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-   -   How to start your own production company? (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/taking-care-business/50386-how-start-your-own-production-company.html)

Carl Merritt September 1st, 2005 12:53 PM

How to start your own production company?
Me and a friend (who's very good at editing and shooting) are looking to start a production company where he he does shooting/editing and me doing 3D effects and compositing, but we're not sure really where to start.

Where and how would one get the first client?

I assume we'd put together a demo reel, but where do we show it?

We want to work up to regional/national quality commercials and mid-budget music videos as a first goal.

Any suggestions?


Mathieu Ghekiere September 1st, 2005 01:44 PM

On a nice website you can show your demo-reel. Many people here do it.
Best regards,

Carl Merritt September 1st, 2005 01:49 PM

But then how do you find the clients to tell them to look at your website?

Is there some secret meeting of clients looking for production companies?

How does one get the word out?

K. Forman September 1st, 2005 02:22 PM

Everyone you meet is a potential client. Have plenty of business cards on hand. Demos on CD or DVD can also help, as you have less restrictions than web based demos.

Mathieu Ghekiere September 1st, 2005 03:15 PM


Originally Posted by Carl Merritt
But then how do you find the clients to tell them to look at your website?

Is there some secret meeting of clients looking for production companies?

How does one get the word out?

Can't really help you on that, sorry, just wanted to point out that the web can be a medium to put your demo reel on.

Richard Alvarez September 1st, 2005 05:52 PM

Yes Carl, there ARE secret meetings...

And we all have decoder rings. If you send me $83.47 I'll send you my "Secrets to getting Production clients guide..."

Seriously. You already know what you have to do. Work a sample to show people. Some of this can be 'spec'... that is commercials, shorts and music videos that you create out of whole cloth. Some can be 'freebies' that you do for friends. The point is, you get a product to show around. You create a web 'presence'. You print up cards and DVD's. You go to tradeshows, classes and conventions where you might meet clients. You take out ads where they'll do the most good. You join fraternal organizations like the Elks or WEVA, that might give you connections. You ask your friends who own businesses for references.

When you get a job, you do a GREAT job on it, and ask the client for references... and build from there.

And you hope and pray.

Ash Greyson September 2nd, 2005 01:40 AM

Do as much as you can to start... even if it is for free. If you are good, work will find you. I havent been able to put together a reel because I am too busy working! I actually turn down 2 jobs for every 1 I take, almost 100% on word of mouth.

ash =o)

Stephanie Wilson September 2nd, 2005 02:19 AM

Great suggestions so far.... But may I also suggest that you post a high speed link of your resume reel on the web. Here in Los Angeles, most potential clients ask for a web based way to view your work. Good for us as it is faster and cheaper than mailing dozens of those expensive Beta tapes....

Also check out Craigslist.org and search the CREW section, (bottom of the page) to find gigs in your area. Potential clients will most likely ask to see your work which is why getting a link on the web as mentioned above is so important.

Hope this helps.... Good luck,


Matt Champagne September 2nd, 2005 07:59 AM

Everyone wants the magic formula for this sort of stuff...but when it comes down to it, you have to do it like any other business. Find a good way to market yourself, get a client, do good work, try and get that client to refer more clients, lather, rinse, repeat.

Though its probably more helpful for general corporate videos, you may want to consider creating, in addition to your demo reel, a marketing video to put at the front of your website. Basically one of those guy standing in front of a virtual set saying "Our company can do blah blah blah for you *cut scene of an awesome shot of a commercial you did* and we can do blah blah blah" kind of things.

Small businesses tend to have their commercials done at the cable company/local tv station by people who usually don't have a clue what they are doing. They pay the station for the air time either way, so its unlikely you can convince them to let you do a commercial for them (even for free!) because its so much easier just to let the tv guys do the whole thing.

Now in terms of music videos...that is a much easier market to break into, because every artist wants one. I can guarentee you that you can find three artists by tommorrow that want a free music video. Then once you've done that, you can find someone who can pay $500 for one if you have a good reference from your previous clients...This $500 to $1000 client is usually a low man on a label or a manager whose artist is just about to get signed by a label. I basically have practically zero experience, I borrow a DVX to shoot, and have a home depot light set up...and I even have some paying videos coming up by some small labels based only off a few stupid video shorts I showed a guy. Hopefully then, that can then refer you higher up to the $10,000 and upwards projects. That's certainly the ideal situation...it will take more work than that...but that's basically the process.

edit: Oh and another good tip...with the exception of rock bands...most artists WANT to pay big money for there videos...especially rappers! So don't undercharge when a client is willing to pay...its a psychological fact that when someone is buying something of real value to them, that they are more satisfied when they've paid more for it.

Nick Jushchyshyn September 2nd, 2005 01:28 PM

All kidding aside, yes there actually are "secret" meetings and places to generate work leads, but they don't work the way you might expect.

Look for professional groups and organizations to participate in, join and be active once you're there.

For wedding and event folks, there's WEVA (http://www.weva.org). Finding similar groups for commercial/visual effects based work might be a little more challenging.

PixelCorps (http://www.pixelcorps.com) is an international level group that has worked for me. There are maybe others groups/association around at local an regional levels as well.

In my own case, just by being an active member, (sharing my own work experiences, helping answer questions, even sharing a training videos to show others some tricks, etc.) my skillset and resources became common knoweledge within the entire group, and as a direct result work has come TO me without my even "looking" for it. In most of these cases, the work came to me from well outside my local area (I'm in Philly and at least two big jobs came to me from LA). By work, I mean paying visual effects jobs on commercials and a Tori Amos music video. I know that some of my friends in the same group have landed work on feature films and national network TV series through their participation in the same group.

The thing to review with these groups is what their membership fee is and what they provide in return. Finding paying work is more of a "potential" benefit or "oportunity" (and one they may not even advertise ) that depends on your on skills and participation, but many groups like WEVA and the PXC also offer other benefits like training and access to resources. You also can build relationships with others in your field that could be good to call on if you go after and land a big job that would be outside your solo capacity and often even get free advice and input from other in your field that they might not share as openly on a "public" forum.

Anyway, this isn't a magic ticket to the big-time, or anything, just one more approach to consider.
Hope this helps.
Good luck.

Just as a disclaimer... I am NOT an employee of PixelCorps, nor do I benefit from "referrals" in anyway. I'm just a paying member that has had a great experience with being part the group, so I thought I'd share info about it in regards to this topic. Good luck!

Dylan Couper September 2nd, 2005 04:29 PM

Most people these days just buy a GL2 and get some business cards and call themselves a full service production company....

Anyway, I'm moving this into the Business forum where you will get more response. Good luck, it's brutal out there!

Carl Merritt September 2nd, 2005 11:00 PM

Thank you all very much.

I KNEW there had to be secret meetings! ;-)

Seriously, I had never heard of WEVA or ELK or PIXEL CORPS.
As for craigslist.org, I'm in the Washington/Baltimore area.
There is a group here I've heard of called WIFV, but I've also heard it's a bit of a waste, don't know...

But after reading all of your words I'm thinking it may be true that we already know what to do - but are not doing it. When my friend and I talked I mentioned it's probably just like we got our first freelance gigs - someone needed work done for cheap and/or free and we did it. Those we worked with valued our efforts and called us for other things, etc etc.

I need to save this thread for inspiration!

Thanks again for the advice.

Heath McKnight September 3rd, 2005 11:20 AM

Make your company a legal corporation (you'll save big time on taxes, as I've learned) and get a business checking account at your local bank. The s-corporation and LLC are very popular right now.



Also, become friendly with a lawyer, you'll never know when you'll need one.

Then, get some insurance for your gear (all of it) and get some insurance in case someone slips or trips on your gear and you face a lawsuit.

Lastly, and this doesn't have to be too elaborate, make a plan. I never did in 1999, and I had no idea what I was going to do. Just a little business plan that says you hope to do this in the first year, that in the next year and so on. This is more for you and should be flexible.

Hope that helps. (And everyone else's advice is solid!)


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