Business First, Fun Later

Starting the moviemaking process is like arriving at the beach after a really long drive. You get out of the car, uncramp your legs, and look at the gorgeous, calming waves. You want to dive right in… but first you need to move all your stuff into the motel room, change into a bathing suit, put lots of suntan lotion on, and probably eat something.

All I want to do is shoot. But first, you have to take care of business. So that’s what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks.

First I broke down the script and put a rough schedule together. Then I created a budget for production and post. After crying over how expensive everything seems to be, I cut the budget down to my original target – $110K.

Now I’m setting up the Limited Liability Company (LLC) that will serve as the production entity for the film. Found In Time LLC will take donations and investments, write checks, rent equipment, obtain insurance, and ” do” all the film-related stuff.

Those of you who aren’t familiar with this end of the film business need to pay attention to this – you don’t want to make a feature film as a single individual. Incorporation protects you on several levels:

  • The company stands between you and any potential lawsuits that come up during production. Short of defrauding your investors or running off with the payroll, you as a private citizen can’t be sued, only your company.
  • The company signs with the Screen Actors Guild and whatever other guilds and unions you have to deal with. This means you can make your next film a non-union one if necessary. If you as a private person sign with SAG, however, any film you’re helming will have to be a SAG film – signatory status is for the life of the signer.
  • Taxes: corporate income is taxed far differently (and more favorably) from individual wage income. The reasons why are too complex to go into here, but trust me – this is why the rich incorporate
  • Structure: If you do have investors (even if – or maybe especially if – they’re you’re relatives), you’ll need some kind of recognized business structure to deal with the matters like their investment, profit participation, who’s in charge of the film’s future, etc.

There are a whole host of other reasons to incorporate, but those are the most prominent in my mind. It’s like putting suntan lotion on.

So that’s the big news this week. By next week, I should have a bank account and merchant account set up. This will enable me to start the crowdfunding process.

Also, in a couple of weeks I’ll be meeting with my DP, the awesome Ben Wolf to talk about the look of the film. Out of that should come some more concept art and scout photos.