Movie Magic Budgeting Update

by Michael Kennedy

I’ve been using Movie Magic (and its various versions) since it first came out. Now that it’s owned by an accounting company, Entertainment Partners seems more concerned with their accounting needs than the needs of film producers.

The fixes in this latest update are again very minor. They’re not the major fixes that film producers have needed and requested. Of course, some of the most basic problems were taken care of when the software was updated from EP’s initial version to the current Movie Magic version.  But since then we’ve seen little more than bug fixes and an ever-growing list of workarounds. 

There’s little harm in installing the current “maintenance update” although there are few benefits. The update is free to registered users.

According to EP, there are sixteen updates in this release. As with previous updates, in lieu of fixes, there are several pages of workarounds for “Known Issues” with the program.  Following are Entertainment Partners update notes….

by Michael Kennedy

I’ve been using Movie Magic (and its various versions) since it first came out. Now that it’s owned by an accounting company, Entertainment Partners seems more concerned with their accounting needs than the needs of film producers.

The fixes in this latest update are again very minor. They’re not the major fixes that film producers have needed and requested. Of course, some of the most basic problems were taken care of when the software was updated from EP’s initial version to the current Movie Magic version.  But since then we’ve seen little more than bug fixes and an ever-growing list of workarounds.

There’s little harm in installing the current “maintenance update” although there are few benefits. The update is free to registered users.

According to EP, there are sixteen updates in this release. As with previous updates, in lieu of fixes, there are several pages of workarounds for “Known Issues” with the program.  Following are Entertainment Partners update notes….

User Interface and Navigation

  • Increased clickable area for the Movie Magic Ball, allowing for enhanced navigation.
  • Column width adjustments now behave independently by level.
  • In the Classic keyboard: Ctrl~ selects the entire line of detail without deleting changes.
  • In the Classic keyboard: F10 key will now advance account.
  • The currency field is now an auto complete with a drop down menu.

Reporting

  • Changes to the print formatting and columns create a cleaner report.
  • Budget Comparison allows accurate comparisons with modified or deleted accounts.
  • Fixes with printing.
  • Fixes in formatting that causing blank pages to be printed in the budget.
  • Budgets now print with correct pagination.

Applied Credit

  • Applied Credit sorting allowed in tax credit window.
  • Net Total Printing is now consistent with other “Totals” formatting when printing.
  • In the Applied Credit, negative numbers now appear in brackets.

Globals

  • “Crtl+I” now inserts new rows (like other table workflows)
  • Automatic recalculation when globals are deleted.
  • Global Formulas allow modifications to existing formulas with multiple characters.

In working with this latest update, I find that most of the print issues have been fixed and some column issues were handled. But where are the major fixes? Fringes are still cumbersome to enter and apply. Groups still get grouped in whatever order the program wants…. 

Back when EP wisely updated their version of the software to Movie Magic Budgeting, I wrote about it, referencing Axium because I used that for several years while it was still around.

Despite much time and many “updates,” most of these issues remain unfixed.

  • This is no upgrade. It’s clunky and badly designed, with the feel of a PC program jury-rigged to work on Macs. Why are user manuals in PC when 80% of production people use MACS?
  • There’s still no way to import current rates into MMB. That’s a huge fail in my opinion.
  • Why is it designed on screen as a tablet on tablet. Screens are difficult to resize.  It’s only possible to insert a line only above, it can’t be done below. Can’t toggle to do either.
  • The user interface still looks and feels like the 1990’s.
  • Groups window can’t be put behind the budget window. There’s no OK or cancel buttons on windows.  In groups it takes the first button in the list, not the first button that you push, for ‘color’ control. That’s not helpful as it was in Axium.
  • The group view window sits on top and can’t be made vertical. Maybe this was designed for a larger monitor, not 15” or even 17”. You can put the groups in alphabetic order, but not the user order; it’s gets all screw up.
  • Fringes and groups are not easy to work with because of the way the view windows are designed. Fringes are not grouped in view for easy use.
  • ‘D’ column in globals can either display as global names or their value in a single situation. There are no shortcuts to toggle from name to value in globals. Shortcuts apparently only can be figured for the fringes and globals
  • Cut and paste doesn’t work in ‘grouped’ rows as in most software. Because applying fringes or groups requires going back and forth to reactivate the main window, there should be a quick (easy) entry.
  • The 4th level seems great for accountants who want to know how many pencils the producer took out of supplies…
  • The library seemed easier to work with in old classic MM. It certainly was in Axium.
  • As far as I can tell, there’s only limited use for shortcuts. Shame.
  • Apply Credit is clumsy and cumbersome. Users must first make a category, then apply it. That’s backwards for filmmakers, but maybe great for accountants. It’s not quick when trying to put together a budget.
  • SubBudgets are better, but still need another level past Group – like in detail or just to a view window to apply where needed
  • Why do I need/want separate windows to setup and apply fringes or groups? Why can’t I even use both windows at the same time?
  • Budget Info contains almost nothing of real value. It needs an area to put in real data like shooting days, locations, cameras, the names of the people involved in the project….
  • The new license verification is awkward, intrusive and time consuming. Why am I checked every time I use my own software? Why can’t I even use my own program off-line?

As noted, MMB version 7.2.2172 is a free update for registered users. While it doesn’t answer many of the requests made by working filmmakers, it is stable and provides some fixes. It can be downloaded directly from EP. 


Michael Kennedy is an assistant director
and regular user of film budgeting software.