September 25, 2014 at 12:04PM, Edited September 25, 7:37PM
PRODUCTION COMPANY VS INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR VS LLC
I have been working on various types of film projects for roughly the past 5 years "professionally". I use the term professionally lightly because I'm still not convinced I have worked on enough legitimately professional sets to say that.
The most confusing part of the entire process has been the confusing and conflicting advice on starting a production company or being a freelancer. I attended film school briefly and then left to work for a small "production company" in the city to gain more professional experience and in hopes to narrow down what direction I really wanted to take. I realized along the way that the reason this is such a confusing decision for many film students and freelancers I'm associated with is because everyone seems to have their own opinions, misconceptions, and advice on what starting a production company actually is. I witness on a regular basis filmmakers and videographers making quite a lot of mistakes before they figure this all out on their own. As someone who has attempted the research to get simple answers, there really isn't a lot out there on this subject that feels actually relevant.
Some people will say to start an LLC and that's all you need. Some people will create a logo to a name and call it a production company without any business knowledge or plans what so ever. Some people will advise you to stay an independent contractor and stay away from LLCs unless you're planning to buy "x" amount of equipment/gear. Some people will advise you to use your name and nothing else to stay as open as possible for every opportunity. Also attached to this topic, the ten thousand different opinions on handling your taxes depending on which one of these routes you choose.
I personally, after 5 years, have realized it did a lot of damage to the jobs/sets/clients I was offered to be attached to a "production company" name. For me, it held me back because it was assumed I was only willing to work underneath that company name and that I wasn't open to other people's projects or other companies projects. Even though I feel I've learned that much, I still have a million unanswered questions.
In conclusion, I feel there just isn't enough information and advice out there on this topic for those starting out and making these decisions and it leads to a lot of taking stabs in the dark, opportunities lost, and wasted money spent to figure it out.
Is there anyone else in this struggle? Or better yet, anyone with some simple advice to pass on in terms of researching these decisions?