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Here's a chance for a good round of input-I'm starting up...again

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Tim Kolb
Here's a chance for a good round of input-I'm starting up...again
on Dec 9, 2005 at 11:49:06 pm

Hi all,

As I type I'm working on changing my situation from my former arrangements with my partner (Kolb Syverson Communications) back to just me as "Kolb Productions." ...not catchy I know, but it's concise.

I spent the 90's on my own, growing eventually to 10 employees and my largest sub-contractor was the audio production company that would soon merge with me to form the business we've had for 5 or so years.

In the intervening time, I've somehow changed from the 23 year old guy who started the thing to an almost 40 year old who has different goals and aspirations. My partner is 18 years my senior and he has plans for his retirement that he wants to carry out and we part with absolutely no bad blood and we plan to work together in the future on the projects he wants to do...

I've become a sole proprietor who has vowed to spend the last half of his life avoiding hiring employees. I plan on being an "in-house independent" in another production company with lots of complimentary capabilities to serve my clients through working together as sub-contractors on each other's projects.

So...off I go with building remodeling issues and printing and all that other stuff that needs to be done. I thought this was a good time to make a thread in preparation for the new year about starting out and "if I knew now what I knew then..."

So let's hear it folks. Most of us have earned our gray hair...




TimK,

Kolb Syverson Communications,
Creative Cow Host,
2004-2005 NAB Post Production Conference
Premiere Pro Technical Chair,
Author, "The Easy Guide to Premiere Pro" http://www.focalpress.com
"Premiere Pro Fast Track DVD Series" http://www.classondemand.net


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Rich Rubasch
Re: Here's a chance for a good round of input-I'm starting up...again
on Dec 10, 2005 at 6:50:56 pm

So, are you looking for a particular suggestion, or do you want to hear our stories of success or failure? Being in-house with another production company always seems to be short-term to me. It works for a while and seems like an easy way to go, but soon the politics of the post house makes you a little less "independent" after all. Soon you begin dreaming of really having a handle on your schedule and projects and there you are faced with another decision altogether.

So what would you like to hear from us?

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media



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Tim Kolb
Re: Here's a chance for a good round of input-I'm starting up...again
on Dec 11, 2005 at 1:09:06 am

Oh, I don't know... I was actually thinking it would just be a good topic to banty around a bit.

Most of my decisions are made at this point logistically, so it would take a really good suggestion to change one...but that could happen. I've made so many mistakes that I'm smarter than I was 16 years ago, but there are plenty more mistakes to make...

The other thing is the additional office space that I'll need. It's available in the building, but needs some work. I'm thinking it would be great to just trade some of the rent for us doing our own contracting on it... Any creative lease suggestions are also welcome.

...and other thoughts. I'm sure there are always those who lurk here starting their own business...




TimK,

Kolb Syverson Communications,
Creative Cow Host,
2004-2005 NAB Post Production Conference
Premiere Pro Technical Chair,
Author, "The Easy Guide to Premiere Pro" http://www.focalpress.com
"Premiere Pro Fast Track DVD Series" http://www.classondemand.net


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Nick Griffin
Re: Here's a chance for a good round of input-I'm starting up...again
on Dec 11, 2005 at 3:47:29 pm

Tim, Tim, Tim. Just like you I learned the hard way that having a number of employees doesn't ncessarily mean more productivity, more creativity, more whatever. Without really tight management it only means more payroll.

Personally I opted for the solo route 17 or so years ago and have year-in, year-out been FAR more productive, creative and PROFITABLE. Doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure out that I'm far better at doing things than managing others doing them.

But that's me. As to your desire to become an independent within a larger resourse... could it work? Absolutely. Is it likely to work? Hmmmmm. The biggest problem I see to finding the perfect match is the size of the market. In New York, LA, maybe even Chicago you would have a LOT more choices of / and therefore chances for finding this benevolent host.

I wish you nothing but the best, but encourage you to have Plans B and C somewhat thought out also.


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Kyle S
Re: Here's a chance for a good round of input-I'm starting up...again
on Dec 11, 2005 at 8:32:51 pm

Tim,

Once upon a time I was teh head producer and chief Avid Editor for a large naional infomercial. I was completely responsible for the show (air budget was anywhere from $600,000 to $1,000,000 a week) and creating and producing all of the video tape products and packages. There were some things that went on and I suffered from a sever case of burn out and moved on to doing something else for a living.

I have had a huge urge to get back to my real profession, but I have no desire to work for anyone else pushing buttons or even keeping my own shop and working for clients. Everything I am dong now are my projects, I am the client, I may not make a dime but I am having a wonderful time.

As long as you keep the bills paid and are happy I thnk everything else is the old icing on the cake.

Good luck,

Kyle


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Rich Rubasch
Re: Here's a chance...so if you don't have employees....
on Dec 11, 2005 at 11:12:32 pm

Do you guys who are truly independent focus on only a couple post production disciplines (editing and graphics) or do you try to do turnkey production, by being writer, director, camera, sound, editor, graphics etc? I have heard legendary tales of these types, but they are probably not too great at any one thing.

I have focused on editing, graphics, animation and DVD creation for video (mostly corporate, some spots) for the last 5 years and I have had a steady increase in business. On a few projects I farmed out for 3D animations or some AfterEffects work if I was tied up in the edit. It has worked out well.

But I still work out of my home. The numbers look good and the hours are cenvenient since I am at home, so changing all this to get a more public space in an office and still be the one-man shop doing the same things seems wasteful. At the same time I'd like to give the community the impression that my company is growing up...perhaps that is not so important if what I have is working and the books seem to indicate that it is.

I am 43 years old so I have a good 20 left to go. Do I want to retire as a one man shop, or a respected creative house with a great creative staff....and sell it to the highest bidder?

I am wrestling with my own transition and what it will be. I have been approached by a few small post houses to move my gear and really my company into their space...it never compelled me enough to do it. I'm glad I did not. I leave my options open, however.

I also don't want to approach successful creatives in various disciplines, like a director, cameraman, sound guy, writer, and web guy and propose that we all move into one big happy office space to consolidate our resources and work more as a team to optimize our talents...and perhaps sell more. Too messy.

I live in Madison, WI which is not a major market by a long shot, but has some large corporate headquarters, a University system, plenty of medical and tech companies to provide me with lots of work. and my clients are great, if any of you are reading this : )

I have not had one complaint from a client about the home office and everyone is comfortable here, as am I.

So, I know somewhat how you feel, Tim...because change is change after all. Whether it is change for the better, always remains to be seen.

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.



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Tim Kolb
Re: Here's a chance...so if you don't have employees....
on Dec 12, 2005 at 2:56:40 am

All good input.

As for the number of disciplines I maintain...it's too many. Living in Neenah, WI (Green Bay market)...Madison is a metro area...though Green Bay is a larger DMA overall.

I light, shoot, edit, 2d graphics, compositing, some 3d. I stay clear of writing and sound. I probably peak at editing and AE 2d stuff, but I can do relatively straight forward 3d stuff, but I contract the sophisticated 3d work...and based on my exposure to other crews around the country, I think I hold my own lighting and shooting.

My problem is that I like it all and enjoy it all. I also end up with some very good project continuity since I do so many of the steps myself.

My draw to this other company is that they have a superior shooter to myself...he shoots film and video and I think that would be a great spot to plant my HD/2K CineForm Prospect Editing system.

Part of my thought with the "shacking up" scenario is that it keeps me from hiring employees as we have mutual sub-contracting available. I understand about plan B and hear that...I have been working with these guys for a while and we're very familiar with each other, so it's not a first-date thing.

Nick, hopefully I have now reached the level of knowledge that you have and I'll finally figure this out...because writing checks for $8K month for health insurance on ten people is just scary...




TimK,

Kolb Syverson Communications,
Creative Cow Host,
2004-2005 NAB Post Production Conference
Premiere Pro Technical Chair,
Author, "The Easy Guide to Premiere Pro" http://www.focalpress.com
"Premiere Pro Fast Track DVD Series" http://www.classondemand.net


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Marc Bauwens
Re: Here's a chance...so if you don't have employees....
on Dec 12, 2005 at 2:59:15 pm

Just my 2 cents on this topic.
I started out in the business as a lighting guy. Got fed up with the long and hard hours and at the birth of my first child (I was 32 then) I decided to get off the road and spend more time watching my kids grow up. I was already active in the video sector on event level and decided to go for a small boutique post house along with a partner who handles the commercial side (and the mess it brings with it). At first I was strapped for cash after the initial investment and thought it was a good idea to accept a position as freelance senior video editor for a large computer manufacturer who at that time had a training center here in Belgium. Convenient hours, location close to my home, etc etc etc. The initial contract was 5 years, renewable. But then, SURPRISE, a year later they decide to shut down the facility and claim 'unforeseen circumstances' to terminate the contract. I was of course entitled to penalties but the legal battle has been going on for 3 years now and I'm not in the mood to fight any longer. Turning 40 this year, I prefer to focus on making money to have a decent living standard and acquire the equipment I need to serve my clients. So as tempting as a internal position might sound, I'm goingt o stay away from it like hell, because in the end it('s allways on 'their' terms and they can get rid of you as fast as this with most of the time ludicrous excuses.

My 2 cents ....


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Tim Kolb
Re: Here's a chance...so if you don't have employees....
on Dec 15, 2005 at 2:01:31 am

Just so we're clear...I'm not going into a hired position...I'm moving my business into another facility and sub-letting space...also looking forward to a certain intra-building "synergy" if you will.

Everything like this is rolling the dice of course, but I have clients with work and I need a place to put my stuff...




TimK,

Kolb Syverson Communications,
Creative Cow Host,
2004-2005 NAB Post Production Conference
Premiere Pro Technical Chair,
Author, "The Easy Guide to Premiere Pro" http://www.focalpress.com
"Premiere Pro Fast Track DVD Series" http://www.classondemand.net


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Golf Guy
Re: Here's a chance...so if you don't have employees....
on Jan 2, 2006 at 1:36:26 pm

Tim,

I know this after the facts, or in this case, after the posts. But I couldn't help but chime a little. Back in the mid 80's I went into business with 2 other partners (one an independent businessperson, the other an engineer at a local TV station) and needless to say it wasn't long beofre I realize that partners are like employees, some are good and some are not. At our peak we had 14 employees, a ton of work and life seem to be good. Then after 11 years I decided I needed a change (living on a tropical island can take its toll) and sold out to the reminding partner. Move ahead some a decade and there I was again, back in the production business (and thank God away from television news) with another partner. I'll never learn! This time my company works for me (we produce a syndicated show) and my employee count is down to four. As for my latest partner, he is history, I learned early on that niether employee or partner are not worth keeping if all they do is couse grief. I guess the point I really want to make is to play to your strengths. Do what you are most capable doing and build from there. In the end you'll go to the office each and every day wanting, instead of not and you work and money will come with less effort. You can create what ever you want, its just you have to decide what it is you want. Happy New Year!

Golf Guy


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