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Starting Up a Company

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Justin Spina
Starting Up a Company
on May 19, 2005 at 10:47:44 pm

I'm looking in to starting up my own production company doing promotional videos as well as coporate videos and live events. Any advice on where to start? I'm looking at getting the Canon XL-2 as well as the Canon 20D Digital Camera. Any advice would be great.

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Mark Suszko
Re: Starting Up a Company
on May 19, 2005 at 10:54:17 pm

Well, you don't start with a camera shopping spree.

You start with research into the market, consultations with an accountant and lawyer, forming a business plan, figuring out the ture expenses and costs of the business, raising the capital tyo cover those, generating the leads... there's many steps before the fun shopping parts, and even then, I would counsel you not to buy any gear like cameras you first year, but to rent such items only as jobs come up. It's a business first. The only tool you should need to buy up front is a phone. Make the first call to your local SCORE office or other business assistance organization.

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Tim Kolb
Re: Starting Up a Company
on May 21, 2005 at 6:14:05 pm

I would agree with Mark...everything but the SCORE thing. Things may be different today and certainly in different parts of the country, but make sure SCORE has someone familiar with technical/creative services...a former toilet tissue baron won't be of much help, so pay attention to the background these guys bring to the table.

You don't have a business when you have a camera, you have a business when you have a client. I did the big facility loan/purchase thing when I started, but even with a few clients lined up, knowing what I know now I would never do that again. It was like a financial albatross around my neck in the "salad years"...

Rent ANYTHING that only gets used when you have a project. It will be obvious to you at what point it will be more economical to own something. Right now just starting out, it isn't likely you'll have gotten the camera to pay for itself by the time cameras are available that are so much better and cheaper that it will be a liability.

Rental houses usually have the latest stuff. It actually gives you an edge, even if you're established, to simply bring the equipment needed for the job to the project than trying to make the project right for the gear you own.

Kolb Syverson Communications
Creative Cow Host
2004, 2005 NAB Post Production Conference Premiere Pro Technical Chair
Author, "The Easy Guide to Premiere Pro"
"Premiere Pro Fast Track DVD Series"

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Michael W. Towe
Re: Starting Up a Company
on May 24, 2005 at 3:31:50 pm

The only other thing I would add to all of this great info is to align yourself with other in the industry around you who can provide services you can't. In my situation, and I do a lot of work for fortune 500 companies, I concentrate on producing and post. My skill set lies in editing and client interface, so I bring in others to do the acquisition, scripting, VO etc... Of course I am always there to direct the efforts, but it also frees me up to baby sit the client.

Corporate clients can be a very strange animal that feeds on your time, the more you can give them the better. If there are some good camera and lighting guys in your area I would strongly suggest that you hook up with them. The mark up I place on others services is the easiest money I make on a production.

An added extra benefit is that you don't have to worry about the new wizbang camera that's out. That becomes your camera guys problem. If you need that camera for a shot you tell him/her and they make it happen. Lastly, remember the client won't remember that you shot the piece on an SDX-900 in cool 24p mode for film look, but they will remember if you were never available to answer their questions because you were to busy setting up that SDX-900.

Good luck, it's a great way to make a living!!

Michael W. Towe
President M2 Digital Post Inc.

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Re: Starting Up a Company
on Jun 1, 2005 at 11:08:58 pm

Do all the things these guys say. Get yourself confident that you can do a job. But don't spend a penny. Then get a client. No money = no company. That is the tricky bit.

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Re: Starting Up a Company
on Jun 5, 2005 at 12:33:36 pm

I don't think that purchasing a camera is such a terrible idea. I'm going to go out on a limb here: Based on the small amount you have written my hunch is that you have very little experience in producing professional quality corporate video. And my next assumption is that you do not have a sufficiently good corporate video showreel to go out and compete for work on an even footing (If I am wrong the I humbly beg your forgiveness).

By scraping together enough cash to buy a basic three chip camera you can be out there working every day. Shooting things on spec, volunteering on short films, winning your first clients by offering extremely low rates. Building up a decent showreel, and experience. All things you would struggle to do if you had to go to rental house before doing anything.

While the conventional wisdom is to produce a business plan, and there's nothing wrong with doing so, the reality of the situation is that most people who are successfully running video production companies (IMO) did not start by doing a business plan. They grabbed whatever opportunities came their way to get experience and build a good reel.

I do not believe there is one right way to do things. I offer this approach as one of a number of alternatives.

Good luck.

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