Seeking advice on starting a video production business

raj80's picture
Last seen: 1 day 23 hours ago
Joined: 12/04/2017 - 5:13pm

Good evening everyone! Its my absolute pleasure to discover this forum and share my thoughts here. Im an independent filmmaker who has produced and directed couple of award winning and multiple festival screening short films and one documentary. Infact my second short film also got a distribution here in the US. I made these films couple of years ago and since then have been working in corporate world in an unrelated field. Since quite some time I had been planning to find ways to make my real passion as profession. As we all know, its tough!
I have plans of making an independent feature film soon, but im not expecting that to turn into any windfall as most indies lose money! Recently I decided to go part time in my alternate career and put some of the money I have earned over the last few years in starting a video production business which will have some decent cameras, lenses, post production studio etc etc. Looking at some existing similar businesses, I estimated total investment to be around 50-75k which included 4-6 small to medium end cameras, high end lenses, solid lighting equipment, microphones, sound design softwares, couple of editing workstations and other miscellaneous stuff.
So, here is my plan-

1. Rent a small office space in an inexpensive semi commercial area where I can put equipment and have decent space for post production work, including mini interview shoots, green screen etc.

2. Immediately start making some revenue for the company by renting out equipment, post production equipment and studio space to independent filmmakers, documentary filmmakers, political marketing companies, etc etc

3. Start producing and developing work for corporate clients, educational clients, events etc. Ofcourse this will take some time to take off, I assume

4. Develop a team of other technical people-DOP's, sound designers, editors and animators etc and hire them on project basis; hire a part time administrative assistant to help in scheduling, answering calls etc

Btw, forgot to mention, I plan to start this business somewhere around greater washington DC metro area-northern virginia/baltimore area.

My long term plan is to hone my both creative and technical skills through the projects I will do through my production company, develop a network of creative people and eventually make my indie feature film using most of resources from the company (both equipment and talent wise)
I would like you experienced guys to give your two cents on following points-

1. How does the overall plan sound in the context of current climate of video production business and is there anything important Im missing here?

2. What kind of cameras and other equipment you guys advice on investing in keeping in mind the current advancements in technology and future?

3. Is there anything else I can add in my planned list of equipment rental/services offered which has lot of demand nowadays. I mean may be something like media conversion from one format to another or perhaps something else?

Million thanks in reading it and thanks in advance for your help.


Jack Wolcott's picture
Last seen: 1 day 1 hour ago
Joined: 01/02/2008 - 11:51pm
Plus Member

You have some tough questions to answer for yourself. First and foremost, is there a need for what you propose? Begin by doing a very thorough market survey. There are at least 15 to 20 well established companies in the D.C. area already doing what you propose. What's different enough about what you want to do to make you stand out from the rest?

Most businesses that fail are under capitalized. Can you afford to be in business for two or more years with very little income while your business is developed? How much will your rent cost; can you afford to pay it for a couple of years with little income? How about insurance and advertising?

Do you have the working capital to hire artists and technicians? Enough capital to pay the salary of an administrative assistant for a couple of years, even if you aren't making much money each month?

A video business isn't like building a baseball diamond in a cornfield; building it won't necessarily make them come. Have you worked in the video industry enough to have established potential colleagues and clients? Do you have any reason to expect to be able to get corporate work, to break into a market place already heavily worked over by established production companies?

You suggest supplemental income by doing media conversion. Do you have the equipment to do this, a collection of equipment that will play Betamax tapes and 78 records, Digital-8 and S-VHS tapes, digitize 8mm, Super8 and 16mm film? If you don't, you're going to need another bundle of money to acquire it and someone full-time to handle this end of the business.

Starting your own business is a wonderful dream. Making it a reality is a full-time job that requires a tremendous commitment in time, energy and money.


orodog's picture
Last seen: 1 day 9 hours ago
Joined: 10/25/2017 - 3:22am
Plus Member

Dear raj80, what a brilliant and passionate insight you hold! Build it and they will come, I feel you have what it takes to become a leading force and for the rest of us who are still dreaming of a good gig. You have courage, go hard Brother


Jack Wolcott's picture
Last seen: 1 day 1 hour ago
Joined: 01/02/2008 - 11:51pm
Plus Member

It's great to have dreams, and I certainly wouldn't discourage anyone from dreaming, but making dreams in the business world come true only happens when the hard realities of financing and running a business are thoroughly understood before the business ever opens. Although this article -- http://www.videoccasions-nw.com/cost_analysis.html -- was written and published nearly fifteen years ago, the information is still as valid now as it was when written. An interesting article here -- https://www.fool.com/careers/2017/05/03/what-percentage-of-businesses-fa... -- discusses the rate of failure and the reason why many businesses fail to survive beyond the first few years.

Where I live on the west coast nearly two dozen production companies have failed in the past twenty years. Most were established by excellent videographers and editors; most failed because of poor business practices and, in the past several years, because of the growing trend for clients that once outsourced video services to rely now on in-house "production" by staff using inexpensive consumer cameras, iPads and iPhones and low-end editing software. This is the reality which a startup video company faces today. Having the financial and personal resources to stay in for the long haul and having a solid business plan which includes advertising and marketing strategies is absolutely essential for success.