If you're a filmmaker, you're in a business. If you're shooting a feature film, you need to protect your assets. Incorporate your production as an LLC, check with your state office, and you might even get a rebate.
No budget to shoot a movie? If you are a small church, a new videographer, a budding director, a film student, or the gal who got stuck with the company safety video, you're in the right place. You can't cower in fear or let a lack of funds stop you from sharing your story. This is the No Budget Guide To Filmmaking, and this is for you. Write your story. Shoot your movie. Start.
- Chapter START
- Chapter WRITE
- Chapter SHORTS
- Chapter TEASER
- Chapter FUNDS
- Chapter AUDITIONS
- Chapter SORTING
- Chapter CONTRACT
Chapter GOING LIMITED
Scarcity is what drives the economy, or so your college texts will tell you. I’m not talking about a buying and selling relationship here. I’m talking about the LLC mentioned in the chapter FUNDS. I want to circle back to the LLC for a brief minute and add some additional thoughts. A lot of business folks will say getting the LLC and such is unwise if you’re testing out an idea. They call it the “wantrepreneur” syndrome or some juxtaposition like that. I.e. you want to be an entrepreneur. Let’s talk about why you should get the LLC protection if you’re doing a feature film. If you’re just cranking out a short film (or a music video or a corporate video), you can skip this section for now. The reality is, you’re pretty safe unless you already have a huge following, in which case you probably already have some sort of legal entity to separate you from what you do.
That’s the crux of it. An LLC is a way to separate you from the operations of the business (in this case, film). For me in the summer of 2013, it made a lot of sense. I was working with a lot of talent that I had never met before and I wanted to shoot for the moon. I was buying a house. The old guys at the Score chapter here in Las Vegas always joke about sole proprietors (essentially, for purposes of this book, anyone doing business solo and using their same checking account for business as they do everything else in life) running the risk of losing everything in a lawsuit. The folks who demand blood over spilled coffee might come for your house, your wife, your car, your dog, your cat, etc. Again, that’s the running joke at the score chapter. If you’re starting ANYTHING that has some kind of scope of reaching and impacting others, I highly recommend Score. I’m not endorsed by Score, but I will tell you this. <startplug> The counseling appointments are free, the mentors there have been in the trenches, and for military veterans, the seminars on Cash Flow management, social media marketing, trademarks vs. patents, et. al. are FREE. </endplug>
So you can see where it made sense for me to incorporate in the state of Utah. I did the same when I moved down to Vegas with every intention of continuing this trade. It wasn’t until August of 2014 that God made a very clear invite to create space for storytellers who follow Christ to share their gifts and the Gospel with the rest of the world. In early 2015, the old LLC became Church Films LLC, which it is to this day. The LLC is easy to set up, and it can be a solo operation. A business license costs money, but again, what is the scope of your project? If it’s a short film and you read this far, kudos, but you’re probably off the hook. If you’re any other kind of artist or dreamer, I say validate your idea and when you gain critical mass, then it’s time to revisit the idea of incorporating. An LLC is an easy business to start. You can always file to change that status later. I won’t spell that out for you because you’re a problem-solver. The moment you create, you start solving problems and wearing 27 different hats (or more). A little search engine with the most web traffic in the world can help you get started on how to incorporate, change your business structure, and so on so forth. Again, I recommend Entrepreneur to get started. I’m not endorsed by them either; I’m just an ardent reader. Even if you’re not doing a feature film, Entrepreneur should be a part of your daily digest. Painting? Do it for God. Read entrepreneur and learn creativity hacks. Coding? Do it unto the Lord and not men. Read entrepreneur and find ways to boost productivity. Writing your first book? Read entrepreneur and learn how to market your book.