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Old December 10th, 2009, 11:22 PM   #1
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Film production LLC question

Good evening folks,

I have a question regardless forming an LLC. I am considering opening one for a production company of my own (but I am still not sure if I need one or not). I would like to form it with the intention of shooting a short movie under its name (I will be directing, producing, writing and acting [just a tiny bit though] in it. My wife and a friend will play the main roles). I am thinking about submitting my short movie to film festivals for consideration as well.
I work in IT and my question is in regard of knowing if I can also do IT consulting work and creation of iPhone apps under the same LLC. For example, let's say I open 'Super Happy Joe productions', can I use that LLC for film productions and for IT work as a consultant and iPhone developer?

Any kind on category on the LLC form (and/or process) that can fit that need? Something like Video and Computer productions or Multimedia productions or something like that?

I am also thinking about opening a website for the production company. Should I register the hosting and the domain name under its name? Or it's OK to do so under my name?

I will appreciate any input possible.

Thanks very much to all in advantage!!

Kind Regards,

Ben Tolosa
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Old December 11th, 2009, 08:12 AM   #2
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Ben, my advice would be to contact your accountant and get their advice about the LLC.
They would know better than some Joe on the internet whether an LLC would be appropriate for your income level.

All the Best!
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Old December 11th, 2009, 11:35 AM   #3
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You can do anything you want under an LLC. Any form that has a "type of industry" question is simply for statistical use and does not limit what kind of business you can conduct.

You can put whatever you want in the Administrative/Technical/Billing contacts in the domain registration. Your name, your business name, your dog's name, etc.

If I were you, I'd talk with a professional that does not have a pecuniary interest in you forming an LLC. What I mean is get some impartial advice - don't ask someone who stands to make money on the deal.

Maybe if you mentioned why you feel you need an LLC it would generate more advice.
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Old December 13th, 2009, 10:02 AM   #4
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Regardless what type of business you're in being setup as a corporation is always a smart idea. It provides separation from your personal assets and those acquired by the business in case of lawsuits.

As others have suggested it's always a good idea to consult a CPA or other professional who's job it is to determine what kind of corp is best (which varies depending on whether you're currently a sole-proprietor or have or plan on having partners).

Be aware that certain types of corporations require quarterly reporting to the IRS and some state governments as well so make sure you fully understand the scope and requirements of each type of corporation filing.
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Old December 13th, 2009, 02:19 PM   #5
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How about DBA Doing Business As? Wouldn't that a lot cheaper and you are not bound to pay $800 minimum tax. But I know the problem is if your company is being sued, you will loose everything including your house and car. Is that the only catch? Am I being overly simply things? :)
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Old December 13th, 2009, 02:46 PM   #6
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Tax laws and liabilities change from year to year, state to state and vary in each individual situation; you should only rely on advice from a licensed CPA or attorney who is well versed in theses dealings and, is familiar with your specific situation and plans.

Nobody on this forum has the ability to give you that personalized and fact-based advice.
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Old December 13th, 2009, 03:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lane View Post
Regardless what type of business you're in being setup as a corporation is always a smart idea. It provides separation from your personal assets and those acquired by the business in case of lawsuits.
That's actually a pretty common misconception. An individual with no employees will see virtually no personal liability protection from an LLC.
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Old December 13th, 2009, 03:28 PM   #8
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The laws governing those protections vary from state to state and are not universal. Unless you're a CPA or other certified tax and asset professional with knowledge of all state statutes you'd be ill advised to make blanket statements like that.
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Old December 13th, 2009, 04:14 PM   #9
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Yet that didn't stop you from making blanket statements. My goodness, at least I threw in the vague adverb "virtually". Your comment on setting up a corporation left no room for indeterminacy.
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Old December 13th, 2009, 04:27 PM   #10
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To add a Canadian perspective: I DID ask MY accountant EXACTLY that question a year ago and she advised ME against incorporating as it would offer ME in MY situation virtually zero protection.

The best advice in this thread is ask YOUR accountant.
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Old December 14th, 2009, 09:29 PM   #11
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Thank you!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by David W. Jones View Post
Ben, my advice would be to contact your accountant and get their advice about the LLC.
They would know better than some Joe on the internet whether an LLC would be appropriate for your income level.

All the Best!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lane View Post
Regardless what type of business you're in being setup as a corporation is always a smart idea. It provides separation from your personal assets and those acquired by the business in case of lawsuits.

As others have suggested it's always a good idea to consult a CPA or other professional who's job it is to determine what kind of corp is best (which varies depending on whether you're currently a sole-proprietor or have or plan on having partners).

Be aware that certain types of corporations require quarterly reporting to the IRS and some state governments as well so make sure you fully understand the scope and requirements of each type of corporation filing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taky Cheung View Post
How about DBA Doing Business As? Wouldn't that a lot cheaper and you are not bound to pay $800 minimum tax. But I know the problem is if your company is being sued, you will loose everything including your house and car. Is that the only catch? Am I being overly simply things? :)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lane View Post
Tax laws and liabilities change from year to year, state to state and vary in each individual situation; you should only rely on advice from a licensed CPA or attorney who is well versed in theses dealings and, is familiar with your specific situation and plans.

Nobody on this forum has the ability to give you that personalized and fact-based advice.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun Roemich View Post
To add a Canadian perspective: I DID ask MY accountant EXACTLY that question a year ago and she advised ME against incorporating as it would offer ME in MY situation virtually zero protection.

The best advice in this thread is ask YOUR accountant.
I just want to thank you all for your advice, more info will follow bellow this post on my answer to Chris...

THANKS AGAIN!!

Ben Tolosa
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Old December 14th, 2009, 09:44 PM   #12
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More info...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Davis View Post
You can do anything you want under an LLC. Any form that has a "type of industry" question is simply for statistical use and does not limit what kind of business you can conduct.

You can put whatever you want in the Administrative/Technical/Billing contacts in the domain registration. Your name, your business name, your dog's name, etc.

If I were you, I'd talk with a professional that does not have a pecuniary interest in you forming an LLC. What I mean is get some impartial advice - don't ask someone who stands to make money on the deal.

Maybe if you mentioned why you feel you need an LLC it would generate more advice.
Well, I guess I feel I need an LLC, because I am planing on shooting a short movie next summer and planing on sending it to several film festivals, and since I never did this before, I am a bit scare for the only sake I have never done it before. So, I am trying to figure out what is the best approach to be more protected if somebody for some logical or bizarre reason decides to sue me. Also, for when I am doing the post production and editing, if it is better to say: 'A Ben Tolosa production' or a 'Super Happy Joe production'. Again, this is going to be a 'one man' show in terms of I am going to be producing the film, editing, casting, some acting, writing, etc. And because I have a 'day job'; I was wondering if I do end up forming a LLC, if I can do IT work under it too. I am also thinking about developing an iPhone app, but I did not register as a developer yet, just because of this same reason. If I end up opening a LLC, and can do film production and IT work under the same LLC, it might be beneficial to become an iPhone developer under the LLC umbrella (or not?).

I hope this will generate more advice...

As always, thank you very much to all!!

Cheers and Kind Regards ^_^

Ben Tolosa
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Old December 15th, 2009, 05:31 AM   #13
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Quote:
Well, I guess I feel I need an LLC, because I am planing on shooting a short movie next summer and planing on sending it to several film festivals, and since I never did this before, I am a bit scare for the only sake I have never done it before. So, I am trying to figure out what is the best approach to be more protected if somebody for some logical or bizarre reason decides to sue me.
For protection against lawsuit, a couple of insurance policies such as liability coverage and errors & omissions insurance will provide more protection than will an LLC, from what I understand.
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Old December 15th, 2009, 07:07 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Tolosa View Post
I am trying to figure out what is the best approach to be more protected if somebody for some logical or bizarre reason decides to sue me
That's usually the first reason anyone brings up when they think of forming an LLC, after all the first two letters mean "Limited Liability" so it protects me from getting sued, right?

That's where I have a problem with the knee-jerk reaction to form an LLC. I'll give you a simple example: You are a lone gun shooter working on a wedding video. You place light stands near the entrance of the church to get perfect lighting as the bride and groom race out. During all the bustle, grandma trips on your light stand bringing your hot light down on a group of distracted bystanders. There are injuries. But you have an LLC, so they can only sue your business, right?

Wrong.

You negligently placed the lights where you knew there would be a bustling crowd, so the lawyers sue you and your businesss.

That's why an LLC does little to protect a one-man business - because when "the business" does something, that really means that you do something, because there is no difference between you and the business. You are always personally liable for your actions.

Anyway, in the case of making a film, I think forming an LLC would be wise because while you may not have employees, you will probably have other people working on the film with you. An LLC would protect your personal assets from their actions.

Steve is right, no form of business entity is a substitute for liability insurance. I would even go further and suggest getting a nice big umbrella policy for your personal assets just in case.
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Old December 15th, 2009, 08:46 AM   #15
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Yeah, you're definitely looking to get insurance, in addition to any form of business structure. As Chris said, if an actor, crew member or passerby trips over your light stand, camera tripod, or a cable, they could potentially sue you. I don't think being an LLC alone leaves you free from liabilities. In fact, I think the reverse would be better, having at least insurance first, then being an LLC. But you should look into both. Research insurance policies specific to film production.
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