Thursday, November 3, 2011

So You Want to Make a Movie - Setting Up Shop

You’ve caught the bug, and you’ve decided to make a movie. But where do you start? The good news is today there are fewer barriers to overcome in order to produce a film. Thanks to digital filmmaking, the costs have dropped dramatically. In reality, practically anybody can become a filmmaker. There is no shortage of books, videos, and online resources to help get you started. No one article can answer all of your questions or take you through the entire process; however, I want to offer you 20 key steps that will at least steer you in the right direction. Think of these steps as the big picture or the 30,000 foot view.

Step 9. Setting Up Shop

Filmmaking can be fun and exciting; however, this next step is neither. There are a thousand and one things you have to do before you ever turn on a camera, and most of them are quite boring but necessary to the process. You are now moving from development to pre-production, and that means, its time to open up a production office. Whether you rent space or have it donated, you need a central command center. You can’t do this from the back of your car. In reality, you are running a small business that’s responsible to account for every dollar that comes in and how it’s spent, that means paperwork, accounting, meeting payroll, and all the other things necessary in running a business.

Your office should be open for business at least three months prior to the start of production. At this point, you should apply for a film permit, which is basically a license to conduct a temporary business and set up a film production company in the city where you are about to shoot. Also check with the municipality where your office is located to obtain all other necessary permits and licenses. Setting up shop is essentially about getting organized and planning your shoot. It’s a place where you have meetings with potential crew, cast, investors and other interested parties. Most important, don’t forget to obtain liability insurance and workman’s compensation. And you should make a call to your local or state Film Commission that you are planning on shooting a movie in their area. They will be more than willing to assist you with all types of compliance issues and possible tax breaks.

Step 10. Marketing and Promotion

Marketing and promotions does not start when you finish your film and secure distribution. You need to generate a buzz NOW and get the word out about your film. Find a good web developer and build a website for your movie. It’s not as expensive as you think, but it’s necessary and expected in today’s media environment. Use social media to engage your potential audience and keep your investors informed of your progress. Find a host who will do a weekly video blog and podcast about your film. Once production starts, you should produce daily updates on your video blog through your website. Encourage people to help by promoting your movie through Facebook and Twitter by asking them to re-share your post and updates. This is Gorilla Marketing 101. It’s inexpensive, easy and highly effective, especially if it goes viral. This may help you find a distributor if you can create an online sensation about your movie.

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