Business Overview

A film production company creates, produces and markets long- or short-form film or video content. As the owner of a film or video production company, you’ll create, produce, market and find distribution for digital or analog film or video content. This might take the form of movies, television programming, documentaries, industrial films, commercials or other related work.

Who is this business right for?

You should be a creative storyteller and technologically adept in film or digital production. Your expertise might come from film school, employment in the film industry or a background in creating film content. Even a five-minute demo film counts if it’s a good portfolio piece.You must also have a strong knack for business, since a large percent of your time is likely to be involved in raising funds from investors and seeking partnerships for the production or distribution of your work.

What happens during a typical day at a film production company?

Your typical day might include many of the following responsibilities:

  • Soliciting new business clients if your area of business is commercial work
  • Writing your own scripts or reviewing the submissions of other screenwriters
  • Attending fundraising meetings or events to present your project and secure financing
  • Attending networking events or scheduling meetings to find editors, cinematograhers, actors, co-producers or other talent who might add creative value to your projects
  • Appraising shooting locations, securing permits and scheduling shoots
  • Auditioning on-camera talent and/or interviewing crew members
  • Paying salaries and bills, invoicing clients and attending to other business and office matters

What is the target market?

Your end “customers” are the viewers—the people you want to attract to your finished product. One of your starting points should be to carefully profile the demographics of your future viewers before beginning the project. This clear understanding of your audience will help you in securing funding; writing, directing, scoring and producing your project; and also finding distribution outlets once the final project is complete.

You also have a second critical audience: your financial backers. This might be venture capitalists, government grantmakers, or commercial clients, but it’s likelier (at first, anyway) to be an informal group, including friends, family and others with discretionary income to invest in your business.

How does a film production company make money?

Films make money in different ways, depending on the form of distribution. This can include box office sales, the sale of individual DVDs, sales to streaming services, and even such ancillary sales as product placements and merchandising of your film, which can be especially lucrative in the case of large-budget films that reach a massive audience. For commercials and industrial films made for corporations, you’ll be paid an agreed-upon rate that might be a day-rate, hourly rate or flat fee, depending on the project. Here’s a helpful article with more tips on pricing your commercial work.

What is the growth potential for a film production company?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted a “faster than average” growth rate of nine percent for directors and producers between the years 2014-2024. There’s a steady growth of venues for media content in the form of streaming services, cable programming, online programming, video on demand and other new media outlets in addition to the traditional channels. However, keep in mind that there’s also more competition out there. Anyone with even a cheap digital camera (including a phone!) can call themselves a video production company and share their creations on the internet.