Are you dreaming about starting your own film production company? Maybe you’ve got a passion for storytelling or an eye for capturing stunning visuals. Whether your interest lies in film or video production, this guide will walk you through the steps you need to take to set up your own business. Our leader, Cairn, has co-founded one production company and also founded this one, Frog Marketing Ltd, and is experienced in business formation and film production. Here he is in the photo above 🙂
Understanding the Industry
Before you dive in, it’s important to understand the world you’re stepping into. The film and video production business is exciting and full of opportunity, but it’s also competitive. Here’s what you should know:
It’s not just about films: Video production, including TV shows and online content, is a huge part of the industry.
It’s a growing industry: More and more people are consuming content every day. This means there’s a growing demand for what you’ll be creating.
Competition is high: Many companies are trying to meet this demand. To succeed, you’ll need to find a way to stand out.
Steps to Setup a Film Production Company
Step 1: Make a Plan
Making a plan is arguably the most important step in setting up a film production company. It’s a roadmap that guides your decision-making process and helps you understand the direction of your company. Here’s how to go about it:
Identify Your Niche
Understanding the kind of content you want to create is crucial.
- Type of Content: Are you interested in creating full-length feature films, short films, documentaries, music videos, commercials, corporate videos, or web content?
- Genre: Do you have a specific genre in mind? Are you drawn to drama, comedy, horror, action, or romance? Maybe you’re interested in a mix of genres.
- Audience: Who will be the audience for your content? Understanding your target audience can help guide your content creation and marketing strategies.
Conduct Market Research
To understand your place in the market, you’ll need to know the landscape.
- Competitor Analysis: Who are your direct and indirect competitors? What kind of content do they produce, and what are their strengths and weaknesses?
- Industry Trends: What are the current trends in the film and video production industry? These could include technological advancements, popular genres or themes, and changes in consumer behaviour.
You’ll need to understand the financial aspects of running a film production company.
- Startup Costs: These can include equipment purchases, office space rent, legal fees, marketing costs, and salaries if you’re hiring staff.
- Operating Costs: These are the ongoing costs to run your business, such as utilities, equipment maintenance, employee salaries, and marketing.
- Revenue Projections: How will you make money? This could be through selling your films, providing video production services, or other means. Make an estimate of how much you expect to earn over a certain period, considering your pricing strategy and market demand.
Set Goals and Objectives
It’s important to have a clear vision for your company.
- Short-term Goals: What milestones do you hope to achieve in the next year? These might include completing your first project, reaching a certain number of clients, or achieving a revenue goal.
- Long-term Goals: Where do you see your company in five years? Ten years? This might involve expanding your team, moving into a larger office, or producing a certain number of films per year.
Your business plan doesn’t have to be perfect right away. It’s a living document that can and should change as your business grows and changes. However, having a solid plan from the beginning can help guide your decisions and set you up for success.
Step 2: Make it Official
Next, you’ll need to legally establish your company. Here’s how:
Choosing a Name
Your company name is the first thing people will associate with your business, so it’s important to get it right.
Brainstorming: Start by thinking about words and phrases that reflect your company’s values, your target audience, and the type of films or videos you plan to produce.
Availability: Once you’ve come up with a shortlist of potential names, you’ll need to check if they’re available. You can do this by searching the Companies House register and carrying out a quick internet search.
Trademarks: Lastly, make sure your preferred name isn’t trademarked. The UK Intellectual Property Office has a database you can check for this.
Registering Your Company
After choosing a name, the next step is to register your company.
Legal Structure: Decide on the legal structure for your business. In the UK, most businesses are either sole traders, partnerships, or limited companies. This decision will affect things like your tax, your liability, and how you can run your business.
Registration: If you’ve chosen to set up a limited company, you’ll need to register it with Companies House. If you’re a sole trader or a partnership, the process is simpler – you’ll just need to register for Self Assessment with HMRC.
Providing Address and Contact Details
Your company will need an official address and contact details.
Company Address: This could be your home address, your agent’s address (the person who will handle your Corporation Tax), or a PO Box. The only requirement is that it’s in the same country your company is registered in.
Contact Information: Have an email address or phone number ready. While this information might not always be publicly accessible, it’s essential for potential clients or partners to be able to reach you.
Agreeing on Articles of Association
If you’re setting up a limited company, you’ll need to create and agree on your articles of association.
What They Are: The articles of association are the rules company officers have to follow when running the company. They cover things like how decisions are made and how shareholders control the company.
Creating Them: You can use the standard ‘model’ articles, write your own, or adapt the model articles to suit your business.
Completing these steps will get you well on your way to having an officially recognised film production company in the UK. Bear in mind that some parts of this process can be complex and may require legal advice, particularly when it comes to your articles of association.
Step 3: Build Your Team
Creating a successful film production company isn’t a solo journey. It requires the combined skills and efforts of a dedicated team. Here’s how to put together the right team for your company:
Identify Essential Roles
Before you start hiring, you need to understand the key roles in a film production company. These roles can vary based on your niche, but typically include:
Directors: They guide the creative vision of each project.
Producers: They manage the business side of projects, like budgets and schedules.
Screenwriters: They write the scripts for your projects.
Cinematographers: They work with the director to decide how each scene should look on screen.
Sound Engineers: They handle all aspects of audio, from dialogue to sound effects and music.
Editors: They take the footage that’s been shot and put it together to create the final product.
Production Assistants: They do a variety of tasks to support the rest of the team.
Determine Hiring Needs
You won’t necessarily need to hire full-time staff for all of these roles right away. Some roles might be project-based, meaning you could hire freelancers or contractors as needed. Consider your budget, the volume of work you expect to have, and the benefits and drawbacks of each hiring approach.
Start the Recruitment Process
Once you’ve identified your hiring needs, you can begin the recruitment process. This involves posting job ads, reviewing applications, conducting interviews, and making hiring decisions. Remember to look for candidates who not only have the skills and experience you need, but who also share your company’s vision and values.
Build a Collaborative Culture
Your team is more than just a group of individuals working together. They’re a community. Encourage a culture of collaboration, where everyone feels valued and heard. Regular team meetings, open communication channels, and team-building activities can all help foster this kind of environment.
Invest in Professional Development
As you build your team, don’t forget about the importance of ongoing learning and development. Encourage your team members to continue improving their skills and staying up-to-date with industry trends. This could involve providing training opportunities, supporting attendance at industry events, or even just allowing time for self-directed learning.
Building a strong, skilled, and cohesive team is one of the most important steps in setting up your film production company. With the right team, you’ll be well-equipped to handle whatever challenges and opportunities come your way.
Step 4: Secure Your Equipment
Getting your hands on quality equipment is a vital part of setting up a film production company. Here’s a more detailed look at how you can secure the necessary gear:
Investing in Equipment: The quality of your production largely depends on the quality of your equipment. Your primary investment should be in a good camera, as this will significantly impact the visual quality of your films. Don’t forget about sound equipment, such as microphones and audio mixers, as good sound quality is equally important. Lighting equipment is also crucial as it can completely transform your scenes and is key to setting the right mood.
Renting vs Buying: When you’re first starting out, buying all your equipment outright can be a hefty expense. Many new film production companies opt to rent equipment on a per-project basis. This allows you to access high-quality, professional gear without the upfront costs. Plus, it gives you the flexibility to use different equipment for different projects. However, if you’re producing content regularly, purchasing might be more cost-effective in the long run.
Second-hand Equipment: Another option to consider is buying second-hand. Many pieces of film production equipment retain their quality over time and can be bought for a fraction of the original price. Just make sure to test everything thoroughly before making a purchase.
Maintenance: Whether you choose to buy or rent, maintaining your equipment is crucial. Always store your gear properly, clean it according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and handle it with care. Regular maintenance can extend the life of your equipment and prevent unexpected failures during production.
Insurance: Equipment is a big investment, and it’s essential to protect it. Make sure to get your gear insured. This can cover you in case of damage, theft, or other unforeseen circumstances.
Remember, while having top-of-the-line equipment is great, it’s your creativity and skill that truly make a production stand out. Start with what you can afford and upgrade as your company grows.
Step 5: Find a Space
Identifying the right premises is a vital step when setting up a film production company in the UK. The space you choose can greatly impact your operations, team collaboration, and client impressions. Here are some key aspects to consider:
Location: Your company’s location should be easily accessible for your team and clients. Consider factors such as proximity to public transportation, availability of parking, and travel time from major cities or film shooting locations.
Size: The size of your premises should accommodate your team comfortably. It should also provide enough space for equipment storage, post-production work, and potential filming sets.
Layout: The layout of your space should facilitate your work processes. Consider whether you need separate spaces for different activities, such as filming, editing, and administrative work.
Cost: Rent and utility costs can form a significant part of your company’s overheads. Make sure the cost of your premises fits within your budget without compromising on essential features.
Lease Terms: Understand the terms of the lease. Consider whether it offers flexibility for future expansion, and what the costs might be if you need to break the lease early.
Facilities: Consider the facilities and amenities that come with the space. Is there a kitchen area? What about toilets or a space for team members to relax during breaks?
Local Regulations: In the UK, certain types of property usage may require planning permission. Make sure your intended use of the premises aligns with local regulations.
Finding the right space for your film production company might take some time and research, but it’s an important investment in your company’s future. Your workspace not only affects your day-to-day operations, but also the culture and identity of your company. Choose wisely!
Step 6: Develop a Portfolio
Building a strong portfolio is pivotal for any film production company. It’s your chance to showcase your abilities, creativity, and range of work. Here’s how you can craft an impressive portfolio in the UK film and video production industry:
Highlight Previous Work: Start by collating any projects you’ve worked on before. It could be short films, commercials, music videos or corporate videos. Remember, your portfolio should reflect the type of work you aspire to be hired for.
Create Spec Work: If your previous work doesn’t reflect your current abilities or the direction you want to take your company in, consider creating spec projects. Spec work, or speculative work, is created voluntarily and doesn’t have a specific client or purpose other than to show off your skills. It’s a chance to really let your creativity shine and to produce something you’re proud of.
Show Variety: Try to include a wide range of work to show your versatility. However, ensure that all pieces align with your brand and the type of work you want to do in the future. For example, if you want to specialise in documentaries, it’s a good idea to include more documentary style work in your portfolio.
Quality Over Quantity: When it comes to portfolios, quality always trumps quantity. It’s better to have a few high-quality pieces than numerous mediocre ones. Make sure that every piece you include represents your best work and showcases your skills effectively.
Presentation: How you present your portfolio is just as important as the work you include. Make sure it is professional, easy to navigate, and properly formatted. If you’re showcasing your portfolio online, ensure the website or platform you use is user-friendly and displays your work well.
Keep it Updated: Your portfolio should be a living document. As you complete new projects that you’re proud of, add them to your portfolio. This not only keeps it fresh, but also shows potential clients that you’re actively working and improving your skills.
Remember, your portfolio is often the first impression potential clients get of your work. Make sure it accurately represents your abilities and the type of work you want to be hired for. Investing time and effort into developing a standout portfolio can pay dividends when it comes to attracting clients and building your film production company.
Step 7: Establish Policies and Procedures
Establishing robust policies and procedures is pivotal to the smooth operation of your film production company. Here’s how to approach this:
Payment Policies: Define clear terms of payment. How and when will you invoice clients? What will be your policy for late payments? Be clear about your expectations to avoid misunderstanding.
Contract Terms: Every project should have a contract outlining the scope of work, deadlines, payment terms, and other important details. It’s advisable to have a solicitor review your standard contract to ensure it’s legally sound.
Project Management Procedures: Develop a project management framework. This includes how you’ll plan and schedule projects, communicate with clients and team members, manage changes or delays, and handle any issues that arise.
Employee Conduct: Establish guidelines for professional conduct. This includes expectations for behaviour, dress code, attendance, and use of company property.
Health and Safety: As a UK business, you’re legally required to provide a safe working environment. This includes having a written health and safety policy if you have five or more employees, carrying out regular risk assessments, and providing appropriate training.
Equality and Diversity: Foster a diverse and inclusive workplace. This includes having a clear policy against discrimination and harassment, and promoting equal opportunities for all staff.
Data Protection: You’ll likely handle sensitive information, including client details and employee data. Familiarise yourself with the UK’s data protection laws, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and ensure you have a clear policy for data management and privacy.
By having these policies and procedures in place, you can ensure your film production company operates effectively and professionally, meeting all legal requirements and fostering a positive workplace culture.
Step 8: Keep Learning and Adapting
The video production industry is ever-evolving, with new technologies, techniques, and trends emerging regularly. To ensure the long-term success of your film production company, it’s essential to stay up to date and continuously improve your skills and processes. Here’s how you can embrace a culture of learning and adaptability:
Continuing Education: Engage in continuous learning to enhance your knowledge and expertise. Attend industry workshops, seminars, and conferences to stay informed about the latest advancements. Consider enrolling in courses or pursuing certifications to sharpen your skills in areas such as cinematography, editing, visual effects, or sound design.
Stay Current with Technology: Embrace the latest video production technologies and tools. Regularly assess your equipment and software to ensure they meet industry standards and allow you to deliver high-quality work efficiently. Keep an eye on emerging technologies that could enhance your production capabilities, such as virtual reality, augmented reality, or 360-degree video.
Follow Industry Trends: Stay abreast of industry trends and consumer preferences. Monitor popular film genres, storytelling techniques, and visual styles to understand what resonates with audiences. This knowledge can guide your creative decision-making and help you produce content that captivates and engages your target market.
Embrace Feedback: Actively seek feedback from clients, colleagues, and industry professionals. Constructive criticism can provide valuable insights into areas where you can improve. Develop a culture of open communication within your team, encouraging everyone to share ideas and suggestions for innovation and growth.
Adapt to Changing Market Demands: The video production landscape is influenced by shifts in consumer behavior and market demands. Stay attuned to these changes and adapt your strategies accordingly. For example, with the rise of streaming platforms and online content consumption, consider exploring opportunities in web series, short-form videos, or branded content. Be flexible in adapting your services to cater to changing client needs.
Monitor Competitors: Keep an eye on what your competitors are doing. Analyze their strengths and weaknesses to identify areas where you can differentiate your company. Stay inspired by their successes while striving to offer unique value propositions that set your film production company apart.
By embracing a mindset of continuous learning, adaptability, and innovation, your film production company can thrive in an ever-evolving industry. Embrace new technologies, stay informed about trends, and remain open to feedback and opportunities for growth. With each project, refine your skills, expand your network, and let your passion for the craft drive you forward.
Remember, success in the film production business requires a balance of creativity and business acumen. Stay committed to delivering high-quality work, nurturing client relationships, and positioning your company as a trusted and reliable partner in the industry.
Marketing Your Company
Once you have set up your film production company, it’s crucial to have an effective marketing strategy to attract clients and showcase your work. Here are some detailed steps to help you market your company in the competitive video production industry.
1. Build a Professional Website
Your website serves as a digital storefront for your film production company. It’s where potential clients will go to learn more about your services and view your portfolio. Here are some key considerations:
Design and User Experience: Create a visually appealing and user-friendly website that reflects your brand identity and showcases your expertise.
Portfolio Showcase: Display a well-curated portfolio of your past projects, highlighting your best work across different genres or industries.
Client Testimonials: Include testimonials or case studies from satisfied clients to build trust and demonstrate the value you provide.
Contact Information: Make it easy for visitors to get in touch with you by prominently displaying your contact information and a contact form.
2. Leverage Social Media Platforms
Social media is a powerful tool for promoting your film production company and engaging with your target audience. Consider the following:
Choose the Right Platforms: Identify the social media platforms that align with your target audience and industry. Platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn are popular for video-related businesses.
Consistent Branding: Maintain a consistent brand identity across all social media profiles, including your company logo, color scheme, and tone of voice.
Content Strategy: Develop a content strategy that includes a mix of engaging posts, behind-the-scenes glimpses, project highlights, industry insights, and client testimonials.
Engage and Respond: Actively engage with your followers by responding to comments, messages, and inquiries promptly. Encourage discussions and foster a sense of community around your brand.
3. Networking and Partnerships
Building strong relationships within the industry can lead to collaborations, referrals, and new business opportunities. Here’s how to network effectively:
Industry Events: Attend film festivals, trade shows, conferences, and other industry events to connect with fellow professionals, potential clients, and industry influencers.
Online Communities: Join relevant online forums, groups, and communities where filmmakers and video professionals gather to exchange ideas, seek collaborations, and share opportunities.
Collaborate with Others: Explore partnerships with complementary businesses, such as advertising agencies, event planners, or marketing firms, to expand your reach and offer comprehensive solutions to clients.
4. Content Marketing and Thought Leadership
Establishing yourself as a thought leader in the video production industry can enhance your credibility and attract clients. Consider these strategies:
Blog and Guest Blogging: Maintain an informative and engaging blog on your website where you can share industry insights, trends, and expert tips. Additionally, seek opportunities to contribute guest articles to relevant industry publications or websites.
Video Content: Produce educational and entertaining video content that showcases your expertise, such as tutorials, behind-the-scenes footage, or interviews with industry professionals. Publish these videos on your website, social media platforms, and video-sharing platforms like YouTube or Vimeo.
Email Marketing: Develop an email newsletter to stay in touch with your clients, prospects, and industry contacts. Provide valuable content, updates on your latest projects, and exclusive offers to keep your audience engaged.
5. Online Advertising and SEO
To increase your online visibility and drive targeted traffic to your website, consider these marketing tactics:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Optimize your website with relevant keywords, meta tags, and high-quality content to improve your search engine rankings and organic visibility.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising: Run targeted PPC campaigns on platforms like Google Ads or social media platforms to reach a specific audience and generate leads.
Video Advertising: Utilize video advertising platforms, such as YouTube Ads or social media video ads, to promote your services and reach a wider audience.
Remember, consistency, quality, and effective communication are key elements of successful marketing for your film production company. Continuously evaluate and refine your strategies based on results and industry trends to stay competitive and attract your target audience.
By implementing these marketing strategies, you can increase your company’s visibility, build a strong brand presence, and ultimately drive growth in your video production business.
Want to know more?
Here’s some useful sites to visit:
British Film Institute (BFI): The BFI is a valuable resource for filmmakers and provides information on funding, training, and industry news.
Creative England: Creative England supports the creative industries in England, offering funding, business support, and networking opportunities for film and video production companies.
Film London: Film London provides support and resources for film production in London, including filming locations, permits, and industry events.
ScreenSkills: ScreenSkills is the industry-led skills body for the UK’s screen industries. They offer training, mentoring, and career development programs for individuals and companies in the film and video production sector.
The Production Guild: The Production Guild is an organization that represents professionals working in film and TV production in the UK. Their website provides resources, industry news, and networking opportunities.
Starting a film production company is a big job, but it can also be a rewarding one. With this guide, you’re well on your way to setting up a successful video production business. Any questions? Drop us a line. You never know, we may end up co-producing something cool. 🙂 Good luck!