptions start at $3,299 or $5,968 for a perpetual license.
Color grading software
DaVinci Resolve: best for color grading
Any serious colorist likely already knows the advantages of DaVinci Resolve. This color grading software is best known for its industry-leading coloring suite, but it also has built-in compositing and 3D editing tools.
With various coloring tools and node-based control, you have full flexibility when nailing down the color for your project.
- Automatic color matching, color wheels, and curves for polished grading
- Node-based color grading
- Fast rendering and real-time playback
Price: The full studio suite costs $295 (a one-time fee).
Assimilate Scratch: best for on-set dailies
This professional color grading software is great for pumping out quick grades for on-set dailies and treatments. Grade your RAW, HDR, and virtual reality files on the fly with the software’s clean user interface. Enjoy user-defined panel mapping and hotkeys for efficient grading.
- Color grading suite built for efficiency
- HDR and VR file grading compatibility
- Use for light compositing
- Audio-sync capabilities
Price: Monthly subscriptions start at $89/month, or you can purchase a perpetual license for $1,200.
Sound editing and mixing software
Avid Pro Tools: best for sound mixing
The industry standard DAW across the entertainment industry is undoubtedly Pro Tools. This software provides limitless flexibility, real-time processing, and a customizable interface to streamline your workflow. Track alignment is a breeze with the DAW’s synchronization features and multi-track editing capabilities.
- Arguably the most robust audio editing suite available, industry-leading technology
- Flexible workflow provides a wide range of audio outputs
- Real-time collaboration tools built into the DAW
Price: Yearly subscriptions start at $299, or you can opt for a $29.99/month subscription.
Cubase: best for composers
If you’re a composer, you’re likely putting together your score inside Cubase, a highly customizable digital audio workstation. Famous composers like Hans Zimmer favor Cubase for its highly customizable workflow and easy integration with compatible video formats.
Score to picture with timecode markers, bounce out a full mix with the full MixConsole suite, or define harmonic structures within an existing project or temp track with Chord Track.
- Import MPEG, QuickTime, AVI, and WMV files directly into your timeline
- Native VST plugin for remote collaboration
- Timecode synchronization features well suited for scoring
Price: Cubase Pro costs $579, with the option to purchase updates for $99.