How to Start Up Your Own Business in Film

November 21, 2011

Are you wondering how to start up your own business in film? Once upon a time, such a thing would have been hard to imagine. But today's digital world makes it easy (okay, easier) for entrepreneurs to use their talents and resources to create their own businesses, even within the rather insular world of Hollywood. There are a nearly unlimited number of businesses one could create. On the technical side, movies require lighting, cameras, sound equipment. You could start up a rental company, or be one of the professionals who does this kind of work. You could create or rent costumes, have your own editing studio, or create music scores. The business possibilities are endless, depending on your passion. Here are some tips to help get you started:

  1. Find a mentor. It's hard to jump into the movie business without some guidance. To get off on the right track, find a mentor in the field who can help you navigate the potential pitfalls of the industry, someone you can go to with questions and will help you brainstorm ideas. If you don't know anyone who could fit this role, ask around. Let your friends, family, and acquaintances know that you'd appreciate being connected to anyone they know in the film industry. Your school's alumni office may be able to hook you up, as well.

  2. Raise some money. If you already have the funds to start up your business, great. If not, you may want to investigate getting a small business loan. You can also hit up friends and family (again) to invest in your company. Send out a professional letter (not email) letting everyone know about your dream. Describe both your passion and your drive, and ask folks to contribute whatever they can. When you have some bigger projects under your belt, you can seek out professional investors.

  3. Get working. Start building up your business. At first you will probably want to start small. Are there universities nearby with film schools?  Offer your services to student filmmakers to get experience. Are there small advertising firms in your area, or local businesses whose ads could use some help? Whether you work on the creative or technical side of the business, have an open mind as to what companies you can work with. Nobody starts out working on a Hollywood blockbuster.

  4. Spread the word. Once you build up a decent resume of companies and individuals you've worked with (who will ideally provide good references), reach out again to everyone you know. Explain that you're looking to move on to bigger projects. Start applying for the kinds of jobs you were too "green" to get in the beginning. Once you understand how to start up your own business in film, the opportunities are limitless.

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