HOW TO START A PRODUCTION COMPANY ON A LOW BUDGET

Guest Post by Annie Laurie Medonis. Annie Laurie is the Executive Producer and Creator of TV show, movement, and documentary, Real Active Women. RAW highlights female athletes for their talent and strives for respect. 

A little bit of sacrifice, a solid vision and a lot of passion.

Accomplishing your goals without extra money is an impressive feat. When people see what you are capable of doing on a low budget, you stand out. In terms of television and film production I did it, and you can too. Especially in todays world, filmmaking is more accessible than ever. A production can be as simple as recording on your phone and posting it to Facebook or YouTube. However, the downside to this ubiquitousness is media saturation, making it much harder to create a name for yourself. Although, if you take care of yourself personally, your company fundamentally and logistically, you can start a production company on a low budget.

Who can start a production company?

Ambition and passion will take you a lot further than the number in your bank account. If you’re up for the challenge and willing to persevere despite obstacles, you’ve made the right move. Here are a few other things to consider as you embark on your passion project.  

  • Your reason why. Why create this production company? Why does it matter?
  • What makes you an individual? Be true to yourself, let your personality and character shine through.
  • How will you reset? It’s important to take breaks doing something that makes you happy. You’ll come back with fresh thoughts and an open mind.
  • How will you maintain balance between work, family, friends, exercise, and your health?
  • Do you have stability? Have a source of income to survive, manage stress, and stay organized so you’re not relying solely on your passion.

Where should you start?

  • Build your brand – decide what you want to focus on, your mission, angle, and style. How can you make it unique?
  • Create a game plan – what are your goals? List what you need to do and create deadlines.
  • Use guerrilla filmmaking – a style of independent filmmaking that runs on low budgets, minimal crew, and whatever resources are available (this actually teaches you to be strategic and cost effective because you have no other choice).

What else do you need to get the ball rolling?

  • LLC, 501(c)3, Sole Proprietorship? I recommend starting off as a sole proprietor because it saves a lot of stress and money. If your business starts to take off then I would revisit this. It depends what you are willing to take chances on. An example of a non-profit organization in media is The Representation Project, which created well-known documentaries Miss Representation and The Mask You Live In.
  • Use your resources! Who do you know? Work with friends, family, or anyone who is willing to give you a break or even better, share equipment!
  • Pick your crew carefully. This can be frustrating at times. You can pay someone with experience, find a volunteer with experience who may request a favor in return, or find a volunteer who has no experience but is eager to learn.
  • Use volunteers – just remember you need to treat them well and have patience or they may never come back. 
  • Pay it forward. When you attend others’ events or help them with something, it shows you care, and establishes rapport. 
  • Expand your network – attend industry conferences and events, join film or meetup groups, attend TED talks, and anywhere else you think you can build a network of people who may want to crew for you, provide equipment, fund your company, hire you, or pass your name along to potential clients. people who may want to crew for you, provide equipment, fund your company, hire you, or pass your name along to potential clients.
  • Do it yourself – sometimes you have to do it yourself. There will be times you can’t find help but have a deadline, so you need to think outside the box and figure out a way to produce content with what you have.
  • Location – many locations require permits which means time and money. Who do you know that is willing to let you record on their property? Try to avoid studios – the rates are typically very high and will quickly drain your funds!
  • Music – some royalty free songs may work which will save you money, but sometimes they can make your piece weak. Never force a song if it doesn’t fit the video’s tone. I suggest making friends with composers or finding new and upcoming bands who need exposure. A lot of musicians will agree to let you use their music especially if they are passionate with the project you are working on.
  • Increase exposure. Use social media to market your company, submit content to film festivals, and contact organizations that may be interested in sharing your work or getting involved in some way.
  • Build a client list. Once you gain attention, clients will recommend you to others and your business will start to take off. When this happens, remember to always be honest and flexible with clients. Don’t promise anything you aren’t able to produce. It’s important to be professional and stay true to yourself.
  • Production Triangle. This model is used in many different industries, but I think it works particularly well for film production. The idea is that you can only pick two from the triangle. It depends on the budget you have to work with, your crew, and your timeline. You can either have a product that is good and fast but it probably won’t be cheap, a product that is cheap and fast but it may not necessarily be good, or a product that is good and cheap but it could take a while to complete. You should use this as a tool when you are deciding how much to charge clients, so they understand what they are paying for, what they are getting in return, and what sacrifices need to be made.

Amongst all of this, the most important thing is that you are doing what feeds your soul. If you love what you do, your passionate energy will attract people to you. Forget the doubters and follow your own voice.

Check out Annie Laurie’s latest Real Active Women episode on Women’s Self-Defense – How to Throw Someone Off of You Who is Heavier and Stronger

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