December 16, 2016 at 11:26AM, Edited December 16, 11:30AM


Production software for a director's pre-production workflow?

Hello there film people,

I'm looking for software or feedback on workflow approaches to organize and manage elements of pre-production and visualization for a film, from a director's point of view.

There seems to be a lot of screenwriting software for writing and annotating scripts, and then production management software, for scheduling, budgets, call sheets, etc. What I'm looking for is something in between those two stages. I have a finished script for a short that I'm going to direct, and I'm now beginning the task of visualizing all the various elements of the film the so that I can then discuss with cast and crew.

My dream software would use the script as a Table of Contents of sorts, with complex hierarchies built outwards from the script, so I can always quickly reference and organize my ideas in context of the script. I want to be able to annotate and then sort the annotations in a variety of categories including: different departments, by character, locations, music, time of day, whatever.

So if the script says "marry runs down the hallway in red shoes" - I could add costuming notes in reference to her shoes, location notes about various choices for the hallway, performance notes for the actress, maybe a link to a film that has a similar scene i'm inspired by, all of which is hyperlinked inside a hierarchy from the script, and that I could sort by a view in categories or department.

A screenwriting program like Movie Magic Screenwriter allows for tagged annotations, but the text isn't rich and it put them in the script making it really hard to read.

A lot to ask, but would be great to eventually add storyboards alongside the script too?

Right now I have google docs with an outline for each scene, and I'm just manually adding in ideas for each scene into categories, but its gonna get messy. I also use Preview to annotate a PDF of the script with the Notes function, but that will only support so much depth. Maybe there's some way to use Google Docs?

I might start embedding google docs within google docs for each category or whatever, but that could get time consuming too. Google docs is good shareability and mobile use.

I might also just get hammered and shoot this thing verite style and forget all the organization meticulous crap and rage hard at the poetic power of chance.

Anyway, what I want is it all to move outward from the script, all organized from the script, just seems like the natural way to organize.

There are so many facets to visualizing a film, how do you do it and stay organized? I know many times there's a staff to keep stuff organized, but it's just me, as I would imagine it's just you too..

Thank you thanks thanks.

1 Comment

Shotlister. Might be the best software for all systems (iOS and Windows right now, macOS and Android comming soon) to make some shot lists and schedules.

December 28, 2016 at 6:05AM, Edited December 28, 6:04AM

Eric Halbherr
Director, DP, Editor, Creative Storyteller

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