Documentary – Form a Production Co?

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    • #49024

      Hello fellow Videomakers,

      I’m making a documentary that is intended for festivals and some type of distribution (even self-distribution). Do I need to form a production company, such as an LLC, to protect my assets? Or, is this only necessary if I anticipate making money from my film? What is the standard legal practice?

      Thanks πŸ™‚

    • #200900

      Hello Amber,

      Yes you can make a Documentary film without having a production company of your own. However, if you plan on distributing the completed work for profit, hiring anyone to help you make the film and courting potential investors for financial contributions to complete the project, having a production company behind you is a necessity. And you’re partially correct about the PC ‘protecting your assets’. If the PC is incorporated (Subchapter-S, LLC, C-Corp etc.) it will be a separate entity from your personal assets. Not to mention if anything goes awry on the project it will be the company’s issue vice your personal one unless it is proven you are specifically responsible. Also, having a production company will give you more credibility for getting your project done. Investors, potential subjects and your fellow production professionals will take you far more seriously if you have a company. Now you don’t need an imposing steel and glass building with your company name on it. But you will need to be seen as a legitimate business in order to be taken seriously.

      To figure out which model of incorporation will work best for you, both research and speak with a lawyer. Whatever you do, don’t just get some ‘instant incorporation’ crap online and think you’re good to go. That’s a very bad idea.

    • #200901

      i agree with composite1, see a lawyer and get it done right. shop around for price and see what each quoted price covers, and go from there.

      also, it really doesn’t matter for liability purposes whether it’s for profit or not. you can be sued for any host of things whether you make money or not. but the way to protect your personal stuff from that liability is through entity formation.

      one other thing–you’ll note a lot of hollywood types set up a different LLC or Corp for each movie. the reason for this is that if they have liability from Film A, and lose in court and have to pay out, only the assets of the corporation for Film A is at risk (which is usually the rights to that film, etc.). They don’t risk the rights to Film B because those rights are owned by Corp B, and they don’t loseany other assets like their houses, etc.

      yep, see a lawyer. and good luck!

    • #200902
      AvatarGrinner Hester

      You can skip the llc for now. Protect your work though. A copyright is cheap and can be done online quickly and easily. If you have any marks to tradmark, I’d have a copyright atty do that for you.

    • #200903

      Thank you all for the advice. I’ll consult a lawyer before forming any kind of company and I’ll look into copyrighting my work. Thanks again!

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