Have you decided to play the Hollywood game and start your own film production company? It’s an exciting and thrilling industry to enter. Yet if you’re going to be a success, it is imperative to properly plan. Before signing your first client or creating your first film, there are several things you’ll need to get your production company up and running. Though some may be easier to acquire than others, you want to make sure you have each of the things listed below:
Take Care of Legalities
As with any business type, there are some legalities you want to have taken care of immediately. This includes choosing and registering your production company’s name, choosing an entity, obtaining the proper licenses and permits in your jurisdiction, securing business insurance and registering for a tax identification number. Now is also a good time to open a separate business account. Though you’re eager to get started, you don’t want to forego these steps. In doing so, you could find yourself in legal trouble with the local and federal government and/or other outside parties like clients, employees, or competitors.
Chances are you’re not going to run a full-on production company out of your house, so you’ll need to find a commercial property to work from. It’s best when trying to find a place, to work with someone who specializes in local real estate. For example, if you live in the Los Angeles metro area, you might want to get a good Pasadena Realtor. They’ll be able to find you just the right building in just the right area to get you started.
When you meet with the realtor, make sure you have an idea of what you’re looking for. If you’re in search of office space, how much room do you need? Is it just for you, or do you intend to hire in-house staff who will also need space? Will it need to house your equipment or will you be placing the equipment in storage? Do you need an area to meet with clients? Though you don’t want to purchase a space too large, opting for a commercial property that you will quickly outgrow isn’t economically wise.
Your production company will need to be funded. When it comes to raising money, the best place for you to start will be your friends and family, and then you can move on to actual outside investors. When it comes to production companies, you might be surprised to find that many of them are bankrolled with credit cards. That said, you need to remember that a production company is a long process and if you’re using credit cards to fund it, you run the risk of bankrupting yourself. You shouldn’t ever put all your eggs in a single basket.
There are plenty of other funding options for your film production company. You can create a profile on a crowdfunding site and advertise on social media asking followers to donate. This money is yours to use freely for the business and you don’t have to worry about repaying the funds. Angel investors are another option. These are individuals who look for new businesses to invest in. With this type of funding source, however, you’ll likely be required to repay the investment with interest or provide the investor with a share in your company. Lastly, which is a lot easier to manage than maxing out several credit cards is to take out a small business loan. The US Small Business Administration offers loans to entrepreneurs looking to launch a business. Though you’ll have to repay the funds, the repayment options and interest are a lot more lenient than traditional banking loans.
No business will be successful if it doesn’t have the right equipment. Aside from lighting, cameras, mics, etc. you’ll also need a good supercomputer or two. All of these things and more will allow you to get your production filmed and then edit it the way it needs to be edited.
You’ll need to find a script that you’re passionate about. When you’re getting your company started, you might want to stick to those films that will need a budget of less than a million dollars if you want the best chances of getting funding for it. It’s always best to be passionate about your scripts since it might take a year or more of working hard on it to realize your goals.
There isn’t any film production company that will ever be complete without talent. You’ll have to find screenplays for the company to produce and this task can be rather frustrating. Aside from that, you’ll need to find actors to play the roles. For screenplays, you can post ads on writer websites or Craigslist and for actors, you can go to talent agencies. Another way to find actors, directors and all the other film professionals you’ll need is by attending national and local film festivals.
Before you can begin to accept screenplays or work with actors, you’ll need to ensure that you have all the right legal documentation. It’s best to obtain the services of a good entertainment lawyer for this, but you can also find all the documents you’ll need at Producer’s Guild, SAG, and WGA websites. Before anything is submitted to your production company, you’ll need to have them sign release forms so that your business is protected.
Work the Deal
After you’ve found just the right screenplay, you’ll need to option it and draw up a contract for the purchase. An option will require a small investment from you, and for that investment, depending on the terms of the contract, you’ll have the rights to produce it for a year.
Finally, don’t give up. Success in the film industry doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll need to spend many hours each day working, and it might take a year or two to begin to see the fruits of your labor. Keep your goals in sight and keep pushing forward every day.