What is a Production Company?
You may have seen big blockbuster movies and bravely thought that you can make something like that, too. First, you’re probably wondering what is a production company? What is a production company’s role in creating these blockbuster films? This article will be the perfect place to learn about what exactly a production company is, and its role in making films and other mass media, as well as set you up with the right information to start your own.
Production companies are the backbone of the entertainment industry, providing the intersection between art and industry for film, TV, comics, websites, and video games. Big Hollywood movie studios like Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., and Universal Studios are some of the most famous examples of a production company, all focused on bringing blockbuster films to the big screen and selling all other forms of media and memorabilia around that intellectual property. These companies bring artists together around a story and provide the funding to bring the story to life in a new, entertaining, artistic way.
Types of production companies
What is a production company’s unique discipline and focus? Are there multiple types, and how do you know which one is right for you? A film production company primarily focuses on producing content for film, TV, short films, and web series. Now even YouTube videos and other social content have become a major publishing platform for film production companies because their reach is expanding constantly and starting to replace more traditional forms of mass media.
A radio or music production company would be primarily focused on recording, producing, and publishing music for consumers. These audio-focused production companies are also starting to move into podcasting, Alexa Skills, and other audio-based media platforms to expand their reach with their current skill set of producing great audio entertainment.
Often, a film production company will collaborate with or hire an audio production company to work on the soundtrack for a film; other times, the audio production company may reach out to the film production company to create a music video for one of their artists. When production companies really get big, this all happens under one roof. Universal Studios is a great example of a production company that produces media in all forms from film, TV, music, and even comic books.
How can you start your own production company?
What is a production company’s first step in establishing a brand and a place in the market? First, decide which discipline you’d like to focus on: film, audio, comics, or video games. There are a few different criteria to consider at this stage. What do you have a strong interest in? You may love films like those in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but you may not like comic books as much. Maybe you love music and podcasting, but visual media just aren’t for you.
As an example, if you chose film production as your area of interest, then there are a few skills you’ll need to learn to be able to successfully run a company. Make no mistake, you can learn these skills on your own just as well as you could learn them in film school. Choose the route that works best for you personally and financially.
For film, you’re going to need to learn the basics of filmmaking, including cinematography, script writing, and directing both actors and crew. In addition, you’ll need to learn lighting techniques for your productions to have a certain cinematic quality. If you plan to start out as a solo film producer, you’ll be making a lot of small corporate videos, and perhaps some music videos and wedding videos in the beginning of your career. These kinds of films require a light, mobile kit that can create a beautiful scene in any location.
What is a production company’s legal requirements?
Establishing a legal business entity in the form of an LLC, C-Corp, or S-Corp is an obvious step to both reduce the taxes you’ll owe, and protect you from liability should the company get sued. You’ll also need to register your company for federal tax purposes and retrieve an EIN number for your business.
One step a lot of people miss in their first foray into business is creating a separate business banking account. This is necessary for keeping the books clean and separating business expenses from personal ones. It would also be advantageous should you need to take debt in order to grow. You may also consider getting a business credit card for short-term loans, airline miles, and other perks that may help you out in small ways.
An accounting solution is absolutely necessary. There are many software companies that can help you do it yourself, but in general it’s best to keep accurate and up-to-date records of business transactions, then have a certified accountant file everything for you.
Business insurance is not a legal requirement, but strongly recommended for production companies to protect valuable equipment and workers on set, as well as serve as a shield against liability and other things that may happen as you run your business.
Get to work
Now that your company is formed, it’s time to get to work! In producing your first film, follow these steps. If you’re working in music, comics, or video games, the steps are mostly the same, just adapt these steps to fit your project:
Obtain a script
You can write a script, find a friend who has a good one, or commission one from a writer you trust. If you went to film school, your academic network is a great place to start the search for a great script writer.
Establish a budget
Funding for a film largely decides what will be possible to bring to life. More spectacular effects become possible every year as tools become available to the masses that used to be cutting edge for the biggest production companies.
Assemble a crew
The crew on your film is crucial because a great director, cinematographer, and actors can make or break a film at any budget.
Plan everything meticulously
A great plan can be executed exactly and still leave room for happy accidents and improvisation on set. Then an editor can pick the best improvisation to be included in the film and make it marginally more special. If you don’t have a plan and try to improvise everything on set, you can expect a bad film nine times out of 10.
Find a great location
The location where you shoot can be just as important as the actors cast, and the limitations of that set can constrain you and your crew. Peerspace has a huge variety of spaces ranging from cozy decoration in an apartment, to warehouses set up as fully functional sound stages with all the lighting and grip equipment you could ever need. The prices are also generally a lot cheaper than finding a location by reaching out to each place directly. Start on Peerspace, and if you need something more specific, you may need to build your own set.