Start an Independent Movie Production Company

Independent movie production companies are production companies that operate without a studio or distribution contract or budget. Most commonly, indie movies are made with a budget of $1 to $100,000, but it is rare to see an indie movie that has been made for over $100,000. Independent production companies are usually run by one to ten people, depending on the budget. Most indie filmmakers have their own production company but work in affiliation with other indie companies to get their work completed.


Developing genre(s) and roles

  1. Decide on the genre of film you wish to concentrate on. For example, you might wish the company to concentrate on horror, drama, comedy, sci-fi, documentaries, etc. Or perhaps a mix of genres, without stretching yourself too thin.
  2. Determine your role and input. Once you have decided on what genre of film you would most like to do you must decide what your role will be.
    • Are you going to be the writer, director or producer?
    • Do you want to be behind the camera or running sound?
    If you do not have any expertise or talent in any of those areas, network with people and search for projects you can attach yourself to. This will help you to build your resume and will enhance the reputation of your production company.

Creating your production company's profile

  1. Come up with a name for your production company. Choose something that is easy to remember but also stands out from the crowd like, "Beauty and the Geek Productions" or "Lovable Varmint Productions". Search around on the internet to make sure you aren't infringing on copyright laws. Yes, even movie production companies have a trademark or copyright on their name to secure it so that no one else will use it.
  2. Create your production company profile. The profile should include the following important elements: Name of your company, its establishment (year), founder(s) of the company, vision, mission and the goal of the company, where do the company works, the kind of activities the company carries out and the structure of the company. Also clarify the company's partners (such as broadcasters, institutes, co-production partners) and the contacts of the company (this is very important because it will enable your clients get in contact with you easily, especially for business purposes).

Getting funding

  1. Consider where you'll get funding from. Some states, provinces and even countries offer grants and tax breaks for filming movies in their area. This might influence your decision about where to film, or even where to locate your business. Research the available options online and talk to people already in the industry to find out what grants are available. Obviously, grants won't keep your business thriving, so you'll need other resources too. Some suggestions include:
    • Your own savings
    • Family or friend help (loans, donations, etc.)
    • Angel investors
    • Crowdfunding through online fundraising campaigns
    • Keeping your day job and funneling some of your income towards the business
    • A cooperative of investors, and so forth.
  2. Be informed about the taxation allowances for your business. Make the most of being able to claim for business expenses and also how to take advantage of any existing tax breaks for your work.
    • Get a good accountant and a good lawyer from the outset.

Hiring staff

  1. Hire your production team. If you are lucky, you may just be able to make movies for free and pay everyone with meals and film credit. Most indie movies are made this way. Don't forget to give screen credit to the people who have done the hard work to make your dreams into a reality. It is just rude not to do so, and will give you a bad name, making it harder for you to find people to help you next time.
  2. Make connections with other indie companies. Don't expect to go it alone and do expect to put in a lot of effort making connections, networking and keeping friendly with as many other people who can help you as you have spare time to catch up with.

Getting started with the movies

  1. Learn by doing. If you do not know how a film set is run, look around your local area and see if you can be a Production Assistant on set and learn by total immersion. Some cities have filmmaker meet up groups that help connect you with people who can answer your questions and put you in contact with people who need extra hands on set.
  2. Write your own script. Or, option a script from a different writer, maybe a friend or acquaintance trying to get started in the industry.
  3. Look for unique angles. Avoid doing what everyone else is doing. If you're going to be independent, set the trend rather than chase it. Your movies have to be different in some way, so find ways to create movies that will gain people's attention.

Promoting your company and its movies

  1. Produce promotional sites and materials. Make a website, get business cards, stamps, and come up with a catchy phrase that sums up your company. Get a trademark on your company's name.
  2. Think about your sharing and publication process. Have sufficient posters, websites and promos to promote your film. Without them, an audience will never find your movies and your company risks failing.


  • Books are a helpful tool, along with the internet. The most helpful book you could read is "How To Make A Movie For Under $10,000: And Not Go To Jail" by Bret Stern.
  • Try to get a role as an extra on a major motion picture set to see how things are run, then get a role as an extra on an indie movie and compare how different and diverse the two worlds are.
  • Women filmmakers are a rare commodity, so if you are a daring chick willing to get her hands dirty and rise to the top in the movie industry, don't start out as a production assistant or an office assistant; instead, become an editor's assistant or a second assistant director.
  • Work on pitching your ideas to family and friends, once you are satisfied with your pitch, pitch it to a producer, director or writer and see what comes out of it.
  • Network, network, network. It's the best way to meet people, important people too.
  • Have loads of daring ambition and a "take-no-prisoners" attitude.


  • Being in the movie industry is a tough business. You've got to have thick-skin and not be afraid to take (often unwarranted) criticism.
  • Film making is stressful. It is important to remember that movies are a visual art and take time, passion and patience.
  • Just because you've put a lot of time and effort into making your films and building your production company doesn't mean you'll be seen by LA or NYC producers. You have to take the time to "shop" your film around. It is always best to make a movie you are most passionate about. The more passionate you are about it, the more passionate other people will be about it and potentially the more passionate they will be to invest money into future projects.

Things You'll Need

  • Business cards
  • Website
  • A few good friends to support your endeavor
  • Some type of video camera or film camera

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