Here are some my favorite resources that help me tremendously every day. Please note that some of these are affiliate links, which means I get a commission if you use my links at no extra cost to you, but please know that I ONLY recommend resources that I personally also pay for and feel has brought tremendous value to my workflow, and I think you’ll benefit from these too. If you also think these resources are valuable, then please use my links! I also did my best to include a ton of the free resources I use.
Useful Websites & Tools:
Most Independent Films are set up through an SPE (Sole Purpose Entity). Usually the SPE takes form of an LLC, and that LLC is often set up by an attorney. But maybe you want to do it yourself. If that’s the case, a company like Legal Zoom comes in handy. They have tons of services, one of which is incorporating LLCs. I’ve had Attorneys and Business Managers set up LLCs and I’ve done it myself through Legal Zoom. I usually prefer the former, but in some cases I’ve decided to go the DIY route. Before you get started, I highly recommend you read the articles in their knowledge center. These are very useful to get acquainted with.
I’m very big on my Call Sheets and Production Reports looking professional, well formatted and easy to read. While I’m usually not the one actually preparing these documents, I do approve the templates on every production we use, and I have to say of all the templates I’ve seen, Casper is by far my favorite. And it’s pretty amazing that it integrates with MM Scheduling and it’s free. Highly recommend downloading this for your productions big or small.
I have A.D.D. like it’s nobody’s business. I get distracted easily, and there’s no point in fighting it. So, I go with it. Anyone who’s ever worked with me knows when I need to focus on something, I put on my noise cancellation headphones on and go into the rainforest. Noisli is an awesome app/website that let’s you customize your white noise, from hums to rainforests to waterfalls. It’s completely free, and pretty damn awesome! They’re iPhone App is also pretty awesome and well worth the $1.99.
A sharable To-Do List that you can keep online through their website and an app. I personally really like it cause it’s very intuitive, easy to use, and also free. I know it has tons of functionalities like Calendar view and attaching files, that I don’t even use. But whether you use it on a very simple level like me, or want to dive into all its features, either way I highly recommend it.
So I pay for the premium version of this, but you can also just use it for free without some of the extra features. Zoom Video Conference is like Skype on steroids. I’m constantly in Production Meetings, Creative Meetings, Development Meetings, and it’s nice to be able to do it remotely with 12 people through video sharing screens, recording meetings, etc. Even if people just want to dial in by phone, it beats free conference calling.
I’m a really big fan of this site. It’s basically a very well curated library of tutorial videos that can teach you pretty much anything! I’m subscribed to it, and I gladly pay the subscription even in the months I’m not using it, because of how much value I get from it whenever I do need something. My excel skills have gone through the roof by just spending a few hours on this site (which has helped me tremendously in creating production tools that make me work much, much faster).
I also learned that if you have a Library card, Lynda is offering a program that allows you to access their content for FREE by logging in with your Library Card Number and Pin here!! Thanks, Congyu, for that awesome tip!
My MUST READ books:
Definitely the first book I would recommend. Even if you’re not interested in the legal stuff, this book is going to better prepare you to make your film. I’ve read it from cover to cover, but the truth it’s very well indexed so that you can also just keep it handy and just use it as reference when legal matters come up, whether it’s Development, Pre-Production, Production, Post or Distribution. While it’s no substitute for an actual attorney, it makes your life MUCH easier knowing what to look out for and it will better prepare you to work with entertainment attorneys. More than anything, this will save you $$. There’s a whole lot of questions that this book answers that a good attorney would charge you $300/hour for.
This book was recommended to me while I was teaching a class at the American Film Institute, and it’s probably one of the best recs I’ve ever gotten. People are always asking about where to find money, and this book really outlines the first step to answer that question, which is to start thinking of your film as a business. If you can convince investors that your film makes good business sense, you have a MUCH better chance of getting the financing and making your movie! This book is a very practical guide with a business approach to making movies, and that starts with the end in mind — that is, your audience!