How to start a production company

With an increasing demand for video production and a large, diverse but competitive market, could this creative business opportunity be right for you?

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What is a production company and who is it suited to?

In the digital age, the world is full of video content. Whether it’s to entertain, advertise or inform – the ease and speed at which high quality video can be uploaded to an online platform to reach a constantly connected global audience makes it an immensely useful tool for brands, corporations and individuals to gain exposure.

This has created a massive and endlessly diverse market for video production.

Adam Neale from Bold Content defines a production company as one that “makes content that allows businesses to communicate”. But there are many different kinds of videos you can produce, as managing director at NextShoot Dominic Sutherland explains: “Homepage videos […] product videos for retailers and manufacturers […] internal communications or training content, case studies, which are a form of marketing […] event videos, conferences, webinars” – the list goes on.

“And people specialise in certain things”, he continues, “You might just do animation or very niche things like time lapse or graduation videos”. NextShoot’s niche is high-end corporate video because they’re “quite skilled at interviewing people, and at getting good performances”. Instead of trying to make every kind of video you should work to your strengths – what kind of production do your particular set of skills lend themselves to? Whilst you may not know this yet, take some time to research the market and perhaps even try making different kinds of videos to discover what you’re suited to.

Sutherland explains that there are “more and more people coming into this space, and the entry point is lower and lower in terms of cost”. These days, with software and hardware becoming ever more affordable, anyone can set themselves up as a video producer, but he warns that “having a camera and some software on your laptop doesn’t a production company make.”

Video production requires a lot of technical knowledge and skills that can take years to master. Many people choose to specialise in one particular area such as camera operation, lighting or sound and will have a background or education in the medium. Sutherland says that “most people who are starting up a video production company tend to be people who are both shooting and editing”. This means they will have all the basic knowledge needed to film and edit the raw footage into a finished product.

If you have no experience or formal education in video production it might be wise to take a course or a degree. Even to the untrained eye, the difference between professional and amateur footage is startling – bad lighting, bad framing and most importantly bad audio are a death sentence. Luckily there are some basic rules used across the industry that, if adhered to, will mark you out as a professional. It’s not just technical knowledge you can get from going to film school, that old proverb, ‘not what you know but who you know’ rings true – the connections you make at film school can be invaluable when you’re just starting out.