Starting a production company used to be right up there with becoming an astronaut or rock star as one of those fantasy careers that mums and dads would gently dissuade their children from pursuing. Established production companies were simply too dominant, the opportunities too few and the costs too high for new companies to have a decent shot at succeeding.
Today, however, the outlook is dramatically brighter. With the flourishing of social media and the reduced price of equipment, starting a production company is easier than ever — and here we’ll take a look at why 2018 is the year to do so.
The industry is growing
According to data from Statista, a remarkable 13,270 film and video production companies are now operating in the UK, up from just 1,745 in 1996. What’s more, we haven’t seen a decrease in the number of production companies since 2008.
This sustained growth tells the whole story: that plenty of new production companies are achieving success. This is due to a number of reasons, so let’s consider why that may be, and why you should be excited at the prospect of launching your production company.
Professional equipment is increasingly affordable
One of the key obstacles small production companies used to face was affordably sourcing the professional quality equipment needed to compete with bigger and better-financed rivals. Sure, you could shoot an artsy lo-fi film on a Super-8, and there was definitely value in that — but for most video projects, you were at a major disadvantage.
While certain recording equipment is still very expensive today, all the essentials for creating professional quality video are now available at a price most early-stage production companies can afford. Cameras, for example, range from the sub-£1,000 Canon EOS 7D camera, which was used to shoot parts of The Avengers, Like Crazy and 127 Hours; to Adobe’s Premiere Pro CC editing software, which comes with a monthly fee of just £20/month.
It’s this access to quality equipment that has changed the game for smaller production companies, who can now make video content relatively cheaply and upload it to the web as soon as they like.
There’s more money in the industry than ever before
According to the British Films Institute, a record-breaking £1.9bn was spent on film production in the UK in 2017 — a 12% increase on the previous year. The outlay covered everything from blockbusters like Tim Burton’s Dumbo remake to cult hits like Paddy Considine’s Journeyman.
Even the most newly-formed production companies have a shot at getting backed, especially by tapping into funding from the likes of the BFI Film Fund (which fronts £23m per year) and Film4 (£15m).
Meanwhile, the TV production sector grew by 5.3% in 2016, and research carried out by HubSpot this year has shown that 53% of people want to see more video content from brands.
Whether you’re going into film, TV or commercial production, the opportunities are rife.
You can start marketing online from day one
Social media has gone a long way towards levelling the playing field for production companies seeking to find clients and reach fans. Using profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and so on, you can instantly connect with an online audience, with the option to reach greater numbers of users quickly with paid sponsored posts.
Perhaps the most interesting social media development of the year so far for video producers has been the launch of IGTV, a new service from Instagram whereby users can watch video content ranging from 15 seconds to 60 minutes in length. From a producer’s perspective, this isn’t just a promotional channel — it’s a whole new platform to create for.
Forming the company
However brilliant the vision behind your production company may be, it can’t become a commercial reality until you’ve formed the company. This process can involve things like registering as a limited company, to buying equipment insurance and employer liability insurance. This process can be time-consuming, and we can help to take some of the strain off the process.