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Starting a production company takes drive, initiative, marketing savvy and prior experience with film, video or music production projects. For those who wish to venture into film and television production, a background in screenwriting will also prove highly beneficial. Production companies are formed by sole proprietors who have adequate financial resources or through business partnerships that pool resources from themselves and outside investors.
Anyone interested in starting a production company should first work towards accumulating experience and knowledge about the field. This will also help to establish industry contacts, which are absolutely essential to gaining proper exposure to potential artists, resources and promotional outlets. It is also important to develop a business plan and focus on a specific genre.
Developing a business plan and genre focus involves determining what types of productions the company will specialize in — for example, short films versus features or reality television versus sitcoms. Part of the business plan's development will include identifying a target audience, methods of distribution, and promotional and talent acquisition methods. When starting a production company it is also a good idea to decide whether it will be run by a single individual or become a partnership.
Acquiring business partners and, consequently, additional sources of startup funding can be a more viable option when starting a production company. Partnerships broaden the types of professional projects that a company can take on since financial and human capital resources are broadened. Creative ideas might flourish more freely in a collaborative environment and each partner may be able to lend different areas of expertise that would otherwise be available. For example, one partner may be an excellent screenwriter while another might have more industry contracts and marketing know-how.
Once the foundations of how the production company will be run are decided, it is important to assess what resources will need to be acquired. Goals and objectives should be put in writing. Those involved in starting a production company should also determine the amount of outside funding that will be required. Putting a business plan into writing, with potential return on investment figures will be crucial to securing investors.
Besides seeking individual and corporate investors, production company hopefuls should also seek out creative grants and sponsorships. A business plan should account for this type of funding and should also include potential employees, contractors and expenses. The use of studios, film and video equipment, and expenses for prop materials, salaries, benefits, and promotional activity should all be figured in.
As with any business, it is recommended that legal formation options be looked into. Some locations offer the choice of becoming a limited liability partnership (LLP) or a limited liability corporation (LLC), which can limit the amount of personal liability that partners put on the line in the event of a financial failure or lawsuit. Registering the company with local authorities and acquiring any necessary licenses is another essential step.
Promotion of the company is one of the more challenging aspects of starting a production company. Unconventional methods, such as social media marketing, will generally be just as beneficial as local advertisements and word-of-mouth methods. Developing an online presence through a professional web page with a portfolio of past work is an additional marketing tactic.
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