As you already know, Artlist offers high-quality music and sound effects for filmmakers. The platform recently added a new plan – Artlist Teams – that targets production companies with more than one user. This is the perfect opportunity to talk about how to start a production company.
What is a production company?
A production company is a business that produces videos, films or any media. Their team is in charge of the creative and technical steps of the production. Of course, each production company is different and will offer other services. As you see, we mentioned the word team. A team is the main characteristic that defines a company in opposition to a freelance filmmaker.
Why start a production company in 2022?
You would think that nowadays, everyone can access a camera or smartphone and produce videos. So, why start a production company?
No matter how talented you are, one person can’t produce projects at the level a production company can. Not to mention multiple projects.
The demand is there
In 2022, all companies need an online presence, meaning they need content and videos. And more often than not, the guy who started a business will not have the time to produce that content himself. So, with every industry on the planet needing videos, don’t you think it’s the moment to open your company?
Years ago, it was almost impossible to open a production company just because of the price of the equipment. In 2022, however, decent shooting gear is affordable for most of us. To start a company, you don’t have to buy an Alexa Mini and Cooke lenses. A good mirrorless camera will do just fine.
Starting a production company can be overwhelming if you are unaware of the steps you should take before establishing it. These days, with infinite online information, many filmmakers come from a self-thought background. They are people with passion, some tools and the will to learn the craft to become masters in what they do. However, starting a business requires a different set of skills than filmmaking.
Some film schools will include topics to teach you how a production company works. Also, you will be surrounded by other filmmakers from different disciplines and with the same passion, creating an environment that can help to make this process easier. On the other hand, if you are a bunch of friends with a passion for creating content or short films and want to establish a production company, you should learn about the ‘rough’ areas. And as it happens, these are more related to the business environment than how to frame or grade a shot.
Here is a partial list of the skills your team will need if you open a company:
If you want to make your company succeed, you will need some experience with numbers -or someone from your team-. They will help you stay organized and without any loose ends.
Making a business plan would be the logical place to start, and it’s important to understand there is much more to this profession than making films and being creative.
In this industry, you will be dealing with people all the time. People from your team, suppliers, clients, actors, etc. It would be better if you were comfortable dealing with people.
Finding sources of income
Some people have a special talent for this, but even if you are not one of the, it would be ideal if you get used to researching possible ways of income.
From promoting your company to building your brand, this skill is essential to make your production company grow and be noticed.
Organizing your team
As your company grows, things will go out of control if you don’t follow a precise method to organize your team. Schedules, tasks, salaries, etc., every aspect should be under control to avoid one of the enemies of production: chaos. A good tip for staying organized is to get used to production management software.
Oh, yeah, and making films
How to start a production company, step-by-step
Aside from making a proper business plan before starting your production company, here are some steps that will make your life easier and ensure your business has a solid foundation.
Making films is (can be) fun. It’s your passion. Your friends love what you do, or even you already have some clients who love your work. Time to open a company, right? Well, we advise you to do a lot of research because things get serious when you decide to start a business, and your money and time are at stake.
Do you want to specialize in weddings? Short films? Commercials? Real Estate videos? Whatever your niche is, you should research your area and see what’s around you.
For example, if you want to make wedding films but live in a village with an average age of 70, it may not be the best idea. So you need to consider your surroundings. On the other hand, you could do destination wedding videos and work and get clients 100% online. If that’s the case, you could start without a physical space, saving you money.
Imagine you live in a city. Who’s your competition? What do they do, and what’s the price of their videos? Would you fit in that scene with something new or something similar? Are there enough clients to feed your needs?
Of course, everything is different if you already work in the industry, have worked with clients and decide to open your own company. In that case, you have the most important thing to succeed in this business: contacts. In that case, you could establish your company online from a small island and work with your team remotely.
Run the numbers
Before opening your company, you need to know how much money you will need—papers, equipment, space, salaries, bills, unexpected expenses, etc. Then you will need to know how much you have to make to cover those numbers. This will give you an idea of how much you should charge for a project (considering where you are) and how many projects you will need to take on per year.
The total costs and the use you will make of your equipment will also help you decide whether to buy, lease or rent your equipment. And don’t forget to research government grants, benefits, taxes, etc.
Choose your suppliers wisely
When opening a production company, it’s good to build relationships in all directions, not only with your team or clients. When you need things, you become the client, and choosing from the suppliers you trust will make one less thing to worry about. So do your research, make calls, tell them about your company and listen to what they offer. Their vibe will also help you choose.
You will need camera equipment, computers, batteries, lights and accessories… but you will also need digital assets for your work, so consider the following:
- Stock video from platforms like Artgrid
- Royalty-free music and sound effects from platforms like Artlist (with its new Teams subscription plan)
- Templates, presets and plugins from marketplaces like Motion Array
Diversify your sources of income
The first thought that comes to mind when considering a production company is ‘a company that makes films or videos’. However, in 2022, you have many other ways to increase your income, not only with traditional projects. Here are a few ideas:
- Selling stock footage
- Creating your own content (filmmaking courses, for example)
- Renting out your equipment when you’re not using it
- Working for other companies when they need to outsource crew
- Selling assets like plugins, LUTs and tutorials.
- Affiliation with brands.
The possibilities are almost endless. And these days, unless you are already well established in the market, having your company specialize in one field might not be the best idea.
Build a crew
Once you’ve prepared your business plan and done the research, you will know how many people you need in your company, your team and your salaries. If in doubt, you could start with fewer people and grow when you get the clients. You will need to set up a minimum crew to make things work from the beginning. Choose wisely.
Build a portfolio
When a client reaches you for the first time, you will need something to show them. It would help if you had previous work so they could see what you are capable of. This part is not always easy because you are establishing your company, and maybe you don’t have enough body of work to put together. If that’s the case, you will have to do some low-cost projects and collaborations with other artists who need to grow their own portfolios. It is part of the process, and almost all of us have done it. You could shoot spec commercials for brands or show videos you have submitted to contests.
Don’t think about these jobs as working for free. Ultimately, they are an investment for your company because they will attract clients.
Build your brand online
If you are a renowned professional in the industry and everybody knows you before you open your company, you could even work without a website. Your phone would be enough. Once again, so long you have the contacts.
For the rest of us mortals, we must establish our online presence. It is even more crucial than having a studio. In 2022, if you are not online, you don’t exist. You are not reliable. Some ideas of things you could do:
- Open a profile on the leading social media platforms
- Interact with potential clients and brands
- Post consistently
- Plan a marketing strategy
- Create helpful content
- Create a youtube channel with your work
- Reply to emails
And you’d do well to consider incorporating someone proficient in these areas into the team. Trust us; those tasks require time and knowledge.
As you see, 2022 is the perfect time for learning how to start a production company. The resources are there; the equipment is affordable, and demand has never been higher. However, don’t forget to be ready and do your homework to build a solid foundation for your company. That way, you won’t feel lost in the middle of the process or when you get hit with unexpected costs.