Five Sprockets – Film Production Tools Online

Oct 24, 2008

Last month at TechCrunch 50 I was introduced to Five Sprockets. Their mission is to bring all the tools you’d need to write and manage a film online and for free. Good idea, yes, but I don’t think the execution is there yet.

The main tools of the beta site are an online script writer (vScripter) and production management application (vProduction Office). Through a production management program one that can break down a script and schedule a production. The industry standard for this is this is the few hundred dollar EP Scheduling.

When I talked to Randy Ullrich, the CEO and founder, he said they’ve been putting most of their effort into vScripter.

That’s nice and all, but why? You’re not going to convert any real screenwriter – they’ve either sided with Final Draft or Movie Magic Screenwriter. Plus Celtx is a good free program.

I gave it a little whirl and it was good for free. It formats the script correctly, which is the main goal, and remembers all the good stuff such as locations and characters for easy typing. But there’s no settings, so I couldn’t change the little things that annoyed me, like customizing how the carriage return and tab affect going from one script element to another.

vProduction Office was also decent. You can only work on a script made in vScripter (though you can import outside scripts). It gives you the basic functions you’d need – breaking down locations, props, production elements – and scheduling them on a calendar. 

It’s no where near as functional as EP Scheduling, with production strips, breakdown sheets, and a variety of printing options. Also, every time you want to assign a crew member or actor to a role, they have to be a Five Sprockets member. I can’t imagine some computer illiterate older actor signing up for another web site for a backyard movie they’re doing for free.

But again, it’s all free. Though I’m not sure who the target market is. A little DIY film isn’t going to break down a script, while a larger production will probably stick with EP.

While vScripter and vProduction Office are the main parts of Five Sprockets, it does have some other cool, unique features.

There’s an idea management database, so you can write down stories, loglines, characters, or dialogue. There isn’t too much structure with this, and you can’t tag each idea or add categories. Personally, I’ve been using Google Notebooks and it’s working pretty well.

There’s also a networking area and job posting board, though there were about 4 jobs listed when I checked. There’s also a filmmaking resource with a glossary and how-to videos.

Randy said his goal was to provide the tools filmmakers need to make better movies. When I first heard this pitch, I asked if it was geared towards the YouTube type filmmaker. It isn’t, he says. He imagines it being used by both small and large productions.

I don’t see a large production using this, and if I had to write a feature screenplay in vScripter I’d probably go vCrazy, as in very crazy.

But I think there’s some good ideas here. They just need to find their niche in the filmmaking world, improve the tools and customize it for the audience that’s using it.

Written by Joey Daoud

Joey Daoud is an award-winning documentary producer. When not filming he likes to climb mountains and brew coffee.

Related Posts

Tools to Edit Faster

This is a repost from an article on Filmmaker Magazine. However at the end I added some updated thoughts on PROCUTX. Anyone who’s joined the FCPX bandwagon will tell you one of the main draws is speed (or at least I will). FCPX let’s you do things quicker. But how we...

5 Filmmaking Tools That Kick Ass and Save Money

You want to get a top notch DSLR kit. What comes to mind when you need to buy and build this kit? Canon 5D or 7D, Zoom H4n recorder, Zacuto rig. What if I told you all of these (and more) have less expensive alternatives that provide an equal if not better user...

4 Comments

  1. Robert

    I also, wonder about this software… What I mean to say is, I wonder what they are getting in return for people using an online software for a relatively secretive medium? Are they able to access certain production data that they could filter to a third party (perhaps even themselves) to make ready for news sources (Variety, THR, NY Times, etc)?

    Basically, the question is not how, but why…

  2. Jeff

    Scripped is great for the screenwriting stuff – they have a browser-based software program strictly for screenwriting. Five Sprockets is ok.

  3. Michelle

    Websites like Scripped and Celtx are good for just one aspect of the process – writing. That’s where http://www.FiveSprockets.com comes in with a fresh idea. They provide you with free, high quality screenwriting software in addition to providing tools for production management, marketing, and collaboration. No other website focuses on the other phases of media production like FiveSprockets does.