How to finance a new production company
Setting up your own film or theatre production company can be a very rewarding, if stressful, however if you're up for the challenge there are a few key things to remember.
Take your time.
Planning and careful consideration into what you want to do, and how you want to do it, is vital. As actors we come into a production at the 11th hour, but in reality there is months of work to plan and prepare the project. The more time you take at the beginning, the faster and more easily things will come together at the end. Plus, thinking is free so costs nothing but can save you a fortune!
You need to think in terms of a business, not 'the creation of art'. I can't emphasise this more. If you're setting up a company, by definition it intends to make money, even if, in reality, it might not. Anything else is a hobby. I'm a fan of not going to the Arts Council but making it work financially for yourself - its not necessarily harder but you do need to think in a different way.
There are a number of forums and networks for entrepreneurs and business start-ups, such as meetup.com and school for startups.co.UK. do your research and be prepared to answer difficult questions, even if you ask them of yourself.
Think in terms of facts and figures: What makes your company different? What will it cost? How will you market and promote the product? What will you sell it for? How will you make back the investment? Who makes up your team?
After you've been turned down by the Arts Council and you start looking at alternatives, check out seis.co.UK (Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme) which is a fantastic way of removing risk from your investors. Its a programme set up by government to help investors by providing tax breaks and incentives so that even if your company makes a loss, they still get their money back.
There are other government schemes you should check out too, but its all part of doing your research.
In real terms, you should give yourself at least 6-9 months to research, and prepare your first project, then seek funding, then a good 6 months before getting into production. Your talking a year to prepare your first project so by the time you start production you know everything about what the end result will be and you'll avoid financial and other pitfalls.
Finally, enjoy it! It won't be easy but the rewards can be extensive.