Ten Steps for Setting Up Your Own Film Company (part one)

Copyright: Watershed/BFI Film Academy

Copyright: Watershed/BFI Film Academy

Award-winning filmmaker Becky Johnson has set up her own film company. It’s very easy. And with these ten steps, you can do the same. 

[Check back next week for part two.]

Bristol is full of avid filmmakers.

Being one myself, I understand how hard it is to get your foot in the media door. So, I set out to get some experience. The beginning of this year, I joined a course with BFI Film Academy Bristol. I cannot recommend it enough! I met so many great people, learned so many new skills and now I’m more prepared for jumping into the real world (applications are now open). Through this, I made some really good friends. The great thing is, they share the same ambition for film like me. So, this summer, we decided to make a production company, ‘Prawn Productions’.

Prawn Productions’, the name may sound a little silly, but it’s personal to us and, for now, it’s acceptable. We’ve since won an international film festival, made two films and have another two lined up. We’ve had funding from O2, and have been able to use state of the art equipment such as Black Magics. We now have people who are asking to work with us, we’re getting more noticed, and we’re applying for more festivals. Setting up a production company is such a good way to create films and build up your portfolio, however, you need to do it right, to be successful. So, I’ve devised a list of my top 10 things you need to start your own production company. Here are the first five. Check back next week for part two.

1. Enthusiastic Partners

Although you have an exceeding amount of motivation and ambition in order to even consider starting a professional production company, you’ll also need team members with the same drive. You need people you really connect with, people who will at least 95% of the time be on the same page as you. That other 5% should be their individual creative ideas, which will bounce off of yours. You’ll all have a creative flare for filmmaking, and with each of your individual unique ideas, you’ll create films that will reach a wide audience.

When picking people for your production team, be sure to pick people who will really commit. At Prawn Productions, we meet weekly to discuss new ideas, or continue to produce current films, although we all have other commitments, we find the time to get together.

Everyone on the team should have a speciality or two. Mine is predominantly producing and writing, another member specialises in cameras and directing. It’s helpful when everyone has different specialities, that way you’ll never be short of major roles.

2. At least 2 films to show

There is no point starting a production company if you have nothing to show for yourselves. Do not start presenting yourselves as a production company until you have either a show reel, or a few films (or both). Clients, or people who may want to work for you are going to want to see the work you’ve done, and what style you have.

With Prawn Productions, we currently have two short films on release, but we are now receiving messages from clients wanting to work with us, after seeing what we have created. More films to show, also improve your chance of getting funding e.g. if you are going through sites like Kickstarter, people can see what you have done and will know that you have the right motivation that is worth investing in.

3. Social Media

Whether it is on Facebook, Twitter, or even Tumblr, a social media page will benefit you massively. Not just publicity wise, but should you struggle to find actors, the right person might see your casting call via your social media page and contact you. When someone see’s your film, they are likely to research your production company, so when they type ‘Prawn Productions’, ideally they would find at least one page that they can look at. It’s a great way to do some shameless self promotion.  You can also create a separate website, which you should link to your page, this may look more professional, but will be harder for the general public to find.

4. be prepared to spend your own money

Funding is such an important part of filmmaking, especially if you are making a longer film. There are several ways to get funding, but I myself am still searching for more ways! One way you can get funding are through sites such as Kickstarter, or IdeasTap. Kickstarter is a website in which you pitch your idea, explain your roles, and announce your budget target. People will then donate money to you if they like your idea, and once you’ve reached your target, the money is yours for you to create. Before applying, I would recommend watching others pitches, to get some ideas about what to add to yours. It’s worth looking up online for the best ways to get budgeting, but you should be prepared to spend some of your own money on your projects.

5. always have a film lined up

A very important part of running your own company, is preparing for your next projects-even if you are still in pre-production of a current project! Prawn Productions currently has two projects in the making, and another 3 in ideas development. As long as you have the dedication, this should not be difficult- time consuming, but not difficult. This way, you will have evidence that you can be organised enough to multitask, and can be trusted to work on professional briefs. It’s an excellent way to build up your portfolio, and also to boost up the reputation of your company. It’ll get more well known, and therefore, more likely to get funding and make it big.

That’s the list for this week, remember, feel free to shamelessly self promote, you never know where it will get you. With that said, Like us on Facebook

Have you got your own film company? Are you looking to make your own films? Send us your stuff so we can look at it: @rifemag

Related Links:

Little Ryan’s Film School by Little Ryan

Apply for this year’s BFI Film Academy by Rife Editor