• Disclaimer: Legal advice is not binding, consulting an attorney is always recommended.

How to Open a small Independent Prod Company?

blade_jones...what exactly do you mean by the fact that S-Corps don't pay taxes until they start paying stuff? How do taxes work in this sense? Say I have X amount of dollars and it's just sitting in the newly opened bank acount for my newly opened production company and it's sitting there and being added to until I have all my ducks in a row, i'm ready to go, and it's time to start renting equipment, flying in cast and or crew for the production...at what point and in what way do I start getting taxed on the money?
Yes. As the previous poster said, double taxation is avoided. You have a choice of paying taxes in the form of a "salary" (income tax you absorb if you are the sole employee) and/or in the form of dividends (paid to yourself if you are the sole shareholder).
I have a similar question.

I've got my first feature documentary which is about to go to festivals, and distributors. It's been a one person production and I've yet to form any kind of legal company entity. I know that at one point the standard advice was to start an LLC for each film property which could then be dissolved if there was ever a problem. In my case, I have no investors, or producing partners, but I will be licensing the rights to the film, and also anticipate the slight possibility of potential problems with some fair use material.

I also need to start my own personal production company which I can continue to use over the lifespan of my career, put on business cards, create a website for, etc. This means I would put that production company name on my film as well. The credits would read "my film company name" plus "the name of the LLC I made up in case I got sued". Is there any way around having to pay for two company names? After doing some research I'm leaning towards an S-corp for the production company, and an LLC for the project's entity. Does this make sense to do?

I would be doing this in either California (where I currently pay taxes) or New York (where I also reside part of the year). From what I can gather, the LLC in California hits you with a rock bottom $800 tax, excluding the filing fees, and cost of publishing the business name. I really don't have a couple thousand to do the two names, and I can't afford an attorney to set it up. I do have a good tax guy I'll consult, but I'm sure this is something we all have had to sort out at some point....so I'd love to hear what the standard procedure is right now.


IndieTalk's Resident Guru

Sometimes it takes money to protect yourself and your assets.
I sure can understand not having the money, but if you want
to set up both an S-corp for the production company, and an
LLC for the project's entity there is no way around spending
the money.

Perhaps you could just set up the LLC for the one project right
now and use the money you get from the doc to set up the
S-corp later.
I'd probably be more likely to bite the bullet if I could get the recipe straight.

Does the S-corp, LLC combo sound right to everyone here?
Is there a more economical, or smarter way of doing this?
This thread puts several questions in my mind about how I've approaching things lately. I've been freely sharing with anyone who asks exactly what I'm doing and working on without much concern for protecting my rights to the material. I did register the short script I'm planning to shoot, but that was an earlier draft that has since been rewritten twice.

I, too, plan at some point to attach my name to a production entity of my own creation. I suppose the reason that I haven't registered a DBA, LLC or S Corp is that I'm still not sure that I'll produce anything worth distributing, especially my first time out in the wild (so far, all my productions have been private projects for family and friends). And this is also my first attempt at a narrative piece.

At what point should I worry about protecting myself? I'm guessing "now" would be a good time to start.
Last edited:
VP...I'd suggest reregisterring your script...registry claims it's still covered if you make rewrites and I would tend to think it does since most rewrites don't generally totally change the script and are mainly to tighten the script, but if you've done 2 big rewrites it might be a good idea to reregister it.
Hi, I am new here and this thread brings up a question that I've been having and I don't have an answer to.
I've been making short films over the years and though I produced them all myself and have no investors, I don't think I ever made any profits on them, so I didn't have any SCorp or LLC. I just made up a production company name for me and created a website so on these shorts, it'd say "My Production Company" presents these films. I think one day I will turn it into a real production company once I have profits or any real investors to make feature films or something worth to distribute. Is it a right thought? or should I be worried about the name that I made up attached to my short films? Any comments or suggestions would be very helpful for me.


IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
No reason to be worried unless it's someone else's TM. As far as incorporation one day, well, if you do go big time, you will be forming a corporation for each production. Each film will be run as its own company. This keeps all the finances in order, and for legal purposes, it is the best way. Example: You used a Nike emblem in the film. Nike sues you. They can't touch any of your other films or assets. Also makes it easier to sell. You just sell the corporation.
Hi, this is my first post here though I've received valuable information from this site.
Hope somebody can help me with a little advice.
Here's my situation: I directed a micro budget ($5k) feature in which the lead actress and I each invested half the money. We copyrighted the film listing both of our names as producers, got signed releases from the actors & composer, and were careful not to infringe on any copyrights. No one on the cast or crew received deferments or points on the film. We're now screening in festivals and looking for a distributor.
The actress & I have a verbal agreement but I'm sure a distributor would require something more. I looked into an LLC but it seems quite expensive considering how low our budget was. I'm thinking a joint venture agreement might be the way to go. Unfortunately I have no legal experience so any advice you can give me would be much appreciated! Thanks in advance.
I have a business registered to me from Printing Model decals, which i still do, that I run any filming thorugh. be it Senior Pictures, Wedding Videos and Railfan videos, whatever I've done has been a product of NetzlofDesign Print & Media, which when I applied for filming permits the application stated NetzlofDesign Print & Media was the production company, which considering the company and I are one, that is true.