It’s pretty easy to make a film. Get your cell phone out, fool around with a few of the filmmaking apps, get some friends together, go down to the park (or pub) and make something. Do it again until you start getting the hang of it. Financiers and potential sponsors call this “Proof of Concept”. Starting your own film company is the next stage in formalising your career.
Sooner or later the film bug will really grab you. At this point, stop and reflect on the reasons you want to make movies on a more serious level. Is it to make money? To influence people? Or to look cool? It really doesn’t matter which reason you choose, I believe you should just choose one. Why not step back and formalise your efforts with the hope of monetising your work?
5. Create a legal entity for starting your film company
Making one movie, however modest the budget usually implies you need to set up a legal entity. We’ve done that with Raindance Raw Talent Ltd, our production arm.
You are going to be running a business no different from other businesses. There isn’t a special legal structure for a film company is my point. There are several different legal structures you can pick and choose from. Best get some legal advice and also consult with an accountant so you can maximise tax advantages.
In the UK it’s blindingly simple to set up a company.
- Choose a name: do a quick google and IMDB search to make sure no one else has already grabbed it. If they have you need to change it.
- Register and form the company at Companies House. It’s so easy to do now, but if you need advice, why not choose one of the short Raindance Basic Legal Contract courses. These are life in London and Toronto. You can also take them online.
- Get registered for local taxes.
- Get a bank account.
- Get a website – making sure you have the URL of your name. You can search web names on Whois.com.
- Register your social media profiles: Twitter, FaceBook, Instagram, Pinterest. Make sure these profiles are available in your company’s name too. Start getting followers and likes.
Create your own YouTube channel and start getting subscribers.
4. Create a business plan for your film
Nothing guarantees success more than a good, solid business plan. Decide what it is you want to do and how you are going to do it. Line up a team. Make a budget and schedule. Get an idea of who is going to fund it and how the money is going to return to investors. Need help and advice? Raindance’s Producer’s Foundation Certificate will help you get the paperwork together.
3, Raise some movie money for starting your own film company
Armed with your business plan, hit the campaign trail to get the money to make your dream come true.
There are several different ways to raise money depending on your business plan.
- Take your business plan to one of the big production companies, or even a studio.
- Apply for government funding like the UK’s BFI.
- Partner with a producer in another country who will bring local public funds to the table (co-production).
- Get money from a brand (product placement).
- Find an angel investor.
- Launch a crowdfunding campaign.
Raindance’s Movie Money class.
2. Get a filmmaking team
Any production company of note has 4 key personnel. When you are starting your own film company you are in start-up phase. You will deliver many if not all of these key roles yourself. As you grow and develop, and as your social media profiles kick into gear, you will start getting swamped with work, and you will need help.
- Head of development
– to find and assess scripts.
- Head of production
– to make sure the films are created on time and on budget.
- Head of post-production
– someone to navigate the technical thrills and spills of the edit, and make sure the long list of film deliverables are met.
- Head of film sales and distribution
– an increasingly key role. This person will supervise crowd-funding and self-distribution in addition to the traditional sales routes.
1. Film distribution
Embarking on a filmmaking career without a clear distribution strategy is a terribly bad decision. Digital technology advances have democratised the filmmaking process – anyone with very few bucks can make a movie. This has flooded the market with inferior products meaning traditional distribution routes are choked with so-called product driving down prices.
In my current position at Raindance, I am flooded with requests for help and advice from filmmakers. Many have fully developed packages with named talent attached and most of the finance in place – but with absolutely no distribution secured. I’ve stopped advising projects such as this on moral grounds.
Therein lies the irony: making movies has never been easier and cheaper to make. Distribution has never been more difficult.