“Who and what can I use to make my movie? Where do I even begin?”

You may remember, if you’ve been reading MovieMaker for a while, an annual directory that included in every annual Complete Guide to Making Movies edition, called the “Motion Picture Production Guide.” Over the course of 10 pages or so—and in a font size that usually befits grains of rice—the MPPG listed anything and everything you might employ while making a film, from stock footage to sales agent. You may have noticed that this encyclopedic appendage vanished a couple of years ago—not retired, but under renovation. Well, it’s back in business, and merged with our Indie-Friendly Business List into this new iteration. We’ve done a bit of pruning, reducing the listings to just five essential categories with five items each, and this year asked some working independent producers to nominate their favorite products and services (thanks for the help, Anne Clements, Chris Ohlson, Nick B. Case, Kelly Williams and Kyle Martin!). So voilà! We present the more streamlined, more personal, just-as-helpful 2017 MPPG.

Screenwriting Software and Apps

Final Draft

“Whether I’m developing a project with a writer or tracking changes throughout the life of a production, Final Draft is what I’ve found to be the most robust and useful software out there, for an indie film’s needs.”

Weekend Read
Movie Magic Screenwriter

With old standbys like Movie Magic, once you learn how to use them, it is hard to switch to another software.

Fade In Pro: Professional Screenwriting Software

Camera Rental Companies


Chicago (877/880-4267), Los Angeles (888/700-4416) and New York (888/223-1599)

ARRI Rental

New Jersey (212/757-0906), Miami (954/322-4545), Atlanta (678/248-5432) [Los Angeles (818/686-6400) and Charlotte, North Carolina (704/679-9400) as Illumination Dynamics]

ARRI has been incredibly kind and solution-oriented. They are more than indie-friendly.”


Los Angeles (323/785-1550)

MPS Studios

Austin (512/220-9456), Dallas (214/630-1655) and Denver (720/381-0038)

“If we shoot anything in Texas we always use MPS. They have a great, knowledgeable staff and are always willing to work with indie filmmakers.”

Stray Angel Films

Los Angeles (310/277-6900)

“Suren and the team at Stray Angel bend over backward to help indie producers.”

Studio Facilities and Soundstages

Austin Studios

Austin, Texas (512/322-0145 x 3216)

Brooklyn Fire Proof Stages

Brooklyn, New York (718/456-7571)

“When we need to shoot one day on a stage, we always shoot at Brooklyn Fire Proof. They’re very easy to work with.”

Second Line Stages

New Orleans (504/528-3050)

Siren Studios

Los Angeles (323/467-3559)

Thunder Studios

Long Beach, California (310/955-0231)

“Thunder is in Long Beach and maybe that’s one of the reasons they seem to go the extra mile when accommodating indie producers. Their team is friendly and the facility is amazing.”

Production crew prepping a scene for Martin Guigui's upcoming feature Nine Eleven, shot at Thunder Studios. Photograph by Ian Fisher and Kathrine Thorbek

Production crew prepping a scene for Martin Guigui’s upcoming feature Nine Eleven, shot at Thunder Studios. Photograph by Ian Fisher and Kathrine Thorbek

Grip and Lighting Companies

ANC Productions

Burbank, California (818/640-5019)

MBS Equipment Co.

Multiple locations across California, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, New Mexico, New York and international (844/462-7326)

Brooklyn Lighting and Grip

Brooklyn, New York (347/915-6005)


Los Angeles (323/851-5030) and New Orleans (504/465-8321)

Texas Film and Light (Austin)

Austin, Texas (512-659-4233)

“Texas Film and Light is run by a working gaffer and his support team, so they know (and have, in-house) exactly what you need to make your feature come to life—from truck packages, to à la carte packages and one-off requests.”

Post-Production Services

Fall On Your Sword

Brooklyn, NY (718/387-8790)

Final Frame

New York (212/691-2580)

Heard City

New York City (212/255-6737) and Brooklyn (347/627-0950)

Heard City may be known for high-end commercials and bigger ad agency-style projects—but they’ve also mixed some of the most critically acclaimed indies in recent years. Incredibly talented, with all of the tools at their disposal, Heard City is an amazing audio post facility.”

Stuck On On

Austin, Texas (512/535-4760)

We always try and work with post based in Austin whether we shot the film there or not, including Stuck On On for sound and color.”


Los Angeles (310/260-1208)

“Heather Toll there is amazing. They’re filmmaker-friendly, budget-friendly, fast—great to work with.” MM

This article appears in MovieMaker’s Complete Guide to Making Movies 2017.

Top image: Cast and crew of “Architects of Crime,” directed by Chris Derrick (orange), shoot a rooftop scene in downtown Los Angeles on a Red Dragon. Photograph by Ana Montgomery