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empirebuilder
07-16-2012, 01:03 PM
Hello everyone. I'm looking to connect with other film makers out there who've taken the plunge and started their own production company.

I'm a screenwriter by trade and am currently working with a group on a feature-length film. I know there's a lot that goes into starting up such a company and it would be great to hear from those who've done and who can offer some practical advice on doing it correctly. Specifically, I'm interested in knowing how to put together the business plan, hiring good talent and some of the day-to-day/ins-n-outs of operating my own film company. I've been pondering the idea for sometime, but felt a little overwhelmed by the prospect. Well, I'm ready to do it. But, I want to procede carefully and methodically and in such a way that I can best achieve my objective.

Any advice and suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanx...

Aspiringmogul
10-09-2013, 07:13 AM
I don't know your age and experience, but here's some general advice.

You seem to have some experience already, and, if so, ensure you have a little money saved up, as a cushion. Then, if you can, take some courses in business administration and, if possible, get a degree or at least a diploma. When you have that knowledge, you may want to work a few years as a manager for a studio. In general, it takes about 2-5 years to learn a trade (screen writing, directing, or producing), and 5-10 years to run a business. This is a slower route, but you'd be minimizing your risk.

Hope it helps.

Brandon Podell
12-29-2013, 09:46 PM
First, decide on what types of films you would like to produce and figure out who your target market is, meaning, who is going to watch your films and who you are going to sell your films to. Are you going to create comedy feature films and sell them to distributors, are you going to create drama TV series and sell them to TV networks, or are you going to find businesses that you make TV commercials for? Then, decide on a name for your production company and register it. Brand your company's name by creating a website, a Facebook page, and other pages for social media marketing. Create logos for your company and put them on all of your pages and websites. Create business cards with your name, email address, phone number, and website. Please let me know if you need help designing your website, any of your social media pages, your business cards, or your logos. You can email me at brandon[at]brandonpodell.com.

You can either decide to purchase and/or rent your equipment. If you purchase your equipment, it will pay off in the long-run, but will be extremely costly. Or, you can find freelancers with their own equipment, but then you have to rely on them working on your production instead of hiring someone else. I would start off slow and purchase only the essentials. As your company grows, begin upgrading your equipment.

You can choose to hire employees or independent contractors. If you hire independent contractors, which is preferred, then send them 1099 forms so they can file their taxes. If you hire employees, you must comply with several additional laws.

Save all of your receipts to use as write-offs for paying your staff, independent contractors, cast, crew, equipment, props, locations, filming permits, gas, tolls, and everything else that you spend money on. If you dedicate a portion of your house to your office, you can also use this as a write-off for your taxes. At the end of each year, you are taxed on any revenue that you made minus all of your expenses, which equals your profit. You can decide to register your business as for-profit (a self-proprietorship/corporation) or non-profit. If your business is for-profit, you can keep all of your profit that you make, but you must pay taxes. If your business is a non-profit, then you and your employees will get paid based on your salaries and bonuses and you don't have to pay taxes, but if one of your film sells for a million dollars, then you can't keep all of that
profit.

Find employees or freelancers who will work for your production company. You'll need a department for each of the following: writing, casting, marketing, pre-production office work, filming, editing, and distribution. At first, one person can fill the role for multiple departments. Focus on one project at a time. You can hire more people as you grow, after you are able to efficiently produce quality films. You can also choose to hire music composers, or just use royalty-free music. You can either purchase royalty-free music or find free royalty-free music. Incompetech ( http://incompetech.com/music/ ) is a great website for free music and http://www.freesound.org is a great website for free sound effects.

Begin to collect contact information for your actors, crew members, distributors, filming locations, and clients. Create a sortable list in Excel. For actors, collect information such as name, email address, phone number, website, video links, location, distance away from your production company, gender, date of birth, IMDb page, and stage name. When you are casting, sort your spreadsheet based on the type of actor that you need and then call or email them. There are also several websites that have huge databases of actors. Create an account for each of these websites, use them to find actors, and begin creating your own internal lists.

You can choose to purchase software or hire freelancers who already have the software. Microsoft Office is essential, which includes Word, Excel, and Outlook. You can use Word for contracts and release forms, Excel for contact information lists and filming schedules, and Outlook to manage all of your email accounts with signatures and auto-responding emails. Adobe Acrobat is also good to purchase when working with documents that you scan. This will allow you to rotate PDF documents and type on your PDF forms for documents such as your contracts. You also need editing software. The most popular editing software is Avid, Final Cut Pro, Premiere, and After Effects. You can purchase a subscription of Adobe Creative Cloud for $50/month, or $30/month if you are a teacher or student. You'll also need to hire a website designer, or you can use software such as Dreamweaver or Muse, which comes with Adobe Creative Cloud. You'll also need software to design your images and logos, such as Adobe Creative Cloud's Photoshop. Celtx is also good free software to quickly create screenplays. HootSuite is also free software to help make posts at specified times to all of your social media pages.

Create a folder on your computer to store all documents. You'll need artwork release forms, image release forms, music release forms, location release forms, actor release forms, a callsheet template, a filming schedule template, contract templates for your crew, contract templates for distributions, non-confidentiality agreements, and 1099 forms.

For your website and social media pages, create a demo reel, videos to show to clients, and images. Add your videos to Youtube or Vimeo. Have a place on your website so customers can type in their email addresses to subscribe to your monthly news article or casting calls. Include a link to your website in your email signature, along with your name, email address, phone number, and possibly your address. Include your email signature in all of your emails. Begin to get likes on your Facebook page to build your audience. Create at least a Facebook page for each of your films and build up the likes on those pages if attempting to find a distributor. Only post appropriate contact on your social media pages because you may have to hand over your pages to a distributor if you find one. Create an IMDb page for your business.

If you're not creating your own films and you need to find clients, begin by creating a list of potential clients. If your company creates commercials for businesses, then Google and look in the yellow pages for all local businesses. Once you have your list, have your sales associate call each of these businesses. Offer a 20% discount for first-time clients and a $100 referral for anyone who finds you work. Go to shopping centers and malls and drop off your business card with local businesses and mention that you're interested in making a commercial for them.

Have weekly meetings with each lead member of each department. As you grow, also have weekly meetings with all people within one department. Create an agenda of topics to discuss during each meeting and ask for everyone to email you the list of their topics before the meeting. Make email accounts for each of your employees based on your website name. If your website is www.xyzproductions.com, then make email accounts such as john[at]xyzproductions.com. Make everyone's email address and email signatures the same. In their signatures, use the same logos that are used on your website and social media pages.

AlkalineFilms
01-19-2014, 11:02 AM
First, decide on what types of films you would like to produce and figure out who your target market is, meaning, who is going to watch your films and who you are going to sell your films to. Are you going to create comedy feature films and sell them to distributors, are you going to create drama TV series and sell them to TV networks, or are you going to find businesses that you make TV commercials for? Then, decide on a name for your production company and register it. Brand your company's name by creating a website, a Facebook page, and other pages for social media marketing. Create logos for your company and put them on all of your pages and websites. Create business cards with your name, email address, phone number, and website. Please let me know if you need help designing your website, any of your social media pages, your business cards, or your logos. You can email me at brandon[at]brandonpodell.com.

You can either decide to purchase and/or rent your equipment. If you purchase your equipment, it will pay off in the long-run, but will be extremely costly. Or, you can find freelancers with their own equipment, but then you have to rely on them working on your production instead of hiring someone else. I would start off slow and purchase only the essentials. As your company grows, begin upgrading your equipment.

You can choose to hire employees or independent contractors. If you hire independent contractors, which is preferred, then send them 1099 forms so they can file their taxes. If you hire employees, you must comply with several additional laws.

Save all of your receipts to use as write-offs for paying your staff, independent contractors, cast, crew, equipment, props, locations, filming permits, gas, tolls, and everything else that you spend money on. If you dedicate a portion of your house to your office, you can also use this as a write-off for your taxes. At the end of each year, you are taxed on any revenue that you made minus all of your expenses, which equals your profit. You can decide to register your business as for-profit (a self-proprietorship/corporation) or non-profit. If your business is for-profit, you can keep all of your profit that you make, but you must pay taxes. If your business is a non-profit, then you and your employees will get paid based on your salaries and bonuses and you don't have to pay taxes, but if one of your film sells for a million dollars, then you can't keep all of that
profit.

Find employees or freelancers who will work for your production company. You'll need a department for each of the following: writing, casting, marketing, pre-production office work, filming, editing, and distribution. At first, one person can fill the role for multiple departments. Focus on one project at a time. You can hire more people as you grow, after you are able to efficiently produce quality films. You can also choose to hire music composers, or just use royalty-free music. You can either purchase royalty-free music or find free royalty-free music. Incompetech ( http://incompetech.com/music/ ) is a great website for free music and http://www.freesound.org is a great website for free sound effects.

Begin to collect contact information for your actors, crew members, distributors, filming locations, and clients. Create a sortable list in Excel. For actors, collect information such as name, email address, phone number, website, video links, location, distance away from your production company, gender, date of birth, IMDb page, and stage name. When you are casting, sort your spreadsheet based on the type of actor that you need and then call or email them. There are also several websites that have huge databases of actors. Create an account for each of these websites, use them to find actors, and begin creating your own internal lists.

You can choose to purchase software or hire freelancers who already have the software. Microsoft Office is essential, which includes Word, Excel, and Outlook. You can use Word for contracts and release forms, Excel for contact information lists and filming schedules, and Outlook to manage all of your email accounts with signatures and auto-responding emails. Adobe Acrobat is also good to purchase when working with documents that you scan. This will allow you to rotate PDF documents and type on your PDF forms for documents such as your contracts. You also need editing software. The most popular editing software is Avid, Final Cut Pro, Premiere, and After Effects. You can purchase a subscription of Adobe Creative Cloud for $50/month, or $30/month if you are a teacher or student. You'll also need to hire a website designer, or you can use software such as Dreamweaver or Muse, which comes with Adobe Creative Cloud. You'll also need software to design your images and logos, such as Adobe Creative Cloud's Photoshop. Celtx is also good free software to quickly create screenplays. HootSuite is also free software to help make posts at specified times to all of your social media pages.

Create a folder on your computer to store all documents. You'll need artwork release forms, image release forms, music release forms, location release forms, actor release forms, a callsheet template, a filming schedule template, contract templates for your crew, contract templates for distributions, non-confidentiality agreements, and 1099 forms.

For your website and social media pages, create a demo reel, videos to show to clients, and images. Add your videos to Youtube or Vimeo. Have a place on your website so customers can type in their email addresses to subscribe to your monthly news article or casting calls. Include a link to your website in your email signature, along with your name, email address, phone number, and possibly your address. Include your email signature in all of your emails. Begin to get likes on your Facebook page to build your audience. Create at least a Facebook page for each of your films and build up the likes on those pages if attempting to find a distributor. Only post appropriate contact on your social media pages because you may have to hand over your pages to a distributor if you find one. Create an IMDb page for your business.

If you're not creating your own films and you need to find clients, begin by creating a list of potential clients. If your company creates commercials for businesses, then Google and look in the yellow pages for all local businesses. Once you have your list, have your sales associate call each of these businesses. Offer a 20% discount for first-time clients and a $100 referral for anyone who finds you work. Go to shopping centers and malls and drop off your business card with local businesses and mention that you're interested in making a commercial for them.

Have weekly meetings with each lead member of each department. As you grow, also have weekly meetings with all people within one department. Create an agenda of topics to discuss during each meeting and ask for everyone to email you the list of their topics before the meeting. Make email accounts for each of your employees based on your website name. If your website is www.xyzproductions.com, then make email accounts such as john[at]xyzproductions.com. Make everyone's email address and email signatures the same. In their signatures, use the same logos that are used on your website and social media pages.

Nice. Thanks