Starting your own production company is a significant way to “level up” your movie-producing career. Having a production company can help you gain more credibility. It also gives you a place to call home whenever you’re developing, financing, or producing a movie or television series.
When starting a production company, having a vision for the content you want to create is a good idea. Perhaps you want to produce a television series, documentary, or narrative feature film. And maybe you want to specialize in making romantic comedies, science fiction, horror, or some other genre.
Production Company Goals
Once you know the type of content you want to produce, it’s a good idea to figure out the scale of your initial projects. For example, there is a big difference between making a Hollywood blockbuster and starting small with a backyard indie.
Once you have a vision for your production company, you want to create a business plan. Your production company business plan should include all the details about your company, including what you plan to do, how much money you’ll need, and, importantly, how you plan to sell your movies. The good news is that you can modify this film business plan template.
Brand Your Company
The next step is to think about your branding. Creating a brand includes naming your company, designing a logo, and eventually developing a website (and all social media channels.)
Your company name needs to be easy to remember and reflect the content you plan to produce. You could start with your name, like “Tom Malloy Productions.” Or you could get more creative and choose something like “Trick Candle Productions.”
Once you have your name, you can focus on your logo and other art. I hope this goes without saying, but your art needs to look professional. Your logo should be clean and easy to understand. And your website should be designed to make you look credible.
In other words, just because your kid sister has Photoshop on her laptop doesn’t mean she’s an experienced graphic designer. And no matter what, please do not do ANY branding yourself. Go on Fiverr and search for a graphic designer.
Production Company Legal
The moment you start putting a movie together, you are in business. At this point, many movie producers make business cards and start pitching their projects to prospective investors and other people. It is also at this point that these people make many costly mistakes.
Establishing a production company and conducting your filmmaking business can have legal and tax ramifications. So before you produce a feature film OR speak with prospective investors regarding your movie project, talk with an attorney about ways to establish a business entity.
A business entity, like an LLC or Corporation, can help you protect your assets from professional liability. Your business entity can also have tax ramifications. An LLC may be taxed differently than a corporation. You will want to speak to qualified professionals for many more reasons.
Keep Overhead Low
If you plan to lease an office for your production company, there must be a good reason. The last thing you want to do is start spending money on unnecessary overhead. And I’m speaking from experience.
Back in the day, I tended to establish an office space any time I raised development funding for a project. I remember getting office supplies for a new production office at Staples. As I was checking out, I saw someone I knew, and she asked me if I was starting a production company. I was like, “how did you know?”
These days, you can do a lot of things remotely. You don’t need a dozen employees. It’s probably best to start small and hire people only if you need them. Managing your production company overhead will save you money and help you focus on actually making movies. And if you’d like more info, enroll in my online film-producing course.