Last year my freelance started to pick up a lot and has become my full time job.
I work for a variety of different clients, but I also work under other video companies from time to time. Also I am located in Illinois.
I want to make sure I am doing everything right so I want to file for an LLC or Corp. so nothing comes back to bite me in the butt.
First off...should I go under a brand name or just stick with my personal name? I already have clients and get referrals because of my personal name and the work associated with it...Should I change that at all?
Next...what do I need to file for...is an LLC fine for me?
As for the companies I work for since I am a contracted worker for them I get a 1099 at the end of the year...do I need to change anything with these if I become an LLC?
I don't think that there many people on this forum that will answer your specific questions. And there are plenty of similar posts in the library of the COW, so you just got to go and search those.
However, I'll be helpful with the following hints:
1) Pay a lawyer to help take you through the legal status of an LLC or a Corp? They might also be the people to set it up for you and prepare all contracts.
2) Pay an accountant to sort out all of your tax affairs and advice on how get the best return on your earnings.
3) Read the Bootstrappers bible by Seth Godin.
If you can't afford the two first points and the insurance, then you are not ready for being a company owner.
I agree with Mads. Use professionals to know what steps to take to best mesh with your ultimate goals. You may or may not be able to only get insurance on a job-by-job basis when there's not already coverage provided by the producer hiring you. But I don't KNOW this, so check with a good insurance agent.
As to the other part of your query, if your name is well known it only makes sense (IMHO) to use it in or as your corporate name.
And to add to what Nick said about your name, you should also ask whether you can register anything but your own name, unless you become a Sub-S Corporation or LLC. Where I live, the only option to file with the state as a sole proprietorship was to use my name. Hence, Bourke Media.
I have no idea what the laws are in your area, so research what you can online, then go to the people who do know the answers. You'll pay for it, but you'll be glad you did...