How to Start Your Own Production Company to Make Films
It is easy to start shooting a video. Everyone has a camera in their pockets today. Everyone has the ability to make viral video content on their YouTube channel. It's becoming easier and easier to starting your own filmmaking career today.
However, becoming a serious filmmaker requires a dream team of cast and crew to make it happen. If you want to start shooting feature films or even short films, you're going to need a good business plan and a business entity to make it work. You need to think about film distribution, learn to raise money, and how to protect your personal assets.
If you are lost on these concepts right now, don't worry. Today, we will demystify how to start your own production company and help you on your way to becoming one of the success stories.
9 Simple Steps to Starting Your Own Production Company
1. Understand the Market
What is the goal of starting your film production company? Who is your audience? Who are you trying to serve? Understanding your audience and the current trends of the world are important. You can look across the industry and notice that most production companies focus on specific niches rather than going too broad.
In the 2020s, if you are looking to serve clients, you will want to talk to your potential clients early. Know what their needs are. Look at other companies and see what they are offering. Figure out how to create a service that offers more than others at the right price.
Here are some decent ways to do some in-person research:
Visit the local film festivals to network with independent filmmakers.
Talk to the students from film schools to see what they are studying
Go to Eventbrite and find film events near you that will give you an opportunity to talk to filmmakers, potential clients, and potential investors
2. Choose a Solid Name For Your Production Company
Your video production company's name becomes a part of your brand. A business name is what people will refer to when you refer to your production house. It's the name that shows up on your bank account. It's the name that shows up on your salary check. In short, it's the mark that the world will know you as.
Start by making sure no one else is already using this name:
Run an IMDB search to make sure no one is using this name
Check the potential name candidates again the National Business Register
Use the USPTO Trademark Search database to see if anyone owns the trademark to the business name
Try and keep your production company name simple and memorable. A human-friendly name helps people find you and remember you easier. This is a great time for you to buy your website domain. You can use Namecheap to buy domains for cheap and hold it until you are ready to build a website for your video production company.
3. Write Your Business Plan
You need to think of a video production company like any other business. This means your goal is to generate income based on providing value. Starting your film business requires you to have a compelling execution plan. This means starting with a powerful mission statement and giving the steps to accomplish this mission.
Establish your company's foundations with a business plan. Recruiting employees requires a plan. Pitching investors requires a plan. As with anything you do in life, follow the principle of the 5Ps (Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance). The better you plan ahead, the less likely that you will run into nasty surprises down the road.
4. Build Your Dream Team
It takes a village of cast and crew to make a production happen. Everyone has their own unique talents and roles to play. In order to create movie magic, you need to recruit the right talent on board to do so. As the famous proverb goes:
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
Think about the kinds of people you will need to bring on board now or hire later to start your company. Align the proper incentives to people to get excited about what you are building. Here are some potential roles you may need to fill:
Head of development: finding and assess scripts
Head of production: make sure films are created on schedule and on budget
Head of post-production: handling the technical side of the edit, making sure the film requirements are met
Head of film sales and distribution: raising funding, handling distribution, in additional to traditional sales routes
Create an operating agreement so everyone is clear on what the expectations are. The financial livelihood of your company is in their hands as much as it's in yours.
5. Determining Your Company's Legal Structure
Choosing the right legal structure for your company will determine what your taxes, classification, and financial incentives look like. Here are the different types of businesses you can choose from:
You will also need a registered agent in the state of your business. They will help you receive service of notices, correspondence from the Secretary of State, and other tax forms and lawsuits on behalf of the corporation.
6. Build an Online Presence
In the virtual age, a solid web presence is vital to a video production company's success. Luckily, starting a website is easier than ever. Here are some affordable options:
You can easily create dynamic web designs today with these services. They will help you with hosting, scaling, and more. You can also build a massive brand by leveraging SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and YouTube to differentiate your company. This is a great time to grab your handle on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and Instagram.
7. Hire a Good Accountant
Having a good CPA to handle your bookkeeping and taxes makes a world of difference. New businesses are usually disorganized in the beginning. But this mentality keeps can prevent you from growing bigger in the long-run. A good accountant will help you keep your financial records and track all the money in and out. This will make it much easier to pay your employees, invoice your clients, borrow loans, or raise money down the road.
8. Raise Money
Now that you have a plan, a team, and all the chess pieces in place, you should ask yourself:
Do I need to raise money?.
If the answer is yes, here are some ways to raise money:
Talk to a big production company or a studio
Start a crowdfunding campaign
Talk to angel investors
Partner with a brand (sponsorship)
9. Determining Your Film Distribution Strategy
Distribution is one of the most important parts of producing feature films. Luckily, digital advancements have democratized the distribution process. A YouTuber with a massive follower can reach more people than some independent filmmakers. Whether you are distributing your content on YouTube, Netflix, or in the theaters, you need to figure out which medium is best for what you have to offer.
It takes time, hard work, and persistence to make a production company work. If you work through these steps with diligence, you will find success on the other side. Starting your video production company is an exciting journey. It's a journey that can change your life. Channel your energy and your passion for creating works of art to change the world.