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Ten Steps for Setting Up Your Own Film Company (part 2)

Copyright: Watershed

Copyright: Watershed

In part two of her handy guide to setting up your own film company, Becky Johnson talks names, human resources and how to get your name out there. Check out part one here

6. A catchy name

The reason we chose ‘Prawn Productions’ is because it’s personal to us. ‘Prawn’ started off as an inside joke, which we then decided to take further. It works for us, and it’s easy to remember – which is what you really need to consider when picking a company name. If you are really struggling, try finding something you have in common with your team members, or suggest something that is personal to you. My advice is, double check that there isn’t a production company with the name you have picked out, it can cause so many issues, and you’ll find yourself stuck in the murky waters of copyright.

The reason we chose ‘Prawn Productions’ is because it’s personal to us.

Another word of advice I will give you is, unless you actually have a studio, do not add studios to the end of your name! If you do, you won’t be recognised as a production company, clients will think that you have studios available for hire, and therefore you won’t get the recognition you want. If you want to add something like that to your name, add ‘productions’ or ‘pictures’.

7. Picking the right cast and crew

This is such an essential part of the filmmaking process. Picking the right crew is very important, if you don’t get along with your crew members, you won’t have good communication throughout the project. The better communication you have with each of your members, the better the film will be. A lack of communication will cause confusion and will disrupt the entire process.

Picking the right cast, is just as important. When sending out a casting call, be very specific and clear on what you are looking for: age, gender, hair colour, height, weight, anything that will define the specific character you want. You should also already have your shoot dates and rehearsal dates sorted, so be sure to add that to your casting call, to make sure the actors can do those dates.

8. Treat your cast and crew right

Once you’ve picked your cast and crew, you need to give them a good experience, and you need to treat them equally.

Once you’ve picked your cast and crew, you need to give them a good experience, and you need to treat them equally.

Let’s start with the cast. Once you’ve picked your cast, don’t neglect them! Be sure to contact them weekly, updating them with what you’re doing, when they are needed and when they need to learn their lines by. When rehearsing, be really clear on what you are asking them to do, and what you are trying to get them to convey. A good idea is to start with an exercise to get them warmed up, they might have some ideas themselves, but it’s a good idea to have some of your own too.

When it comes to actual shoot days, be aware that the actors will be under a lot of pressure. You need to make sure you have someone checking up on them before and after scenes- actors who have worked in film, will have patience for set changes etc, but you need to be aware that long shoot days are not only tiring for crew, but for cast too. You should arrange breaks for actors, not necessarily at the same time, but they should have at least two breaks (not including lunch) per shoot day. Always provide refreshments and have water available at all times, or you might have some very fed up actors, not to mention crew.

The same goes for the crew, always have refreshments available, and be sure to give everyone a break. I normally schedule in at least a 15-minute break for crew in the morning, then a 40-minute lunch break around 1.30pm for all cast and crew. Crew are also under a lot of pressure too, especially when trying to meet time limits, so be aware that you need to stay calm and not let the atmosphere get too tense- this could end in disagreements and disrupt the whole process.

9. Festivals

Don’t be shy when it comes to festivals.

Don’t be shy when it comes to festivals. Apply for anywhere you can afford, it doesn’t matter where, just apply. The more festivals you apply to, the more chance you have of being accepted into one. Our film ‘This Too Shall Pass’, won the Best Overall Film award at the International Upto21 Film Festival in Warsaw, Poland. Since then, we’ve had lots of recognition and people are becoming more aware of our company. It really is worth thinking outside the box when it comes to festivals, do some research as to where you could apply, and which festivals would best suit your film idea. I can’t recommend festivals, because it entirely depends on the genre of your film, but as I have said, apply anywhere you think your film might have a chance-anywhere!

If you aim to enter your film into festivals, before you even create your film you must set aside money for festivals. Depending on where the festivals are, most cost around £50 to enter at the most, but it really does depend on which film festivals you are entering! Don’t be surprised if you maybe spend a little more then you intended, it’s not a bad thing- if anything this should give you more motivation to win. Our film won approximately just under £400, which could easily cover another short film. You could potentially win back your festival money and maybe even some of your budget.

10. Stay Motivated

Lastly, but most importantly, stay motivated! When the work load gets too much, or the ideas or jumble into a blur, it is important to take a time out. You can’t force yourself to be creative, but you can’t let it pass you by either! It’s gets to a point where you work so hard you lose concentration, take a half hour break, get some fresh air, get inspired! It’s important to remember why you are going to all the efforts you’re going too, you need to remember that you have a genuine passion for filmmaking, and that all this hard work will be worth it when you see your finished product.

It’s also important to keep others motivated too. A lack of motivation tends to make people unreliable, as they lose interest in making the film- should this happen, you need to talk to them and ask them if they really are committed enough to be part of the process. It’s common team members to occasionally become a little distant at times, but if it continuously happens, you should have a talk with them about if they can really commit to the project.

That’s it for this week. Hopefully, these articles have been beneficial to you, my fellow filmmakers. I hope you’ll at least consider these steps when creating a company, and I wish you the best of luck!

Should you have anymore questions, please email me and i’ll get back to you as soon possible!

Related Links:

Ten Steps for Setting Up Your Own Film Company (part one) by Becky Johnson

Little Ryan’s Film School by Little Ryan

Apply for this year’s BFI Film Academy‘ by Rife Editor