How many times have you seen a pretty shoddy local business commercial and thought, "Who was paid to make that? I can do so much better." The truth is that anyone with a passion for film can start their own media production company, but that doesn't mean it will be successful. Though you might have the creativity and artistic vision to work on your own film production business, starting a film production company or online media business takes a bit more than simply filming your own videos and creating killer content. It's a step-by-step process that's similar to starting any business.
Plant the Seeds for Your Media Production Company
When starting a media company, you're going to need a few things before you actually start making films. We'll call these the seeds to your success. You need a name for your media production company and a business plan. Do a quick IMDB or Google search to make sure your name isn't taken. A business plan will help you organize your business's mission and nail down how you're going to make a profit.
Register Your Media Production Company
Once you've established a business plan and set your name in stone, you're going to have to register the necessary paperwork. You need a local business license and a tax registration certificate from the state you're working in. You may also choose to run your business as a limited liability company or LLC, in which case you need to obtain a Tax Identification Number from the IRS. If you plan to hire employees, you need an Employer Identification Number.
All in all, you don't need any special permits or licenses when starting a film production company other than what any small business requires. Once you start filming, you may need local film permits depending on the area.
Get Your Funding
Starting a film production business isn't cheap, but there are loads of ways to make money. You may already be seeking out clients like corporations looking for graphics and advertisements or artists looking for music videos and online promotion. If you're working on your own creative projects like a film or documentary, you're going to need funding. You may choose to reach out to other film production companies to partner with on a specific project or look for an angel investor. Plenty of film production companies launch crowd-funding campaigns to raise the required funds.
Find Your Team
Film production companies are only as good as their team. If you're starting a media production company, you're going to need a solid group of employees. Most production companies have four key members:
- Head of development who looks over the scripts.
- Head of production who helps films stay on-time and on-budget.
- Head of post-production who's in charge of editing.
- Head of film sales and distribution who gets your film out there.
Find these key players, and you're ready to get started.
Purchase Your Equipment
In theory, all it takes is an iPhone and some video editing skills – though let's be real; a fantastic camera never hurt anyone and is probably an advisable expense. The startup costs are all dependent on the kind of media you want to produce. If you're going into online content, you may need to invest in some computers and server space. If you're launching a film production business, you'll need some cameras and editing software, which is anything but cheap. Get the tools you need before you bring clients on board.
Put Yourself Out There
Whether you're working on your own projects or filming things on behalf of clients, you're going to need to advertise your production company. A website will help showcase your work and find new clients or attract new scripts. There's nothing better than social media to get your name out there, but a few meetings with industry bigwigs certainly wouldn't hurt. Networking is key in this industry and social networks like LinkedIn are your friend.
- Begin your company with just yourself to keep costs down and control the quality of your brand. As the business grows, you will want to consider increasing staff.
- Clearly define a project prior to starting it to avoid having a client demand things that are outside of the project parameters.
Mariel Loveland is a small business owner, content strategist and writer from New Jersey. Throughout her career, she's worked with numerous startups creating content to help small business owners bridge the gap between technology and sales. Her work has been featured in publications like Business Insider and Vice.