Great Apps to Aid the Filmmaking Process: Pre-Production

There’s an infinite number of apps available in whatever app store you frequent most.

But what about apps just for filmmaking?

And more specifically, good apps for filmmaking?

Great news: there are plenty of those that you can use on your desktop, tablet, or even right from your mobile phone to make the filmmaking process easier. So many, in fact, that we decided to group our most loved apps into categories—pre-production, production, and post-production—to share with you here.

In the first part of this series of posts about helpful apps for filmmakers, we dive into tools that will be your new best friend during pre-production. Included are apps to help with team planning and communication, making call sheets, and location scouting.

Here’s our round-up of excellent apps for the pre-production stage:

1. FilmTouch


Call sheets are key to making sure everyone on a crew is on the same page: they're a daily schedule that includes shot lists, locations, crucial contact info, weather, and more. It's important to have a call sheet on lock before you head into want to know what you're doing, right? FilmTouch lets you make those call sheets with ease. Plus, the app lets you easily access contact numbers to create a log for current and future jobs, and to keep track of those jobs and their respective schedules.

2. Google Apps: Images, Street View, Drive


Google street view is great for location scouting.

Google street view is great for location scouting.

We don't want to inflate Google's ego, but we love so many Google Apps for planning during pre-production. Share documents, photos, budget spreadsheets, and more via Google Drive. Better yet, get a head start on location scouting by looking at images of most commercial businesses, which can be found on Google Images. You can also view a location's  surroundings on Google Street View to look for any noisy red flags like railroad tracks, or spot light obstructions like tall buildings or trees.

3. Calendly

Free for basic; $8/month for Premium.

How can you keep track of scheduling the meetings, interviews, and appointments you need to get through before getting the sign off to start production? Use a calendar. Calendly is a simple scheduling app that you can access on your mobile or desktop to send invitations and schedule your heart out. Plus, this app gets rid of the tedious back and forth of setting a meeting. Set your availability preferences, and Calendly will automatically account for your busy schedule so that people can sign up for meetings when you're free. 

4. celtx script

Free for basic; $8.25/month for Standarad; $16.58/month for Premium.

If you're going to make a narrative film, chances are you need to write a script first. celtx features automatic formatting to the industry standard of the genre of your script, and is compatible with iPhones and iPads, so you can make comments or edit on the go. Plus, the basic version is free!

5. WriterDuet

Free, $0; Pro, $7.99/month or $119 for lifetime access.

WriterDuet is another screenwriting tool that focuses on helping collaborators write as a team. Though it's spendier than celtx, it boasts heaps of features. Not only is it compatible with other formats from programs like Final Draft, celtx, and PDFs, but you can edit, video-chat, or message with collaborators all while viewing the same part of the script. The app saves every edit, and you can work on or offline with the web or desktop app...the only downside is that there's no mobile-specific app option.

6. Muse Storybuilder


We love Trello for keeping projects organized.

We love Trello for keeping projects organized.

Our storytelling friends at Muse whipped up the Muse Storybuilder software to help you tell better stories. Based on the four pillars of their philosophy, Storybuilder uses People, Places, Purpose, and Plot to develop ideas into a cohesive narrative. As a bonus, you can invite others to collaborate or comment on what you’re creating. Take it from the Stillmotion pros: building a strong story is key to setting yourself up for success during production.

7. Trello

Free, $0; Business Class, $8.33/month per individual user; Enterprise, $20.33 per month per user for larger companies.

Trello is an excellent tool for planning and organizing through every stage of the production process. Unlike a lot of project management platforms, it's visual—you can see everything you need to do right on the screen, like a digital bulletin board. Trello has a drag-and-drop feature to schedule tasks on "cards"–you can create multiple boards for multiple projects, invite team members to collaborate, or even use Trello just for yourself to stay on your game. It’s an intuitive tool that will help you set a strong organizational foundation as you go through the process of making your film.

8. Shot Designer


Plan your shots with Shot Designer.

Plan your shots with Shot Designer.

Before you show up on set, it’s a great idea to know the lay of the land, or of your shots. Shot Designer is a tool for directors and DPs to help plan scenes with ease. It features lighting diagrams and also incorporates actor and camera blocking, which can be animated.

9. Cash Flow


Budgeting is hard, which means that budgeting apps should be simple. Enter Cash Flow, the iOS compatible app that uses a drag and drop feature to make cash-wrangling easier. Cha-ching.

10. Story Planner


An all-around story planner that lets you outline your story or screenplay, Story Planner helps you keep your story straight. You can create a list of characters, scenes, locations, and more to help recall details with ease.

11. Storyboarder


Storyboarding is essential for staying on schedule during a film set. Knowing exactly the shots you need to get before the production day is key. For this, we turn to the Storyboarder app for mobile. It lets you take or add pictures from your library, and add information like the shot angle, time of day, shot number, and so on. Then, it generates a PDF document with your finished storyboard that you can print or share via email, or any other forms of communication through mobile devices.

12. Instagram


Instagram=instant inspiration.

Instagram=instant inspiration.

It can be hard to tear away from the endless, beautiful images on Instagram, but the app can also provide a bounty of inspiration. You can follow the work of filmmakers or artists you admire to light your creative spark. Plus, Instagram is great for pulling reference images for mood boarding.

13. Evernote

Basic, free; Plus, $24.99/year; Premium, $49.99/year.

Evernote helps organize all of your scribbles, brainstorms, and to-do lists across all of your devices. It's immensely helpful for organizing productions and planning with a team. You can never be too organized, in our humble opinion—especially when you’re working on something as important as a film!

These are 13 great apps to aid in the pre-production process. But we know we didn’t even skim the surface of everything that’s out there.

What are your favorite apps to use during pre-production? Tell us on Twitter @storyandheart