Before you produce a feature film or speak with any potential investors regarding your movie project, you should first speak with a qualified professional on ways you can protect your personal assets from liability.
CREATE A PRODUCTION COMPANY
As a filmmaker, the moment you start putting your project together, you’re in business. It is at this point that many filmmakers get a business card and set up a website, touting the wonders of their upcoming projects. It is also at this point when many costly mistakes are made. How you decide to establish and conduct your filmmaking business can have legal and tax ramifications.
As such, the moment you decide to start putting a project together, you should also seek out the legal and tax advice of qualified professionals. After meeting with these folks, you might find that operating your production company under the protection of a corporate entity (such as a corporation or LLC) may provide safeguards that you otherwise were not aware of.
The steps of setting up a business entity are pretty simple, but they could be a little costly depending on your state (or country) laws and tax liabilities. Also, as a general disclaimer, I am not qualified to offer legal or tax advice. So I can only talk about my own experience – which may not be right for you.
The following considerations are worth pondering:
- Once you have a desired company name, chat with an attorney about establishing a proper legal structure for your company. Each state is different in terms of laws and tax consequences. Create a team of trusted tax and legal advisers. These folks will help guide you towards raising money and also keeping everything legal.
- I REPEAT — Talk with a qualified professional first. If you’re short on cash, many states offer an organization of lawyers for the arts. Check with your state film commission or do a web search for appropriate contact information.
- Once you establish your company, create a website, logo and a business card. These marketing materials will share consistent colors, fonts and logos. Make sure everything looks great. But… If you are spending more time focused on the “look” of your company, you’ve lost perspective. Your primary goal is to make movies, not fiddle with websites.