Litigation is an unfortunate and sometimes necessary aspect of making a film. It’s absolutely critical that contracts and forms be in place to protect not only you, but the cast and crew. And if it’s not talent releases and options contracts, it’s the mass of paperwork needed to keep a production organized and on track.

For most of us artistic/filmmaker types, all that paperwork can be daunting and confusing, but Cinema Forms by ikan aims to take that burden and make is easy, clear, and convenient. Have they succeeded?

Covering Your Butt Has Never Been So Easy

The first time you fire up Cinema Forms, you’re prompted to create a new production company. A dialog box pops up asking for all the basic information; address, contact information, even a company logo. You then create your first project, which will become a home for all the forms associated with your film.

Once all the setup is out of the way, you create new forms much the same way you do in Apple’s Pages: a list of all the document types is presented and you tap the one you want. Cinema Forms comes pre-loaded with all the basics you need to get started; releases, call sheets, pre-production worksheets, and a few others.

Need more Forms? No Problem!

ikan has included a Forms Shop where you can buy everything from budgeting templates to SAG contracts at very reasonable prices. Should you so desire, you can even buy all forms in bulk at a discount.

The Forms Shop will continue to expand as new forms are submitted and requested by the filmmaking community.

Editing Bliss

After you select the form you want, Cinema Forms automatically populates all relevant fields with the information you entered for your project and company.

Editing is a breeze. Every field is touch activated and summons the proper interface for every data-type. Dates bring up iOS’s native date picker, contact fields bring up your address book, text fields trigger the keyboard, even signature fields pop up with a little doodle-box where people can sign their names.

Need to attach a map?

Easy peasy! Cinema Forms integrates with iOS’s maps feature so you can easily attach maps to documents like call sheets.

You can convert finished forms to PDF and email them, or upload to Dropbox. You can literally throw together a talent release form on the spot, have the talent sign, and email them their copy in mere moments.

There’s a laundry list of other features too, like custom letterhead and iCloud support.

Does It Meet Our Standards?

A while back I shared what I look for in iOS filmmaking apps. Many of my points center on the need for iOS filmmaking apps to be able to operate in a collaborative environment. Let’s see how Cinema Forms stacks up:

Dropbox Compatibility

Yes! …and no. You can easily export PDFs to Dropbox, even in bulk, which is a nice feature on big shoots. However, once exported you cannot import, open, or edit a file. Any changes to a form will have to be made on the device it originated on.

Universal File Formats

Again, yes…and no. Cinema Forms exports the poster-child of universal file formats, PDF…but nothing else. You cannot, for example, export a form-in-progress as a Word Doc and open it on your computer for further editing. You can’t even share forms with other iPads running Cinema Forms.

PDF exporting is a great paperless delivery format, but this app may not be of benefit in collaborative settings. I asked ikan if this and the Dropbox issue were to be addressed in future updates, and they assured me it was something they will seriously consider in an upcoming release.

Universal App

Eventually, yes! Ikan says an iPhone version is on the way and that it will be a universal app. You can buy now with confidence!

Does This Make My Life Easier?

Yes. Very yes. I hate dealing with paperwork and Cinema Forms succeeds in taking that burden and making it easy, clear, and convenient.

The Final Word

With Cinema Forms there is now no excuse for neglecting production paperwork.

This is a fantastic app and a fine example of how developers can take existing workflows and bring them into the future. ikan is committed to making the best app possible and I’m excited to see it grow into something even better.

You can buy Cinema Form now from the iTunes App Store for $9.99. If you want to learn more about ikan and the app, check out their site at cinemaforms.com.

Dan Baker

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Dan works out his social anxieties by producing and directing films. He's a proud New Mexican, and prefers green over red.

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