Monthly Archives: July 2012

Submitting Scripts to Production Companies Part 1

Most of the advice in this ‘Submitting Scripts’ post is just common sense but after receiving a lot of unsolicited scripts with many of the problems below I thought this was worth sharing. 1. Don’t send the same script to … Continue reading

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The Ridiculous Rules of Screenwriting

(This is not mine, I was sent this recently and had to share. Enjoy!) THE RULES OF SCREENWRITING: During all police investigations, it will be necessary to visit a strip club at least once. All beds have special L-shaped sheets … Continue reading

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If you want to rent equipment, hire professional actors or use certain locations, you’ll need insurance. Even if nobody asks you for it, it’s good to have in case of any breakages or accidents during shooting.

So, how do you get insurance?

Firstly, you work out the budget for your film. This is what the insurance company will base your quote on. On a normal (read: funded) feature shoot, the insurance premium will be a percentage of the overall budget (0.8/0.9%) but a certain minimum charge applies even if the budget is very low.

No Budget Shoot? Then my insurance must be nothing right? Nope. There has to be a budget in order to get insurance, otherwise there’s nothing to insure.

You have to include things like the value of the rented gear, value of your own gear being used or that of another crew member. Even if you’re not paying your crew, they’ll still need cover for their equipment.

Filming in a public space or hospitals, shops etc. You will usually need Public Liability Insurance and Employer’s Liability Insurance as well as equipment cover.

When you approach an insurance company it is best to have all your information organized beforehand. Solid shoot dates, locations confirmed where possible etc.

If you are shooting a few shorts over the course of a year, it usually much cheaper to get an annual policy. This covers multiple shoots and usually costs in the region 0f €250 – €400.

I would recommend both Aon Insurance and 

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Revenue Website

Firstly, do you need to set up your own production company?

If you’re a group of friends working together voluntarily with little or no money involved and you are using your own home and camera to shoot a short film, chances are you don’t need one.

If however, you’re employing people i.e. paying them, renting equipment and hiring professional actors then it is a worthwhile facility to consider using. But, it is work. A lot of work in fact, with plenty of penalties if you don’t keep up with the paperwork. So, only something to consider for people who see a long term, financially viable future for themselves in the film industry.

Before you jump…

Before you set up a production company (the mechanics of which are discussed below), the first thing you should do is spend at least a few days in another production company, learning how everything works day-to-day. Every successful production company uses the same ingredients as other successful businesses, a solid business plan, good market research and organized, talented people. 

Realise that film is a business and a production company is a business like any other. If you or your partner do not have any business acumen and don’t find the prospect of being a business manager appealing then don’t set up a production company. It will eat up your valuable directing, writing, camera operating time. Instead, work as a freelancer/self-employed person. Although you’ll still have to manage your own books, there’ll be less business work to eat up your time.

Where is your income going to come from?

It’s not enough to say, I’ll apply to the Film Board for money. They give their annual allowance to a small proportion of the companies that apply each year. Those with that year’s strongest projects and with the most experienced teams.

Investigate all sources of potential revenue and find out which you are particularly eligible for e.g. regional funds, minority bursaries etc.

It’s important to the realistic. If you’re just out of college and have no professional contacts or experience it’s unlikely that setting up a production company is a good idea. It would probably be a better use of time to get an intern position at a busy production company and learn how things work in the industry first.

Difficulties involved in running a production company

Setting up the Company

After all the negatives, if you’re still set on setting up your own company, here’s how:

1. Register with Revenue 

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About the Author

Lisa McNamee is a film & theatre producer. She is currently head of production for Planet Korda Pictures, a production company specializing in broadcast documentaries. She is available to answer specific film & theatre related queries through this blog.

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