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Advice, Tips, and ideas to help me start my video production company.

planetjoe's picture
Last seen: 1 year 7 months ago
Joined: 12/30/2010 - 8:08pm

Hi all,

I am in the process of starting my video production company and have a few questions, and I would love to hear any advice and tips from the professionals out there.

I am a professional photographer who always had more passion for video than photography, but four years ago I landed a decent job at a wedding chapel here in Las Vegas as a photographer. For many years before I was an aspiring actor and gained some experience on movie sets and the production process. the basics I guess. but the bottom line is that I am not clueless when it comes to correct exposure, composition, framing, directing actors etc. so I dont consider myself a full blown newbie. I also have basic experience with Adobe Premier.

Now with a shoestring budget (20K) I plan on starting my video production company. I am debating if I should go for a professional camcorder or the new Nikon D800. I currently own a Nikon D700 with two good lenses; 24-70 and 28-300 and I am familiar with Nikon's settings and behavior. but I plan to shoot only video.
I also need a good workstation with software, royalty free music and effects, a good lighting kit, lav mics, battery packs etc. etc. plus advertising and marketing. I am aware that I will have to sacrifice one thing for another in order to fit everything I need for only $20,000.

My start plan is to target small businesses to shoot 60-90sec videos for them to place online, their facebook page, youtube etc. I will be willing to pick up weddings for some extra cash (though I am truly sick of weddings) and will hopefully get some gigs as a freelancer for other production companies. and my goal is to grow and shoot corporate video, music video, commercials etc. all the way to my ultimate dream of shooting feature films and documentaries.
Oh and I used to own a bar long ago, so I consider myself pretty good at running a business.

Anyways, to the point. my questions are as follows;

1) DSLR (Nikon D800) or camcorder (Which is best under $4000) ?
2) What are the essentials that I need for general video production?
3) Is $20,000 enough to get a video production company up and running?

If you have answers for questions I didnt even think of asking, please tell me.

Any info I can get is greatly appreciated!

Thank you in advance for your time and help my friends.

My photography website: www.JoePphotography.com


composite1's picture
Last seen: 3 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator

Hey Joe,

Check out my VM article online; "Starting a Production Company: What You Need to Know. It gives the basic breakdown of the steps for starting your biz. I followed the exact path written and so have many others so the info is sound.

I would suggest however, you freelance for a while first. You're still a novice with video shooting it seems. Shooting is hard enough, being down for doing serious pre-production and then seeing the project through to the final product isn't for beginners. By following the initial steps in the article will give you a real sense of whether your idea is doable or not. That you have gear is great, but that's just one phase of several you'll need to have worked out.

Even as a freelancer, you'll still have to know some business basics while you're honing your skills. As for your initial start-up monies, again I say follow the initial steps in the article to figure out what it's really going to take for your 'ball to start rolling' at the smallest scale you can manage. You'll be surprised (appalled) at what you may or may not need.

Starting a Production Co': What You Need to Know

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


John Sachanda's picture
Last seen: 1 month 3 weeks ago
Joined: 06/10/2008 - 2:32am
Plus Member Moderator

 So, if you are good at running a business, why are you out of the bar business? Wolfgang (composite1) raises the yellow flag (proceed with caution) very well. As for your investment, can you afford to spend that money and never get it back? Statisicly, that is what happens with most small businesses. If sounds like you have a good relationship with your employer, the wedding chapel. Maybe there is an opportunity to offer videos of the weddings. Think that one through. Even if you only offer video montages of the photos, it presents an opportunity to step in the video production business. Check out Earl Chesser's guidebook to making money with video montages http://www.eccomeecgo.blogspot.com/

Beyond that I advise "Start Small, Finish Big"

 



vid-e-o-man's picture
Last seen: 4 months 1 week ago
Joined: 02/06/2010 - 4:20am
Plus Member

Joe, I secondJohn's suggestion for reading Earl's book about video montages. It provides directions for this part of video production as well as some great insight into dealing with customers. I think that one can never get enough helpful information about how to handle the client/videographer relationship. The business model presented in the book gives a solid foundation for this and other forms of video production, figuring costs, pricing and profitability. Good luck with your endeavor.


dellwovideo's picture
Last seen: 2 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 05/20/2011 - 6:35pm

For better or worse, I've made most of my video money from weddings. I didn't set out to be a wedding videographer, but I'm pretty good at it and it pays the bills (sometimes.)

My biggest caution about wedding videos is you NEED two cameras to make a decent wedding video. Three is better, but that's another post... Without a second camera you get boring, or worse - BAD- video. Then you also have the problem of that rare by possible camera failure. I've fortunately never had to tell a bride one of my cameras failed on her big day. I couldn't imagine if one did - and it was my only camera!

You canshoot just about anything but events with one camera.For weddings, I consider the minimum equipment to be: 2 quality cameras that have better than average low light ability (Matching cameras are preferred to save a major headache later,) 2 tripods, one high quality with a fluid pan/tilt head, 1 led light source forthe reception, 1 wireless lav and the ability to plug it into your camera, and 1 handheld condenser mic and the ability to plug it into your camera.

Will $20,000 get you into video? Probably. It all depends on the type of work you want to do. And I know that doesn't feel like an answer, but it's true. Plan to spend 1/3 of your money on computers and software, andmost of your time marketing yourself and editing.

Before I bought my T3i (if you know how to use them, HDSLR's can get you great results,) I looked long and hard at the Sony NX5U camcorder.It was the bestcamcorder (for general video production) that I found at your price point. (AVCHD, external buttonsand 3-chip were factors for me. Plus it had HDMI output. A lot ofclients are still hung up on 3-chip as a requirement for cameras.)

But if you've started a Nikon lens collection, do consider the D800. I hear good things about it. Plus, you'll have it for stills (in case you need a 36mp monster.) Just need to get comfortable with the workarounds vs a camcorder which it sounds like you've got a good headstart.

You'll also have to add continuous lighting, reflectors, sandbags, extension cords, C-stands, apple boxes, a boom, etc, etc, etc. There's a reason I can't put my gearand passengers in my car at the same time. :-)

While I never want to scare people away from following their dreams, do listen to what I and others have to say out of experience. Professional video production can be a tough gig to break in to. Make sure you go in eyes wide open and don't expect it to start turning a profit anytime soon.



Brian Collins's picture
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: 02/12/2013 - 9:38pm

Hi Casey -

 

I've been in the business about 30 years and have been running my own shop for about 15.  My advice really echos dellwovideo.  Go in with your eyes open and expect to work harder than you ever have before.  To get good, really good, it takes a huge investment in time.  40 hours weeks are rare. 60 is closer to average for me and many hit 80.  Budgets are never quite what they need to be, clients never really understand the complexity of requests and there always seems to be a deadline that pops up just when you thought you were going on vacation.  

Production and post are a great field if you enjoy the game but it is a tough, tough business that only gets more competitive.

 

Good luck to you.

 

 

Brian Collins

Atomic Pictures Inc

Birmingham, AL

www.atomicpix.com