Starting a Film Production Company
Starting a film production company is an exciting, if not nerve wracking step for many filmmakers, whether new or experienced. With your own company, you will likely have full business and creative control, depending on the level of involvement of any investors. However, where to start and the best avenues to pursue can sometimes be overwhelming.
What are You Producing?
One of the first steps in film production is to decide what you are making. Feature films, animation, shorts, commercials, documentaries, action movies and so much more from which to choose. Once you have an idea what types of creative you’ll be producing, it should be fairly fun for you and your creative team to come up with a name. Just look at some of the names of A-List talent production companies: Brad Pitt – Plan B Entertainment, George Clooney – SmokeHouse Productions, Kerry Washington – Simpson Street, Sofia Vergara – Latin World Entertainment Holdings and many more.
Now that you have a vision and direction, a management team and a super cool company name, it’s time to pick your company type. Most film production companies opt for a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC). Additionally, many filmmakers set up each film the company makes as it’s own LLC. Limited Liability means just that – if anything goes wrong during production, there is a limit to the liability the filmmaker has, which allows him or her to protect themselves, the overall company and their assets. A sole proprietorship, while slightly easier to set up, puts the filmmaker personally at risk. Like, if there were an accident on set. So this is not generally recommended. A corporation on the other hand, limits all liability, but it also is complicated to set up and maintain and is probably far more than filmmakers need early on in their careers. We recommend you always seek the advice of a professional attorney when starting any company, but especially in Entertainment. If may seem like a large investment up front, but it is the safest and most secure way to get your business going.
Production Company Business Plan
A great way to lay out your business and come up with a production plan is to create a Production Company Business Plan. Your film business plan is really the blueprint of your how your company will proceed and gets everyone in agreement before you start down the production path. The Business Plan maps out the ompany’s mission and vision, structure, finances, functions, policies, ethics and more. It is a good idea to draft your business plan before you begin filing LLC (or other) paperwork, so you are all in agreement on how your production company will function.
One of the greatest challenges for any filmmaker, no matter how long they are in business is finding money to invest in their film or film slate. There are independent film investors, grants, scholarships, product placement, tax incentives, location incentives, contests with prize money, capital investors and dozens of other ways to secure financing. Most often, film financing is cobbled together using a multitude of different investment types – all of which have different ROIs and payback schedules. Of course, the ideal investment is one that does not need to be paid back. To discover more about movie financing, you may want to check out 1000 Ways to Finance Your Movie.
FilmSkills.com – How to Start a Production Company
For more information on starting a film production company, please see: Start a Film Production Company