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Thread: Setting up as a Corporate Video Production Company (as sole trader)

  1. #1
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    Default Setting up as a Corporate Video Production Company (as sole trader)

    Hi guys,

    I'm new here and just thought I'd pick your brains for any suggestions or comments you may have for how to set up a corporate video production company. But rather than setting up a limited company (or sililiar) I want to work as a sole trader - if that makes sense - to avoid all the complicated paperwork.

    I am camera operator and editor, so, naturally, my aim is to film and edit everything, as well as all the prep work that is required.

    I have set up a website (www.visualcorporate.co.uk), and I have the following kit:

    1 X Canon XHA1s HDV Camcorder
    1 X Libec Tripod
    1 X Lilliput 7" monitor
    1 X Paglight
    2 X Wired Lapel mics
    1 X Sennheiser shotgun mic
    1 X Apple MacBook Pro, with Final Cut Pro 7, After Effects CS4 and Photoshop CS4

    The difficulty I am having is in making myself known to potential clients. What is the best way to go - do I approach potential clients with a showreel and tell/show them what I can do for them. OR. Do I wait for them to come to me, through my website?

    Any hints, tips, suggestions, comments etc. will be most welcome.

    Thank you in advance
    Matt

  2. #2
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    A quick read on this and other sites will tell you you're entering a highly competitive Market. Waiting for the work to come to you will do nothing more than increase your leisure time. Like any business, you'll need to work hard to establish a client base, and that inevitably involves getting out there and making contacts.

  3. #3
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    I can only echo what Marc says about it being a deeply competitive amd crowded market. I've seen some truly god awful so called 'professional' videos (one posted for critique on this very site recently as it goes) and there are people who think that for a few hundred quid, a camera and an editing package they can offer corporate videos - and sell it so cheap they can then call themselves Corporate Filmakers. A glance at your website leads to to think you're not one of those people - but be aware Matt - they are the idiots you're up against. Selling yourself to companies is a long and intensive process sometimes - for instance, I've just signed contracts on a deal I started negotiating last December....

    Alot of my work I have to confess has come from doing three things - filming for myself on a subject, making the film and then making companies in that sector aware of it and how I could help them. Second is personal recommendations. Invaluable and key really for myself. Third - so much of my time is spent networking, meeting, massaging peoples brains into believing they need me and me alone.

    Don't be put off by my slightly negative tone - if you're good and you work hard you'll get the work. But be under no illusions - it's a tough gig.

    One other thing I'd say - you're doing a lovely job of linking to what I presume is a friend - Skeleton Productions - on your website and the video on thier page gets the message over far better than yours. I entirely understand you probably haven't got all that much to show off showreel wise or with talking heads but have a think about perhaps a graphics lead video on your homepage that sells you like they sell themselves - or even yourself doing a piece straight to camera - anything that sells yourself. And then take them off your links page. In honesty if I was shopping I'd call them first - they've sold themselves far more effectively than you. All the carefully crafted words on websites goes straight over most MDs heads - they've seen it and read it and probably not been convinced by it before.

    Finally - think also about all the other machinations that go along with running a proper business. Insurance, music copyrights, what equipment you'll use if your camera breaks down - and so on and so on.

    Good luck.

  4. #4

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    I am currently a sole trader, a partnership and a director of a limited company with various business things I'm involved with. Apart from slight accounting differences there is hardly any difference with the paper work for each entity. They are all a pain in the butt.

    Andy has given great advice. My advice is to PROMOTE, PROMOTE, PROMOTE get out and network, join business clubs, sell your self to marketing companies, Always wear a cloths with the company name on it. Spread your business cards like the flu virus. I think you get what I'm saying.

    One point on your pricing. 35p per mile is too cheep for travelling expenses, it should be double that to be cost effective. You are doing this to make money after all.

    Good luck.

  5. #5

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    If I were you in today's fragile and competitive market, I'd check out the business to business exhibitions that are upcoming at the NEC and select an intesting local business to target.
    Offer to make a short promo for free so they can use it at the exhibition with the only proviso, it will have to have your logo embedded on the production.
    (1) It gets your name out there.
    (2) Other businesses see how effective a great video can be
    (3) The company you film for may wish to negotiate for the logo removal or another production/duplication/web sized copy = income
    I can tell you're excited at how easy it is so far eh?!
    The next move is to make a real eye catcher of a video - great graphics using the company's logo. A great voice over, which you can get for 100
    Some powerful music - CF is good nowadays.
    And . . . If you want the icing on the cake . . Hire Andy Lockwoods crane! The crane shots will add a certain excitement and dimension to your production that most company's won't think of costing in, but believe me the expenditure in time and money will make this initial showreel the flagship for pulling much more lucrative work onboard.
    Far, far better and more inviting to potential clients than the average talking heads and swirling graphics. Best of luck!
    p.s. Just seen your current showreel, which does nothing for me at all. Horses and churches and scenery and a dull soundtrack will not excite potentail clients.
    Find a punchy track add some exciting titles/graphics to the few corporate looking shots already in there add some after effects magic and you have something to offer until the new showreel hits town.
    Last edited by Zero; 08-06-2011 at 04:07 PM. Reason: p.s.
    My opinions are just that . . . Mine. It's not personal, but is based on my emotional and professional reaction to requested critique. If you choose to ignore constructive comments, I'll just assume you're a vanity poster and not posting to improve your filming and editing skills.

    Ex A.P.V Videomaker of the year - Ex M.M. IOV Come join my EXclusive club

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zero View Post
    And . . . If you want the icing on the cake . . Hire Andy Lockwoods crane! The crane shots will add a certain excitement and dimension to your production that most company's won't think of costing in, but believe me the expenditure in time and money will make this initial showreel the flagship for pulling much more lucrative work onboard..
    Excellent advice....

  7. #7

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    It's funny how members of this forum give their time and experience over to answer many newbies requests for solutions, and sooooooo many can't be bothered to respond with great/sh*te/ answers guys. That's all it takes to continues receiving advice based on experience learnt the hard way.
    One day no-one will bother responding and too many will also have to learn the hard way too.
    My opinions are just that . . . Mine. It's not personal, but is based on my emotional and professional reaction to requested critique. If you choose to ignore constructive comments, I'll just assume you're a vanity poster and not posting to improve your filming and editing skills.

    Ex A.P.V Videomaker of the year - Ex M.M. IOV Come join my EXclusive club

  8. #8
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    Entirely agree with that. A simple thank you goes such a long way. Makes me wonder of the sanity of helping people that essentially are asking how they can be my direct competition.

  9. #9

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    Yup! Try selling cheap apples from the front of your house, then popping down the street to ask the greengrocer how he gets his apples so shiny = F.YOU!
    Same thing really . . and a more realistic business attitude.
    My opinions are just that . . . Mine. It's not personal, but is based on my emotional and professional reaction to requested critique. If you choose to ignore constructive comments, I'll just assume you're a vanity poster and not posting to improve your filming and editing skills.

    Ex A.P.V Videomaker of the year - Ex M.M. IOV Come join my EXclusive club

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    Ah, but you make the world a better place, guys.

    As for wondering about the sanity, business wise, it's in your interest to rid the world of bad "pro" videographers as a bad videographer tars the industry with the same brush - a "bad" greengrocer deosn't.

    And fret not. Whilst the OP has most likely posted the same question on numerous forums and forgotten about this one, your answers are a great source of knowledge and wisdom for the rest of us, who maybe wouldn't even have thought of posting the question in the first place. I even thank people occasionally.
    Tim

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