Like any project, it’s important to understand what you’re really getting into when you ask the question “can I start a film production company?” Starting a production company comes with all of the challenges of starting any company, and there isn’t one right way to do it. Many different paths can lead you to the same destination.
We’ve outlined some ways movie production companies have made it work as well as some helpful tips on how to get your company up and running.
If you’re looking for funding for a film or video project, you can submit your one-sentence pitch to our funding opportunities for a chance to receive up to $10,000.
The first step of starting an independent film production company is to figure out your niche. Something your company does has to stand out from other companies. Whether that means being an agency or doing corporate video, your company has to be unique. So let’s look at the different areas in which your company can capitalize.
So what is a production company vs. an agency? A video agency produces content for clients, while a video production company makes their own videos without the input and the needs of clients. But they can also be one in the same.
Also in the film world, a talent agency or management agency represents or manages talent like actors and models and are involved heavily in the casting process. If pre-production and casting are what interest you, then starting a management or talent agency might be the right niche for your company.
A video agency has to make content the clients want to see, so it often is not a terribly creative job, especially if your clients are very corporate. But agencies also don’t worry about funding because clients pay for their services. This allows agencies to make videos with higher production value, and they can often afford to go beyond, say, the basic three point lighting setup.
If you think starting an agency is the route you want to go with your company, it’ll be beneficial to hire creative individuals. You might know them from other offices or shoots you’ve been on.
While some of the clients may be boring, if you’re starting your agency from scratch you have complete control over who you work for and who you hire, and it can be a pretty great experience.
Film production companies make films. They’re the ones whose production company logos play before every movie. So now let’s break down the production company vs studio difference.
Film Connection offers a list of independent film production companies and explains that many big studios own their own production companies, but the company is still its own brand with its own production company name, so that gets listed, too. The studio finances what the company makes, but the company still gets its own credit.
All of the big studio-owned production companies used to be the only players in the industry. But thanks to film festivals around the world, more and more independent film production companies are coming on the scene. Once these independent companies have proven their abilities, they are sometimes acquired by a studio, and then some of the funding pressure is taken off of them.
If you think the feature route is for you, you will need the capital to get started. And you’ll have to give serious thought about how will you make money, as producing and distributing a feature film with no experience is incredibly difficult. An important first step is to establish an independent film production company business plan. If you feel that this is overwhelming, that’s good, as starting a company represents a big responsibility. It will be worth your while to get someone who has a business background on board as a partner. This business-oriented partner will help you formulate your business plan, raise financing, and handle the less creative aspects of starting a creative business.
Maybe feature film isn’t your niche, and you’re more interested in creating episodic stories. Then television production might be the right place for your company.
Similarly to movies each of the big studios have their own television companies too, here are some of the top television companies operating right now.
Like with any of these production avenues, the best way to get started is to have a full film crew list of connections with experience. If you have people that will follow you as you start your production company, you’ve won half the battle. Want to Work In Television offers more advice on getting started with a television media production company.
Post-Production and VFX
Visual effects or post-production represents another possible niche to fit your production company into. Post-production companies are always in demand because filmmakers often outsource the work of special effects, especially if it’s digital and achieved in post-production (as opposed to “practical” effects, which are captured on set, “in camera”).
If you like editing, animating and working with software, then a production company specializing in post-production might be the place for you.
You won’t be one of the independent film production companies looking for screenplays, but you might find yourself with a more consistent stream of work, editing and compositing other filmmakers’ projects. Having plenty of post-production experience yourself will also be beneficial. The Manifest offers a comprehensive list of 100 post-production companies to check out.
If you’re looking to fund a film to jumpstart your production company, you can get up to $10,000 from one of our funding opportunities by writing one sentence.
Good luck, and get started!