How To Make A Production Company
If you're a filmmaker with a sense of entrepreneurship then you're probably thinking about starting your own production company. This can mean your making your own films or videos under your production company or freelancing for others under your production company. Whether you plan to produce or to work for hire, getting everything figured out can be a bit confusing at first. Here's a quick guide to how to make a production company.
Disclaimer- I'm obviously not a lawyer, if you have legal questions, consult a legal professional.
Assuming you got the idea of what you want your company to be and do (business plan), here are 7 steps to get you started:
1. Register Your Company
Picking a name is a pain but once you got one sorted out, log on to your state's business website, for Arizona it is the Arizona Corporation Commission.
From there you can do an eFilling and never have to leave your computer. If you'd rather do it in person, you can definitely visit the office in your county.
Fees can differ depending on what state you are in, but in Arizona it cost $50 to create an LLC. and it can take about a month to process after submitting the paperwork. You don't have to choose to register as an LLC, so look at your options and decide what's best for you.
2. Get Your EIN
After you've registered your company, you'll need to get an EIN with the IRS. This stands for Employer Identification Number and it is a number assigned to the company for tax purposes. The Arizona Corporation Commission doesn't issue EIN's, so here's the website to apply for one. It is very easy and quick to apply for one.
3. Publish In A Newspaper (Maybe)
You may have to publish some documents in a local newspaper as a public record of your company. You can not do this until your LLC has been approved. If you live in Arizona, here is a list of newspapers you can contact to finish this process.
4. Open Up a Bank Account
You don't have to open up a bank account but you probably want to if you're going to be using money under your production company. Choose a bank and have your EIN and File Number with you to open the account.
5. Make An Excel Sheet
You'll thank me for this. Make an excel sheet and keep track of your expenses and revenue. Yes your bank statement will keep track of that for you but part of a successful business is knowing how to do some accounting.
This will help you keep track of total expenses, what they are, trends, total revenue, what you owe, what others owe you, etc. Here's a template of what I've been using for my production company:
You can use whatever works for you as long as you are able to keep track of it all. Remember that at the end of the year, you'll need to do taxes and have record of what you're company made. Keep receipts, invoices, and all of your important documents to make that easier on you.
Also keep in mind that several of these expenses can be tax deductible. Here's an awesome infographic from http://theysmell.com/tax-deductions-for-bloggers/.
I know it says for "bloggers" but it can also work just as well for filmmakers.
6. Get Your Website Going
As the infographic hints at, you're going to want to set up your own website for your company. If the company is you freelancing, it should be a website that showcases your work and abilities with a reel or films.
You don't have to know how to code to make a great website. Use platforms like Wordpress or Wix. I personally prefer Wix over Wordpress because of the customizability.
If you don't have anything to showcase yet, you should consider buying the domain name anyway to keep it from being taken from someone else.
7. Get Social Media Rolling
Lastly, make sure you reserve all of the social media handles for your production company (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). You don't want anyone taking your handle and confusing clients or customers either.
Although you may not have anything to post on them now, they're yours for later.