Websites & Apps You're NOT Utilizing For Your Film
In a time where anything can be found quickly on the internet, it’s no surprise that new organizations are popping up everywhere to fill the voids that major studios and Hollywood has failed to provide. That is to say: you no longer need to know the right people or have the right connections in order to get a leg up in this industry. With these new services, your producing team can possess everything they need to get the job done, and though there are still plenty of voids to fill, the foundation that is being built provides us a fantastic glimpse as to where the industry is progressing!
If you’re not utilizing these websites or apps, then you’re not on the cutting edge, and you’re missing out on some major resources that can help your production succeed.
We’ve compiled this list of some sites you might not have heard of, as well as some alternatives to those you already have. More importantly, we’re letting you know which ones are better for local productions Austin, especially for those services that are still taking their time to progress from their East/West coast geographical foundation.
Set Scouter, to put it simply, is kinda like AirBnB for film productions. What’s great about Set Scouter is that it allows you to talk directly to homeowners who are already willing to allow a film production on their premises. Since prices are provided with each listing there are no surprises when conducting your search. This service is meant to be used for those smaller productions and one day shoots, and though you could easily utilize your own networks when it comes to finding a home, this helps eliminate a lot of the stress of coordinating with the homeowner since Set Scouter already has a list of standards it’s upholding. Basically: everyone knows what to expect, and it’s that kind of convenience that producers love. The best part? You can list your own home and support the local film scene. How great is that?
See Also: WrapPal. Another alternative to Set Scouter which also includes Bars, Restaurants, Studio Space, and more on top of normal home listings. The reason it doesn’t get it’s own section here is because Austin and Texas are very limited in terms of listings. Keep an eye on it though as it might become a major resource in the coming years. If you’re in CA or NY however, this site is one to use now.
Most people have utilized LinkedIn at some point in their career. The problem with LinkedIn for film professionals is that it doesn’t do well in representing us, and getting your film resume to look like a traditional one is very tricky. Sure, there are sites like Staff Me Up, Entertainment Careers, or even Production Hub, but this has the added benefit of being owned by Studio Binder. You know the one. Studio Binder is quickly becoming a major resource for independent film productions, and if they put the same amount of care and thought into production beast, then you can be sure that finding crew, listing your credits, and getting hired will be a painless affair with some great graphic design sense as well. While we can’t necessarily recommend this site well over the aforementioned competitors (It is possible they are better or at least of equal value), we do want to bring attention to Production Beast because it’s new on the scene as has the potential to surpass them in the local markets.
See Also: Stage32 and Colaborator. Two site that accomplish the same as all of the above, but also attempt to be social networks beyond just finding jobs. While not terrible resources, it’s our opinion that they try to do too much and represent themselves as a lot cooler than they are. We won’t hold that against them though. If you are able to connect with fellow professionals or get your next job via their services, then what else is there to say?
Never before has peer-to-peer renting been so easy. Most professional filmmakers know that part of the benefit of owning expensive equipment is the ability to make a little bit of that money back by continually renting it out to friends and colleagues. This is especially true when rental houses either never have the equipment you’re looking for or often way out of your budget. Sharegrid and their ilk tend to take the middle man out of the equation in an effort to find those very specific item that only that one filmmaker in your area has decided to invest. Not only that, but when you live in an area that isn’t a major city or production community, this will allow you to get your hands on those items when no other rental houses are around. Have your own unique equipment laying around gathering dust in a corner? Consider listing it here and support your local film community.
See Also: KitSplit. Literally the same thing as Share Grid (with some minor cosmetic differences). The only reason it’s not listed above Share Grid is that Austin is considered on their site as “Still In Beta” meaning your search results will come back with smaller listings. That doesn’t mean people aren’t already renting via the site, but we’ve found Share Grid as the more robust service as of now.
While not technically a site promoted for film productions, our deep dive into the terms and conditions of renting through Turo doesn’t strictly prohibit utilizing the rented vehicles for photography or video uses…YET. At the very least - there’s no reason why you can’t contact the owner to be upfront with your purposes should you want to go this route. We recommend having the person who intends to drive the vehicle (if it is to be driven while shooting) be the same person who rents. That said, Turo is a great resource for finding those very specific car types when your own friends and family network fails. Those luxury vehicles, classic vehicles, and even custom vehicles can be found on this site, and we’ve all seen those filmmakers on social media looking for that very specific vehicle they wrote into the script without knowing if they had access to one. For some of the prices that are listed on the site, we have to say “Why Not?”
Assistant Directors and Production Assistants know how important communication is on set, and that’s why you’ll never find any of them without a walkie talkie and an earpiece attached to them at all times; unless you’re on a low budget set. Walkies aren’t cheap, and we’ve all been there with the alternatives, dealing with poor connections, constantly drained batteries, and terrible audio. The truth of the matter is, for most independent projects, unless you have the money to invest in good walkies, there’s not a better solution. That’s where Zello comes in. Founded here in Austin, Zello first crossed our paths when we learned about how integral it was during the rescue efforts following Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Utilizing wifi and data, Zello is a smart phone app that is just as reliable as everything else you use your phone for. Since most, if not all, of your production crew already owns a smart phone (and will most likely be using them when they’re not supposed to anyway) it’s a no brainer to utilize this FREE app to keep everyone communicating. With the ability to create your own channels and groups for your film, as well as the ability to talk one-on-one with your contacts so there’s no need to tell a person “go to one”, makes it easier than ever to get ahold of who you need. Utilize it with a pair of earbuds and you have an earpiece that works just as well as any other walkie. To make matters better, Zello comes with a bunch of features that walkies don’t have, like the ability to play back messages you might have missed, or to put it on do-not-disturb mode when you need a bit of quiet. We’ve tried it out, and data usage is extremely low, not to mention battery consumption (as long as you’re not playing candy crush in between takes). As a free alternative to expensive walkies, we can’t recommend Zello enough.
We’d be surprised if you haven’t heard of Shot Lister before, as we’re sure it’s been around for almost a decade now. The thing about Shot Lister is that it can be an invaluable tool between your DP and 1AD. Creating a shot list is one thing, scheduling a shot list is completely different, and keeping both of them organized with the constant evolution of a film set can prove difficult on the day. We’ve found that Shot Lister works best as a compliment to your already existing callsheet or schedule. The ability to pre-allot time so you can see how long each shot or set-up is going to take is very handy when anticipating what you’ll need to account for later in the day. Moving shots around or adding new ones is also just as easy, and exporting a PDF copy of the shot list at the end of the day, along with circle takes, can be very beneficial for the editor along with the script supervisor notes. All-in-all, this is a tool that can help your production plan more effectively and adapt quickly amongst all the chaos, and we can’t recommend it enough.
Consider this an honorable mention. We couldn’t resist a little bit of self promotion when it came to this article, especially considering the alternatives to casting as it stands in the Austin market. Most people are aware of Dan Eggleston’s yahoo group and contact list, and while we are grateful for all Dan has done to be the number one source for casting and crew calls in the central Texas area, we can’t help but wonder, “Who uses yahoo groups anymore?” To be fair, there’s been no easier way to browse through casting calls, until now. We started our casting call service as a means to give productions a better way at finding their potential talent and crew. In a time where most everyone uses facebook groups and rely on algorithms and notifications in order to be seen, we want to guarantee that your casting call has the ability to get in front of everyone. Every casting call on our site is essentially a separate blog post with its own unique URL, meaning sharing the casting call on whatever platform you want has never been easier. Not only that, but because we’re setting such high standards when it comes to posting casting calls on the site, it takes the guess work out of browsing a whole list of calls to find that one diamond in the rough. There’s no ability to filter by roles, age range, or genres, but we attempt to provide tags and categories for all of our posts for searching if the need arises. As we continue to grow we hope we can expand the service at a future date as we continue to provide Austin with what it needs to be a competitor in the independent film market.
See Also: Casting Calls Austin. Relatively new on the scene, Casting Calls Austin popped up around the same time Short Film Texas stopped updating. Similar to Backstage, Actors Access, or Casting Networks, Casting Calls Austin is a service where you can upload a profile and have people search for you in the same way you search for casting calls. Unlike other services, you don’t need an agent to use it, but it is a paid platform, so it’s hard to say how well it works for the independent market. A good resource nonetheless.
Let us know in the comments below if we’re missing something, and be sure to check out our full list of resources for your Texas film needs.
Mattias Marasigan is an actor, vlogger, filmmaker, writer, and all around general "creative" residing in South Austin, TX for 9 years. He is the founder of Austin Film Core and his own production company and freelancing business called Royal Misfit Studios.
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